You want your site to earn higher rankings and more traffic in Google, and you know there are dozens of ranking factors that will actually help get you there, from earning more inbound links to optimizing your site for mobile devices.
But one of the most important factors is the quality of your content, which in large part boils down to its trustworthiness. You can try your best to create good, trustworthy content, but what exactly does that mean?
The Ambiguity of Quality
Any SEO expert will tell you the quality of your content is important, but I’ve always been dubious about these types of descriptors. Yes, you need “good” content, but what makes it so? Who determines whether content is good or not? You need trustworthy content, but what makes something trustworthy? Ask a selection of different content marketers with different areas of expertise, and you’ll probably get different answers. Some might say it comes down to how well-researched your content is, while others might argue for its uniqueness or its value.
So rather than simply projecting my own opinions or preferences, or quoting other experts on the subject, I’ve decided to turn to Google, which has published a search quality rater’s guide to help webmasters understand exactly what the search engine takes into consideration when ranking content. It’s still ambiguous, at times, but it’s one of the best tools we have to look deep and find out what it is that makes Google tick.
It’s as Easy as E-A-T
In the course of Google’s search quality raters document, one of its biggest emphases is one the collection of markers it abbreviates as “E-A-T” qualities, or qualities that demonstrate expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness.
The document doesn’t formally define each of these individual qualities, leaving a shroud of ambiguity made more complicated by the fact that these words are so closely related in semantic meaning. However, if we drill down to some of the qualities we know are most important to evaluating content quality, we can break down the most important elements of “quality” content, as it pertains to demonstrating these features.
How to Demonstrate Expertise
First, let’s take a look at expertise — the amount of knowledge you demonstrate having on a subject.
· Accreditations. Google loves to see accreditations — proof that you know what you’re talking about. For a field that requires specialty education or training (such as the medical realm), listing your certifications and speaking from that level of experience may help boost your content’s expertise. But keep in mind accreditations can also be informal, such as describing a personal experience as evidence to your claims.
· Specificity. Expertise can also be demonstrated through specificity. Non-experts often resort to ambiguous or dodgy phrasing to describe complicated subjects, while experts are able to dive into the gritty details.
· Numbers. I use the term “numbers” here, but any specific facts will do. For example, citing references to “10,000” rather than “a lot” indicates a higher level of expertise on a subject.
· Conciseness. You’ll also want to be as concise as possible, choosing each word of your content carefully and making sure every sentence you write has meaning.
How to Demonstrate Authority
Next, let’s take a look at authority — the degree of ability with which you can talk about a subject.
· Authorship. One way to develop authority over time is to use personal brands as author profiles, which can carry over between sites and gradually increase the degree of authority your content holds. This is especially helpful if/when you start guest posting on other sites.
· Writing quality. I resorted to using the vague word “quality” here because there are many factors responsible for the flow of your writing, such as your word choices, your sentence flow, the logic of your organization, and the fluidity of your language use.
· Value. Your topics (and the specific material within them) need to be valuable to your audience. Writing about fluff topics or things people don’t care about won’t get you anywhere.
· Uniqueness. If you aren’t saying anything new about a subject, you aren’t going to get ranked for it. Part of this is due to the previous piece already attracting sufficient authority, but it’s also an indication of content quality.
How to Demonstrate Trustworthiness
Finally, let’s turn to trustworthiness — the logical or believable grounding for the content you provide.
· External inbound links. You should know the importance of link building (and if you don’t, you need to learn), so I won’t go on about it here. It’s a separate topic, but worth mentioning — because only the best content will be able to attract links.
· Internal outbound links. Including links that point to outside sources of authority can increase the perceived trustworthiness of your content. It shows that you’ve done your research, and backs up your facts with neutral, external citations.
· History. This isn’t a factor you can directly manipulate, but the history of your content provision (and your domain’s age) can play into how trustworthy you’re perceived to be. The longer you’re around, the better.
· Consistency. Finally, you’ll need a degree of consistency if you want to be known as a trustworthy contributor — both in frequency and in value.
After reading this article, you should have a much better understanding of what Google takes into consideration when evaluating the “quality” of your content. Though there’s a frustrating lack of specificity in Google’s technical definitions, we still have clear insights into its major priorities in evaluation, and we can use those to improve your on-site optimization and ongoing content marketing strategies. Whenever you produce new content or work on optimizing your onsite features, keep that E-A-T acronym in mind, and put yourself in the shoes of a user to really get inside Google’s mind.