What is E.A.T. for news SEO? Understanding the content Google wants more of

In issue 11, we look at the metrics Google uses to evaluate high-quality content: expertise, authoritativeness, trustworthiness.

Hello and welcome back!

It’s me, Jessie, tackling E.A.T content – or three metrics that Google uses to evaluate high-quality content. Here, we will look at the 101 of E.A.T. content.

Elsewhere, Shelby looked at how publishers can use structured data to support E.A.T. efforts!

Let’s chow down (omnomnom).

Portrait of a healthy work station: a newsletter, plants, and lots of H20. This editor is ready to E.A.T. it up! (Sorry for the terrible jokes. I’ve been inside too long.)

In this issue: 

  1. What is EAT content?

  2. Developing EAT content for news

  3. SEO in the wild (stuff we like)

Share WTF is SEO?


THE 101

What is E.A.T. content? 

E.A.T. content is what Google wants you to create more of – content with Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness – and are three factors Google considers when determining how much it should trust a brand. 

The idea of trustworthiness in journalism seems second nature - we literally do our jobs to create trust with our readers. But we can produce this with some particular concepts in mind. 

E.A.T. is sometimes known as Page Quality – what Google says every high-quality page needs. These are also the considerations Google’s human search evaluators use to rate the relevance of pages in search results. 

Expertise:

  • The expertise of the creator of the content: Who wrote this content and are they extremely knowledgeable in their field? Is the author a go-to source on this topic or field, and do they have credentials to back it up? 

  • How does Google know: Google considers expertise at the article level, not across the entire organization. This is particularly important for YMYL topics (Your Money Your Life, which is “future happiness, health, financial stability, or safety,” according to Google) – you would want a nutritionist writing about health, or a licensed therapist discussing mental health strategies. 

  • Instead of thinking, “Is The Globe and Mail a go-to source for health and nutrition writing?,” Google asks, “Is Leslie Beck a go-to source for nutrition advice and healthy eating strategies?” Google understands that Leslie Beck, a registered nutritionist and author of 29 health books, is an expert – and way more than some IG influencer who wrote a couple of blogs about tea. 

Authoritativeness:

  • The authority of the overall site: What is the reputation of the main content writers, along with the reputation of the overall site? Is the website and author well-known in the industry?

  • How does Google know: Signals of authority include how many other authoritative sites link to you, if your stories are widely and consistently posted on social media and if your publisher has branded search volume (i.e., people search for “globe and mail” frequently). 

  • Google looks at the overall theglobeandmail.com website along with its reporters, and evaluates the organization is overall. Google is asking, “Is The Globe and Mail an authority in Canadian news and business reporting? Are the journalists at The Globe respected writers in the fields of business, politics, and news?”

Trustworthiness:

  • The trustworthiness of the overall site: Who is responsible for this content, and are they legit? This includes the content author, the content and the overall website. For news articles: is it factually accurate and supported by expert consensus? 

  • How does Google know: Google looks at who else has linked to the site and if they are trustworthy. Google trusted sites linked to by other prominent sites in the topic area, so try to build a backlink strategy, along with sharing your stories on social media. 

Authority and trustworthiness take time to build and can be relative to your site’s content and expertise. For example, Google would be more likely to give an edge to Oatly’s site for the ingredients and nutritional profile of their plant milk, but the Government of Canada website will be the most trustworthy source for Canada’s food guide. 


Why does E.A.T matter for SEO? 

E.A.T is important for queries where surfacing truthful information really matters (YMYL content) because failing to do so could have real-life negative consequences. 

  • For example, if searchers are looking for advice on the AstraZeneca vaccine, how to start investing or lowering blood pressure, it’s a big deal if Google doesn’t send readers to high-E.A.T. sites. 

E.A.T. content matters a lot more in these life-or-money situations than it does if you’re just looking for, say, a penguin learning to climb a rock.

Is it a ranking factor? Indirectly! There is a bit of confusion over how important E.A.T. is as a direct ranking factor. E.A.T is not a metric that can be directly measured (like site speed, which is easily measured), but Google only wants to promote trustworthy resources in search results that help users. E.A.T. is a mix of signals Google uses to make that evaluation. 

And also, like ~ journalism 101 ~ if your content isn’t full of E.A.T., what are you doing here?


E.A.T content and journalism

E.A.T. and journalism are a natural pair. Like cucumbers and hummus, PB and J, Birkenstocks and socks.

Expert, authority and trustworthiness are very human-centred, audience-first concepts. Instead of trying to game the algorithm, Google wants to reward those who create content that helps readers (so they, in turn, can provide users the more useful results available).  

EAT and news: The E.A.T. requirements for YMYL content is extra high. This makes sense – we want news organizations that provide quality information to show up in search above some guy with a blog or a Tummy Tea influencer. (This also means you need to make sure YMYL content stays accurate and fresh by regularly updating it.)

Expert content is created when you have a clear understanding of why your readers are searching (search intent), knowing info they’re looking for (keyword research), and providing concise answers from expert sources. 

  • Workflow: Pick a topic > Understand search intent > Use keyword research to find subtopics/things to cover > Have an expert writer produce the story that will help readers (because it answers their search query). 

When writing, think about: 

  • Purpose: What’s the purpose of this piece/page? What is the search intent for this story? (And what keywords and key phrases might be used to find this story?)

  • Expertise: If it’s about money, health or other high-stakes topics: experts experts experts. Use expert voices to add value and answer reader questions. (And diversify your sources!)

Google says that pages “with no attempt to help users” are the lowest quality pages. These are those pages that do not answer search interest or actually fulfil search intent – basically those sites/pages that are trying to trick Google (and make a bit of $ with advertising or by scamming users).

In short: focus on the reader, not the algorithm.

The bottom line: E.T.A. content is well-researched, accurate content, written by expert authors. Write with clarity and precision, but avoid excessive jargon that might be lost on readers. Consider who your audience is, and write for them. 

Best practices:

  1. Ensure authors on YMYL stories are trusted, reputable subject matter experts

  2. Identify search intent and main-focus keywords for a piece; write to answer that interest 

  3. Continue to focus on audience-first journalism (easy peasy 🍋 squeezy)

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SEO shout outs 

Great SEO-ing from the world wide web

[We’re trying something new! Each week, we will highlight a cool SEO news play. See some interesting search ideas? Send it to us!]

This article from the New York Times about learning to like running is a great evergreen-ish resource that uses a personal narrative to teach the running-adverse how to stay on track. And it links out to an excellent evergreen package, “How to Start Running” – made up of 6 topic clusters (training, picking gear, preventing injury, etc.) that rounds up work from more than a decade of reporting. 


RECOMMENDED READING 

  1. What is E-A-T? More into this topic

  2. A beginner’s guide to keyword mapping

  3. A (very) technical guide to Core Web Vitals (share with your tech teams!)

NEXT WEEK: Using structured data to improve your E.A.T. content

Have something you’d like us to discuss? Send us a note on Twitter (Jessie or Shelby) or to our email: seoforjournalism@gmail.com.


Written by Jessie Willms and Shelby Blackley.