E-A-T is a content writing framework introduced by Google. It is a set of guidelines for content creators to ensure high quality content that meets user needs and expectations.
The acronym stands for:
This content writing framework is especially recommended for YMYL type of content that stands for “Your Money or Your Life”. What does that mean?
It means that using this information, in case this information is wrong or unverified, can cause you significant harm. In this category, Google gives an example such as, “Information on evacuation routes in case of a tsunami”.
Another example could be, “When to go to an emergency room,” or “News about ongoing violence”.
It is recommended that such content is written by people who are experienced/who have the requisite expertise, who are an authority figure in the concerned field, and who can be trusted with the information and knowledge they have, preferably through first-hand experience.
Google has referred to this concept extensively in its Search Quality Rater Guidelines. You can use the E-A-T content writing framework to create user-friendly content that is trustworthy and deserving of higher rankings.
The framework was initially developed for internal purpose, for actual human content evaluators. Later these results were to be used to improve the algorithm and consequently, the overall quality and relevance of the content that shows up in search results.
In the above link, Google says that the guidelines for authoritative content are constantly evolving because ultimately, they would like to build a strong enough algorithm that can gauge the trustworthiness of the content without much human interference. Evaluating millions of web pages and blog posts everyday wouldn’t be humanly possible.
The E-A-T framework can be used to build topical authority of your website.
How does the E-A-T content writing framework affect your search engine rankings?
First thing first: the E-A-T content writing framework should be used when you are writing content for YMYL category of content. If you’re writing content for your business website to present your information, you don’t need to worry about the E-A-T framework as long as you are accurately and convincingly presenting your information.
E-A-T is not a direct Google ranking factor. It goes parallel to your SEO evaluation.
Again, for writing E-A-T content, it is better if you are the subject matter expert, or you write content with direct access to a subject matter expert. For example, if you are writing a web page or a blog post on what to do in case someone has a heart attack, you should better be a cardiologist or you should be closely working with one.
Also remember that E-A-T is not the sole ranking factor. I have written multiple times on my blog that there are 200+ factors that affect your search engine rankings. It’s just that, when you are writing critical content based on which people are supposed to take decisions that can affect their life, it must be written by someone authoritative and having an expertise in the field.
How to approach writing E-A-T content if you are not an expert yourself?
An expert may not be a good content writer and a good content writer may not be an expert. Although, businesses these days prefer to work with experts who also write well, this might not always be the case. What do you do then?
A few months ago, I wrote content for a pathology lab website. People need to access information of different types of medical tests that they can avail on the website. They also need some medical-related content to improve their overall search engine rankings.
I’m not a medical expert. The medical team working at the pathology lab didn’t have good content writers. What did I do? I worked with their medical experts.
For every web page, they would give me all the critical information that I must include. After writing, I ran every piece through them so that they could check if I had included all the vital information and data. They would also check if I had added random information from the web which was not supposed to be there.
The content was authoritative. It came from experts. It could be trusted because it had been thoroughly vetted by the experts in the field.
This approach can be applied (I have applied) in every field that requires authority and expertise. These days I’m working with a SaaS company. Although I’m comfortable writing on technology, on this particular aspect of software as a service, I know little. But they like my writing style, and they wanted me to write for their website and blog. They give me the vital information and based on that, I write content for them.
Why do you need the E-A-T framework to write content?
Ranking on Google has become increasingly difficult. The search engine must find the best possible content for its users. Instead of users having to learn the nitty-gritty of search terms and the complexities involved in finding the exact information, the Google algorithm aims to know the intent of the user and find the information accordingly.
This means, even when people are not accurate while creating a query, they should be able to find the information they are looking for. Otherwise, even if their query is inaccurate, they’re going to blame Google for not being able to get the right information for them.
Along with intent, the quality and relevance also matter. Even if the search engine knows the intent, it must find the information that has immense value. People must feel enriched after finding information through Google. Otherwise, they will be dissatisfied and may switch to another search engine.
For example, you want to invest in stock market. You find information on Google and make investments based on that information. You lose money and you blame Google for finding inaccurate information.
On the other hand, if you gain money, you are going to feel good about finding the right information on Google.
Hence, when it comes to information related to health or finances, Google gives preference to content that comes from experts.
Coming back to the example I used above (about writing medical-related content), even if I get the entire input from the experts, if I publish that content by my name, it won’t be valued by Google because Google knows that I’m not a medical expert. But if I write that content for a medical expert and then that medical expert publishes the content under their name, Google is going to take it seriously and may also rank it higher.
What type of content requires the E-A-T framework?
When you write and publish content that can cause someone to lose or gain money, or content that can endanger someone’s life, or affect someone’s life in terms of health and money, you need to follow the E-A-T framework.
As explained above, this type of content falls in the category of YMYL – “your money or your life”.
Google references to both the terms – E-A-T & YMYL – extensively in its Search Quality Rater Guidelines. These guidelines are used by real people to evaluate the effectiveness of search results. Google hasn’t confirmed that such human evaluators have some bearing on the algorithms. Google uses these human evaluators to gauge the effectiveness of their algorithm.
There may be two types of content that requires E-A-T framework:
- Content that requires expertise
- Content that requires first-hand experience
Suppose you are searching for heart attack symptoms. Two types of information sources can be authoritative:
- A doctor or a physician who is an expert in the matters of heart.
- Someone who has gone through the similar experience (themselves or their family members) and then give you a first-hand insight.
Similarly, if you want to know where you can invest your money, the content needs to either come from someone who is a financial expert, or someone who has been investing money for some years.
Does the Google algorithm have a way of finding if you are an expert or you are someone who is giving first-hand experience?
This is where human evaluators come. Human evaluators can make a judgement call.
The algorithm can scour through social media profiles and references from other web sources to know if a person is an expert. For example, if I am a financial expert, they can exist some reference to my expertise on LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, or other blogs. Or I may have another expert opinion piece in a reputed publication like Washington Post.
How do I write content requiring the E-A-T framework?
As I have explained above, recently I wrote content for a laboratory website that provides information on various ailments for which a blood test (serum test) may be required.
I wrote the content after getting ample input from the doctors associated with the laboratory. In fact, I ghost wrote the content: the content that I wrote was published with a doctor’s by-line.
Hence, when you are writing content that requires you to follow the E-A-T framework but you are not an expert or you are not presenting a first-hand experience, it is better to seek out someone who does, and publish the content after getting their input, and if possible, use their name as author.