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Understanding Google’s EAT & YMYL Algorithm Updates

What is EAT? What is YMYL?

The last few Google algorithm updates have been focused on “Your Money, Your Life” (YMYL) sites. That is, sites that give people advice on how to live or spend their money. The biggest sector affected by these updates are sites that give medical, wellness or financial advice. In the June 3rd update for example, it was widely reported that alternative medicine sites took a big hit.

It’s important to note that the June 3rd update was a core algorithm update and not strictly an evolution of the “Medic” updates that have dropped a few times since late 2018. That being said, it did seem to tweak some of the ranking factors that were a focus of those updates.

YMYL sites are an important focus for Google right now as they grapple with the proliferation of low quality content, propaganda and outright false information available on the internet. This is a promising development which shows that Google has recognized their editorial shortcomings when it comes to curating high quality, accurate content.

EAT stands for “Expertise, Authority, Trust” and is a model to think about how Google decides the quality of a site, especially a YMYL site.

Here’s a quick rundown of the three EAT factors. They all overlap to some degree.

Expertise: Demonstrating professional expertise on the topic at hand. Content should be well researched, using citations or references whenever possible.

Authoritativeness: Authority is tracked at the author and website level. Is the author a subject matter expert? Making sure content is attributing to an author and that author having a public bio can help here. Additionally, authority at the site level can be improved by having links from (or mentions on) sites that Google considers trustworthy.

Trustworthiness: This has more to do with the site/business itself. Building trustworthiness can be done through things like having a physical business location verified by Google and having a readily accessible privacy policy/T&C section on the website.

How Do You Change Your Content and SEO Strategy to Address EAT?

The clearest way to explain an approach to EAT is through the lense of blog posts. These concepts can be extended to regular site content as well.

Authorship (Authoritativeness)

All blog posts should have an author attributed to the content. This author should have a bio stating their qualifications on the subject. Let’s say the subject of the post is, “10 Foods to Avoid Before a Marathon”. The most qualified individual to speak on this matter would be a doctor or dietician. If a doctor or dietician actually wrote this content for you, great! That’s a layup, make sure their bio states those qualifications. Let’s say that’s not the case and the content was instead written by a copywriter and hobbyist runner on your staff. We still need to attribute it to them and stressing their qualifications, something like, “Scott is an amatuer runner who has been running marathons for 7 years..”

Citations (Expertise)

Posts also need citations and references to back up any claims made, especially if they relate to YMYL. Factoids are the easiest way to work citations in. There are a variety of ways to go about this: inline versus having all of the references at the bottom, for example. Link out to the sources you’re citing and keep in mind that these sources should be trustworthy themselves.

The rest of the EAT factors we outlined above have more to do with the site as a whole or how the content is being linked to elsewhere on the web. The basics here are: your company has physical locations at verified addresses and the privacy policy is easily accessible.

The more difficult element is demonstrating trustworthiness through relationships with other trusted sources. In other words, the part that has always been a challenge with SEO: mentions and backlinks. If your company is able to acquire mentions or backlinks from a trusted source, it would do wonders for the trustworthiness and authority of the page.

Local Factors (Trustworthiness)

If you run a business with a physical location or that provides services to a certain region, there are more considerations and opportunities to prove your trustworthiness.

User Reviews: Look to establish trustworthiness by implementing consumer reviews. The best way to do this would be by linking Google Reviews directly (there are plugins for that if your site is on WordPress) or by selecting a handful of reviews and putting them somewhere on your website.

Awards: Awards from local or regionalized publications can go a long way towards establishing local trust. These awards often come with badges, but we recommend making sure the award details are in plain text somewhere to help Google understand the context. Don’t be afraid to link out to the awarding source either.

Third Party Reviews and Other Accolades: If the region you operate in has local reviewers, those can be good sources of local authority. In addition, accolades from a local Chamber of Commerce can be extremely valuable as they add a high degree of local relevancy.

Scott Shelton



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