EAT and your website – important Google update!

Why “expertise, authority and trust” now matter more than ever for dental content

In March and again at the start of August this year, Google introduced some significant changes in the way that they assess how and where websites appear in the search engine rankings. Resulting from this were large upheavals in the search results with a lot of formerly prominent websites slipping away quite dramatically. On face value, many of the websites which got relegated were actually quite good; so what caused Google to demote them?

This caused quite a lot of concern and even anger in the webmaster community as site owners could not determine why they had suffered and hence what they needed to do to recover the situation. As is usual for Google, very little useful information regarding the specifics of the update were provided, other than some fairly general comments about “producing great content” and referring to their Quality Raters Guidelines. For information, these guidelines are produced by Google for their team who review websites against proposed algorithm updates to validate the results. So a human check if you will.

So what did Google really do to cause this significant upheaval (and, for some, grief!)

Independent analysis

Whenever Google introduces a change in it’s search engine systems, lots of independent analysts go to work to try to figure out what actually happened. Much of what is postulated is purely speculative to be frank, but in this case, evidence suggests that the recent changes were all about evaluating which websites demonstrate expertise, authority and trust for their users i.e. “EAT”. This concept is actually referred to in the Quality Raters Guidelines and some of Google’s staff alluded to it in tweets directly after the update. So whilst we can never be totally sure, it does seem that EAT was a significant part of the search algorithm update.

Who suffered and who gained?

Early results suggest that the sites most affected were in the health and health-related niches, including dentists. However it soon became apparent that the changes were applied across the board. Those sites which clearly demonstrated EAT principles e.g. content backed or written by bona fide professionals and with a clear foundation in fact, appeared to do particularly well. However, some websites which had little “EAT” evident or perhaps lots of articles and content of a more generic nature, were demoted. It now seems that Google can use artificial intelligence techniques to classify a website according to “EAT” principles and build that into it’s ranking system.

It is also worth remembering that Google has a huge knowledge of all content on the web, for example the professional credentials of contributors to websites, and will likely be using this to cross-reference and check within it’s algorithms.

What can you do for your website?

Whilst Google has said that the recent updates aren’t penalties as such, there is clearly a new factor in play when it comes to the content in your website and blog. No longer is generic content going to cut it, even if it is unique and useful. If you are in certain niches, e.g. healthcare, then you also need to demonstrate expertise, authority and trust for your users. If you do this, then it also seems that Google may well favour you too.

With this in mind, you now need to think very carefully about what you say on your website. Just last week on the Dental Media blog, we discussed where a business coach seemed to be advocating a more minimalist approach to website content and less emphasis on professional qualifications and treatments. This is fine from a user perspective but will it cut it for Google, particularly now? I would suggest not.

To start demonstrating “EAT” credentials, it is important to make sure that those with clinical expertise are referenced prominently on your website. Blog content should also be collated with this in mind. Where practical, also link out to formal qualifications on third-party sites so users, and Google, can find and validate you.

Summary

It appears that “EAT” is now firmly with us and when we are advised to write “great content” for our websites, we can now assume that what Google actually means is that it should also demonstrate expertise, authority and trust. Particularly when we are in a niche such as healthcare.

Did the latest Google update adversely affect your website? Or perhaps you need advice on boosting your existing content to stay ahead of the new EAT principles? If so, please get in touch with the web team at Dental Media on 01332 672548 and we’ll be pleased to advise.