Google loves to de-emphasize links. A quick rundown of John Mueller’s Twitter feed routinely reveals “advice” like this:
- Google doesn’t care about links
- Don’t try and create links
- Link building is a waste of time
- Content is the only thing that matters etc…
Methinks Google doth protest too much. On the one hand, if Google doesn’t care about links, then there’s no reason for the Google team to spend so much time dissuading people from creating links. There’s even an official policy from Google banning the exchange of links for money. None of this would be necessary if Google didn’t care about links. It always has and continues to do so.
With this little nugget out of the way, let’s turn our attention to the SEO concept of “E-A-T”, and how Google judges the metric.
Google EAT = Expertise, Authority, Trust
On some specific topics, Google appears to place a much higher value on the brand recognition and general trustworthiness of a website – or at least, that’s the goal. How does Google manage to measure these things? No one knows. In August 2018, they released a broad algorithm update focused on EAT:
The letter E, A, and T stand for:
Though EAT matters for all websites, the primary industry they target are finance, medical websites, and the like. These are examples of industries that are classified as “YMYL” – “Your Money or Your Life”. If your site deals with things that impact others’ finances or their life, then Google will try and measure your EAT.
But how does it do this?
Quality Rating Guidelines are Insufficient
Google has a massive document called the “Quality Rater Guidelines” that aims to give websites a thorough breakdown of what makes for a “good website”. In that, they touch upon EAT extensively, telling us that the following examples make for good ratings:
- Content produced by experts in the field
- Factually accurate sources
- Industry awards for the website (Pulitzer etc)
- Government websites
- Brand recognition
Unfortunately for poor mortals like us who don’t win Pulitzer prizes or don’t happen to run “The biggest newspaper in the US state of Minnesota” (actual words from the Google quality raters document), we need to find other ways to improve our EAT. Sure, we can have experts either write our content or be experts ourselves. But how in the world does Google know who an expert it? You might think that structured data like authorship markup are important, but no. Google has specified that the existence of structured data on a site doesn’t by itself lead to increased EAT.
So how does Google measure EAT? Links of course!
OBVIOUSLY Links Matter
Google’s loud protestations to the contrary, obviously links are going to be the key way to measure EAT. Do authoritative sites like to you? Do award sites link to you? Does your brand name pop up a certain amount of time when talking about your topics? This is a good reason to avoid taking Google too seriously.
Basically, references from other sites to yours. I’ve noticed that Google is placing a lot more emphasis on big brand names than they used to. It’s obviously unfair to the little guy, but that’s a topic for another day. The point is that there’s only one way to increase your brand recognition – and that’s marketing, directly translated into links and references. There’s no point in offline talk that’s invisible to search engines.
It’s links all the way through.
Link Building without Spam
Officially Google would want you to just build content and let the links flow in. Those of us who don’t have our heads in the clouds know that this doesn’t just happen on its own. Links need to be built. I’m not going to tell you how to build links, just that you shouldn’t believe Google when it says that you should just focus on your content.
Because if you want to increase your EAT, there’s no better way than better incoming links.
I’m a NameHero team member, and an expert on WordPress and web hosting. I’ve been in this industry since 2008. I’ve also developed apps on Android and have written extensive tutorials on managing Linux servers. You can contact me on my website WP-Tweaks.com!