Sunday, July 14, 2024

Google’s E-E-A-T & The Myth Of The Perfect Ranking Signal

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Google’s E-E-A-T & The Myth Of The Perfect Ranking Signal

Few concepts have generated as much buzz and speculation in SEO as E-E-A-T.

Short for Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness, this framework has been a cornerstone of Google’s Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines for years.

But despite its prominence, more clarity about how E-E-A-T relates to Google‘s ranking algorithms is still needed.

In a recent episode of Google’s Search Off The Record podcast, Search Director & Product Manager Elizabeth Tucker addressed this complex topic.

Her comments offer insights into how Google evaluates and ranks content.

No Perfect Match

One key takeaway from Tucker’s discussion of E-E-A-T is that no single ranking signal perfectly aligns with all four elements.

Tucker explained

“There is no E-E-A-T ranking signal. But this really is for people to remember it’s a shorthand, something that should always be a consideration, although, you know, different types of results arguably need different levels of E-E-A-T.”

This means that while Google’s algorithms do consider factors like expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness when ranking content, there isn’t a one-to-one correspondence between E-E-A-T and any specific signal.

The PageRank Connection

However, Tucker did offer an example of how one classic Google ranking signal – PageRank – aligns with at least one aspect of E-E-A-T.

Tucker said:

“PageRank, one of our classic Google ranking signals, probably is sort of along the lines of authoritativeness. I don’t know that it really matches up necessarily with some of those other letters in there.”

For those unfamiliar, PageRank is an algorithm that measures the importance and authority of a webpage based on the quantity and quality of links pointing to it.

In other words, a page with many high-quality inbound links is seen as more authoritative than one with fewer or lower-quality links.

Tucker’s comments suggest that while PageRank may be a good proxy for authoritativeness, it doesn’t necessarily capture the other elements of E-E-A-T, like expertise or trustworthiness.

Why SEJ Cares

While it’s clear that E-E-A-T matters, Tucker’s comments underscore that it’s not a silver bullet to ranking well.

Instead of chasing after a mythical “E-E-A-T score,” websites should create content that demonstrates their expertise and builds user trust.

This means investing in factors like:

  • Accurate, up-to-date information
  • Clear sourcing and attribution
  • Author expertise and credentials
  • User-friendly design and navigation
  • Secure, accessible web infrastructure

By prioritizing these elements, websites can send strong signals to users and search engines about the quality and reliability of their content.

The E-E-A-T Evolution

It’s worth noting that E-E-A-T isn’t a static concept.

Tucker explained in the podcast that Google’s understanding of search quality has evolved over the years, and the Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines have grown and changed along with it.

Today, E-E-A-T is just one of the factors that Google considers when evaluating and ranking content.

However, the underlying principles – expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness – will likely remain key pillars of search quality for the foreseeable future.

Listen to the full podcast episode below:

Featured Image: salarko/Shutterstock

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