With so many changes to their algorithm it’s often hard to know what criteria Google uses when ranking websites. However, a recently leaked memo from the search engine giant help’s to shed a little light on their internal SEO practices, and it makes for an interesting reading.
On March 31 2014, Google released it’s Quality Rater’s Manual 5.0 and by 11th June 2014 it had already found its way onto Scribd.com. The 160-page manual provides an amazing insight into the way Google uses the E.A.T formula to ensure only the most authoritative website are shown in your searches.
What is E.A.T?
According to the leaked manual, E.A.T stands for Expertise, Authority, and Trust. It’s essentially a set of guidelines businesses and brands must follow in order to be considered as an authority. These guidelines are designed to ensure searches done via Google deliver consistent quality and cover things like how useful your content is and what people are saying about you online. Simply put, the more positive people are about you, the better you will rank.
Google Quality Raters, the people who review and rank websites on Googles’ behalf, are told to rank sites higher if it has regular content updates and customer support is easily accessible. Whilst there’s nothing too shocking in the manual, the three key points of E.A.T stand out of the most.
Highlights from the manual include:
“Look for reviews, references, recommendations by experts, news articles, and other credible information created/written by individuals about the website. Stores frequently have user ratings, which can help you understand a store’s reputation based on the reports of people who actually shop there. We consider a large number of positive user reviews as evidence of positive reputation.”
“Many websites are eager to tell users how great they are. But for Page Quality rating, you must also look for outside, independent reputation information about the website. When the website says one thing about itself, but reputable external sources disagree with what the website says, trust the external sources. Your job is to truly evaluate the Page Quality of the site, not just blindly accept information on one or two pages of the website. Be skeptical of claims that websites make about themselves.”
“Contact information and customer service information are extremely important for websites that handle money, such as stores, banks, and credit card companies. Users need a way to ask questions or get help when a problem occurs […] Look for contact information – including the store’s policies on payment, exchanges, and returns.”
What does this mean for your SEO?
For many, the revelations are hardly a surprise. Many of the recommendations it makes are standard best practices, but it’s refreshing to see Google actually taking a stand on this. So if you want to be seen as an authority in your specific area and ranked as such, remember you are what you E.A.T.