Experience—we all have it. In some form or another. And now, Google wants you to prove it.
It’s got some marketers scratching their heads, others tweeting at John Mueller, and still others asking, “What does eeat all mean?”
What Does Google Want From You Now?
Adding the “Experience” component to E-E-A-T (formerly E-A-T) brings a new layer of complexity to SEO strategy.
Here, Google advises us to consider experience as “the extent to which the content creator has the necessary first-hand or life experience for the topic.”
Great. Now how do you actually measure that?
And how is experience different from expertise?
Let’s look at what Google says—here are some takeaways from the latest Google whim to rock the SEO world:
#1 – Trust is still… #1
For what it’s worth, Google still says that trust is the most important factor in E-E-A-T, because:
“…untrustworthy pages have low E-E-A-T no matter how
Experienced, Expert, or Authoritative they may seem. For example, a financial scam is untrustworthy, even if the content creator is a highly experienced and expert scammer who is considered the go-to on running scams!”
It’s hard to argue with logic like that.
So, trust is still number one.
That means that having a solid online reputation, and credible reviews/reliable data sources are still going to be more important for SEO success than the latest addition to Google’s quality guidelines.
That said, if you already have a good reputation, have your content reviewed by experts, and use reliable sources—then focusing on adding Experience signals to the equation could give you an edge.
How much of an edge is hard to say.
Why? Well, it has to do with the second takeaway:
#2 – Experience will be more important for some topics than others.
Just like the other components of E-E-A-T, experience will be more important for some topics than others. And it’s here where the difference between “expertise” and “experience” is most apparent.
And it’s not as simple as “medical topics” or “legal topics.” It has some granularity to it.
For instance, if you’re writing about a certain medical procedure, experience with the procedure (or at least a close relationship to someone who has) is going to be a lot more important than just broad medical experience.
For example, in theory, Google may consider the life experience of a person who has faced a certain type of medical issue more valuable than the experience of a doctor who has never faced it—if the topic is about how people cope with that particular medical issue. On the other hand, if someone’s searching for information on treatment options, the doctor’s experience may be evaluated as more valuable than the life experience of the person with the medical issue. That’s the idea, at least.
#3 – Experience and Expertise will overlap (greatly) for some topics.
You know that saying about 1000 hours of practice making you an expert?
Experience and expertise are intertwined in the world of E-E-A-T. Expertise can definitely be measured in terms of experience, and vice versa.
For example, if you happen to be an expert in a certain field (i.e. SEO), and your expertise has been earned through years or decades of experience, then your expertise and experience will overlap.
However, it’s important to note that they can be two separate things. For example, someone might have a PhD in biology but have almost no experience working in the field.
While they would still be considered an expert in the field, their level of experience would be lower than a biologist who has been working in the field for many years.
#4 – Data on a content creator’s experience can come from sources outside of the page.
While an “about me” page on the content creator’s website could provide accurate data about their experience, it’s not exactly the most reliable source.
So just like trustworthiness can be affected by positive or negative reputation signals from other sources (such as social media or review sites), experience signals can come from sources outside of the page itself.
For instance, Google could look at a content creator’s social media profiles to gain insight into their life experience related to a certain topic.
Or, if the content creator is associated with an organization, Google could look at that organization’s website for information about the content creator’s experience.
An example that comes up again and again in E-E-A-T is the one about: “which would you trust more?” A product review from someone who has personally used a product, or a review by someone who has not?
The answer is obvious. But how does Google know whether the content creator has used the product or not?
It would seem like this would devalue reviews posted on the official websites of companies that make products, and make reviews on Amazon or other third-party sites more valuable by default. We all know how trustworthy Amazon reviews are.
#5 – E-E-A-T is more of an evolution than a revolution.
The addition of a second “E” to the acronym may seem like a big change, but really it’s just a natural extension of Google’s existing guidelines.
The same rules still apply: create high-quality content that’s accurate and comprehensive, and provide trust signals like author bios, sources, and reviews.
At the end of the day, that second “E” is just another “trust” signal that can be used to help Google decide if a source is credible or not.
And yes, it’s a signal that needs to be taken seriously.
But if you’re scrambling to update your content strategy right now, you probably weren’t following E-A-T well to begin with. And if you’re scrambling to try and “fake” experience, you’re missing the point, and you’re putting your properties at risk with Google’s rapidly advancing AI*/detection algorithms.
*Anyone else feeling the irony of increasingly advanced AI being used to snuff out increasingly advanced AI in SEO?
If you already had a good handle on E-A-T, Google’s not asking you to reinvent the content wheel.
Make sure your content creators have enough experience in the topics they cover and make sure to provide those trust signals (and make them super obvious) on your pages.
Google’s trying to do the same thing they’ve always been trying to do: provide reliable search results. E-E-A-T is just another tool in their arsenal for achieving that goal.
As always, if you want to stay ahead of the curve and future proof your SEO efforts (as much as possible), make sure you’re creating/publishing high quality content that’s comprehensive, trustworthy, and provides accurate info.
Make sure you’re using the appropriate signals to leverage the experience you or your content creators have with the topics they write on—and you should be in good shape.
The Bottom Line
It’s no surprise that Google is looking for more than just traditional expertise and authority when it comes to evaluating content quality. After all, experts can be out of touch with real-life experiences, and even authorities may not be the most reliable sources of information if they lack experience.
This new “E” is just an appropriate and expected extension of the existing E-A-T guidelines.
Really, the question is how many more dimensions of content quality can Google come up with before the acronym no longer resembles a word? Or will they ditch the whole “eat” thing when they add the next one?
By making sure your content is accurate, comprehensive and trustworthy and providing evidence of experience related to the topics covered (through author bios, sources, etc.), you can rest assured that your content is up to Google’s standards and will do well in organic search results.
E-E-A-T shouldn’t require a complete upheaval of your SEO strategy; just a few minor tweaks.
Quality content marketing with trust signals has been the answer to organic search performance for a long time now—and it’s still the answer.