Google ranks and sorts websites based on criteria coded into its algorithm. Part of this algorithm involves rating pages according to over 200 factors, including keywords, backlinks, and user engagement. The best pages and sites are awarded the coveted top spots on the first page of Google. Being first brings huge benefits, such as more web traffic, better sales, and higher revenue. Consequently, analysts have spent countless hours picking over search results, working out new ways to climb the rankings.
To stay ahead, Google updates its algorithm constantly. The last thing Google wants is businesses gaming the system in order to deliver irrelevant or low-quality content to users. Minor changes are made every day, with major changes published every 3-4 months. It’s a constant cycle of updates that drives some unscrupulous companies to attempt to manipulate Google’s algorithm while Google attempts to direct users to relevant, high-quality sites.
However, not every company engages with Google this way. In fact, doing so can have long-term negative effects that could hurt your business rather than help it. Most companies employing “black-hat” tactics (disapproved SEO practices such as keyword stuffing or link manipulation) eventually wind up hidden from users.
On the other hand, white-hat companies tend to flourish. While their rankings fluctuate over time, they generally enjoy greater visibility, which means more chances to convert customers. So, instead of trying to hack the algorithm, the best way to improve your Google ranking is to deliver what it wants: high-quality content.
Google judges content based on three criteria: expertise, authority, and trust. Google’s search quality evaluators are looking for sites that demonstrate:
- Knowledge. Writing extensively on a subject demonstrates expertise. Google wants content that’s informative, entertaining, or educational, as well as detailed, nuanced, and comprehensive.
- Credibility. Content that is shared, cited, and respected by other experts or influencers carries high authority. The more people care about your ideas and opinions, the more widely Google will share them.
- Integrity. Well-regarded websites are more trustworthy and likely to be ranked higher as a result. Besides user ratings, Google also looks for sites with unique content. Independent sources are more reputable than ones that recycle information.
E.A.T. does not factor into the Google algorithm. Instead, it’s part of the core principles in its Search Quality Raters Guidelines, which helps the company separate high-quality content from low-quality content.
How to Improve Your Google E.A.T. Ranking
Google never announces major updates, so there’s no way to prepare for them. Fortunately, there are a few tips that will help maintain your ranking even as the algorithm shifts.
- Publish Regularly. Online content doesn’t have a long shelf life. Around a billion gigabytes of data are added to the internet every day, so nothing published stays relevant for very long. Because of this, Google trusts fresh content more than old content, so update your site as often as you can.
- Organize Your Website. Attractive websites offer users a better experience, which means they’re less likely to click away after landing on them. A low bounce rate improves your authority and a polished website attracts third-party advertisers, which encourages trust.
- Encourage Feedback. Positive reviews establish both trust and authority. If your site doesn’t have many reviews, ask customers to leave one. Companies that ask for reviews after delivering a product or service not only receive more recommendations, but better ones as well.
- List Your Credentials. Explain your background, qualifications, and experience. The more people know about your credentials, the higher your expertise. Include a full bio on your “About” page. If you have a blog, add a short blurb at the end of each post.
- Target a Niche. Exploring a subject in depth means you’ll rank higher in relevant searches and drive more traffic to your website. Therefore, it’s better to publish content with a narrow focus rather than a broad one.
- Pay Attention to Spelling & Grammar. Google downgrades sites with poorly written content, so never publish anything without proofreading it first. Misspelled words and poor punctuation damage your expertise.