Google has rolled out yet another core algorithm update, the September 2023 Helpful Content Update.
For us bloggers, that means uncertain times lie ahead over the next few weeks. It’s a rollercoaster ride.
One of my top performing blog posts has already dropped by 3 positions – leading to an overall decrease in traffic.
But I’ve been through this sort of thing before – so I know how to get the blog back on track.
One key factor is to improve how the blog demonstrates E-E-A-T (also written as EEAT, E-EAT, or Double EAT).
What is EEAT and why does it matter for SEO?
EEAT stands for “Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness.”
It’s a method Google uses to evaluate if their search ranking systems are providing helpful, relevant information.
Google added the extra E (for ‘Experience”) in December 2022. With this, Google’s goal is to evaluate the extent to which the content writer has real-life experience of what they’re writing about.
Google defines Experience as “the extent to which the content creator has the necessary first-hand or life experience for the topic.”
Basically, if you’re writing about something, have you done it personally, or learned about it in some other way?
“Does content also demonstrate that it was produced with some degree of experience, such as with actual use of a product, having actually visited a place or communicating what a person experienced?” (Google Search Central Blog, December 15, 2022)
This move from Google makes perfect sense. After all, Google’s main goal is to serve up the best, most relevant and trustworthy information to its users.
In recent years, there’s been an absolute proliferation of rehashed, baseless, faceless online content – the kind where you have no idea who the writer is, who is running the site, how to get in touch with them, etc.
Plus, these pages are typically strewn with ads and affiliate links.
Google already places extremely high importance on “YMYL” (Your Money, Your Life) content – i.e. content covering topics in health or finances. That’s why pages on these topics need more authority to rank than most.
After all, it doesn’t take much to imagine the potential harms if, for example, false information on a serious medical issue reached the top spot in search results.
I know this firsthand, as one of my previous jobs was as a counter-disinformation analyst during the 2020 US election and the COVID-19 pandemic.
With the addition of E for Experience to Google’s latest search rater guidelines, bloggers will need to demonstrate real-life experience with the subject they’re writing about – whether that’s accounting, performing open heart surgery, or traveling in South East Asia.
Now we know what EEAT actually is, I’ll walk you through the steps I’m personally taking to shore up my blogs by including stronger proof of E for Experience (and the others too).
How To Improve EEAT: 14 Tips To Make Google Trust Your Blog
#1. Approach your blog like a business
You might already be doing this, but treating your blog as a business is one of the best things you can do to strengthen your EEAT in the eyes of Google.
You wouldn’t run a faceless, anonymous business in real life, would you? Like a blacked out shop window on a backstreet in the bad part of town. No one would trust it. So don’t do that for your blog either.
If you’re making money through your blog (e.g. through ads), then you’re already running a business. You need to treat it as such. That means being transparent, trustworthy and clear with who you are, where you are, and what you do.
You should also consider setting up a legal business entity for your blogging business, such as an LLC if you’re in the US, or a limited company or sole tradership if you’re in the UK.
#2. Invest in a business address (and phone number)
Not long before Google added the new E to its guidelines, I was on a Zoom call with one of the top SEOs in the business, Charles Floate. I was asking him about ways to improve my site’s EAT (as it was at the time).
One major thing Charles recommended was using a genuine business address as the official address of the website. He recommended using Regus, which provides a virtual office service that caters for many locations around the world.
One important point (which I didn’t know before), was to avoid virtual address services that use the same address for multiple businesses (I used to have one of these previously).
If possible, you should try to get a unique virtual address just for your business. I would never put my actual home address publicly on the website, but using a service like Regus is the next best thing.
You should look for a service that gives you a unique suite number, such as this one for UK virtual addresses.
For added benefit, have a phone number listed on your website too (although I don’t do this at present, as I don’t have the capacity to handle a lot of calls).
Regus offers a virtual receptionist service, which might be an option. Or perhaps it’s time to hire a VA.
#3. Write a comprehensive About page
I’ve revamped my About page text to speak to my experience in this niche (SEO and blogging), especially focusing on:
- Length of time references (i.e., I’ve been blogging for 10 years)
- Specific references to my experience in blogging
- Citing proof of my experience from elsewhere on the web, such as my PhD and my published journalism work.
I started by adding the following information:
- How many years I’ve been blogging (10+ years).
- My experience as a professional journalist (and several links to my published work).
- My digital marketing and SEO experience (length of time and companies worked for).
- My PhD in computational social science (with a link to my university profile) and explaining how it helps me do better blog research and distil complex information in an easy to understand format (e.g. for my B2B SaaS and AI startup clients).
- Some of the SEO results I’ve achieved (including Google Search Console screenshots).
- Links to my other social media profiles, including LinkedIn and Twitter (both of which are highly active and have thousands of followers).
Also, don’t hide your identity.
One of the least trustworthy types of blog is the faceless type.
If you’re going to put your content out there in public, you have to be ready to take ownership of it. These days, Google is unlikely to accept anything less.
#4. Add photos of yourself
Taking ownership of your content and your identity goes hand in hand with including photos of yourself on your blog.
Ideally, you should aim for several different photos: two or three for your About page and one for your Author bio.
If the photos show you doing something relevant to the topics you write about, then that’s even better.
For example, I could include a photo of myself standing in Lisbon’s Praça do Comércio square to add extra Experience points to a blog post about moving to Portugal.
#5. Include proof of experience in your Author bio too
I’ve also added a summary version of the above points to my Author bio (which shows up in the sidebar next to each post).
This is really useful because the reader can easily see the author’s proof of experience while reading through the blog post.
If you have other people writing for your blog, each one should have their own Author bio with proof of their experience in the topic they’re writing about. It would also be a good idea to mention them on the main About page.
#6. Weave “experience markers” into your content
I like to make my topical experience crystal clear by weaving “experience markers” into each blog post I write.
For example, if I’m writing a post about how to develop an SEO strategy for a blog, then I’d probably mention my personal experience building blogs to 100K+ visitors per month, or my time as in-house content manager for a fintech company in London.
The introduction is a great place to include these experience markers, as it means the reader is more likely to trust you right from the start.
Depending on the context, I may also weave in experience markers throughout the text, if it makes sense to do so.
For example, when I’m writing a product review I always include a section explaining to the reader exactly how I use the product in my work. I also talk about any results it helped me achieve.
Check out my ConvertKit review to see this approach in action.
#7. Harness outside authority
If you personally don’t have enough authority in a topic you want to write about, you could always consider bringing authority in from an external source.
Journalists do this all the time when they interview experts.
Some of the main ways to do this include: publishing a guest post from a qualified expert, interviewing a roundup of experts, hiring an expert to review your content (and clearly stating their name and qualifications at the beginning of the post).
Also, I only link out from my blog posts to reliable and trustworthy external sources.
For example, that could include government websites, academic research papers or university blogs, well-known industry blogs, or reputable media outlets (think the BBC, New York Times, or similar).
#8. Grow your social media presence
Having a healthy presence on social media – such as Twitter or LinkedIn – is another way to build your EEAT across the wider web.
Ideally, use your social media channels to post and engage in discussions about the same topics you cover on your blog.
This creates yet another proof of your expertise and authority in your topic, which feeds back into your overall EEAT for your blog or blogs.
#9. Build your blog’s topical authority
It’s no longer enough to publish random blog posts on assorted different topics and expect them to rank. Instead, you have to own your niche and cover it in a comprehensive way with lots of blog posts.
I recommend using a keyword research tool like Semrush to search for related long-tail keywords around the core 3-4 topics of your blog (for example, here my core topics are blogging, SEO, and LinkedIn).
A good place to start is by identifying around 10 long tail keywords for each core topic, then gradually writing and publishing blog posts to cover all of them.
Once you’ve got a nice cluster of related blog posts, you can then publish a pillar post, such as an “ultimate guide”, which links back to all of them.
This is the best way to build authority around your blog’s core topics. Following this approach can get you ranked quickly, without necessarily needing to build lots of backlinks.
#10. Remove or update any low EEAT content
Whether you’re new to blogging or have owned your blog for a while, you’ve probably got old content that doesn’t give the best impression in terms of E-EAT. You’ve got two choices: update it, or remove it altogether.
If you do decide to update it, consider fleshing it out with more authoritative information, adding external links to trustworthy sources, and making sure all references are fresh and up-to-date.
#11. Make sure you’re compliant with GDPR
GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) is an EU regulation described as the “toughest privacy and security law in the world.”
Taking GDPR into account is a really big deal if your blog serves a European readership. And that’s almost certainly going to be the case if your blog is aimed at an international audience.
You can find comprehensive guides online detailing all the steps needed to fully meet GDPR requirements. But as a bare minimum, you should do the following:
- Make sure your blog has a GDPR compliant cookie pop-up in place (yes, those annoying things). I use the CookieYes plugin on my blogs.
- Use suitable GDPR compliant language on your blog’s privacy page (templates from iubenda will take care of this for you). Make it clearly visible (best place is usually the footer).
#13. Use SSL on your blog
Having SSL (secure socket layer) set up on your blog is an important step for maintaining its security – especially critical if you’re selling products from your website and hence taking credit card details.
It’s become the norm these days for websites to have an SSL certificate. Not having one will make your blog look less than trustworthy, both for your users and for Google itself.
So make sure you get an SSL certificate set up as soon as possible, if you haven’t already done so. Your web hosting provider should be able to help you with this.
#14. Seek backlinks from reputable and relevant sources
My go-to suggestions here would be:
- Sending HARO responses to try and get backlinks from media outlets
- Pitching guest posts to relevant blogs in your niche
- Hiring a PR firm to run a press campaign on your behalf (resulting in powerful press mention backlinks from media outlets).
Backlinks from any of these sources typically go a long way to build up the authority aspect of your blog’s EEAT score. And it goes without saying – never, ever buy cheap backlinks from link farms.
These 14 steps are the main actions I’m currently taking to improve the level of EEAT on my blogs. There are other things I could do, so I’ll add extra steps to this guide as I go through the process of improving my EEAT.