As a professional, your content is your beacon. It’s your magnet. It’s what gets people to notice you; it gets them to learn more about you; and it gets them interested in you, in what you have to say, and in what you do.
But your content alone is not enough.
Google, in an attempt to curb spammers and dubious content, updated its database in August of 2018 with an algorithm that both awarded good content providers and penalized poor ones.
Called “EAT,” which is an acronym for Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness, the update focused on the three pillars upon which Google evaluates a piece of content, and the content's validity and veracity.
Also dubbed the “Medic Update,” because medical and health-related sites were the ones most affected, it also applied to anything related to your money or your life, also called “YMYL pages.”
Lots of acronyms, I know.
Basically, any page with content that could potentially negatively impact the quality of a person’s health, happiness, finances, or safety is targeted in the update. This includes content related to law, health, nutrition, finances, news, safety, jobs, shopping, fitness, and so on.
Obviously, professionals fall into that category.
Everything a professional does is related to YMYL in some way. Even when professionals are in B2B, it still applies, as people are still the ones making purchasing decisions and not businesses.
Professionals most affected are doctors and healthcare practitioners, but the update also affected dentists, chiropractors, accountants, financial advisors, lawyers, nutritionists, personal trainers, engineers, consultants, and so on.
In short, if you offer any advice that's meant to help people but also runs the risk of hurting them, too, your content is affected in some way.
With the rise of fake news and the manipulation of search results, it’s no wonder Google wants to deliver the best and most relevant content to its users. But it also wants to give them the most reliable results, too.
Results that users can trust.
Because, when you think about it, after someone gets bad advice or has a bad experience with a website they found on Google, the user will blame Google to some degree. Even if it's indirectly or unconsciously.
So what can you do to improve your content’s EAT?
Ultimately, Google wants websites filled with content. But it wants content written or reviewed by experts.
But how does Google evaluate expertness?
If you have published books and articles that are reviewed, particularly peer-reviewed, and if you have profiles and credentials on your website as well as other reliable websites, all these “signals” and more leave a digital footprint that Google uses to validate your expertise.
In fact, Google has published its guidelines, which are freely available.
It’s a long read, but there are some quick things you can do to optimize for YMYL. Here’s a partial list, which should give you some idea:
- Make sure your content is clearly marked as written or reviewed by an expert, which is done through a variety of on-page signals:
- “About the author” section at the bottom.
- Author schema markup in the code.
- Proper citations or links to references.
- Supporting resources if necessary.
- Have online profiles and bios of the content creator or site owner with demonstrable expertise:
- Credentials (e.g., education, experience, certifications, awards, etc).
- Other relevant published content on other trusted websites.
- Expertise related exposure or work, such as speaking at conferences, guest lecturing, giving expert interviews, having media mentions, etc.
- Make sure your content is factually accurate, and run it by Google, too.
- Add plenty of data that support and backup your claims, and make sure that the data comes from reputable and trusted sources, too.
- Add case studies, testimonials, and valid social proof, such as seals of approval, third-party validators (e.g., security seals), and certifications.
- Obtain and collect reviews, ratings, and recommendations from reputable sites that validate your content and/or your website.
- Make sure your NAP (i.e., name, address, and phone) are indicated on the website, in the schema markup, and on directory and business listings to demonstrate that you are a real business with a real location.
- Finally, avoid offering any advice in which you have no expertise, or citing or linking to advice from poor sources; doing so will harm the EAT of the website as a whole, even if other content is valid.
Remember, this is just a partial list. There are plenty of other things you can do.
What’s important is to ensure EAT is applied across the entire website, and not just on content pieces or YMYL pages. Because search engines will evaluate your content not only by itself but also according to the website as a whole.