Join us for our first E-A-T webinar

Have questions about E-A-T?

In this free webinar, held in December of 2018, and taught by Dr. Marie Haynes, you will learn about the importance of Google’s Quality Raters’ Guidelines and what they say about Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trust. Our goal is to give you great information based on these guidelines and on quotes from Google employees to help you improve your website, get more traffic, and make more money.

Jump to the transcription of this webinar, including some amazing questions.

The E-A-T Webinar, Part 1

The video below contains some teaching, with Marie using slides, and is followed by a great session of Q&A. In this video, Marie answers general questions about E-A-T.

Topics covered in this webinar:

  • What are the Quality Raters’ Guidelines (QRG)?
  • Is there evidence to show that the information in the QRG is being used in Google’s algorithms?
  • What do the QRG say about E-A-T (Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trust)?
  • How is Google likely to be measuring E-A-T algorithmically?
  • Does your online reputation really matter?

Parts two and three of this seminar (dates to be announced) will include the following:

  • What is author E-A-T and how can you improve upon it? <==  This webinar aired on May 30, 2019 (Watch it here)!
  • How can Google algorithmically determine trust? And what can we do to appear more trustworthy?

Interested in hiring us to help diagnose your E-A-T issues?

You can find out more here about our site quality reviews.

Full transcription

Hi everybody Thanks so much for joining me today


We have a big crowd here with us and we’re going to talk today about E-A-T and what the Quality Raters guidelines say about E-A-T and a little bit about what my team and I have learned in the years that we’ve been doing site reviews and looking at E-A-T.


So the way this is going to work is I have a bit of a presentation that for those of you who have heard me speak at conferences, some of this is going to sound a bit familiar.


We’re going to actually do three parts to this Webinar.


So today we’re going to talk about what is and what the Quality Raters’ Guidelines are and what we can learn about how Google is likely using this information in their algorithms


We’re also going to have a Part two which will be probably just after Christmas maybe into the new year.


In Part two we’re going to talk specifically about author E-A-T


So if you have questions that relate to the E-A-T of your authors and especially if you’re a medical site and you have questions about medical authors that type of thing.


Then stay tuned for part two and in part three we’re going to talk about Trust on trust is really important for sites that dropped with the August first update and also the September 27th update.


Those of you who are watching this live thank you.


First of all we do have a chat available and some of my team are moderating the chat and they’re going to share with me the best questions.


I know some of you have asked questions beforehand. We had so many questions that we won’t be able to get to all of them. But we’ve picked out the ones that we think are going to be the most helpful for the rest of you who are watching this


You probably noticed I have some of my team behind me. You guys want to say “hi”? This is our office here in Ottawa Ontario Canada. What we do is we spend most of our days doing site reviews. A good part of our site reviews involves law looking at Quality Raters’ Guidelines and sort of assessing sites in the eyes of these guidelines and going to share with you some examples of what The kind of things that we see that we think are connected to these guidelines


So bear with me as I do some technical stuff here.


We’re going to share my screen and we’ll start doing a presentation here of slides…So first of all what we’re going to talk about is this thing called E-A-T and most of you if you’re here in the webinar than you already have heard of E-A-T and you know that there is some significance in terms of SEO and I want to tell you that what I’m sharing with you there are certain parts that I’m going to say, “Look a Google employee said this”, or “Google announced this this type of thing.”


There are other parts though that’s our theory on things.I think this is really important as SEOs that we should sort of distinguished when we’re talking about something that we think is true and something that we pretty much know is true. So hopefully I’ll be able to distinguish between things just a little bit.


You already saw some of my team but again we do mostly site quality reviews and you want to reach us, we do have a bit of a waiting list for these reviews but we’d be happy to help you out.


Let’s talk about the Quality Raters’ Guidelines.


These guidelines are given by Google to people called quality raters. There are at least ten thousand quality raters in the world. I’ve heard estimates of up to one hundred thousand.They contract it out by external companies so they’re not actually employees of Google and it’s important to know that the quality raters are not the webspam team.


So the guidelines are meant to teach the quality raters how to determine whether a website is high quality. And when Google does a change in their algorithms let’s say the engineers decide they want to work on making a certain type of spam not rank properly or not rank.


Well then what they’ll do is they’ll change the algorithm and then they’ll show the results to the quality raters and have them assess websites in the eyes of these guidelines.


So a lot of people have argued, “Well you know they’re algorithms. There’s no way they could algorithmically determine some of the stuff that’s in these guidelines on and I think a lot of the stuff they actually can determine algorithmically. So when Google first came up with the guidelines initially they were private. You could only see them if you were a quality rater there and there were occasionally leaked copies that would come out and you know as SEOs we’d all start reading them. And then in 2013 Google started actually publicly making these available for everybody to read.


So you can read the Quality Raters’ Guidelines. Just do a search for Google Quality Raters’ Guidelines and there are about one hundred sixty pages or so.


[Note: If you’re a paid newsletter subscriber, you can get my summary of the important parts of the Quality Raters’ Guidelines, along with a checklist we use for assessing sites.]


I find them really interesting reading. It takes a while that get through some of the examples that they’ve given there. But if you’ve ever wanted to know you know whenever there’s an algorithm update, somebody from Google always says, “Oh well the key is to create a high quality site and you know this,nGoogle has just said that this is transparency on how Google works and how to understand what Google looks for in Web pages.


So these are really important and just a sort of hammer that point in this was from an interview with Ben Gomes, VP of Search at Google and he said the Quality Raters’ Guidelines, they don’t tell you exactly how the algorithm is ranking results but they fundamentally show what the algorithm should do and that’s really important.


So there may be parts of the Quality Raters’ Guidelines that aren’t yet in the algorithm but these show you where Google wants to go on. So some of the things that we point out there’s a lot of discussion lately about whether Google uses the BBB and we’re going to get into that in a little bit. The thing is whether or not they use it in the algorithm that’s what they use is to give the raters to test whether their algorithms are working properly. So we still want to pay attention to all of these things.


So this tweet came from Danny Sullivan under the Google Search Liaison Twitter handle and one of the reasons why I pointed this out is because people always say, “You know Google makes updates every day. There’s probably three to four updates to the algorithms every single day, but every now and then he says there are broad changes.


So we call those core quality updates.


Those of you have been in this profession for a while, you’ll remember when Panda first came out and when Penguin came out these were really specific updates. But when they do core quality updates when we see those often you know Google doesn’t tell us exactly what they are.


And and so this type of update happened several times per year. This year we’ve had a crazy number of what I call mild quality updates. Almost every week we see a significant change in rankings for our sites. And but there have been just a few that have been major updates and some of those include March 9th of 2018, August 1st and then also September 27th were massive updates that affected a large number of sites.


So I want to take you back a little bit to February of 2017 on this date, February 7th. I believe this is when Google first started really really implementing things from the Quality Raters’ Guidelines into their algorithms. Now I don’t have proof for this but the reason why I say this is because so I’ve been doing site reviews for quite a few years now and at this point I’m starting early March or so I said, well probably even mid February I started getting all sorts of site owners that had graphs of analytics traffic that looked like this or worse and it was really very obvious that something big had happened on February 7th.


We didn’t even give this update a name. A month later was what we called Fred, but I think Fred actually started with this February seventh update and every sight that I reviewed it was really obvious that they were lacking in E-A-T which will explain in just a minute.


So you know I eventually I think five days after this update Gary Illyes from Google tweeted this random reminder that hey we should be reading the Quality Raters’ Guidelines. And so that sort of backed up my suspicion that E-A-T could potentially be a factor here and then going to the August 1st update, Danny Sullivan he did the same something when people ask, “Well how do I recover from an algo hit”, And he said :Have great content.”


But he also pointed out that if you want to know how to have great content you should be reading the Quality Raters’ Guidelines and just a little bit of a brag Here he followed that tweet up with this tweet that retweeted me and we were sharing about a client of ours that we had implemented a number of things based on a review from the standpoint of the Quality Raters’ Guidelines and and this site saw a significant improvement.


This is traffic estimate from SEMRush. They’ve been continuing to see improvements and a lot of this we attribute to E-A-T .


We did also work on some other things on the site to so it’s hard to say that it was one hundred percent E-A-T.


And then at the same time on August first there were a great number of sites that had traffic graph graphics that looked like this, and this is devastating when a drop like this happens.


So starting February 7th of 2017, pretty much every site that we felt was hit with a broad core quality update had some type of issue with E-A-T .


So most of you probably know that stands for expertise, authoritativeness and trust. And people would argue, “Well how would Google measure this,” so I’m going to show you some things in the Quality Raters’ Guidelines that give us some hints as to how Google could measure this.


I also want to emphasize that this is not just expertise.


I see all the time people saying, “Oh but I’m a doctor and my rankings dropped and I’ve been practicing for twenty years. But if you’re not recognized online as an authority then you’re going to be lacking the A and that we’ll talk a little bit about trust too.


And again in the third part of this Webinar we’re going to talk in great detail about trust on so it’s important to know that it is very multifaceted.


What the QRG say about E-A-T


It’s not just you know whoever has the most experience wins. This is from the Quality Raters’ Guidelines.




They tell us that the amount of E-A-T that the site has is very important. They say that it is made up of the main content quality and amount of content website information website reputation which we’ll talk about in a minute.


They all make up the E-A-T of a website.


It’s important to talk about what YMYL means.So if you are in one of these areas:






If you sell anything on your website you’re definitely considered YMYL and this is important because it is a big deal for YMYL site If you are lacking in E-A-T and you’re a E-A-T site you’re not going to rank well and there are different YMYL sites.


So the example of the Quality Raters’ Guidelines says that if you are a site that talks about adoptions you’re not really legal. Well, a little bit legal. You’re not really medical but you’re very important in terms of helping people make decisions in their lives.


So of the sites that we’ve reviewed I would say almost all of them are sites that we would consider YMYL.


News sites are also considered YMYL so you know if you do fit in one of these categories this is where it is most important. I know there’s a lot of text on this slide


But this sort of emphasizes that you know if you’re YMYL, it very important to have E-A-T.




And so the part that have highlighted at the bottom here says if expertise authoritativeness and trustworthiness are lacking, then these are to be considered low quality sites so that’s very very important.


The guidelines have this list of characteristics of a high quality page and I think I would urge all of you to you know search out the guidelines and read all of these.


This is really a blueprint for what Google considers high quality and the very first characteristic of a high quality page is that have a high level of E-A-T. They also have a list of characteristics of low quality pages, and of course the very first thing is that there is a lack of E-A-T.



So the point that I’m trying to make is that Google says I think E-A-T is mentioned in the Quality Raters’ Guidelines 186 times. It is really really important.


The question that everybody always has is, “Can we improve the E-A-T?” I’ll tell you that you can for some businesses but it’s difficult.


If you are a legitimate business then you really should be able to build up E-A-T,which I’ll share with you in a minute how we’re going to do this.


We’ve had some sites that we’ve reviewed where our conclusions are that you are probably not going to rank again and these are sites that mostly existed on tricks and loopholes and ways you know they were buying links they were using PBN’s and things like that.


Google really only wants to rank sites that have high E-A-T.


So back in February of 2018, I was at PubCon Austin and I asked Gary Illyes from Google. He was doing a keynote talk and I asked him in the question period, “How does Google algorithmically determine E-A-T. He said it’s largely based on links and mentions on authoritative sites.


It’s really interesting that he said mentions.


So he said If The Washington Post mentions you that speaks to your E-A-T.


He also said that Google knows which parts of the Web can be easily bought into. He mentioned if you get a link in the contributors section of Forbes that Google knows that those are very easy to buy and that that link probably wouldn’t speak to your E-A-T.


So the point here, the vast majority of where Google gathers information is about what other authoritative sites are saying about you. And so this is an important thing to know.


Third party sites


So here’s how the quality raters are instructed to find this information.


And we think now we don’t know exactly how Google is doing this algorithmically. But this is the process that the raters are told to use in order to assess whether the algorithms are doing their job.


So the first thing is they’re told to look for reviews and they’re specifically told the look for reviews on sites like Yelp, and the Better Business Bureau.


If it’s an e-commerce site then Amazon Google shopping. This doesn’t apply to every site.


So whenever I bring this up people always say, “Well it doesn’t make sense for my business to be on Yelp,” or “None of my competitors are on these sites,” or “You know we live in a country where the BBB isn’t even used and the point here is not that Google has an algorithm that’s one to one like, “if you’re BBB rating is this than your rankings are this”, it’s Google is trying to find that overall there are other problems with your business and so we do think that you should be.


So what we do is we look at whether your competitors have… Let’s say your competitors all have Yelp listings and they all have multiple reviews and they’re all four five stars and you have you know maybe one review and it’s negative. That’s a sign that you should be working on building up your Yelp presence you know and we can’t prove that one hundred percent but this is what the raters are told to look for their also told to look for information like this.

So this is really interesting. If you were doing research on the company, IBM, the part that I’ve highlighted there says If you put this into Google it’s saying, “Alright I want to see all the results that talk about the company IBM but are not IBM site themselves.” We do this in our site quality reviews

Dome climber is given as an example in the Quality Raters’ Guidelines as a low quality site for a number of reasons. If you do this search you will see that people are saying, “This doesn’t perform as expected”, “Has a reputation score of thirteen percent”, which apparently is bad, “Do not purchase from this company you’ll be swindled,” and so this site saw massive drops in conjunction with quality updates.


Because Google does not want to rank sites where everybody is complaining about them.


I know some of you right now are thinking, “Well doesn’t that open the door for negative SEO?


People leaving negative reviews all over the place?” I think in some places potentially it can. But one of the things that the guidelines talk about is whether or not you’re responding to reviews. So even if you are getting negative reviews left, you could still respond to those and those should help improve your overall reputation.


It’s important to know that the guidelines say that even a mildly negative reputation it can be a sign for a low rating. You really want to pay attention to your reputation online So let’s talk a little bit about the BBB. The guidelines actually say, “Please consider low ratings on the Better Business Bureau site to be evidence for negative reputation.”


And this is a screen shot taken from the guidelines where they I didn’t put that red line there.



They actually pointed out that this business has an F rating and this should be considered a low quality site.


Now the question is, why would Google rely on a third party site like this? An interesting thing came up just a couple weeks ago. The BBB actually tweeted out about a company that they had given an F rating because they found that the company was involved in some fraud and stuff like that. So I went and looked at the traffic stats on SEMrush and the traffic actually showed that they were hit with the August first update. But yet they’re BBB rating didn’t change till it was like October or something.


And so the point I’m trying to make here is that that if we were doing a review on the site today of course we would say, “Yes you have an F rating and you’re going to have to fix that in order to be considered high quality.”


But Google recognized that there were problems with this business even before the BBB gave them an F rating. So my point here is that yes we look at these things. I think it’s possible that Google could be creating a score in the aggregate in saying, “You know, if competitors all have A ratings or they have…” One of the things that we’ve seen a lot is not necessarily the letter rating corresponding to ranking hits but the number of negative reviews and especially the negative reviews that are not responded to.


If the BBB is not in your area then look at what sites are actually doing reviews in your area. When I spoke at Brighton SEO, a lot of people there said, “Well Trust Pilot tends to be the authority.”


So look again. If your competitors are getting reviews on Trust Pilot then do you have as many? Do you have as good of a review profile? I wanted to share this now…


Dr Axe dot com


They’re not clients of ours but a lot of people point them out when we start talking about E-A-T. This site saw massive hits on August first which was the medic update. And if you look at Dr Axe’s Bio he kind of looks like a guy that should have a lot of E-A-T. He’s a certified doctor. We debated whether the fact he was a doctor of natural medicine negated that, but legitimately, he’s got authority he’s recognized by a lot of people.


So why should his site drop? And what people didn’t look at was the T in E-A-T. Doctor Axe’s better business profile used to have not only an F rating but this massive red banner that was like it was screaming out to people do not use this company. There were lots of people complaining about refunds and other things like that.


Now it’s interesting to see that since then this profile has changed. I think it actually has…It’s like a different company name now, so there’s no F rating. They’re building up new reviews on the BBB. Nothing has changed in terms of their rankings.


The point I’m trying to make here is that you know Google’s not just looking at this one thing. Again it’s not one to one that if this rating is bad your rankings are bad. They can collect signals from all around the Web to determine that this company has trust issues .


So I do think that they can recover. I think that they can you know improve on whatever the issues were.


And I do expect that at some point in the future, who knows how long they’ll start seeing some improvements again.


Another place that’s talked about in the Quality Raters’ Guidelines is Wikipedia.


And again people would say, “Well how would Google use it? Why would they use information from a third party site?” We know that they’re using it. Most of the information that’s in knowledge panels comes from Wikipedia or similar sources. And so this is something that’s from one of our site quality reviews.


And what we commonly do is we look at the sites that a ranking number one for your main one two and three for your main keywords. And it’s uncanny how often we see that all the sites that are ranking well have their own Wikipedia page and the client that were reviewing that saw drops does not have a Wikipedia page.


I do think that Wikipedia mentions can count for something. When you think about it, the only way to get into Wikipedia is if you legitimately are an authoritative business. Now if you are, you you should try to get a Wikipedia page. It’s challenging to do that and we don’t have time to you know get into all the specifics on that but most likely I do think that Google actually has something in the algorithm that says You know if this company has its own Wikipedia page that speaks to their authority.


Getting Press


The next thing that we’ll talk about is just doing really awesome things and getting press.


The guidelines say that news articles can be a source of E-A-T information and again, Google knows when somebody’s actually writing about you because you’ve done something awesome as compared to like you spread out a press release or you paid a bunch of journalists to write about you and I know people would argue you know well, how would Google know the difference. I can tell you from years of auditing links that it’s really obvious when a company is artificially producing PR as opposed to generating it because they’re truly a great company I’m a big fan of HARO, help a reporter out. It’s a place where you can get you get three emails a day from journalists who are looking to connect with sources and so that’s one thing you can do to help build up your E-A-T is reply to HARO requests and then often you can get mentioned in authoritative places the guidelines also talked about news articles from well-known news sites so in your industry.


You should see who are the big players and how can I get mentions on those sites. So this was a really cool thing that Barry Schwartz did at Search Engine Roundtable where he decided to honor a bunch of a SEOs, and I truly was honored that he included me on this list. My joke I always make is I don’t know why he’s pointing at empty wine glass at my head and I’m kind of hoping that I drank it…but the point that I’m trying to make here is that my being mentioned in Search Engine Roundtable speaks to my authority in SEO so think of who the authorities are in your niche and how can you get them to mention you.


Now I know a lot of you are thinking well there’s no way they’d ever mentioned me so one of the things that works really well is to produce fantastic research if you can produce studies with numbers and stats and things that people want to quote and that can get the attention of authoritative sites then that’s the type of mention that really can help.



This one here the reason why use this gif [it’s Charlie Sheen looking confused] is that if you’ve been doing link building for you know in the pre Penguin days you probably didn’t pay much attention to forums because those are links that are easy to make and you know easy to spam but the Quality Raters’ Guidelines actually talk about forum discussions being a source of E-A-T information so one of the things that we think is that Google can probably recognize if people all over the web are saying great things about your business are talking about this fantastic product that you have or whatever that that speaks to your E-A-T so for example on. For years I did mostly penalty work and if you look at Google any forums whether it’s Google, Moz, SEO chat and bunch of those forums if you see discussions on penalties there’s a good chance that my name is mentioned and so that speaks to my authority in terms of dealing with Google penalties.


So I’m not telling you to all go out and spam the forums, but I do think that it’s important to be listening to forums and jump in and join the conversation where especially if somebody’s saying something bad about your brand then jump in and try to rectify it. So we don’t want to run out and spam forums with links but we do want to do all we can to encourage people to be talking about our business.


I’m just going to touch on this briefly the guidelines do talk a lot about the E-A-T of individual authors and there’s a lot of discussion on that recently there was something that Bill Slawski wrote about on the GoFish Digital blog about whether or not Google is actually ranking documents based on a score for authors and that’s not to be confused with the old authorship.


This is a topic that I could go on about for quite a while and so we’re going to do this in our next webinar and I know some of you have asked questions on this we’re going to push that to the next webinar which again should be at some point in early January. But I did want to point out this site that was a client of ours that we worked on improving they had medical content and we actually brought in…well they brought in physicians to fact-check their medical content and they saw really nice improvements with the August  1 update.


More detail about that in part two of our series.


Helpful links


And so that concludes the slide portion of this I want to share these links with you if you’re not already a member of our newsletter then I would really encourage you to do that there’s a free version that if you just want to know here’s the changes Google made here’s the announcements that they made that’s in the free version the paid version which is $18 US a month it gives you a bunch of insight and a bunch of tips and we’ve got a lot of really good feedback that it’s quite valuable.


Google update newsletter

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For those of you who want more information on Medic…if you were hit by medic I really would encourage you to read the link,  and and there’s a lot of information there about what I think Google is doing in terms of Medic and evaluating trust so we’ll get to that in part three of this series and if you are a paid member of my newsletter then you have access to the this ebook that I wrote. It’s a summary of the Quality Raters’ Guidelines and a bit of a checklist that we use in order to evaluate sites so you can get that book at


Audience questions

So at this point I think we’ll move over to questions and this is where we’ll see if the tech works okay for me…let’s see here hang on guys…all right and my slide show okay so I’m going to get onto some of these questions now we have two places where we’ve asked questions. Some of you in the chat have a bunch of questions and and then we’ve got a bunch of questions that were already asked before so I’m going to start with some of the questions we had asked before because we had a lot of really good ones and and then we’ll we’ll move on to some of the chat questions as well.


Is it important to optimize your About-Us page for E-A-T?

So first question we have a very extensive about Us page with tons of content about our employees and their extensive expertise in our industry but the page is not optimized for SEO is E-A-T specifically on an about Us page more for manual auditors or for Google bots.


So that’s really a good question. Your About Us page is where what we always recommend is that you do all you can to brag about your E-A-T and so we actually have one client that was really well known as an authority but it wasn’t actually…this comes up kind of often and one of the sites were reviewing right now is the same situation that they did nothing on their website to actually share how their they were known as authorities. So we like to see on the home page as well as the about page things like how many years of experience you’ve had, your authoritative mentions…You can say as mentioned in The New York Times or even your local newspaper or wherever you’ve had news mentions.


You should put that on your about page. The question is whether Google actually looks at your own about page or are they getting this information externally. Obviously the external information is more important because otherwise anybody could say that… I could make up all sorts of things about my qualifications.


With that said, we have one client that again was well-known as an authority and they had authoritative mentions but they really weren’t ranking well for their main keyword and we recommended that they really beefed up on their homepage. They said, “We’re the number one provider of this and we’ve had mentions we have these celebrity endorsements”.  They put that on their about page as well and with a subsequent quality update and it was two or three months later they saw massive gains.


So now, that’s just one site. I do think that we should be mentioning things on our about page but I think it’s it’s not going to fix everything to just put stuff on your about page.


Can specialty Facebook groups help with E-A-T?


Jumping over to the chat here, somebody asked, “When you talk about forums, what about specialty Facebook groups?”


So Facebook’s interesting. We could have a whole discussion for the entire hour about whether or not Google’s using social media. The way I look at it is if Google can see the pages then it could speak to your E-A-T, so a lot of Facebook groups…If it’s a private Facebook group then Google is not going to be crawling it and they’re not going to know that so it probably wouldn’t help you I do think though…So one of our employees actually has a Facebook group and noticed that whenever he posts stuff on this Facebook group that has pretty good engagement then his articles tend to rank better. Now that could just be because more people are engaging with the articles, but we really feel that if you get tons of mentions across Facebook…I’m not talking about a specific group but across Facebook, that that could that that could you know really make a difference in terms of E-A-T and again the thing is to get people legitimately talking about your business.


How can you measure improvements in E-A-T?

Let’s see here…somebody asked how can you measure improvements in E-A-T and that’s really tough because we’re used to, as SEOs, we can say, “Well, I got this many links and so I can I can say to my client…In the past we used to do that, right? We used to say we’d get you X number of links per month and and that would be a good indicator or we could use analytics to say well you know are we’ve increased traffic to these pages.


It’s very hard to determine whether Google is recognizing more E-A-T for you because there’s so many different factors and who knows. I mean we’ve sort of talked about creating our own sort of internal E-A-T score. I don’t think that that’s going to happen though because nobody knows exactly how Google is measuring these things algorithmically but I guess what I would say is if you were affected by a quality update in the last couple of years and then a subsequent update happens and you see improvements that that’s probably Google recognizing your E-A-T but it really is a hard thing to measure.


How to improve E-A-T for a dental website


Let’s see here somebody asked how can we improve E-A-T for a dental website. So this is good. Let’s talk about a small business like this, especially a local small business.


It’s not likely that you’re going to get mentions on the New York Times. I mean it’s possible the examples that Google gives in the Quality Raters’ Guidelines are all like New York Times, Washington Post, and all these super authoritative sites but Google can recognize authorities in other areas as well. So as a dentist I would be trying to get external mentions on sites that are known as authorities in the dental space. One thing you could be doing is is HARO.


HARO gets a little bit overwhelming because they send three emails a day but what you could do is set up Gmail filters so that every time you get a HARO email it only comes to your inbox if it contains the words dental, dentist, and maybe teeth, and so let’s say there was a journalist who was doing a story on teeth whitening then you can say well I would like to be a source for you and give a quote on on teeth whitening and then you can get mentioned in authoritative places.


The other thing I would do if I was helping improve E-A-T for a dentist is look at your online review profile. Are there people complaining? And if there are, and I would imagine that dentists get a lot of…I think you you’re more likely to review your dentist if you’ve had a bad experience than if you’ve had a good experience, so you need to really be looking at those reviews and if a whole bunch of people are saying things like hey your staff was rude to me or you weren’t on time for my appointment or some stuff like that then those are things that have to change. What I would do is I would respond to those reviews and and say you know I’m really sorry that that happened we’re working on fixing things and and you know that type of thing so there’s lots more that could be done but those are some some good places to start


Is an affiliate site that reviews household products YMYL?

Let’s see here isn’t if this is a good question is an affiliate site that reviews household products YMYL, so we’ve debated this internally as well because on one hand you’re not actually taking transactions. You’re not taking credit card information. But on the other hand you’re helping people make decisions on purchases. so I’m trying to think if we’ve had sites… you know I don’t know that we’ve had any sites..I’ll ask my team behind me here. [Turns and looks at team in the office] Have we had sites that were affiliate that saw drops with quality updates like that didn’t sell their own products? A couple? Okay so yeah it’s possible. I don’t know that I have the answer to that. I think if you’re not sure if YMYL, you should just consider yourself YMYL.


It doesn’t matter. It’s really just semantics anyways but the other thing too is you’re competing against sites that Google is going to want to see as trustworthy so I would say yes you’re probably YMYL.


Question about content writing that is outsourced to authors without E-A-T

[Editor’s note: We will be covering this a lot more in our next E-A-T webinar on author E-A-T].


It’s an author question let’s see here. What do you do if content production is outsourced? Yeah so this is an author question as well that we’re going to get to. This is a big problem that a lot of sites have is if your content is written by people who don’t have authority in this area and if you’re YMYL, you’re going to find that this content is not ranking well so really I mean to summarize what we’re going to talk about in the next webinar you you need to do all you can to actually get authoritative authors in if you’re going to…especially if you’re trying to rank for medical content.


If you think about it…if you were just diagnosed with cancer or something like that you you don’t really want to read information from somebody who’s a really good writer but has no actual medical expertise, right? So really you need to spend the money to get authoritative writers or to get people to fact-check your your writing and again this is something we could go on for quite a while on.


Is there a way to measure E-A-T?

Let’s see here is there a way to measure E-A-T?


We go through our process of trying to figure out which sites have E-A-T issues and it takes us a good two weeks to go through all of this stuff. I’m sure Google’s probably got a little switch. I think it’s possible that E-A-T is sort of a sliding scale and once you get below a certain level of E-A-T then all of a sudden your quality score goes down. But we don’t know exactly how that happens.


Does it matter if you don’t have a BBB rating?

What if you don’t have a rating on the BBB? So I think I sort of talked about this before but again if the BBB is not used in your area then you should look at the sites that are getting reviews. Whether it’s Trustpilot or TripAdvisor or something like that. However, if you see that all the sites that are ranking well for your main queries have extensive BBB profiles then yes you should get a profile.


I should point out here though I don’t think that you need to have a paid BBB profile. In order to be fully accredited you need to have a paid profile on the BBB. I think what the guidelines actually say that it’s not a ranking factor that you have a high rating on the BBB, it’s only a ranking factor if you have a very low rating so with that in mind, I don’t think paying for accreditation is is the way to go, but I do think that if everybody else has got a profile, at least have a profile and at least respond to the the complaints.


Which automation tools do you use?

Which automation tools are you using for site quality audits? That’s a that’s a really good question. So tools that we use? We get a lot of information from SEMRush especially when we’re looking at competitors. We like to see whether competitors have been hit what they’re ranking for. If you have one of the higher up plans on SEMRush you can look at historical rankings and so often we can look back and we can say, “Oh well you were hit at this time and it was this set of keywords that saw drops and that’s really useful.”


We use search console, especially the section on the performance report, so one of the things that we look at is…this is not really Quality Raters’ Guidelines, but more into our reviews, looking for thin content we look at the content that was indexed or, sorry, discovered but not indexed, and that content often is a source of thin content.


In terms of links, we use mostly Ahrefs. I think majestic and Moz are still very very good tools. Back in the days when I was doing a lot of penalty work I got really really familiar with Ahrefs and so that’s the tool I use the most.


We also use a Sitebulb for crawling sites. We use that for our more extensive audits. We don’t do that for every single audit but Sitebulb is really good, especially if we’re looking at sites that have issues with their URL structure. I really like the crawl maps on Sitebulb and you know that’s probably about it in terms of tools.


So the majority of what we do in our audit work is is really just manual hard work and comparing looking at sites that are doing well, and figuring out like why are they doing well when this client that came to us is no,t and so hopefully that’s that’s helpful this is an interesting question.


Should we be improving on our staff page?


Our staff page gets a lot of traffic where we only have names and pictures of our staff. Should I add more content there to increase SEO? Like employee background and things like that?


I think you probably already know the answer to that. There’s no harm in adding content, and the way to answer a question like this is to think of…Would it actually make things better for your potential customers if they saw that content? So if people are looking at your employee page then yeah, you want to do everything you can to say, “Hey our employees are awesome and here are all of their qualifications and here’s why you should work with them and potentially here’s how you contact them,” so yeah I don’t think in terms of…I’m not talking about on page, just having keywords there but just doing everything you can to tell people here’s why you should trust us and this is why we also recommend having E-A-T related information on your homepage because, let’s say you’re a lawyer and people come to your website and you’ve said, “Hey we’re the were recognized as the number one lawyer in the city”, “In the last year we closed this many…we won this many cases,” or, “We’ve won these awards.”  Just anything like that that is going to encourage people to to potentially use your business more.


Can you have E-A-T in multiple areas?

OK, this is a good question. What if I’m known for several expert areas? I’m known as a professional dancer for my dance website and I’m also a certified personal trainer and have a company on back pain.


So I think I can speak to this because most of you watching this probably know that for years I was a veterinarian…kind of a weird career change to get into SEO…that’s a whole story for another day. Assuming that if I was still practicing,  I I have E-A-T as a veterinarian but I can also have E-A-T as an SEO.


I think it comes to your external mentions. If you are mentioned, it’s not just enough to say “Hey I’ve been a personal trainer for 15 years”, or whatever you have. To be known online as an authority I would be building out connections with journalists and again HARO requests and things like that. I do think you can become known as an expert in multiple areas but I also think would be a heck of a lot of work so sort of like in the days where we used to talk about whether it better to have one website or have multiple websites because then you can you know try to rank for just little niche specific things and if you have multiple websites then all of a sudden you’ve got all of these websites that you have to do work for and so it kind of makes sense to just focus on being known as an expert in one area. I certainly think it could be possible for you to be known in multiple areas. I do think that that’s a possibility.


Will making your own Facebook group help with E-A-T?

Will aking your own Facebook group help with E-A-T? I don’t know. I guess if you made a public Facebook group and again it was getting indexed by Google and it was getting crazy engagement, then sure, I think that’s possible. That’s a lot of theory though so I really don’t know.


What is the difference between brand E-A-T and personal?

Let’s see…How does E-A-T differ from brand development for personal or company. There must be some subtle differences.


So this is a good question. One of the things that’s in the Quality Raters’ Guidelines is they say that it should be very clear who the creator of the content is who’s responsible for the content on the website. So let’s say that you have a website that talks about a bunch of medical issues and you have multiple authors. Then each post should have its own author box that says, “This is written by this person and this is why they’re an authority in the space and why they’re qualified to write about this.” But let’s go back to the lawyer’s website.


So let’s say this particular lawyer is a firm with, I don’t know, three people in it and so the content…It’s not like your page on how we deal with accident claims is going to have an author bio at the end. that kind of doesn’t make sense, right? So in that case Google would likely look at the E-A-T of your business, and I think that Google can recognize, “Okay this firm is recognized as an authoritative business in that particular City.”


I still think that it is good to have individual author information and I think you know in the case of a legal site you should be having all of your attorneys extol their E-A-T like crazy. But I also think that for a lot of businesses it makes more sense to build up your brand recognition.


So let’s talk for a second about content marketing because that’s kind of where this comes into play. A lot of people who are doing content marketing…It’s sort of under the guise of, “Hey, we’re spreading news about our brand,” but really what you’re trying to do is just build links and that’s not what Google wants to see. But good content marketing is getting more awareness for your brand. Kind of what I’m doing right here is content marketing, right?


This is going to spread the news about the fact that we have a business that’s doing good work with site reviews and so that’s the type of content marketing…like if I spoke on somebody else’s podcast I’m marketing my brand. Basically that’s a little bit different for me because my brand is associated with with me but hopefully you get the point I’m trying to make there.


Do you agree with AJ Kohn’s article denouncing E-A-T?

So let’s talk about this. A number of people have asked me whether I disagree with AJ Kohn’s article. So AJ is a well-known SEO and I really respect AJ. I don’t know him that well and we haven’t met in person as far as I recall but he wrote this article saying basically, “Stop going so crazy about E-A-T, and Google is basically just an algorithm that can look at zeros and ones,”


I want to say first of all that I think it’s good that we have differing opinions and I think that this should be okay across all of SEO that we should be able to disagree with each other.


I actually disagreed with a number of points in AJ’s article and in one of my newsletters…if you’re a paid subscriber no I think it’s actually on the free version too… a couple of episodes ago in the recommended reading section we actually summarized AJ’s article and I wrote a big long thing about the parts I disagree with. I then reached out to AJ and send him a message saying I just want to let you know that I respect you.


My point in saying this is to say that yes I  disagree with a lot of his points but that’s okay, right?


He might be right on some of the points.  What AJ was saying was that a lot of these updates were primarily about relevance and I do agree with that. When the March 9th update happened Danny Sullivan from Google basically confirmed that yes this is Google figuring out what queries are relevant to what sites and I think Google got better at figuring out that if I was looking for. If I searched for keto diet I’m probably looking for information rather than buying a package or a product or something like that and so Google did get better at determining relevance.


The thing is though, that it has to be way bigger than this because we’ve seen I want to say, probably a couple of hundred sites that have been hit by specifically the August 1st update but also September 27th and it’s really obvious that you can see that there are E-A-T issues. It’s very very clear, primarily trust issues and these are things that they have to be measuring in some way.


We could get into a whole discussion as to whether Google’s using machine learning. I think that in some areas they are, but I think that they’re not as advanced as they want to be at this point but I think it’s possible that you know algorithmically they’re there they’re putting in a bunch of factors. I mean they’ve got tens of thousands of quality raters they’ve got a bunch of data there that they can use for machine learning. For those of you who have read AJ’s article, I think there are some really good points in it but I would say that I’m very very convinced that somehow Google is measuring E-A-T in their algorithms.


We’ll do about ten more minutes I think of questions and unfortunately we’re not going to be able to get to everybody’s questions.


If you have written a book, how should you demonstrate that on your site to show E-A-T?

If your work or books are cited in other books how should you represent those citations on your about page? That’s that’s a good question. The question was whether you should link to the book on Amazon or maybe Google books. And again we don’t know the answer to that, so I would say do what makes sense if you were just trying to brag to anybody who came to your website about, “Hey I am an author…I wrote this book…you should you should pay attention to me,”


I would include links to everywhere. I would say to do everything that you can in order to show Google that you’re an author most likely, though Google’s already figured that out. I think each one of us probably is a form of an entity and Google’s got all sorts of information on where your authority lies so if you’ve written a book they probably already know about it.


Can you fake E-A-T?


We had one client that sort of was on the blackhat side and wanted to make up an author and so they published this book and said they were dr. so-and-so and it just you know it was fake E-A-T and so they initially they saw it big hits and I’m hesitating here because they actually saw some improvements recently which I think are connected to some link building that is probably going to get shut down at some point and…We didn’t do this link building… my point is that you don’t want to fake you don’t want to like just pretend to write a book so that Google can think that you’re authoritative they’re pretty good at figuring out where the true authority lies.


Comment about an E-A-T related recovery

This is interesting. I declined massively since August 2018 but in the last two days my traffic is literally skyrocketing…and they’ve done very little since the medic update. So this happens, right? I think sometimes when we see clients of ours that see big improvements with a subsequent update we always want to think that it’s our work that did that but there are situations where Google just changes things and the algorithm and all of a sudden you used to be seen as low-quality and now you’re seen as higher quality depending on what factors they changed. That’s interesting it’s in the last couple of days because I I did see Barry Schwartz had thing on Search Engine Roundtable that there’s some chatter about a potential update happening right now. I have not seen that with the clients that we monitor but I’ll have more information in a few days about that so one of the things I would say is John Mueller from Google has said this a couple of times that if you see he was talking about Panda if you see that you’re going up and down with subsequent Panda updates that usually means that you’re on the edge in terms of some type of quality issue that the algorithms are looking at.


He even said that it might depend on what sections of your site Google crawled at that time in that time frame and it might be that you’re just barely getting by in terms of being considered high or low quality. So I wouldn’t just ignore everything. I would still pay attention to E-A-T because I think you could continue to skyrocket, but it’s also possible that Google reverses whatever that tweak is or changes things. So I wouldn’t say you’re completely in the clear.


Let’s see here…oh my gosh we have a whole bunch of questions so this is this is good. We’ll definitely do more of these webinars.


Does LinkedIn contribute to E-A-T?

Does LinkedIn activity and content add to E-A-T?


Because Google can see LinkedIn, I think it does. Again I think it’s not a one-to-one representation of the algorithm, but we recommend for our clients that they always have a LinkedIn page for their company that they extol their prizes that are awards that they’ve won. I think you should have a LinkedIn page.


I also think that all of your employees should be extolling their E-A-T on the LinkedIn page, again, because we don’t know how Google algorithmically measures whether you’re an authority. Pretty much everything that you can do in order to show it, like here’s why we are awesome…You should be doing it and really it’s not difficult to create a LinkedIn page for your company. Which, by the way, we just created a LinkedIn page so if you’re on LinkedIn then find us…Marie Haynes Consulting. We’re posting some good stuff on there too.


Does HON code contribute to E-A-T?

Have you seen the HON code improve medic sites?


This is something that’s come up.  What Richard is asking here is, there’s a little badge that you can put in the footer of your site if you’re a medical site to say that you’ve been…I believe that what they do is they actually review you for accuracy or it’s it’s some level of trust that’s there. Again somebody’s asked John Mueller about this and he said same thing with the BBB… It’s not like Google relies on third-party information.


I think that again it makes sense although I think there’s a significant cost involved with having this so it’s hard to say. I think any metric where in order to pay a bunch of money to have that on your website probably it’s not going to be a big factor, but it certainly wouldn’t hurt so again if it makes sense to help improve trust in your readership then it’s probably a good idea to do that.


Should you be including author E-A-T info if your authors don’t have actual authority in their areas?

Regarding authorship do you think it actually helps to include content authorship if you don’t have any authoritative writers?


So again this is something we’ll get into in more detail in the next webinar, but if you can’t go out and get doctors for your medical content ,then you can still write about expertise. You could say,  “So-and-so has been writing about diabetes for the last ten years ever since she was diagnosed with diabetes,” and that gives you personal experience. It’s not going to be equivalent to having actual medical expertise but the Quality Raters’ Guidelines actually talk about how you can have personal expertise.


There’s an example given of a site that talks about cancer,  and if you look at this page it looks like a low-quality forum. But Google actually gave it as an example of a high quality site and the reason is that the discussion is really good. It’s personal anecdotes of people saying, “Look when I got diagnosed this is what happened to me,” and so E-A-T depends on what you’re trying to rank for.


If you’re trying to rank for very very very competitive medical terms then I think you’re probably not going to be able to do that without legitimately having E-A-T.


Question about building up E-A-T for a site selling mobile accessories

Let’s see we have time for a couple of more questions here. What E-A-T tactics can we use to regain lost traffic on this site. It  is a mobile accessories ecommerce shop and they saw hits in September 2018 and their traffic is continuing to decline.


So September of 2018 was in my opinion I’m assuming it was the 27th probably that you saw drops was almost completely about trust all of the sites that we saw that had drops at this time had some type of issue that was described in the Quality Raters’ Guidelines as a trust thing. So some of the things for e-commerce…one would be are people actually reviewing your products?


The guidelines talked about product E-A-T. That’s where they look at, say, Amazon reviews… You want to see…Are people talking about your products? Do your products basically have a good reputation?


You also want to make sure that you have a terms and conditions page. I do think that it’s important that that page is indexed so that Google can see that you have it and then other things too.


You want to make sure that you have a very easy to find refund policy. One of the things that we do is we actually pretend that we’re searching as a disgruntled customer and we’ll do a search for the brand name plus refund and see would it be easy for somebody to find refund information about this company. And if not, that could be a sign of low trust.


And then the other thing to look at of course is your online review profile as compared to your competitors. So, I’m guessing that if you dropped, I would imagine that there’s probably some negative reviews online I would go and respond to those reviews respond to them in a way that shows that you’ve taken their critique to mind. Don’t be angry in your responses. All the things like that and so those are some tips.


Again,in the third session of this webinar…I’m guessing that will probably be late January…that we do that. We’ll talk specifically about trust and we’ll talk a bit about e-commerce as well.


Do you tend to see E-A-T related improvements after an algorithm update?

Let’s see here. We’ll pick one more. I’m so sorry for those that we haven’t got to your your question.


Do you see improvements from E-A-T related updates on a site primarily after a notable algo update?


So that’s that’s an interesting point and I would say, yes. So this is a part where I’m getting into theory here. I can’t prove this but I think that Google has a score for every website and your score for E-A-T it could go down because you’re lacking expertise you’re lacking authority or you’re lacking trust and now let’s say you went out and you’ve got a bunch of authoritative mentions. Those links to your site are probably going to start helping rankings almost immediately and you’ll start to see a bit of improvement but in our experience.. So what I do every week is I look at all the sites that we have Google Analytics access for and I I look and see, has their traffic made a dramatic change either up or down on a particular day and we can usually see that, for example last week December 4th to 6th, there were a bunch of sites that saw changes and so what I think has happened is Google’s reevaluated that score of E-A-T for your site and when they rerun this, whatever it is, determining your trust and your the other factors in EA T, that that that could, if your score goes up on that day, then all of a sudden rankings can start to go up.


I think you can see incremental improvements, but most likely most commonly what we see is that all of a sudden traffic just jumps up so and we have quite a few more questions but we’re going to have to end it here.


I’m actually kind of losing my voice a little bit so I’d love your feedback. If you’re watching this as a recorded version then please do leave a comment I’ll be paying attention to the comments section and we’ll answer as many as I can. in fact those of you who have asked questions in the chat I’ll do my best to get in there and answer some of those questions over the next week or so if you are interested in in hiring us you can reach us at and you can go to our website for more information on our services that we offer.


And once again I’ll just put in a little plug for the newsletter:


So thank you so much for watching this. If you’re on the newsletter you’ll get notification about when the next webinar is and if you have any feedback for me I’d be happy to hear about things that worked or didn’t work well in this format so thanks I wish you the best of luck with your rankings!

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Marie Haynes is the founder of HIS Web Marketing, formerly at In 2015, she rebranded the company to Marie Haynes Consulting Inc.