Molly Ploe

In September 2021, I found myself staring at a landing page that was not ranking, even though it was perfect.

The writing was quality; the topic coverage was thorough; the backlinks were plentiful; it even had a video! It should have been at the top of the SERP.

I scratched my head and cursed the mysterious algorithm denying my page success. Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness — my page had them all!

Frustrated, I set out on a mission: To uncover the truth, once and for all, what precisely E-A-T comprises. I searched high and low for a year. I typed 70 queries into Google’s search bar, clicked 647 individual results and walked away with 24,586 data points.

One thing I learned is that I can’t, once and for all, uncover the secret to E-A-T. There’s just too much going on. But I did find a lot of information about what may contribute to it.

Satisfied with my results, I submitted my E-A-T study to Moz. Three months later, Google announced a second E: Experience.

I was dismayed. How dare Google add another E, so shortly after I’d studied the first E so closely! Would the double-E render all my results irrelevant?

No, of course not; Google’s algorithms change all the time, but hardly ever in drastic leaps. But, I needed to uncover what this new E meant for all the conclusions I’d drawn about demonstrating E-A-T to begin with.

Baseline: What Were the Top E-A-T Factors?

Let’s start with what I already know: The most common factors associated with high E-A-T content.

I found five key areas where brands can invest time to build out their online presence and establish their E-A-T:

  1. Publish original content that’s up-to-date and relevant to your audience.
  2. Strengthen your off-site, online presence through business directory listings and review sites.
  3. Be transparent and honest about the content on your site and how it’s created.
  4. Make connections with other brands through partnerships, backlinks and more.
  5. Utilize modern, secure technology to keep user data safe and to provide a good UX.

Specifically, these were the top 10 features found on Page 1 results:

  1. HTTPS.
  2. Third-party reviews.
  3. A detailed About Us page.
  4. A Wikipedia mention.
  5. A Wikipedia page.
  6. Reputable partners (mentions of partnerships or relationships with other brands or organizations).
  7. Listing on the BBB site.
  8. Original research published somewhere on their site.
  9. Language indicating the page had been updated recently.
  10. Spam score below 3%.

Top 3 results (meaning the first 3 listings on the SERP) mirrored this closely, with just numbers nine and 10 changing to:

  • Domain Authority over 75.
  • More than 250 backlinks pointing to the page.

At the end of my study, I paused to really consider these words: Expertise, Authority and Trust.

  • An Expert is someone who has knowledge. They have education, experience, success (and maybe even some failures) behind them.
  • An Authority is someone who has influence over thought and opinion. They’re regarded as not just an expert, but the expert. Think of a thought leader.
  • Trust is something that’s built over time and can only grow under the right conditions; it’s something that erodes much faster than it can ever be built.

If I were to make some oversimplified associations here, I’d say:

  • Original, relevant content demonstrates your expertise.
  • Your off-site online presence and connections demonstrate your authority.
  • Your transparency and your use of modern technology contribute to trust.

OK, and so what about the new E?

What do the E’s Mean?

The new E-E-A-T stands for Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trust — and Trust stands above them all. Here’s a screenshot of Google’s own Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines:

Google provides further explanation on differentiating between Expertise, Authoritativeness and Experience:

The explanations provided for Experience and Expertise sound familiar … in fact, it’s using a lot of the language that the Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines used before the introduction of this new E.

Here’s what I wrote in 2021 after doing some preliminary research:

“To take an example from Google’s guidelines, medical advice should generally be written by medical professionals. However, a person writing from their own experience about a specific medical condition they or a loved one experienced has ‘everyday expertise.’ Even though they may not have gone to medical school, their ‘everyday expertise’ means that the content they create on that particular topic has appropriate E-A-T.”

In this example, a medical professional would be an expert, whereas a person writing about their personal experience with a particular medical condition would be someone with experience.

I like Ahrefs’ comparison best:

When someone gets a parking ticket, they’re experiencing the law. But when a law student passes the bar exam, they’re an expert in the law.

Does Double-E-A-T Change Anything?

Well, that depends on what you were already doing.

If you were approaching your E-A-T content really well already, you might not need to change anything at all.

It doesn’t appear as though Google has added some new data point or value metric to take into consideration when determining E-E-A-T as compared to E-A-T. A lot of the advice that came before the new E, still applies.

In other words, if you haven’t started using HTTPS, creating original content, making connections and building out your off-site presence, that’s where you need to start. Any gains brands get from leveraging Experience fundamentally has to be in addition to a strong brand in these other areas.

To me, the new E-E-A-T feels more like Google prompting us all to reframe our thinking around what Experience is and what Expertise is, than an actual introduction of something new. From a content creation perspective, it’s easy to treat these concepts interchangeably.

But as any lawyer will tell you: There’s a real difference between experience and expertise.

Let’s explore what content marketers can do with this information.

5 Ways to Demonstrate Expertise

Starting off with the old E: Expertise — this is where the lawyer falls, as opposed to the bad driver. Depending on your industry, expertise can either be important or absolutely essential.

Here are five tactics to infuse your content with expertise:

1. Get real experts to write your content

The fastest way to get genuine expertise on your website is to get a real, live expert to put their knowledge into a piece of content that you can publish. If you have a team of experts in-house (like doctors at a hospital, or certified public advisors at a financial firm), ask them to do some writing.

What, your doctors’ editorial skills leave something to be desired? And their handwriting is illegible?

The solution is interviews and ghost-writers. Have a professional writer interview your professional doctor about a particular topic important to your audience, and create content based on that conversation.

2. Ask real experts to proofread your content

If your experts are like most experts (too busy to write blog posts), then ask if they’ll lend their expertise by proofreading articles destined for your blog instead.

For most organizations, this is the best of both worlds: A professional writer creates content that’s easy to read; a professional signs off on the content to ensure it’s in line with the industry. Publish both of those experts’ names on the piece to show credibility.

3. Create a page that highlights your experts

If your in-house experts are your brand’s strength, make a page dedicated to them. For example, if you’re a veterinary clinic, who are the specific doctors who look into cat’s ears and dog’s mouths? Also, who are the people contributing to your pet care blog? Create pages for both of these teams to show your brand’s expertise as well as transparency.

4. Attribute your authors and publish bios

Name the people who wrote your content, and explain why readers should trust them. Somewhere on your article’s page — at the top or bottom, or in the side margin — include a short bio about the authors, editors and/or other contributors.

5. Publish in-depth, original content

Finally, when you conduct your own research and produce your own information, you’re setting your brand up to be a thought leader in your space. Original research is the paramount method by which organizations can demonstrate their expertise.

You can go about creating your own original research in a number of ways, including launching large-scale surveys through email, posting short-form polls on social media, or conducting your own meta-analysis on industry data from other sources.

4 Ways to Demonstrate Experience

As important as expertise is, there’s no denying the value of good, old-fashioned experience, AKA the new E. The nice thing about experience is it’s much easier to come by than expertise.

Here are four ways to insert experience into your marketing content:

1. Encourage and utilize user-generated content

What types of experiences do you want to showcase through your site and marketing content? Likely, you want to demonstrate exactly how your company — your products, services, mission, etc. — relates to your audience.

One of the best ways to do that has nothing to do with your actions at all. Instead, let your customers do the talking. User-generated content can be some of the most valuable marketing content for one simple reason: It’s authentic. People trust other people more than they trust businesses — which means, if you can get folks talking positively about your brand, you’ll have an easier time growing your audience.

There are two important things to know about UGC:

  1. It won’t happen out of nowhere.
  2. Give credit where credit is due.

On the first point: People won’t start tagging your brand for no reason. Even though the people in your audience will be the ones creating the content, you have to be the one to encourage it.

Secondly, when someone does create something interesting — a nice-looking Instagram post of your product, or a Facebook Video reviewing your service — you should reach out to that creator and get their permission to use it. Not only does this show respect, but it also gives you an opportunity to develop a relationship with that person.

Which brings me to my next method of infusing experience into your content:

2. Launch an influencer campaign

Influencer campaigns are similar to UGC, but more structured. You’d partner with someone who has a large following on social media or a particular platform — also known as an influencer. These are people who, in addition to having a large number of followers, regularly create content, usually on a particular topic, and whose ideas or opinions are respected among a particular audience.

Influencer campaigns help add experience to your marketing content because, like UGC, they’re typically viewed as highly authentic. Influencers are typically expected to share their honest opinions on the products they’re reviewing, often showing off the product itself on camera.

Beyond the experience boost, influencer marketing campaigns are great at growing your reach, allowing you to introduce your brand to more people than was otherwise possible.

3. Invite guests to submit blog content

If you haven’t already heard, a business blog can be a huge asset to your company.

One of the many benefits a blog provides is a place to build out your topical authority, which is something I found in my E-A-T study to be incredibly important when it comes to the ranking potential of any new page you publish on your site. What that means is, the more content you publish on a particular subject, the more likely you are to rank well for terms that correspond to that topic (granted that it’s all high-quality content, of course).

So that right there is an E-E-A-T reason to have a business blog. But another benefit of having a business blog is that it gives you a reason to start developing relationships with thought leaders and content creators in your industry.

Inviting guest writers to contribute to your blog gives them an opportunity to expand their own network and reach, while giving your brand the opportunity to add more experience content to your site.

4. Publish original content that incorporates real experiences

Finally, I’ll make another appeal for my favorite type of content: the original kind. Original content doesn’t have to be all data and stats — some of the most engaging content is actually just human stories.

So, find some stories that your brand helped make happen. They’re out there, I can guarantee it. What does “finding stories” look like? Here are some ideas on how to get started:

  • Going back to the UGC point — ask your social media followers a question about how they use your products or how they view your brand.
  • Ask your account managers which of their clients has an interesting experience with your company or result from your services.
  • Find your top repeat customers, and ask them what they love about your brand.

And once you have stories, you can create content around them. Here’s what that might look like:

  • Case studies: Write short stories about the positive outcomes your brand helped create. Include quotes, images and names of real people.
  • Annual reports: Send an end-of-year recap showing off the hard work and positive outcomes your team produced.
  • Blog posts: Write an article about the actions you took, then highlight the success story as evidence of those actions paying off.

Don’t Get Beat by E-E-A-T

It’s true: Google threw us all for a loop when they introduced a new E to the acronym. But that’s Google being Google: Introducing “concepts” and making marketers “worry.”

We can all take a deep breath and relax, because Google’s goals haven’t changed: They’re still striving to present the right content for the searcher on the results page.

Which means your goals don’t have to change either: You should still be striving to create high-quality content that you know your audience wants to see.

Because that’s what Google ultimately wants to serve: The content that the searcher needs.

Now it’s up to us content marketers to make that content.