Google’s Search Quality Raters evaluate whether its search ranking systems provide helpful, relevant information. They evaluate the quality and relevance of search results produced by Google to help improve the algorithms and user experience. To do so, Google uses the E-E-A-T system, which stands for Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness. The E for experience is relatively new and helps assess content quality. This article will discuss the Experience factor and how it fits into the updated search quality rater guidelines.
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Reminder: What is E-E-A-T?
E-E-A-T is an acronym for Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness. It’s a concept that Google introduced through its Search Quality Raters Guidelines (pdf file) to help evaluate the quality of websites and web pages and to judge how these should be ranked in search engine results pages (SERPs).
Read our guide on what is E-E-A-T to get the lowdown, but here’s a quick breakdown of what each term means:
- Experience: When evaluating the content, Google considers the writer’s first-hand or (life) experience relating to the topic.
- Expertise: Refers to the level of knowledge and skill a content creator or website has in a particular area or subject matter.
- Authoritativeness: Refers to how reputable and respected the content creator or website is within its niche or industry.
- Trustworthiness: Refers to the overall reliability and integrity of the content creator or website. This includes aspects such as transparency, accuracy, and ethical behavior.
Google considers E-E-A-T a critical factor in their ranking systems, especially for search queries related to health, finance, and other areas where the accuracy and trustworthiness of information are crucial — the so-called YMYL sites. This system is used to evaluate the content quality and who’s behind the content. Websites with high experience, expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness are more likely to rank well in Google’s search results for these particular searches.
What does Experience mean in E-E-A-T?
Experience is now a part of Google’s Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness system for rating the quality and relevance of content on search engine results pages (SERPs). This move was announced in the latest version of Google’s Search Quality Rater Guidelines (QRG), released on December 15, 2022.
Experience refers to knowledge or skill gained through exposure to a particular activity or event. It is the practical application of knowledge or skills gained over time. Experience can be gained through personal involvement or positive or negative observation. For example, someone who has worked in a particular field for many years has much experience.
Google added Experience to assess results better, believing people want to read first-hand experiences when making important decisions. Pages related to Your Money or Your Life (YMYL) topics are most impacted by Experience. It is crucial to know when sharing experiences or leaving the information to experts is appropriate.
What’s the difference between experience and expertise?
Experience and expertise are terms often used interchangeably but have distinct meanings. Let’s take a closer look at the two.
In Google’s words:
“Experience: Consider the extent to which the content creator has the necessary first-hand or life experience for the topic. Many types of pages are trustworthy and achieve their purpose well when created by people with a wealth of personal experience. For example, which would you trust: a product review from someone who has personally used the product or a “review” by someone who has not?”
Conversely, expertise refers to a high level of skill or knowledge in a particular subject or field. It results from a combination of education, training, and experience. Expertise is typically associated with a deep understanding of a particular subject or field that allows for the ability to make judgments, solve problems, and give advice.
Again, in Google’s words:
“Expertise: Consider the extent to which the content creator has the necessary knowledge or skill for the topic. Different topics require different levels and types of expertise to be trustworthy. For example, which would you trust: home electrical rewiring advice from a skilled electrician or from an antique homes enthusiast who has no knowledge of electrical wiring?”
In summary, experience is knowledge or skill gained through exposure to a particular activity or event. At the same time, expertise is a high level of skill or knowledge in a particular subject or field.
An example of experience vs. expertise in E-E-A-T
Here’s an example, consider the case of a cancer survivor. As someone who lived with cancer, this person is well-equipped to offer advice on coping strategies and share insights that may benefit others facing similar challenges.
However, it’s important to recognize that this person does not necessarily possess formal medical expertise in cancer treatment. While both a cancer survivor and a trained doctor may be capable of producing valuable content on the topic, the two will likely be evaluated differently based on their respective levels of experience and expertise.
Experience and expertise are two concepts, but they can complement each other. Experience can lead to the development of expertise over time, but expertise requires more than just experience. Becoming an expert in a particular subject or field requires education, training, and experience. But remember that you don’t always need formal qualifications to showcase your industry-relevant experience in your content.
Experience, expertise, and authoritativeness can have some overlap for certain types of web pages and topics. Depending on the purpose and topic of the page, different combinations of E-E-A may be more relevant, so it’s important to consider what would make the content creator reliable for that particular context.
Who, how, and why?
To ensure your content is aligned with what search engines reward, consider evaluating it based on the “Who, How, and Why” factors. “Who” refers to the creator of the content, and it’s crucial to make it clear to visitors who authored it. Adding bylines and providing background information about the author can help with this. “How” refers to how the content was produced, and sharing details about the production process, such as the number of products tested in a review, can build trust with readers. Finally, “Why” refers to the purpose of creating the content, which should primarily be to help people. If the primary purpose is to manipulate search rankings, this violates Google’s spam policies.
Generative AI makes it harder to evaluate content
With the rise of generative AI technologies such as ChatGPT, GPT-4, Bing Chat, and Google Bard, content creation has become more accessible. These technologies can generate human-like content with remarkable accuracy, making it challenging to distinguish generative AI content from content created by real people.
However, while AI-generated content tools are faster and more efficient than people, they lack the experience, expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness people can provide. These technologies do not possess the same empathy and personal connection that genuine authors can create within their content.
Additionally, AI-generated content is less authentic, lacks originality, may contain errors or inconsistencies, and may lack inclusivity. This can negatively affect website owners, leading to a loss of credibility, and decreased organic traffic and sales.
In February 2023, Google published a post to guide content creators on how it thinks about AI-generated content for Search. In it is this piece:
“Our advice for creators considering AI-generation. As explained, however content is produced, those seeking success in Google Search should be looking to produce original, high-quality, people-first content demonstrating qualities E-E-A-T.
Evaluating your content in this way, whether you’re using AI-generated content or not, will help you stay on course with what our systems seek to reward.
Generative AI lacks these qualities — it isn’t an expert on a topic and doesn’t have (life) experience. You do! So please make the most of it and get or prove those E-E-A-T factors.
More on this in Google’s guide to creating helpful content for readers.
How to demonstrate experience in E-E-A-T
In today’s content-driven world, demonstrating your experience is increasingly crucial. However, displaying it in a unique, compelling way can be challenging. Here are some tips to get you started.
To effectively optimize for experience, you need to distinguish between expertise and experience in E-E-A-T, knowing when to showcase each. While expertise relates to your knowledge, experience is closely linked to your direct involvement with a particular subject. For example, if you’re seeking information on vascular surgery, you’ll turn to an authoritative source, such as a vascular surgeon at the Mayo Clinic. Conversely, if you’re struggling with weight issues, you might find reading about other people’s experiences helpful.
Another way to optimize for experience is by sharing evidence of it. For example, describe your experience reviewing an ultralight-weight sleeping pad for multi-day mountain hikes. This could include details on how well the pad insulated against the cold, if it made crinkly sounds that woke up your partner in the tent, and how small it packed away in your backpack. Be transparent about how you or your writer have garnered your experience. You can describe your direct encounters with a product or service. You can create unique and helpful content that separates you by leveraging your expertise.
Featuring insights from industry experts can also be an effective way to optimize for experience. This involves contacting other content creators or influencers for their input, adding credibility to your blog, and spotlighting your commentary.
Finally, be honest about the experience and authoritativeness of your authors. Don’t forget to include author bios for yourself and other contributors. This demonstrates that you all have the experience and expertise to provide advice and optimize your content for experience, making it more appealing to readers and search engines.
Build up your About Us and Author pages
Your About Us and Author pages are some of the most important pages on your site. It’s where people expect to find information about who is behind this website. It’s a great place to share all those details in one easy-to-find location to show off your experience for E-E-A-T. Here are some things you can add to your About Us and Author pages to get you started.
6 tips for authors and companies
- Highlight the knowledge and expertise of your team by sharing their qualifications, credentials, and experience, including resumes, bios and certifications, to showcase your site’s authority in your field. Display any industry memberships, awards, or other types of recognition to demonstrate credibility further.
- Showcase examples of past success and influence to build authority, including case studies, testimonials, publications, public speaking events, and conferences. Linking to high-quality external sites on relevant subjects and media mentions can boost your site’s credibility.
- Build trust with potential clients or customers by sharing your company’s story, values, and mission. Being transparent about your process and policies can also help visitors trust you more.
- Provide in-depth descriptions of your team members, services, and products to establish your site as a trustworthy source of information in your industry. Use testimonials and samples to showcase your unique selling proposition and differentiate your business from competitors.
- Keep your About Us page updated regularly to reflect any changes in your team, services, or company. Display your mission statement prominently on the page and share current news and updates to show that you are an active and engaged participant in your industry. Make sure this information is easily accessible and presented.
- Add structured data! Schema.org is a structured data markup vocabulary that helps you add extra information to your pages, helping search engines understand them. Adding structured data to your About Us page lets you communicate details about your business, its products and services, and your team. Yoast SEO automatically adds structured data. Yoast SEO Premium even has extended support for building up your author profiles. Structured data is a valuable tool to improve your About Us page content quality and help Google comprehend it better.
Share your experience for better E-E-A-T
This article introduces the Experience part of E-E-A-T, while also describing the differences and similarities with Expertise. Both play a big role in determining if you are the right person to publish this content. Do you have what it takes to help people along their journey — especially in YMYL topics?
E-E-A-T is an abstract concept with no score attached to it that you can improve for. You can do a lot to improve the quality of your content and your content producers, but there is no single thing to pinpoint as essential. Everything is important, and every bit helps.
Read more: What is E-E-A-T (Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness)? »