It’s nearly impossible to figure what Google does to rank pages. Most of us will never come close to deciphering the keys to the kingdom. In addition, as soon as you do figure something out, they usually change the rules.
Google search algorithms have gotten so complicated that even Google engineers have a difficult time understanding how it all works. Thus, a couple of months ago, Google released a 160-page document that explains search quality evaluator guidelines. If you’re a glutton for punishment, you can read the whole thing right here.
Yeah, that’s not going to happen.
Here’s the basic concept. Google wants to make sure that people who are posting and writing about “Stuff” are experts regarding “Stuff.” In other words, it’s trying to find spammers and other unsavory types by examining their content to determine if it really is all that.
There are two new acronyms that are important in this process. You may have already run across them — EAT and YMYL.
EAT: Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness. Google evaluators use this metric to rank pages. As its name implies, this metric determines if the author of the post is truly an expert on the subject matter. Here are some of the key components of an “Expert” article or post.
- The website has a positive reputation for its topic
- The page and its content is expert, authoritative, and trustworthy for what’s being discussed.
- The page contains enough main content relating to the subject discussed.
- The website contains the usual About Us, Contact, and other appropriate tabs.
- The website is maintained and edited regularly and frequently.
So, how does Google know if you are an expert? Google claims that you don’t have to be a doctor to discuss medical advice (although it helps you in the search ranks if you are) however, it claims that it is looking at how helpful, detailed, and useful the information provided is. The key is how detailed your content is. A cursory overview will not gain much traction in the EAT world.
YMYL: Your Money or Your Life. Yep, that’s what it really stands for. In Google’s effort to keep people safe, they examine any page that asks for money or dishes health advice. They want the “Experts” to write these types of pages. What falls under this category?
- Shopping or financial transaction pages
- Tax, investment, or other financial advice pages
- Medical advice pages
- Legal advice pages
- Any page that would be harmful if possessing less than expert advice
What does all this mean for us? Good news if you’re a freelance copywriter. The DIY types typically don’t provide enough “EAT” characteristics to meet the requirements. This may increase the need for small businesses to reach out to professional writers to acquire content. Offering your services with the idea that you have a basic background in the workings of Google ranking is a huge advantage. Here are some of the traits you want to include to help your content reach “EAT” standards:
- You establish a specific “purpose of the page” related to each webpage or content submission
- You fulfill the specific “purpose” by providing enough main content
- You answer questions directly
- Provide actionable advice
- Provide high quality links to other experts in the field
- Promote reader engagement
- Visible and clear contact information
In our writing world, being an expert is not necessarily the most important goal. However, you still want exposure. This is probably a good time to do a website “audit” and make sure you have these components in place. As a side note, I was surprised to learn how much frequent and regular editing of the website plays a role. As with anything, take this advice in consideration of your overall plan. Don’t stress about being an expert. If you are putting out regular, solid content, you are not going to hurt yourself in the grand scheme of things.