In years past ranking a website in the search was relatively clockwork but Google has quickly realized that focusing on just links that they were being gamed for profit. Its focus has shifted and has started to reward sites that provide beneficial information, rather than chasing algorithms themselves!
Google is demanding more of local businesses in order to rank them higher. Local experts and authorities will have a better chance at ranking when they invest time into creating quality content that addresses key search queries, has an authoritative tone (i.e., knows what it’s talking about), or uses trustworthiness indicators like rich media, websites, and local mentions to improve their rank.
With another big local algorithm update in the books, it’s becoming even more important to address your local businesses’ expertise, authority, and trust on the web.
What is E-A-T
Expertise, authoritativeness, and trust are what E-A-T stands for and with it, Google has come up with an innovative way to rank pages based on the quality of content, rather than simply following “just” links.
E-A-T is now a key SEO and local marketing component businesses must understand in order to drive home their digital strategy.
Any business focused on growing digitally should start with understanding what E-A-T is and what their strategy should be to increase their visibility on digital channels like search.
How Important is E-A-T In Your Digital Marketing Campaigns
When it comes to queries, the importance of E‑A-T cannot be overstated. However, some types matter more than others. For example, if you’re just searching for pictures of random niches then E-A-T probably won’t matter too much.
On the other hand, if you’re searching for correct measurements or need expert “How To” advice then E-A-T is undoubtedly important. In the past manipulating the search was easy and anyone could be classified as an expert, now with E-A-T Google has the ability to provide content from an established writer and authoritative website.
Depending on the nature of the query or information serving the wrong information can be highly inconvenient and potentially life-threatening (if you’re searching for medical advice).
Google refers to these types of content as Your Money Or Your Life (a.k.a YMYL) and if your site is built around one of these topics understanding E-A-T is crucial as it impacts persons well being.
How Do You Manage Expertise, Authoritativeness, And Trust In Local Marketing Campaigns?
Think long and hard how a local searcher would send a query to Google, typically they are looking for local expertise and a business near them that can fix a problem or provide a service they’re in need of. Think “A Business near me that can fix my plumbing.”
When you, the searcher, try to find something you are typically gravitating towards a business that stands out from the crown with local authoritativeness. In our example above, a plumber who provides a great service has great feedback and their website has authority with great content.
Besides some of the examples above here is what would be some specific ideas on how you can work on improving your E-A-T within Google.
How To Improve Your Local Authority
Local authority is about reputation. Simply put, when local searchers see you and your content as the go-to source for your industry, that’s authority.
How to build authority? It’s not too complex, to evaluate authority searchers typically use ratings, content, and mentions overall to connect the dots to a website or individual.
Shoppers or customers will typically look for reviews or sources that were not written by the brand itself, an example of this…if you had a Wikipedia page then it’s fairly like you are an authority.
In most cases with local marketing and local SEO, we want to prove to website visitors and Google specifically that we are an authority when it comes to our niche. So if you’re a local plumbing company…creating a steady stream of how-to articles, videos, images, etc will help to separate you as being an authority when compared to your competition.
Here is our list of how you can start to build local authority for your business.
- Google My Business Proper Categorization and Optimization – Choosing the right category in your Google Business Profile setup is one of the most important steps to earning trust and traffic with your business. Finishing up your optimization and filling out your profile helps establish authority in your GMB.
- Google Reviews – Not just good for trust but a business with legitimate reviews (and positive ones) will go a long way to converting visitors.
- Physical Location – Google has cracked down on using post office boxes and other ways to get a postcard for verification. Having a physical location closest to the city centre helps establish trust with your local community.
- Your GMB and Content Strategy – Post content on both your GMB and local website provide justifications on your local pack results. There’s a good chance if you’re writing and posting about being a plumber, then there’s a good chance you sell plumbing-related services.
- YouTube Strategy – The second biggest search engine is YouTube. Tying your brand and entity and providing rich media content that talks about your services and/or business will again drive home that you’re an authority in your niche. Using NAP (name-address-phone) as rich video citations is always a huge help!
- Local and Niche Citations – The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about. After you’ve got your content strategy in place for both your GMB and website, sending signals and links from websites in your niche or GEO-related area will be the cherry on top.
- Structured Data – Marking up your business with the proper schema for LocalBusiness and Person entities will make it easier for Google search to connect all the dots and associate it with other entities in the Knowledge Graph. This helps establish authority.
Expertise means having a high level of knowledge or skill in an area. It’s evaluated primarily at the content level, rather than looking into your entire website and organization for qualifications like Google does with their algorithm tests.
Providing formal expertise can be driven home by a lot of the same content-driven strategies mentioned above. Tying your entity/Person across the web as an expert in the field will help prove the qualifications and education of the content creator.
Think a lot of “How To” related content and video and tutorials or real-life experience to help show your expertise.
Finally, we come to trust.
Trust in a website is determined by three factors: its legitimacy, transparency, and accuracy.
With local businesses, searchers and shoppers will look for a number of things to evaluate trust. Reviews, content, and transparency of who is responsible for published content.
It’s also important to take into account the content’s accuracy. High-quality content must be factually accurate and generally supported by experts and visitors.
Trust is a tricky concept. People and websites online can’t always be perceived as trustworthy in every area but generally, if it’s niche related there is a good chance they can be relied upon as a trustful source. For example, you’d rather listen to Sixo Agency for marketing and SEO tips but you’re not going to come to our website for food recipes.
How To Improve Your E-A-T Score For Local SEO
The first step is to understand that demonstrating and improving E‑A-T are two different things. You can’t demonstrate if you don’t have it, so this becomes your main challenge: Getting Google to understand that you are an authority in your local area is your first step. Here are some ways to do that.
Build More Links
Still the #1 ranking signal. Links mean people are talking about your brand.
Links are a factor in determining how good your site will fare at ranking for certain keywords. Gary Illyes, from Google’s Webmaster Trends Analyst team, says that E-A T involves links and mentions from authoritative sites.
Google is also incredibly good at understanding which links count so make sure you’re building high-quality over low-quality.
Provide An Active Content Plan
As we mentioned previously, an active content plan is imperative for establishing E-A-T. When it comes to the medical or financial niches you NEED an active content plan as medical and tax advice should come from trustworthy sources that are continually updating their information.
But what about the local plumber?
It’s not talked about specifically but we believe having an active content plan is still one of the most important things moving into 2022 and beyond. How can a page or website be trustworthy or authoritative if its content misleads or has information from 3 years ago?
Get More Reviews
Again a no-brainer. Reviews are CRITICAL to your business. Google tells Quality Raters to use online reviews to help provide trust and authority about a business.
Focus on getting more positive online reviews across the web. While Google Reviews are the “go-to”, depending on your niche you should be looking at other locations.
For example, if you own a hotel getting reviews on places like TripAdvisor or local travel blogs will help.
Get More Mentions
Mentions on well-known industry websites can be an important tool in improving your authority. Quality Raters are told to look for these when assessing the reputation and authoritativeness of a site, assuming they’re positive feedback from other experts who have used it before or know someone else that has used them previously
To get started, you can publish unique content and data on your website that others will potentially reference.
Cliche but coming up with an aggressive E-A-T strategy can seem incredibly overwhelming for a local business owner.
The solution, hire experts to help you.
Look for people with a proven track record or who are already creating high-quality content on the topic.
The concept of E-A-T is something that has been around a lot more recently. It’s clear to see how this theory aligns with relevant content, location, and categorization as well as good reviews from sites such as Yelp or other local listings services; however, it may be even more important than we realize!
E-A-T is incredibly important for local SEO and it should be something business owners with a website should be working on improving.
It all starts with some simple processes.
- Be legitimate in the information you are providing. If you can’t do it yourself hire local experts. Your goal is to care about your customers, have values, and do what a real company would do.
- Demonstrate your authority and importance to Google with quality content on a regular schedule. Get reviews, backlinks, and mentions for your business.
It really is simple…it will take a lot of time and effort to accomplish it is all.
We see local business owners who launch their new website get frustrated with the placement and results. Remember, Google is a machine and doesn’t owe you or your business anything. Having a website doesn’t guarantee a rank, having it properly optimized and providing more authoritative content than your competitors will help separate you in Google’s eyes.
It’s also important to remember that Google changes all…the…time and it’s likely some of this criteria will change as well but E-A-T will likely continue to evolve and play a more important role moving forward.