Google’s E-E-A-T & The Illusion of the Ultimate Ranking Signal

  • June 29, 2024
  • SEO
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Few concepts have generated as much buzz and speculation in SEO as E-E-A-T.

Short for Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness, this framework has long been a cornerstone of Google’s Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines.

Despite its prominence, there still needs to be more clarity about how E-E-A-T relates to Google‘s ranking algorithms.

In a recent episode of Google’s Search Off The Record podcast, Search Director & Product Manager Elizabeth Tucker addressed this complex topic.

Her insights shed light on how Google evaluates and ranks content.

No Perfect Match

One key takeaway from Tucker’s discussion is that no single ranking signal aligns perfectly with all four elements of E-E-A-T.

Tucker explained:

“There is no E-E-A-T ranking signal. It’s simply a shorthand, a reminder that these factors should always be considered. Different types of results arguably need different levels of E-E-A-T.”

This means that while Google’s algorithms consider factors like expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness when ranking content, there isn’t a one-to-one correspondence between E-E-A-T and any specific signal.

The PageRank Connection

However, Tucker did illustrate how one of Google’s classic ranking signals – PageRank – aligns with at least one aspect of E-E-A-T.

Tucker mentioned:

“PageRank, one of our classic Google ranking signals, aligns somewhat with authoritativeness. However, it doesn’t necessarily match up with the other elements of E-E-A-T.”

For those unfamiliar, PageRank is an algorithm that measures a webpage’s importance and authority based on the quantity and quality of links pointing to it.

In essence, a page with numerous high-quality inbound links is considered more authoritative than one with fewer or lower-quality links.

Tucker’s comments indicate that while PageRank could serve as a proxy for authoritativeness, it doesn’t capture other elements of E-E-A-T, such as expertise or trustworthiness.

Why SEJ Cares

While it’s evident that E-E-A-T plays a crucial role, Tucker’s remarks highlight that it’s not a guaranteed formula for ranking well.

Instead of chasing a mythical “E-E-A-T score,” websites should focus on creating content that demonstrates their expertise and builds user trust.

This involves investing in:

  • Accurate, up-to-date information
  • Clear sourcing and attribution
  • Author expertise and credentials
  • User-friendly design and navigation
  • Secure, accessible web infrastructure

By emphasizing these elements, websites can convey strong signals to users and search engines about the quality and reliability of their content.

The E-E-A-T Evolution

It’s important to recognize that E-E-A-T is not a static concept.

According to Tucker, Google’s understanding of search quality has evolved over the years, and the Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines have adapted accordingly.

Today, E-E-A-T is one of many factors Google considers when evaluating and ranking content.

However, the principles behind E-E-A-T – expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness – will likely remain key pillars of search quality for the foreseeable future.

Listen to the full podcast episode below:


Featured Image: salarko/Shutterstock

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