In 2014, Google introduced E-A-T which stands for Expertise, Authority, and Trustworthiness (trustworthiness). These three pillars are the fundaments on which the quality of an article could be better determined. In December 2022, it added an extra E which stands for Experience and this is an important development as a counterpart to AI-generated content.
Why is E-E-A-T so Important for SEO?
Google wants to give information to its users that is trustworthy. They have several ways to do that, but one of the most important is E-E-A-T. In 2018, Google released a 'Medic' Update' that had a huge impact on so-called YMYL content. This stands for 'Your Money or Your Life' and specifically covers topics on health, finance, and legal information.
Thanks to the then-named E-A-T algorithm, Google was able to assess much better whether the content author has the expertise to write about it, is the authority on that specific area, and can be considered trustworthy. They see this, for example, by what the author has written before, whether the author is recognized by other authorities, and many other things. Logical too, because this is exactly how we as humans would do this too. We check the credentials of someone who tells us something and don't normally just blindly take something from an adviser.
When it turned out that thanks to the Medic Update, the E-A-T algorithm ensured much higher-quality content, this started to play a much more important role for all search results. But Google is not sitting still and knew even then that AI would play a big role in content creation.
AI can do a lot and help tremendously in content creation, but there is one thing AI cannot do and that is share a personal experience. Chat GPT, for example, was not there for a summer holiday in the Maldives. That is one of the reasons why an extra E has been added. The personal experience that someone shares has come to play a very important role in SEO alongside Expertise, Authority, and Reliability.
First-hand Experience and SEO
Google looks at the extent to which the author has the necessary first-hand or life experience for the topic when evaluating content. But besides adding first-hand experience as a factor, Google is also placing renewed emphasis on trust. Trust is perhaps one of the most critical components of E-E-A-T, Google says, "because untrustworthy pages have a low E-E-A-T, no matter how much Experience, Expertise, or Authority they show."
According to Google, there are several ways you can share this first-hand experience and build trust:
It starts, of course, by sharing your personal experience. Write about your experience and add your insights and lessons learned. This can not only make your content more authentic and relevant but also add information that is unique. Something all search engines love.
It is also important to be able to demonstrate your expertise in the field. This can be done by mentioning your verifiable qualifications in that specific area. Think of publications, awards, or recognitions. But an author page and a LinkedIn profile with recommendations can also help demonstrate your expertise and reliability.
A third determining factor in 'proving' expertise and trust in Google can be done by consistently publishing high-quality and reliable content. In addition, being transparent about your sources and indicating when you give an opinion and when you present facts is important.
Finally, you can build expertise and trust within Google's search algorithm if you are open to feedback and corrections.
What are Examples of first-hand Experience?
There are several ways to rank higher within Google with first-hand experiences. It does depend a lot on what topic and what kind of content you publish. Some examples are:
Product reviews: If you are reviewing a product, sharing your personal experience of using the product can be valuable. This can include detailed information about how the product works, how it feels, what the pros and cons are, and other insights you gained from using it yourself.
How-to Guides and Tutorials: If you create a guide or tutorial, showing that you have gone through the process yourself can add to your credibility. You can do this, for example, by adding photos or videos of yourself going through the steps, but also by sharing tips and tricks, you have learned through your experience.
Case Studies and Success Stories: If you write about a particular topic or strategy, sharing your own success stories or case studies can be a good way to demonstrate your expertise. These can include how you solved a problem, achieved a goal, or completed a project.
Personal Anecdotes and Stories: Sharing personal stories or anecdotes can help make a point or clarify an idea. This can be especially useful in opinion pieces, blog posts, and other forms of informative content.
Expert Commentary: If you are an expert in a particular field, sharing your professional insights and analysis can show that you know what you are talking about. This could include sharing your thoughts on the latest trends, giving your opinion on a hot topic, or explaining complex concepts in an understandable way.
While the E of first-hand experience is extremely valuable right now, it is still important to maintain a balance between facts and experiences. In addition, it is important to realize that SEO is a constantly changing interplay of different factors where there is no 1 truth.