What Is E-E-A-T in SEO — and How Do You Get It?

What is E-E-A-T in SEO?

E-E-A-T is an acronym that stands for Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness. Google coined the term E-A-T in 2018, when it rolled out a Core Update that prioritized giving high rankings to content that demonstrated expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness. In 2022, Google added another E for first-hand Experience, which was meant to flesh out the expertise bit. 

Since then, there have been numerous Google updates, and E-E-A-T has become the mantra of content creators everywhere who want their pages to rank well. It’s also the framework for the search quality guidelines Google uses to evaluate how valuable top-ranking content really is. Google points to E-E-A-T as a roadmap to help content creators, marketers, and the SEO community improve search engine rankings by creating high-quality content. 

Ah, “high-quality content.” This banal phrase has reached buzzword status — an elusive promise uttered by every single SEO and content strategy agency on earth (including Stretch) and their mama. 

But it would seem, based on the questionable quality of a lot of content out there, that many people who create content — and many who procure it — either don’t understand or don’t care what makes a piece of content “high-quality.”

So today, we’re gonna cover what, exactly, puts the “quality” in content — and it all starts with E-E-A-T.

What is E-E-A-T?

E-E-A-T isn’t an actual "signal," or ranking factor, that the crawling bots collect on their endless rounds of the Internet. But Google stresses that it’s a tried-and-true recipe for creating helpful, high-quality pages of people-first content. And ultimately, a positive user experience and high content quality is what Google values most when it comes to ranking high up on the search engine results page, or SERP.

E-E-A-T is a very intuitive and subjective set of attributes. In a nutshell, the overarching truth behind it is that if your content demonstrates your (and the author’s) experience and expertise on a topic, it helps establish your brand as a trustworthy and authoritative source of information in the mind of the reader — and of our robotic overlords, who will reward you with a higher ranking in the SERPs. 

But because nothing about search engines is simple, Google puts different weights on different attributes in different circumstances. Where, say, expertise might be a very important factor for ranking an article on a medical site, it may not matter much for some online stores.

To crack that nut, look to another Google-coined acronym: YMYL, or Your Money, Your Life.

YMYL content is that which has the potential to negatively impact a person’s health, safety, or financial stability — or the welfare of society at large. A YMYL topic might include medical, legal, and financial content. For these topics, E-E-A-T is more stringently applied than it is to, say, content about crochet stitches or magic tricks.

With that in mind, here are the four attributes of E-E-A-T, explained.


In general, Google expects that the author of your content has at least some life experience in the topic — and your audience should expect the same. This is more true for some types of content than it is for others. For example, a writer with no hands-on experience with cleaning windows can still write a helpful, well-informed article on the best way to wash a window using research from reputable sources. But a restaurant review written by someone who's never stepped foot inside the establishment would be largely fabricated and misleading.

Overall, authors with experience in a topic tend to write more authentic, relatable content — they know the right terminology, they have some context, and they know what questions others dabbling in the topic might have. 

User-generated content is a great vehicle for marketing, since it's written by someone with first-hand experience using your products or services and can help demonstrate your E-E-A-T and win a sweet spot in the Google search rankings.


Adequate expertise in a subject is a must for YMYL topics, but it’s also essential for scores of other topics. Can you really trust an article about how to wash your antique linen pantaloons if the author might very well be a Gen Z kid who only found out what linen and pantaloons are when they Googled the topic to write the content? You’d be far more likely to trust the advice if it was dished out by a textile expert or museum curator. 

For many such YMYL topics, an SEO writer or reviewer byline shows your reader (and Google) why they should take the article’s word for it. A blog post or other content that might reasonably be expected to be written or reviewed by someone with subject matter expertise should have a byline. 


If you want to present your brand as an authority in your field, it’s got to have the mark of authoritative content, which:

  • Offers original information, reporting, research, or analysis
  • Provides a complete, comprehensive discussion of a topic, based on the reader’s intent
  • Goes beyond the obvious to provide additional context, insight, and interesting information
  • Is well-organized, thoughtfully produced, and free of grammatical and spelling errors

Authoritative content may draw on other reputable sources, but it’s not a simple rewording of those sources — it offers substantial added value. The title is trustworthy, too — it accurately summarizes the content, and it isn’t click-baity, keyword stuffed, or obtuse.

Another important mark of authoritative content is the number of other websites that have linked to your content — and the quality of those sites. When creating authoritative content, keep in mind that readers should find it valuable enough to share — authoritative sites and other entities should find it valuable enough to link to.


Although trustworthiness is last on the list, it’s the most fundamentally important aspect of quality content and fully encompasses experience, expertise, and authoritativeness. If your audience doesn’t feel like it can trust your content, you’re kaput, no matter how much experience, expertise, and authoritativeness the author exhibits.

Trustworthy content, then, is written by someone with at least some (depending on the topic) experience or expertise in the subject and is therefore likely to instill trust. It’s free of factual errors, and the reader leaves the page satisfied, having learned what they came to learn — and more!

How Google’s Quality Raters use E-E-A-T

AI is the hottest club in town right now, but even Google knows there are some things a robot can’t possibly do as well as a human. 

Intuition and subjectivity aren’t AI’s strong suit, so at any given time, Google’s got roughly 16,000 human Internet citizens across the globe, known as Search Quality Raters, manually evaluating the quality of Google's search results based on the experience of the author and the expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness of the content. 

In 2022 alone, nearly 900,000 such search quality tests were conducted, in which Google sends each rater a set of results pages based on a particular search query. The raters evaluate each page to determine how well it meets Google's search quality guidelines.  

To arrive at a search quality score for any given page, the raters consider E-E-A-T to give the content a Page Quality rating and a Needs Met rating.

Google aggregates these ratings and uses the data to measure how effectively its systems are performing to put the most helpful content at the top of the SERP and then make changes to the algorithm accordingly. It also uses the ratings to provide its search ranking systems with positive and negative examples of results. 

Page Quality rating

The page quality rating tells Google how well the page achieves its purpose. To arrive at this rating, the raters first determine the purpose of the page and evaluate its potential to cause harm:

Determine the purpose: Is it an article on a news site? A medical blog? An ecomm buying guide? A gossip page? Determining the overarching purpose of the page helps the rater apply E-E-A-T principles appropriately. The content itself doesn’t affect the page’s quality rating as long as it’s authentically helpful — an art history page meant to educate and a porn site meant to entertain will start the page quality review journey on even footing.

Evaluate the potential to cause harm: A page that intentionally aims to incite or glorify violence or any other number of universally harmful social maladies will immediately get the lowest possible page rating. This includes sites that mislead the reader — intentionally or unintentionally — into making choices that could cause grave harm.

Once the purpose is established, and it’s confirmed that the page isn’t up to no good, the quality raters consider E-E-A-T and the Search Quality Rater Guidelines as they evaluate three components: 

The main content (MC) quality: In general, a page that appears to be the result of a “significant amount of effort, originality, and talent or skill” on the part of the content creator garners higher MC ratings. 

Available information about the website and its creator: Raters want to see who’s responsible for the website and the content on the page they’re looking at. Ideally, this information will be readily available, either as a byline, blurb, or “About Us” section.

The reputation of the website and creator: Raters do a little digging to check out the word on the street about the website owners and content creator, based on real-user experience and the opinions of experts on the website’s topics of focus. Websites that have a positive reputation as an authoritative or trustworthy source have a leg up on websites that don't have a positive online presence.

Raters then give the content a Page Quality rating on a 5-point scale, from lowest-to-highest:

  1. Lowest: the page is untrustworthy, deceptive, or harmful.
  2. Low: the page lacks dimension and therefore does not fulfill its purpose.
  3. Medium: the page sort of achieves its purpose, but it doesn’t do it very well.
  4. High: the page achieves its purpose well.
  5. Highest: the page achieves its purpose exceptionally well.

Needs Met rating

The Needs Met rating tells Google how useful a result is for a particular search query. To arrive at this rating, raters must first determine the user intent and then consider whether the content on the page:

  • Fits the query and user intent
  • Provides comprehensive information about the topic
  • Is up-to-date
  • Comes from an authoritative source
  • Satisfies the user to the extent that they don’t need to see additional results to get their answers

Raters then give the content a Needs Met rating of 2 to 6, from Fails to Meet to Highly Meets (a rating of 1 is equivalent to N/A):

  • Fails to meet: almost all users would want to see additional search results.
  • Slightly meets: a few users might find what they’re looking for, but there’s not a strong or satisfying connection to the query — most users would want to see additional results.
  • Moderately meets: many users would find the content pretty helpful — or some users would find it very helpful. Still, some (or many) users might want to see additional results.
  • Highly meets: Many or most users would find the content very helpful, although some may still wish to see additional results.
  • Fully meets: Almost all users would be fully satisfied by the result and wouldn’t need or want to see additional results.

Google aggregates the results from Search Quality Raters and uses the data to measure how effectively its systems are performing to put the most helpful content at the top of the SERP — and make changes to the algorithm accordingly. It also uses the ratings to provide its AI systems with positive and negative examples of search results.

How do search quality ratings impact your content rankings?

E-E-A-T is a slow burn. The more Google learns from its raters about what constitutes content that deserves a top spot on the SERP, the more the algorithm changes to reflect the new “rules.” 

The wisest thing you can do now is to insure your content will survive future Google algorithm updates. And while E-E-A-T isn’t the end-all and be-all for ranking well, it’s the clearest, most fundamental framework Google has given us for creating content that's helpful and written for people first.

The rest — ideal word counts, the best keyword densities, the optimal number of headings — is mostly conjecture. If it ain't helpful, no amount of optimizing is going sway the search results.


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