E-A-T It, Don’t Cheat It: Google’s Acronymic Algorithm, Explained

E-A-T It, Don’t Cheat It: Google’s Acronymic Algorithm, Explained


– Ah, SEO, the catch-all
grab-bag of marketing concepts. Don’t understand something? Must be SEO-related. Site not bringing in any revenue? Gotta be an SEO issue. What do our parents keep
telling our friends we do? SE, something with computers. No matter how much we try to explain, all marketing is not SEO, and vice versa. The reason marketers put
so much stock into SEO is because your ability to show
up in the search results can absolutely make or break your website. Every time Google launches a new update, panic washes over the marketing world like a wave crashing onto
the shore at Normandy, which happens to be another popular topic at the old folks’ home. Today on Marketing is Broken, JLH Marketing agency
founder Jenny Halasz tells us how Google’s latest
EAT update will affect your search rankings,
and how this shift is just another step in Google’s journey to make its results more
focused, current, and helpful. (upbeat music) (crashing) Welcome back to Marketing is Broken, the weekly marketing talk show where smart people explain
things so I don’t have to. I’m your host, Josh Braaten, and today we’ll be tackling Google’s latest favorite acronym, EAT. No, Google hasn’t gotten better
at recommending restaurants. EAT actually stands for expertise, authority, and trustworthiness, three factors the search
engine giant is weighting more heavily than ever when it comes to ranking search results. Essentially the thought
is that Google judges your website by, one, how
useful your content is, two, who you are as an authority, and three, whether other
trustworthy websites link to or reference your site. So in order to be trustworthy, you have to be trusted by other sites that were deemed trustworthy before you. Somehow this is an algorithm
and not a Ponzi scheme. The update was mainly aimed at
lowering the search rankings of dubious medical- and
health-related sites, like from those sidebar banner ads. “Soccer mom burns off 15 pounds “of belly fat in just
three minutes a day.” Not exactly the New England
Journal of Medicine, is it? Google knows that sites like
this spread misinformation and can even cause harm to users, so it’s working harder
to bury bad content, like your grandparents buried
their post-World War II PTSD. (downtrodden trumpeting) Honestly, Google has always made decisions about what’s best for
us behind the scenes. They’re just making it official now. But as you know, sometimes
Google gets it wrong. So what steps do we, as genuinely trustworthy
content producers, need to take to ensure Google doesn’t lump us in with the fat-burning soccer moms? To answer that tricky question today, we’ve got Jenny Halasz, founder and resident SEO expert at JLH Marketing. Jenny will share a few tips on how to create EAT-friendly content without needing to be an SEO expert, or an expert in whatever
your parents think you do. Oh, and in case you’re wondering how soccer moms burn off their fat, by the way, it’s a literal burn,
third-degree, very serious. Real quick, what’s the easiest way for people to understand expertise, authority, and trust as Google defines it? – I think that is really
the tricky question. They are very esoteric concepts and there’s been a lot of hullabaloo about what constitutes each element of this within the search community. The bottom line is we do not know. We do not know for sure. Google hasn’t told us for sure. We can only postulate. But I will say that I think that some of the roads that
other SEOs are going down are fraught with trouble. (laughs) Specifically the
idea of building consensus and that Google is looking to kind of not necessarily fact-check, but provide the
scientifically-backed recommendation or the medically-backed recommendation on a particular topic. We’re not seeing that in the
search results, first of all. We’re still seeing some really
questionable sites coming up, tops for certain queries. And then the other element of it is that it requires a level
of sentiment analysis, which is something that
all of the search engines, all of the social media companies, have tried and tried to dot to somehow productize, somehow bring down to an algorithmic
level, and have failed. So I don’t think that it’s unreasonable to think that maybe Google doesn’t have that locked yet either. – So how does an EAT score
lead to better search results, and then based on that score
or just the idea of it, what flaws or shortcomings do you see and how it may help or hinder how search engines are
supposed to work for users? – So a couple of things with that. First off, there is no such thing as an EAT score, as far as we know. Google has emphasized that expertise, authority, and trust are
very important to them. They are part of the
quality raters guidelines, but they are not specifically mentioned as a ranking factor anywhere. So that’s just kind of something that I think people need
to get through their heads, that it is not a ranking
factor, necessarily. Also all of this is
being done by computers. Even machine learning
computers still need inputs, and so it makes sense to think about what are the type of inputs that would generate the appearance or the illusion of expertise,
authority, and trust? And both how could those be collected and how could those be gained? Because Google’s always gonna be thinking about trying to keep
things from being gamed. And also they’re not going
to go and reinvent the wheel. So people should look to things
like Google News guidelines, YouTube guidelines, existing
search engine guidelines, Google’s patents that they’ve filed. – So yeah, that’s really fascinating. And so thinking about how people or brands should factor the idea of EAT into their marketing practices, I’m hearing you say it’s not necessarily like some sort of a quid pro quo, where you can do this tactic
and increase a certain score, and you’ll get x amount percent further. It’s maybe more of a mentality or just a philosophy for marketing and for content publication
that doesn’t maybe have any real search engine ranking
factor impact at this moment. Is that kind of what I’m hearing? And if so, how should people think about increasing their expertise, authority, and trust online? – I think it’s a really
good way to put it. And my keynote at State of Search is actually going to be Your Search Diet: How Not to Overeat, and the crux of the talk is that having a good website and having a healthy website’s very similar to being
healthy in your life. So everything in moderation. Don’t overdo any one element. Understand that you can
exercise all day long, but if you continue to eat bottles and bottles of Pringles, you’re
not gonna lose any weight, so you’re gonna hurt your heart. Similar to if you go out
and you focus only on links, then you’re going to
miss out on other things, maybe that would help you
gain better reputation. And so it’s really
about the overall health of the organization and whether that organization is something that Google feels like their visitors to the search engine, who
are doing these queries, are they going to get
something that is trustworthy? Not necessarily right, and
I think that’s the key, is especially with medical, there sometimes are no
right or wrong answers. But what’s important is that you put it forward with, okay, this
is not medically-backed, but a lot of observational
evidence indicates that this might be something
you might wanna try if you’re completely out of options. Autoimmune disorders, for example, doctors don’t know how to solve those. So people have to try
anything that they can, and what works for some people
doesn’t work for others. So I think that Google’s purpose in this is just making
sure that it’s very clear. So it’s not that you have
to have every paper cited by x number of think tanks or NHC articles or studies or whatever. It’s that you have to be very clear about what it is that
you’re putting forward. – Perfect, perfect. That makes a lotta sense. So what you’re saying is that, just like in real life,
there’s no magic pill for SEO and there’s a little
bit more nuance to it. Jenny Halasz, thank you
so much for your time. – Thank you. I really appreciate it, Josh. – Thanks for being here, Jenny. (sighs) I’m stuffed. Stuffed full of knowledge, that is. Maybe I’ll even publish a new
post explaining the difference between SEO and marketing
for my parents’ friends, in 37-point font. (quirky music) Hey, it’s Josh from Brandish Insights. Thank you for watching
Marketing is Broken. If you liked this week’s episode, please click below to subscribe
or check out other episodes. And if your company
could use more insights around your branding efforts, check out brandishinsights.com.

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