YMYL, EAT and beneficial purpose are raising the stakes in content creation
Google’s search ranking algorithm wants to know your website’s EATing habits. It no longer rewards low-quality catch-all content that repeatedly mentions a key term. Instead, it values content that scores well on Expertise, Authority and Trustworthiness (EAT). This measure is meant to steer users to higher quality content and away from low-quality untrustworthy content. Google’s EAT is particularly important for YMYL pages, an acronym for “Your Money, Your Life”. These pages contain content that if presented incorrectly, untruthfully or deceptively can significantly impact the reader’s health, happiness, safety or financial stability.
Google’s efforts are aimed at degrading misinformation and rewarding websites that can prove their EAT value. Websites that lack beneficial purpose experience poor search performance. Just as every paragraph in a scientific paper should serve a purpose, a website should have focus and offer benefit to the visitor. Google’s evaluators and algorithm look at a page’s beneficial purpose when calculating its Page Quality (PQ) score.
In Search Engine Journal’s report on SEO trends, marketing expert Himani Kankaria flags the importance of going beyond creating “SEO content” to considering user intent. This describes what a user is looking for and tells us the reasons behind the keywords.
Let’s say a researcher needs the latest articles in their particular field. They might arrive at a journal’s page directly or via Google Scholar. A publisher would have ensured the metadata for published articles is accurate to help the algorithm signpost them correctly. Once a researcher arrives at a publisher’s or journal’s site, the goal is to keep them at the site for as long as possible, consuming as much relevant content as possible. This will boost the page’s SEO and let Google know it sent this person to the right place.
How is EAT evaluated?
Expertise can be described as having a high level of knowledge in a field or subject:
- Is the main author a known and published expert?
- Do they hold appropriate qualifications in this field?
- Is there clear evidence of their credentials?
Expertise matters, particularly for YMYL content. The user reading the content needs to know if an expert has written it. By clearly displaying expertise online, you improve the quality of your content which can yield better search rankings.
Authoritativeness represents your reputation within the industry or subject:
- Are the page creator and the website hosting the page authoritative?
- Is the author’s work regularly cited as a reliable source?
- Is the creator perceived as an industry/knowledge leader?
Your authority as a website or page content author reflects how present you are in your industry, and how frequently others reference and refer to your work. Citation counts, media coverage and public appearances are ways a publisher, journal or researcher can boost their profile. For a new journal under an existing publisher, wider brand awareness and cross-promotion in relevant titles will indicate to Google’s crawlers that this is an authoritative source.
Trustworthiness is a measure of content credibility. Trust takes years to build but only seconds to lose. Google values trust highly when assessing page quality, asking:
- Is the content and content creator (be it a publisher, journal or author) recognised and endorsed by other experts in this field?
- Do they hold membership of any professional bodies, if applicable?
- Have other trustworthy organisations recognised their work?
For authors, networking is a huge part of a scientific career and academic authors perform a variety of roles beyond their research, from public speaking to education to advocacy. Conference talks, collaborations and outreach all build a picture of a scientist at the cutting edge of their field, which encourages audiences to trust their work.
Prioritise EAT for SEO success
You need to eat to stay alive and so does your online content. As Google enhances efforts to reward quality content and penalise misinformation in searches, SEO best practices will continue to evolve, and a key element of this is prioritising EAT for SEO. This ongoing process requires regularly – even continuously – reviewing your content and revising your SEO processes to reflect your expertise, authority and trustworthiness.