When people see the word E-A-T, the first thing that likely comes to mind is consuming food. However, for SEOs, E-A-T serves as something entirely different when put into context. In the world of SEO, acronyms and jargon are widely used, and in this article we’re going to be using a few more while exploring and discussing what E-A-T stands for, how it is evaluated and why it is important for the igaming sector.
What is Google E-A-T?
The term E-A-T stands for expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness. The concept was described in Google’s Quality Rater’ Guidelines, a 168-page document published in 2013 and used by human quality raters to assess the quality of Google’s search results.
In this document, Google explains that the characteristics of a good quality webpage include high levels of E-A-T – that is, a page that can showcase high levels of expertise, authority and trust. To rank well on Google, you therefore need to take these three concepts into account when building content if you want to rank highly in the SERPs.
People started talking in earnest about E-A-T in August 2018 when a new Google Algorithm update called the Medic update was announced. This algorithm update affected a lot of YMYL (‘Your Money or Your Life’) websites, those that “could potentially impact a person’s future happiness, health, financial stability, or safety”, for example, medical and financial websites such as WebMD.
In a time of fake news, Google wanted to present correct information and not just relevant information. Therefore, it was important that these sites had (and were able to maintain) high levels of E-A-T to protect users from unsafe information.
Alongside YMYL sites, E-A-T has had a significant impact on websites across the World Wide Web, including those run by igaming operators and affiliates. As Google always wants to rank high-quality pages over low-quality pages, it is no surprise that any sites, including non-YMYL ones, will benefit from having a high E-A-T.
Take some casino review content, for example. If this was written by a person with no gaming experience and published on a website that looks untrustworthy, the likelihood of it being accurate is extremely small. This is a great example of a low E-A-T website, which Google will not rank highly in the SERPs.
So what exactly does expertise, authority and trust mean and how is it evaluated?
E-A-T Evaluated – examples from the igaming sector
Ever since the rollout of the Panda algorithm update in 2011, it has been clear to SEOs that quality content is key. This is also reflected in Google’s search results as higher-quality pages rank above low-quality pages.
By using E-A-T as a guideline to produce high-quality pages, you can improve your Google rankings. With that said, let’s deep dive into each of the three concepts and discuss examples from the igaming sector.
Expertise is described in the dictionary as having “an expert skill or knowledge in a particular field”. Google wants to avoid sending people to inaccurate websites that provide no real value, so when it crawls your site, it looks for content that is created by a person with expertise. In a nutshell, there are two types of users Google is okay with expressing expertise: experts and “everyday experts”.
Some topics require less formal expertise than others, and this is where the catch-all term “everyday expertise” comes in. Everyday expertise is where ordinary people possess life experiences that make them an expert. For example, Google will accept a person that has been working in the igaming sector for 10 years as someone qualified to express an opinion about igaming-related topics. This person demonstrates relevant life experience.
The way you express your expertise is also an important factor to consider when having an expert or an everyday expert writing content for your site. Just relaying information in a complicated and highly knowledgeable way does not always fit what your audience needs.
Knowing what your audience wants and delivering the information in a way they understand is just as important. There are two ways of doing that: by looking at it from their perspective, and by understanding your user’s search intent by doing keyword research.
For example, if you want to target someone who is new to the sports betting topic, then you should avoid using complicated terms and instead use concepts that a beginner would understand to facilitate their journey to betting on sports. By providing content that is useful, relevant, accurate and comprehensive you will provide content that has a high E-A-T.
Quality links have been one of the top-ranking factors for a while now and are also a sign of authoritativeness. However, it is important to keep in mind that the quantity of links is not as important as having good-quality links.
For example, if you have two links from strong sites such as Forbes and the BBC that talk about igaming related topics, Google will likely prefer those as opposed to 20 links from irrelevant sources that talk about unrelated topics.
For Google, authoritativeness is based on actually being able to see others recognise your expertise. Recognition of your expertise can come from reviews, mentions or shares of your content.
The only way to build your authority is to create good-quality content. When you have unique data/content that is written by an expert and published on a secure site (which we will talk more about in the next section), then people will want to share that content and recognise your expertise.
To evaluate authority, Google’s quality raters look for what users and experts think about a website. Through credible information written by people about the website, such as reviews, references and expert’s recommendations, they can evaluate the level of authority.
iGB and iGB Affiliate are examples of authoritative sources on igaming news, but they have no authority over, for example, environmental news. It is not easy to gain authority and there are no quick wins. It takes time to build a strong reputation and be recognised as having high-quality expert content.
When it comes to trustworthiness, think about the legitimacy, transparency and accuracy of the website. Google takes several things into account when assessing a website’s trustworthiness, however these types of signals are for Google only and not users. This includes the number of backlinks your domain has coming from other authoritative websites.
For example, if Google sees that a particular igaming website is receiving mentions and links from other well-established and authoritative domains over time, it assumes that the igaming organisation is legit and is therefore growing its trustworthiness.
Users, on the other hand, will evaluate trustworthiness by seeing a registered company name and phone number in the footer of a website. Another factor users take into account is being able to see an author tag on a given blog, which shows that the information here has been written by a real expert in the field.
While this is important for any website, igaming companies have to go that extra mile to inspire trust among potential players because users are required to make payments in order to participate in games. Therefore, trust signals have to be in place even more so in the igaming industry.
Here are some trust signals to consider when building or optimising your igaming website:
- Top-level domain (TLD): Some domains such as .buzz or .live can be seen as spam. Domains such as .com are most trustworthy from the user’s perspective.
- Security: Visitors may be faced with a Google warning if your website isn’t SSL certified. A secure website URL should start with https rather than http. If you want your visitors to convert into customers, ensure your site is secure.
- Clean navigation menu: This is key, especially on mobile devices. Creating an easy-to-understand navigation menu with easy access to the most important pages ensures a good UX for users.
- Reviews, testimonials, social links (and good following): Reviews add trust in two ways: third party approval/validation (e.g. Trustpilot) and showing that other customers have had a good experience on your website. Testimonials are endorsement quotes from customers and other third parties. For users who are quickly scanning your website to determine whether you are trustworthy or not, this is a key factor. Social links show transparency and provide easy access to your other platforms where users can find out more about you. It also allows them to engage with you on a more personal level.
Why is E-A-T important for igaming?
E-A-T is important for all websites, but some more than others. The reason why it’s so important in the igaming industry is because the whole idea is for users to convert, which ultimately requires trust, safety and security in order for them to register and provide their bank details.
Google’s page experience update is a great opportunity to optimise your website on a deeper level, provide a better user experience for your visitors and ultimately have a better E-A-T strategy and implementation. The most recent update focuses on Core Web Vitals, website security, user experience and mobile friendliness, which all impact the way users interact when they are on a particular site.
By staying on top of all of these factors and keeping your website full of fresh, relevant and accurate content, including award certifications, payment methods and your refund policy, it shows that your organisation is being proactive when it comes to providing the best experience possible for your users.
Introduction to E-A-T summary
The best way to understand how your website is performing is to explore it as if you were a customer. Ask yourself the following questions:
- How fast did your page load?
- Is your website mobile-friendly?
- Would you trust it just by looking at the homepage?
- Does the website have intrusive and unwanted pop-ups?
- Is your website secure and worthy of registration?
- Are all games and categories easily accessible, particularly on mobile devices?
- Would you trust your social profiles?
The second part of this article provides insight and real examples of putting Google E-A-T into practice.
E-A-T Best practices
In the SEO world, we constantly see improvements being made to Google through broad core updates. These core updates are improvements to the overall Google algorithm that’s used to better understand users’ search queries and websites. In this section, we will explore how putting E-A-T into practice can help you take advantage, or reduce the impact of, the June/July core updates, with practical examples for the igaming sector.
Google’s core updates
The goal with core updates is to improve Google’s accuracy in matching search queries for better user experience and satisfaction. Historically, Google has released core updates only every few months and the previous one was in December 2020. However, this year we’ve experienced two big core updates across June and July 2021.
In between these core updates, Google also releases smaller updates. This summer, we had about 10 rolled out, among them the Google predator algorithm update, the Google page experience update, the two spam updates and Google MUM (multitask unified model).
What all of these updates and core updates have in common is that Google wants to improve user experience in both the search results and on the pages of websites. More specifically, Google wants high-quality content to rank higher than lower-quality content.
In the first part of this article, we highlighted the importance of E-A-T and how Google explained the characteristics of a good quality website, which includes high levels of expertise, authority and trust. Having all of these elements will help boost your chances of ranking highly in the SERPs, especially given how high competition is at present.
The rest of this article will look to provide insight for those working in the igaming sector.
Six ways of putting E-A-T into practice
If you were impacted negatively by the recent algorithm updates, Google recommends making content better and more relevant. Several references of “high quality” were even updated to “high E-A-T” in Google’s Quality Rater Guidelines. This means that by improving the content on your page by adding expertise, authority and trust, you will improve your chances of ranking well in the search results.
1. Author information
As part of the Quality Rater Guidelines, Google explains that, when assessing page quality, “Understanding who is responsible for a website is a critical part of assessing E-A-T for most types of websites.”
First of all, this can be done by including author information for informational pages, like blogs, so Google can assess if the author is a suitable expert to write the content for that page. As mentioned earlier, these can be everyday experts or formal experts.
Including author information in your blogs or informational landing pages can be a way of expressing expertise on your website. It’s important to know what sort of expertise that content writer has – particularly in the igaming sector where anyone can be an everyday expert. Do they have any work, education or life experience that makes them a suitable person to write about this content? Users want to know, and so does Google.
How do you convince Google that you’re an expert in the igaming sector? Well, being an expert in a field such as igaming means you have to put your content out there and let others recognise your expertise. According to Google’s Quality Rater Guidelines, one of the ways in which quality raters find reputation evidence is to: “Look for information written by a person, not statistics or other machine-compiled information. News articles, Wikipedia articles, blog posts, magazine articles, forum discussions, and ratings from independent organisations can all be sources of reputation information. Look for independent, credible sources of information.”
Through your authority, you begin to build up trust among the users who read about igaming news, services and/or products. The reality is, if your name appears often in different publications, and those publications are associated with good quality content, people will start to trust your name. In turn, you will begin to build a good reputation.
3. Make clear who is responsible for your site
Making clear who owns and maintains your website, through an ‘about us’ or ‘contact us’ page, will help create transparency, legitimacy and accountability to your site and in that way boost your trustworthiness and E-A-T. Through these sites you can attribute an address to your physical location, such as your office address. If you don’t have that, you should provide a clear way to contact the website owners through legitimate ways, such as email, LinkedIn or Facebook.
4. Improve low E-A-T content
Making sure your website starts to incorporate E-A-T for future content pieces is great, but don’t forget your existing content. Improve this and you will also improve your ranking position.
You can start by making sure your content is topically relevant to your whole site. For example, having a page about how to make the best pancakes in the world on an igaming site like iGB would not follow E-A-T guidelines. The page might be written with the best quality in the world, but it does not add any value. Google and users will be confused about what this page is doing on your igaming website and, as a result, will not trust your site.
Moreover, having only a small amount of content on a page with a broad topic will automatically give you a low E-A-T score. Consider this example: an igaming affiliate writes about online blackjack and includes only a couple of sentences on how to actually play the game. Do you think this would be enough to explain what the goal of the game is, all the rules and strategies involved, along with where you can play online blackjack? No, and neither would Google.
Finally, make sure your content is factual, useful and up to date. Use original research to inform your readers, make it topically relevant to the igaming industry and make sure you’re on top of industry news and topics. This means you can update your content frequently. These three content tips will help improve your trustworthiness, expertise and authority.
5. Technical security
In the igaming industry, it’s important to inspire trust through security. Google explicitly states in the Quality Rater Guidelines that a website has a low E-A-T level if “the MC [main content] is not trustworthy, e.g., a shopping checkout page that has an insecure connection”.
Igaming websites in particular need to showcase that their websites are secure, as potential players are required to make payments to play a real-money game. There are several ways to inspire trust by highlighting what security is in place for the users of your website.
As discussed earlier, make sure your website’s domain starts with https instead of http, as this marks pages as secure and SSL-certified.
Second, provide evidence that you are keeping your customers safe through well-known and trusted payment, exchange and return policies.
Next – and this might sound logical – but avoid untrue or harmful information of any kind. Be truthful, provide useful and relevant information and you’ll be sure to gain a new customer to your igaming website.
6. What to avoid putting on your website
Steer clear of auto-generated, poorly written and duplicate content. Avoid clickbait titles designed to attract attention and make users click on a link but which do not provide any real value when users get to your website. Google hates it, users hate it, and you will definitely hate it when your bounce rates soar through the roof.
In addition, don’t make the language of your content unnatural by stuffing keywords in your content and making it unreadable. Other things to avoid putting on your website are pop-ups that interrupt a user from seeing and interacting with your actual content.
In line with this, avoid a heavy focus on ads, as they create distractions and give the impression of an unreliable and untrustworthy site.
Overall, it’s clear that incorporating a high level of E-A-T into your content is a good way of increasing your rankings in the search results. However, it is important to note that high levels of E-A-T alone will not guarantee you first-page rankings or even vice versa.
The above six practical tips will help you futureproof your website and possibly even help you benefit from future Google core updates. They can also help reduce the possible negative impact previous algorithm updates have caused your website.
Remember: providing the best possible version of your website that will benefit users will help you rank among the thousands of websites out there trying to rank in Google’s SERPs.