Google Discover Update: Are Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness Ranking Factors?

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Google has recently released an update saying: “We have updated our publisher’s support content related to Discover, including guidance around article titles, enabling large high-quality images, and having timely, engaging content”. One of the most interesting areas of the update is the section added on E-A-T for the YMYL topics. Historically, Google has said E-A-T is not a ranking factor but appears to be now. First, let’s start with untangling Discover, E-A-T and YMYL acronyms. 

What is Google Discover?

Google Discover is a way to explore new information and content relevant to a user’s interests that is based on historical Web & App browsing activity. 

What is E-A-T?

E-A-T stands for Expertise – Authoritativeness – Trustworthiness. This is Google’s terminology, introduced in 2018, for a set of website quality standards to be applied by quality testers when evaluating websites. Google Updates are also used to bake aspects of E-A-T into Google’s search algorithm.

Surely, any website could benefit from a certain amount of expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness. However, there are some industries and topics in particular for which Google devotes special attention in the Quality Rater Guidelines, like the “YMYL topics”.

What are YMYL topics? 

“YMYL is how Google describes search queries in the “Your Money or Your Life” category. Google applies heightened quality standards to these keywords because false information could have disastrous consequences for a user’s health, finances, happiness, or safety.”

The Google’s Quality Rater Guidelines pay distinctive attention to YMYL topics like Health, Finance, News, or Science. For this type of content is important to always understand “the true purpose of the page”. Thus, E-A-T can be probably considered a ranking factor for websites with such content, as low-quality content and an untrustworthy looking page will likely lead to the site being downgraded.

The page content must demonstrate expertise.

The Quality Rater Guidelines make it clear that Google pays close attention to sensitive YMYL topics when evaluating the search results.

Returning to Discover Update, the new section in the help document argues:

“Our automated systems surface content in Discover from sites that have many individual pages that demonstrate expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness (E-A-T). Those looking to improve E-A-T can consider some of the same questions we encourage site owners to consider for Search. While Search and Discover are different, the overall principles for E-A-T as it applies to content within them are similar.”

In 2019, Google said they don’t have an E-A-T score. In early 2020, Google said its systems don’t look for E-A-T but later in 2020, and now with Discover Update, Google said it hopes its system does align with E-A-T…

So the original question on whether “Is E-A-T a ranking factor or not? And how it influences the search result”, is still valid and now also for Discover.

What does this mean for your business? 

If your business is in the YMYL category, in order to rank higher on target keywords, do consider the E-A-T and Quality Rater Guidelines. Content will continue to be the lifeblood of SEO, at all levels, including Discover. As such, it’s important to create content that’s interesting and useful (E-A-T).

Are you interested to learn how we can help your business improve E-A-T and Google Rankings?

Read our SEO Consulting and Content Marketing service pages here and Contact Us to arrange a free initial consultation. 

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