Vague concepts feed the machine

Although it’s well known that Google is looking for what it calls ‘E-A-T’, or Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness, not many of us really think about how we might highlight this in our content. One reason is that the terms are hard to define. Once we make the effort to define them though, we tend to assume that no machine-based algorithm could identify these traits.

That would be a mistake.

Show me half a dozen articles accepted as being expert (or authoritative, or trustworthy) and I’m sure I couldn’t spot anything which a machine could latch onto as evidence those descriptors were true. But given the unimaginable amount of data that search engines have available to them, I’d bet there are several indicators, some of them almost bulletproof. A lot of it will be about spotting patterns, not just in the documents, but in those that link to them or surround them.

It should be emphasised that expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness are not ranking factors in themselves. They are concepts which independent reviewers are asked to rate content on, in manual exercises – not to rank that content, but to give Google’s machine intelligence starting points in looking for patterns.

As this excellent recent article on the subject concluded: “It makes sense to think hard about what those words expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness mean and apply your insights to every webpage that you publish.”