What is Google's worst nightmare? Think about it. Google literally built its empire on the fact that people use them to find answers to questions they have. But its worst nightmare is that you can't find what you are looking for, get fed up, and leave. And what could cause a bad search experience? Bad content. In other words, the content didn't answer your question (irrelevant), it was not written by an expert, etc.
Google is OBSESSED with content quality and they won't let a little thing called Artificial Intelligence (AI) change that! I have been doing content marketing for more than twelve years now, and have closely followed Google's journey to constantly improve their algorithms to rank that best content.
In this article, I will explain what Google's E-E-A-T system stands for and how showing your real-life experience helps you rank better. By the end, you will not only understand why this is important now with AI-created content flooding the world, but you will also have practical suggestions on how to prove to Google that you have the experience!
What Is E-E-A-T?
Google's Search Quality Raters evaluate whether its search ranking systems provide helpful, relevant information. Therefore, when it comes to SEO and effective content marketing, it is essential to understand the concept of E-E-A-T, a method used by Google to evaluate the quality of content on websites. It stands for Experience, Expertise, Authority, and Trustworthiness. The E for experience is relatively new and helps assess content quality.
- Experience refers to the first-hand or life experiences of those who create content for a website. For instance, if someone were creating an article about gardening, they should have extensive experience in gardening to be considered an expert on the subject matter.
- Expertise refers to the level of knowledge and skill of someone who creates content for a website. Having expertise in a particular field or subject matter will help ensure that the content created is accurate and reliable.
- Authoritativeness refers to how reputable and respected the content creator or website is within its niche or industry. If people recognize your website as being a trustworthy source, then it can give you an advantage over competitors when ranking for certain keywords on search engines such as Google.
- Trustworthiness includes taking into account how accurate, honest, safe, and reliable the page is perceived to be by users. Imagine E-E-A-T to be a three-legged stool. Trust is the ultimate goal standing on the legs of Experience, Expertise, and Authoritativeness.
Google considers these factors when judging whether or not your page should rank higher than others that may have similar topics but do not meet their trustworthiness criteria.
Understanding E-E-A-T and what it stands for can help content marketers and SEO experts ensure that their pages are meeting quality standards set by Google so they can get better rankings in SERPs (search engine results pages). By following these guidelines properly, websites will be able to maximize visibility amongst potential customers looking for information.
What Is Experience In E-E-A-T?
Now that we know that Google’s E-E-A-T concept is an important factor in how Google assesses the quality of content, let's have a closer look at the new criteria: Experience. To demonstrate that your content is trustworthy and valuable to users, you must be able to prove that you have real-life experience. But what is experience in E-E-A-T? And what is the difference between experience and expertise?
What Is Experience?
Let's have a look at how Google itself defines experience:
"Experience: Consider the extent to which the content creator has the necessary first-hand or life experience for the topic. Many types of pages are trustworthy and achieve their purpose well when created by people with a wealth of personal experience. For example, which would you trust: a product review from someone who has personally used the product or a "review" by someone who has not?"
This means having a deep understanding of a subject based on having lived through it. For example, as part of my studies to become a Certified Permaculture Designer, I learned about different types of compost. But until you have assembled and turned heaps and heaps of compost mounds, kept track of the moisture content and temperature, or smelled what happens if you miss a day or put too much "green" in, you have no practical experience.
Another example is a product review from someone who has personally used the product. This review would have more weight than a review from somebody who has not. However, just because you have first-hand experience with something does not necessarily mean that you will be viewed as an expert by Google.
How Is Experience Different From Expertise?
The other E is expertise, which is often confused with experience. So, I want to take a minute to explain how they are different. Again, let's look at Google's definition first:
"Expertise: Consider the extent to which the content creator has the necessary knowledge or skill for the topic. Different topics require different levels and types of expertise to be trustworthy. For example, which would you trust: home electrical rewiring advice from a skilled electrician or from an antique homes enthusiast who has no knowledge of electrical wiring?"
This means having an expert-level understanding of a subject based on education or professional training rather than personal experiences. For example, home electrical rewiring advice from a skilled electrician would be more trustworthy than advice from an antique homes enthusiast who may have no knowledge of electrical wiring at all.
The difference between these two concepts often comes down to credibility — high levels of first-hand experience can make content credible, while low levels can make it seem less so. To demonstrate both expertise and experience in E-E-A-T when creating content for Google, you must show that you have both an understanding of your subject matter and proof that you are actively engaged with it through first-hand experiences or certifications related to it.
Generative AI: Why Experience Is Becoming Important Now
The amount of content generated by generative AI is drastically increasing over the coming weeks and months. But, let's remember what generative AI is. Essentially, ChatGPT & Co use Natural Language Processing (NLP) to read what has already been written and use it to answer requests made by humans. But it only regurgitates what it has previously read. It might, therefore, be argued that it has a certain (increasingly growing) level of expertise.
To stay relevant, Google has had to come up with a way to distinguish between content created by humans and content created by machines. And that is where experience comes in, which is genius, because experience is the thing that AI cannot have. This concept emphasizes the importance of having real experience with a subject matter over just reading about it — or having a machine learn about it.
The idea behind this is that personal experiences are harder to replicate than knowledge gained from books or Wikipedia articles. Machines may be able to process information quickly and accurately, but they cannot replicate first-hand experiences without being programmed to do so. This is why Google places such an emphasis on proving expertise and experience through certifications or other forms of validation, such as customer reviews.
Another thing that sets human experience apart from machine-generated experience is the time factor. While machines can process things faster than humans, they still haven’t mastered the concept of the "10,000 hours rule" — the notion that gaining mastery of a skill or activity requires 10,000 hours of practice and dedication. Google recognizes this, and thus considers whether an individual has put in the time necessary for them to develop a deep understanding of a subject matter when assessing their qualifications.
How To Prove Your Experience To Google (And Readers)
A long time ago, I read a book on professional development and how to build up your experience level if you have none and no one will hire you. The author (I don't remember the title of the book) explained how speaking at the public library or teaching a class at the local community college is a small step on your experience ladder. Every time you get more experience, other doors open up. This is true in the work here as well.
Think about how you can prove to a real person that you have experience and do the same for Google. Let's look at some examples below:
You Gotta Earn It, So Put In The Work
To increase your experience brownie points with Google, you will have to put in the work. Google mentions “effort” 101 times in their Quality Rating Guidelines because they want to know that someone has put in the effort for them to become an expert on whatever topic they are discussing (this includes researching as well).
Therefore, if you want Google (and readers) to trust your expertise on any given subject matter, then make sure that you demonstrate effort — be it through certifications or other qualifications related to the topic — along with real life experiences which prove its validity.
Talk About Your Qualifications & Credentials
Showcase your experience, knowledge, skill, and expertise by sharing any credentials, certifications, industry memberships, and other qualifications you might have to demonstrate your credibility.
This might look differently for everyone. For example, for a B2B marketer, this could mean showing off their HubSpot Certification badges and highlighting successes they have achieved, e.g., by explaining how much attributed revenue their content generated. For a public speaker or coach, this could be videos or images of them speaking at events or conferences. For a sustainable architect, this could be certificates, like Passive House Standard, that they achieved. What would this look like in your industry?
Showcase External Proof Of Your Experience
In addition to the above, you will want to add external proof of your experience. In other words, what do other people or organizations say about you? This can mean customer reviews, testimonials, case studies, customer journey videos, and such. As you feature these on your website, make sure to link to the external sites and media mentions to increase your website's trust score.
Include Images, Video, Or Audio Showcasing Your Experience
If you have ever watched the Discovery Channel's show Homestead Rescue you will know what Marty Raney's hands look like when he says: "I show you my experience!" It is clear that he has put far more than 10,000 hours into homesteading and he has the experience and expertise required.
To highlight yours, include images, video, or audio showcasing your real life experience in the field you’re writing about. This will give readers a real understanding of who you are and what kind of experiences you have had with the subject matter.
Revisit Your About Us Page
As a company, another way to prove your expertise is by keeping your About Us page up to date. Your About Us page should provide a detailed overview of who you are, what experience(s) you have in the field, and how long you have been actively engaged with it. Additionally, make sure that all content on this page is well-written, accessible, constantly updated, and free from errors — this gives readers confidence that they’re dealing with an experienced expert.
Use Language That Showcases That You Have Experience
Finally, when writing about a subject matter that requires knowledge or experience to understand it fully, use language that showcases that you have experience (e.g., you have tried out the product). For example, if discussing a certain type of software or technology related to your field of expertise, try using phrases like “I tested this out myself for the past six months and I have found...” or “I can tell from first-hand experience…” because doing so makes it clear to both Google and readers alike that you are indeed an expert in the topic at hand.
In summary, Google knows that AI-assisted/generated content will continue to grow in popularity but also realizes that it won't replace true human experience with a subject matter soon, which is why they have implemented their E-E-A-T concept. By considering both knowledge and experience when evaluating content quality, it makes sure that only those who have truly dedicated themselves to their field are rewarded with higher rankings on search engine results pages (SERPs).
This means that you, as the writer and subject matter expert, have to incorporate ways to highlight your experience in real life to prove that your content is based on actual encounters and familiarity with the subject.
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