What is E-A-T (Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness)?

Have you ever looked at a piece of content online and thinking: Hmm, I’m not sure I can trust this? Who wrote this? Why should I believe a word of what they are saying? This happens more often than you think, especially if you are looking for content that you use to make decisions that can impact your life: i.e., financial or medical information. This is where E-A-T comes into play: Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness — a range of signals Google uses to evaluate and judge content.

E-A-T is a core concept in Google’s Search Quality Raters guide

Google is constantly fighting a battle over good and bad content. Today, more than ever. Misinformation abounds, people are gaming the system, and a pandemic makes for an ever-growing need to provide trustworthy content. Google is working hard to train its systems to recognize and reward high-quality, expertly written, and factual content — this is where we see E-A-T pop up. The latest Helpful Content Update reinforces the need for high-quality, original content.

Expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness are mentioned a lot in Google’s Search Quality Raters guidelines (pdf) and other posts by Google. These core signals help Google assess and judge a piece of online content. The Quality Rater Guide represents how Google wants its algorithms to function. Ben Gomes, Google’s Vice President of Search, famously said in an interview with CNBC:

“You can view the rater guidelines as where we want the search algorithm to go. They don’t tell you how the algorithm is ranking results, but they fundamentally show what the algorithm should do.”

Ben Gomes

Of course, E-A-T is not used the same for every search query out there. E-A-T is especially important for web content that describes things that can impact the lives of visitors. These are so-called YMYL sites.

What are YMYL sites?

YMYL stands for Your Money or Your Life. These concern pages feature content that, quite literally, can cost you your life. Pages like this can impact the visitors’ well-being, health, financial situation, or safety. This is very broad and touches loads of sites. Think of it this way, even accepting credit cards for an online purchase makes your site a YMYL.

Here’s some of the examples Google gives as heavy on the YMYL:

  • News and current events,
  • Civics, government and law,
  • Finance,
  • Shopping,
  • Health and safety,
  • Groups of people,
  • And a big bucket of other, that consists of many other things and decisions that can influence a person’s life.

The reason that Google identifies these YMYL sites is that they need extra scrutiny. As the content on these types of sites can impact lives, it needs to be assessed extra carefully. In the age of fake news and misinformation, it is increasingly hard to find, critically judge, and trust online content. Especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, Google has fought hard to keep misinformation about the virus appearing in the search results.

To do this, Google uses various signals to determine a site’s trustworthiness. It also has systems to judge the expertise and authoritativeness of so-called experts. Together, these signals help Google better understand which sites to rank and which to sweep under the rug.

What does E-A-T mean?

As said before, E-A-T stands for Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness. These are all interconnected and are used to evaluate how well a site performs. Sites with good E-A-T can appear in every sector and industry — it’s not limited to YMYL sites.


How much of an expert is who wrote the article you are reading? Can you find out anything about them? Are they renowned experts, won any awards? Studied at Harvard? Is the article on mortgages written by an experienced financial advisor specialized in financing housing property — or did a content marketeer write it to get links? For a lot of topics, this matters.

For YMYL content, expertise matters. People reading it need to know that they can trust the expertise of the person who wrote it. Would you take medical advice from a mom blogger? I might if she’d become an expert because of their life experience.

For non-YMYL content, Google also uses the term everyday expertise to signal that authors are considered experts in their field if they have life experience. The writer’s expertise is judged on the level of the content itself.

Read more: The E in E-A-T: What is expertise, why does it matter and how can you showcase yours? »


While looking to determine authoritativeness, Google takes the author, the content, and the website itself into account. How much of an authority are you and your site? It’s all about who you are, who you represent, and your reputation. Is your site an authority on the topic? Do well-known experts link to or mention your content? Has it been used in research? Have you any reviews by fellow experts? Did Wikipedia link to or mention your content? Do you have your own Wikipedia page?

Keep reading: The A in E-A-T: What does authoritativeness mean and how can you demonstrate yours? »


For trustworthiness, Google also takes the author, the content, and the website into account. Google uses many signals to determine your (site’s) trustworthiness. This could be as simple as technical trustworthiness — does it have an SSL connection? — to more abstract signals like online discussions about your business or how you respond to reviews online. Why would people risk their life on your site? Is your business trustworthy?

Read on: The T in E-A-T: What is Trustworthiness? How can you achieve it? »

Is E-A-T a ranking factor?

There have been many discussions about whether E-A-T is a ranking factor, but it’s not. It’s not something you can directly point your finger to; you have to do this to get that.

Google added clarification about E-A-T being a ranking factor

Working on your E-A-T is good anyway because you are working to improve your expertise, authority, and trustworthiness in the eyes of your customers. And that’s what every business should be doing, right? But it shouldn’t take away from your technical SEO work.

Go over Google’s Quality Raters Guidelines to see what they look for in the search results. Remember that it isn’t a description of how the algorithm works, so you don’t need to obsess over it. ‘Simply’ make the best possible site out there. Make sure your content is top-notch and supported by experts if needed.

How to improve E-A-T

As you can imagine, E-A-T is an abstract topic, and there are no guidebooks on what you should do to increase the numbers. It’s not like a separate piece of the algorithm with different dials you can turn. It’s simply a range of signals that helps Google get a grip on you, your content, and your business.

Not every site needs to worry about E-A-T, but if you have a YMYL site, there are many things you can do to improve it. But, the results of those improvements are not set in stone. It’s also much more than enhancing your about us page and author pages. If you genuinely want to be seen as an expert, you must work the hours. Slowly but steadily, you’ll get there.

Some of the things you can do to improve E-A-T — depending on what type of content you have, of course:

  • Get mentioned on Wikipedia, or get your own listing (easy, right?)
  • Get into Google’s knowledge graph
  • More mentions from trusted experts
  • Get links from high-value sites
  • Appear in valued newspapers or on other well-known sites
  • Arrange high-quality reviews
  • Let topic experts review your content
  • Enhance the quality of your content
  • Don’t make your content too sales-oriented
  • Do unique content like research papers
  • Improve your business details/about us pages
  • Improve your bio
  • Fix your CTAs and UX (no dark patterns!)
  • Keep your ads in check
  • Et cetera, et cetera.

In short, practice holistic SEO and build a better, more trustworthy, and well-respected business! To start improving the quality of your content, our SEO expert Jono Alderson wrote an excellent guide on how to think about high-quality content — including a nice checklist with questions you can ask yourself.

Connecting the dots with Schema.org structured data

A part of improving your E-A-T is describing your site in detail to search engines, your authors, and all the entities on it. Schema.org structured data is a great help in that and it’s an essential part of SEO — whether you are working on your E-A-T or not. By doing so, you can solidify what Google knows about you in a way that makes sense to a search engine.

Yoast SEO comes with a fully-featured structured data implementation that automatically does a lot of the work for you. For instance, Yoast SEO describes the author of articles, and information about them, making it easier for Google to evaluate the E-A-T of them. Yoast SEO Premium goes even further as this lets you set additional properties per user. You can add the awards you won, the titles you have, or what expertise you have simply by filling in some fields.

Screenshot depicting the person schema settings in Yoast SEO Premium helping to build E-A-T
Yoast SEO Premium helps you provide more details about a person helping you build E-A-T

On Schema.org, you’ll find options to declare that a webpage was reviewedBy a person (on a date). At the moment, this is not something we support in Yoast, but you could use our Schema API to write the code for this. Schema.org also has some good options for defining things like alumniOf — earlier in this article, we’ve mentioned Harvard attendance as an example of authority, and this sort of thing can be explicitly described in the structured data.

In the near future, we’ll see many more things come out of Schema.org to help you support your E-A-T.

E-A-T will play role in separating fact from fiction

In this article, you got a little insight in a term you might have heard before in regards to SEO: E-A-T. Expertise, trustworthiness and authoritativeness are key terms in identifying the quality of you, your content and your business. It’s an interesting concept that gives you insight into what’s important for Google to understand quality and expertise.

Although it’s easy to forget that you’re not doing this for Google — your customer deserves that high-quality content and services. Improve those!

Coming up next!

14 Responses to What is E-A-T (Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness)?

  1. Janelle Lemuel
    Janelle Lemuel  • 2 years ago

    Hello Camille,
    “Fix your CTAs and UX (no dark patterns!)”
    What does dark patterns mean?

    • Edwin Toonen

      Hi Janelle. Dark patterns are interface details specifically designed to trick you into doing something, like signing up for something you don’t want. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dark_pattern

  2. daniel
    daniel  • 2 years ago

    This article sounds like a primer for 1984 – Big Brother style.
    Scary times we live in, when unknown people use unknown algorithms to determine what is “truth” for us.

    • Edwin Toonen

      Hi Daniel. I can imagine your concern. But these past couple of years, we’ve seen what misinformation can do. The online world doesn’t belong to anyone, but the tech giants feel that they need to influence it to a certain extent. For Google, its goal is to provide users with the best possible results for their queries. But if those queries are questionable, it has an obligation to the point that out. It’s not that the search results will be censored, but they will be highlighted. Just take the pandemic — Google does its utmost best to provide searchers with valid and trusted resources that help users separate fact from fiction. Thanks to AI, it will become even harder to know what’s real and what’s not in the future. I hope that we can figure this out together as people before it’s too late.

  3. Fabian George
    Fabian George  • 2 years ago

    thanks for the update. well simplified. now I have to work on my site with this new ideas.

    • Camille Cunningham
      Camille Cunningham  • 2 years ago

      You’re welcome, Fabian. Lots of luck with your site!

  4. admin1621617599
    admin1621617599  • 2 years ago

    Thank you for sharing!

    • Amy Lees
      Amy Lees  • 2 years ago

      You’re welcome!

  5. Jerry Lucas
    Jerry Lucas  • 2 years ago

    Tip: In 2019, I wrote a detailed blog post on E-A-T (Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness) based on the very long Google Page Quality Rating Guidelines. I created a condensed one-page checklist that summarizes the guidelines. It may be a useful tool to help bloggers understand and improve content E-A-T.

    • Amy Lees
      Amy Lees  • 2 years ago

      Thanks for sharing, Jerry! Summaries are a great way to make complex information more user-friendly. Keep up the good work!

  6. Mohit Arora
    Mohit Arora  • 2 years ago

    Hi Edwin,

    That’s a wonderful write-up on E-A-T. So many new things to learn.
    Keep sharing!


    • Camille Cunningham
      Camille Cunningham  • 2 years ago

      Thank you for your lovely comment, Mohit! Keep an eye on our SEO blog for other interesting blogs like this one :)

  7. Godwin Akpan
    Godwin Akpan  • 2 years ago

    Thank you, Author.
    I have tried to link to Wikipedia but couldn’t.
    Please can you be of help?

    • Camille Cunningham
      Camille Cunningham  • 2 years ago

      Hi there, Godwin! Thanks for your comment :) I’m not sure what you mean by your question, could you elaborate? If you’re having trouble with adding a link to your text, our article on what link building is might be able to help you with that.