In August 2018, Google rolled out a broad core algorithm update which caused the heaviest ranking flux of the year. Research by the online marketing community suggests that this so-called ‘Medic’ update came with a considerable increase in the importance of E-A-T factors: Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness.
What Is the Google Medic Update?
Google’s ‘Medic Update’ is a broad core algorithm update which was rolled out in the week of August 1st 2018. It was the third broad core algorithm update Google rolled out that year.
Barry Schwartz, one of the most prolific search marketing writers and the News Editor of Search Engine Land, first came up with the update’s nickname as it seemed to mainly affect sites in the health and medical sector. However, further analysis showed that the update had mostly affected YMYL sites and pages.
What are YMYL Sites?
YMYL stands for ‘Your Money, Your Life’. According to Google, YMYL pages contain content that can influence a user’s health, wealth, happiness, safety or financial stability. Some examples are:
- Pages that provide advice or information about health, mental health, nutrition, drugs, specific diseases, symptoms and other medical issues
- Pages that offer advice or information on topics such as divorce, child custody, citizenship, asylum and other legal issues
- Pages that offer advice or information about investments, taxes, insurance, mortgages, pensions and other financial issues
- Pages that inform the public of important news, policies, laws, government processes and services etc.
- Pages that allow users to make payments, transfer money and make purchases online
- Pages with content that affect a user’s safety, such as car safety and gas safety information and advice
Why Were YMYL Sites Affected?
When it comes to certain queries, you really want to make sure to ask an expert. If you need medical advice, you’ll want to ask a doctor; if you want to invest your money, you’ll want to talk to an investment advisor and if you want to file for divorce, you’ll most likely contact a lawyer. In terms of news reporting, a journalist will serve more reliable information than someone halfway across the world who’s heard a rumour through the grapevine. This logic makes sense in the real world as well as online.
With the Medic Update, Google seems to have taken another step in its attempt to serve reliable information to its users.
This happened in the context of increased pressures from EU and U.S. lawmakers to fight misinformation in local elections, as well as the launch of the Google News Initiative, which aims to promote quality journalism. If you want to thrive in today’s online landscape, you’ll need to assert your expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness – you’ll need to invest in your E-A-T factors.
How Can You Improve Your E-A-T Signals Online?
If you are an expert in your field – which, if you’re running a successful business, you most likely are – you need to make sure to translate your real-world credentials to the online world. Here are some tips to optimise E-A-T signals on your website.
1. Ensure Your Website Is Secure
The first step to making users feel safe on your site is to ensure your website is secure. Make sure you have the appropriate SSL certificate in place, require complex passwords where users can create accounts and invest in a solid marketing security solution which protects your users’ privacy.
2. Invest in Reviews and User Engagement
If you want to excel online, you’ll have to provide an excellent product or service. Good customer reviews not only help increase your conversion rates, but also your E-A-T signals: according to Google’s search quality guidelines, “popularity, user engagement, and user reviews can be considered evidence of reputation”, and a positive reputation is a sign of a high quality page.
3. Make the Most of Your In-House Experts
If you have in-house experts, ask them to contribute content to your blog or resources section. If they don’t have time, make sure that they sign off your content for accuracy. Crucially, each of your in-house experts should have their own bio page that reinforces their credentials and positions them as a thought leader in their field.
Besides reinforcing your brand’s expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness, expert bios are excellent targets for link building, especially when your experts are quoted on external publications or write contributing articles.
4. Show Off Your Credentials
Awards, certificates and memberships of industry organisations all help win your visitors’ trust, so show them off as part of your web design.
5. Work with Established Writers or Journalists
Invite established writers to contribute content to your blog or resources section. If you are a news agency, work with journalists who have already made a name for themselves in your industry.
6. Conduct Your Own Research
If you own a YMYL website and have access to unique data which you are authorised to use (always make sure to have a GDPR compliance solution in place), you can strengthen your E-A-T signals by conducting your own research. Whether you’re making use of survey results, anonymised customer data or qualitative research methods, nothing says authority like an original research report. What’s more, this type of content is perfect for attracting press coverage and quality backlinks.
7. Invest in Accuracy
As Google is going to increasingly focus on accuracy of information, it is important that any statements you might make are backed up by trustworthy sources – whether these are your own in-house experts, external journalists or trustworthy researchers. Where possible, refer to primary sources such as original research, legal documents or interview reports.
Regardless of how experienced your writers are, it’s crucial to work with an editor – whether internal or external – who can professionally proofread your content and check it for accuracy.
If you have a lot of old content on your website, a content audit can help you decide what needs to be removed, improved or kept as-is.
8. Make it Easy to Contact a Human
Whether it’s over live chat, email or telephone, make sure that your users can contact a customer service professional who can help them out with any pressing problems. A speedy and personal interaction with a helpful human can make or break a user’s custom, so nurture your customer service assistants, invest in their training and give them a face and a name on your platforms.
A proper About Us story and an introduction of your members of staff will help give your brand that personal touch, which can further increase your E-A-T signals.
Do you have more tips to increase your E-A-T signals? Leave your ideas in the comments below.