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Surprising Facts About E-A-T & SEO

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Surprising Facts About E-A-T & SEO

Want to know what Google wants?

Google recommends that publishers review their quality raters guidelines.

SEO professionals have been doing that for years, looking for any clues to unlock some secrets of Google’s algorithm.

But here’s why much of what you’ve read about optimizing for E-A-T may need an update.

What Is E-A-T?

E-A-T is an acronym for Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness. It is a concept created by Google for third-party quality raters as a standardized method for judging search results.

Google also recommends it to publishers as a way to measure the quality of their content.

The reason Google created E-A-T is strictly for measuring the quality of content, particularly for third-party quality raters.

According to Google’s Search Quality Guidelines:

Unless your rating task indicates otherwise, your ratings should be based on the instructions and examples given in these guidelines.

Ratings should not be based on your personal opinions, preferences, religious beliefs, or political views.

Personal opinions would make the ratings submitted to Google unreliable. That’s why the concept of E-A-T was developed.

The search quality raters guidelines and the concept of E-A-T reflect the kinds of sites Google’s algorithm attempts to rank.

E-A-T As Ranking Factors – Is It Possible?

There are no actual patents or research papers that establish the existence of those three concepts (expertise, authoritativeness, trustworthiness) as ranking factors.

What Google has admitted is that there are signals that indicate that a site is trustworthy but Google has never said what those signals are.

It must be repeated that the Quality Raters Guidelines do not provide hints for what those signals may be.

If the guidelines instruct the rater to review a page for an author, that does not mean that Google uses an “author signal” in the algorithm.

It is asking the rater to do that in order to be a better judge of website authority. That’s all.

There are concepts represented by E-A-T that can be expressed in real factors like links.

Expertise, authoritativeness, trustworthiness are not actual ranking factors or ranking metrics in use by Google.

How Does Google Know if Content Is Authoritative?

There are real factors like links that have traditionally been used to establish expertise and authority as well as understanding what users want to see.

If a webpage receives many links, particularly from webpages about similar topics, then the webpage receiving the links can be understood as being authoritative for that topic.

There is no actual metric called “authority” that Google uses. Authority is simply a quality of a webpage that Google can guess at based on (undisclosed) signals.

Links are pretty much the only signal that we know about that can indicate that a webpage is authoritative.

But it’s not the only one. In April 2021, Google disclosed that AI is used to identify if the content is authoritative or not.

Google Uses AI to Understand Expertise and Authority

Did you know Google relies on AI technologies to understand the content better?

Google is using AI to weed out low-quality content related to shopping and product reviews.

“…we wanted to make sure that you’re getting the most useful information for your next purchase by rewarding content that has more in-depth research and useful information.”

According to that statement, Google is using AI to understand if web content is superficial or if it has the contours and features typical of “in-depth research” and other qualities typical of sites that are useful to users.

Google Research & E-A-T

Ultimately, Google’s search results pages are about showing users what they expect to see.

Many of Google’s patents and research papers that describe link analysis, content analysis, and natural language processing all revolve around understanding what users want and understanding what webpages are about.

  • Links can communicate what page is expert.
  • AI helps Google understand what webpages are authoritative.
  • Content analyzed by AI and links communicate which webpages are trustworthy.
  • On-page signals may indicate expertise, authoritativeness, and authority… as well as their opposites.

How the E-A-T Concept Translates to Better Ranking

E-A-T is an abstract idea created to teach the quality raters how to judge a site.

The search quality guidelines do not provide clues to ranking factors.

The concepts of expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness need to be defined in order to be understood.

Once E-A-T is understood, publishers will have a firm idea of how to improve and optimize content.

Expertise

Qualities of Expertise

Expertise is the quality of competence and technical skill. Expertise demonstrates a mastery of the topic, depth of knowledge, and hands-on experience.

As an example, when a webpage is about curing an ailment the topic must generally be approached from a scientific point of view in order to qualify as an expert.

An expert page teaches, reveals, and provides knowledge. An expert webpage will demonstrate qualities of depth of knowledge that can be signaled by the subtopics it raises or maybe by the citations it makes to other work.

Depth of Knowledge Is Not Comprehensiveness

Do not confuse depth of knowledge with being comprehensive. Depth of knowledge means that a topic is deeply understood.

Comprehensiveness is concerned with how broad the scope of the content is.

When evaluating a webpage for expertise, it may be helpful to ask, how does this webpage signal that it communicates a depth of knowledge?

Content is expert if a topic contains a specific kind of information for a given topic. For example, it is almost required for an article about headaches to mention aspirin.

Understand Depth of Knowledge in Order to Understand Expertise

Adding “expertise” to an article is more than the laughably simplistic practice of adding an author box with the author’s academic credentials.

Expertise in webpage content is the expression of the depth of knowledge and experience.

One can’t simply cannot add an author biography and expect it to magically become an expert article.

The first step toward adding expertise to webpages is understanding what depth of knowledge actually is.

What Is Expertise?

Expertise has been studied in a number of disciplines. Some researchers state that “expertise results from practice and experience, built on a foundation of talent, or innate ability.”

The educational field has a system for measuring student’s depth of knowledge called Webb’s Depth of Knowledge. In it there are four levels of depth of knowledge.

The beginner level starts with the ability to remember facts. The fourth level consists of the ability to bring together facts and ideas from different areas and stitch them together into a coherent thesis.

A scientific research organization called Global Cognition states that there are two kinds of expertise. One kind of expertise (Routine Expertise) is the ability to solve problems using similar routines and solutions over and over.

The second kind of expertise is called Adaptive Expertise. Adaptive Expertise is characterized by the ability to formulate solutions for problems that are changing or not previously seen before.

In both cases the results are:

“…the thinking and qualities that lead to consistently superior performance.”

Expertise is generally defined as the result of:

  • Practice.
  • Feedback.
  • Analysis.

What Does It Mean to Have Content With Expertise?

Given what is known about expertise and depth of knowledge, it can be said that expert content contains evidence that the author physically handled the object of the article, has actual experience in the topic, provides analysis, measurements, and comparisons.

Example of Expertise in Content

I wrote an article about structured data. None of the top-ranked articles on the topic mentioned that structured data is a markup language (like HTML is).

Google’s machine learning (and whatever else they use to understand a topic) probably knew that and may have responded favorably to that expert observation.

It’s not that my observation was good because it was different than the top-ranked pages. It’s that my observation demonstrated a deep understanding of what Schema.org structured data is.

Authoritativeness

Being authoritative is not the same thing as being comprehensive. This is a common mistake that publishers make when attempting to create authoritative content.

The Difference Between Authoritativeness and Comprehensive

  • Authoritativeness has to do with being reliable, trustworthy, and accurate.
  • Comprehensiveness has to do with the quality of having a wide scope.

Accuracy (authoritativeness) and a wide scope (comprehensiveness) are not the same things.

Elements of Authoritative Content

So when reviewing content for authoritativeness, go back to the definition of authoritativeness and review the content for qualities such as accuracy, soundness of ideas, and validity.

Can You Optimize for Authoritativeness?

What is authority? Metrics for authority can be the links that point to your site. That’s pretty much what is known and confirmed for authority.

But authority and authoritativeness are just concepts and are not actual ranking factors or metrics that Google uses. There is no “authority” metric at Google unless you call PageRank an authority metric.

So if you talk about “optimizing for authority,” in a way you’re really talking about how to optimize for PageRank, which is kind of silly. One does not optimize for PageRank. PageRank is something that is accumulated by a webpage.

Related: The Three Pillars of SEO: Authority, Relevance, and Trust

Trustworthiness

People will link to your page, talk about your site on social media, and cite a wide range of pages from your site if your webpages satisfy users on a consistent basis.

That kind of user satisfaction on a wide scale can cause individuals to regard your site as a trustworthy source of information, services, or products.

It is generally understood that Google does not use social signals for ranking purposes. If Google uses them for anything it’s not something that is known.

But social signals can be the smoke that tells you there’s a fire raging that indicates you are doing something right.

Optimizing for Trustworthiness

Googlers have made references to the trustworthiness of a website. Research papers and patents have made references to trustworthiness.

Interesting research into trustworthiness relates to link analysis (Read: Link Distance Ranking Algorithms for more information).

Another line of research is Knowledge-based Trust. But Bill Slawski, an expert on Google patents, said it’s unlikely that Google uses it.

A specific trustworthiness metric where a site accumulates “trust points” to indicate trustworthiness isn’t something that Google has researched.

Link distance ranking is the closest thing that Google might be using that approximates trust, but there is no actual trust score. Link distance ranking can identify spammy sites as well as quality sites.

Aside from being careful about where you get links (which you should be doing anyway!), there’s no way to “optimize” for trustworthiness.

You just have to be a reliable and trustworthy source of information. If people notice then Google might also notice, perhaps by the way other sites link to your webpages.

E-A-T Is Not an Algorithm

In October 2019 at Pubcon Gary Illyes confirmed that E-A-T was not an algorithm.

Gary Illyes was asked about E-A-T point-blank and everything he said matches up with what Googlers have been saying about the QRG and E-A-T.

Optimizing for E-A-T

You can build expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness using all of the above approaches that focus on excellence.

Expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness in content are more than just descriptions and perceptions of your site. They are qualities that your content can contain.

So 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.


Featured image: Paulo Bobita/SearchEngineJournal

Searchenginejournal.com

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GOOGLE

This Week in Search News: Simple and Easy-to-Read Update

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This Week in Search News: Simple and Easy-to-Read Update

Here’s what happened in the world of Google and search engines this week:

1. Google’s June 2024 Spam Update

Google finished rolling out its June 2024 spam update over a period of seven days. This update aims to reduce spammy content in search results.

2. Changes to Google Search Interface

Google has removed the continuous scroll feature for search results. Instead, it’s back to the old system of pages.

3. New Features and Tests

  • Link Cards: Google is testing link cards at the top of AI-generated overviews.
  • Health Overviews: There are more AI-generated health overviews showing up in search results.
  • Local Panels: Google is testing AI overviews in local information panels.

4. Search Rankings and Quality

  • Improving Rankings: Google said it can improve its search ranking system but will only do so on a large scale.
  • Measuring Quality: Google’s Elizabeth Tucker shared how they measure search quality.

5. Advice for Content Creators

  • Brand Names in Reviews: Google advises not to avoid mentioning brand names in review content.
  • Fixing 404 Pages: Google explained when it’s important to fix 404 error pages.

6. New Search Features in Google Chrome

Google Chrome for mobile devices has added several new search features to enhance user experience.

7. New Tests and Features in Google Search

  • Credit Card Widget: Google is testing a new widget for credit card information in search results.
  • Sliding Search Results: When making a new search query, the results might slide to the right.

8. Bing’s New Feature

Bing is now using AI to write “People Also Ask” questions in search results.

9. Local Search Ranking Factors

Menu items and popular times might be factors that influence local search rankings on Google.

10. Google Ads Updates

  • Query Matching and Brand Controls: Google Ads updated its query matching and brand controls, and advertisers are happy with these changes.
  • Lead Credits: Google will automate lead credits for Local Service Ads. Google says this is a good change, but some advertisers are worried.
  • tROAS Insights Box: Google Ads is testing a new insights box for tROAS (Target Return on Ad Spend) in Performance Max and Standard Shopping campaigns.
  • WordPress Tag Code: There is a new conversion code for Google Ads on WordPress sites.

These updates highlight how Google and other search engines are continuously evolving to improve user experience and provide better advertising tools.

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AI

Exploring the Evolution of Language Translation: A Comparative Analysis of AI Chatbots and Google Translate

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A Comparative Analysis of AI Chatbots and Google Translate

According to an article on PCMag, while Google Translate makes translating sentences into over 100 languages easy, regular users acknowledge that there’s still room for improvement.

In theory, large language models (LLMs) such as ChatGPT are expected to bring about a new era in language translation. These models consume vast amounts of text-based training data and real-time feedback from users worldwide, enabling them to quickly learn to generate coherent, human-like sentences in a wide range of languages.

However, despite the anticipation that ChatGPT would revolutionize translation, previous experiences have shown that such expectations are often inaccurate, posing challenges for translation accuracy. To put these claims to the test, PCMag conducted a blind test, asking fluent speakers of eight non-English languages to evaluate the translation results from various AI services.

The test compared ChatGPT (both the free and paid versions) to Google Translate, as well as to other competing chatbots such as Microsoft Copilot and Google Gemini. The evaluation involved comparing the translation quality for two test paragraphs across different languages, including Polish, French, Korean, Spanish, Arabic, Tagalog, and Amharic.

In the first test conducted in June 2023, participants consistently favored AI chatbots over Google Translate. ChatGPT, Google Bard (now Gemini), and Microsoft Bing outperformed Google Translate, with ChatGPT receiving the highest praise. ChatGPT demonstrated superior performance in converting colloquialisms, while Google Translate often provided literal translations that lacked cultural nuance.

For instance, ChatGPT accurately translated colloquial expressions like “blow off steam,” whereas Google Translate produced more literal translations that failed to resonate across cultures. Participants appreciated ChatGPT’s ability to maintain consistent levels of formality and its consideration of gender options in translations.

The success of AI chatbots like ChatGPT can be attributed to reinforcement learning with human feedback (RLHF), which allows these models to learn from human preferences and produce culturally appropriate translations, particularly for non-native speakers. However, it’s essential to note that while AI chatbots outperformed Google Translate, they still had limitations and occasional inaccuracies.

In a subsequent test, PCMag evaluated different versions of ChatGPT, including the free and paid versions, as well as language-specific AI agents from OpenAI’s GPTStore. The paid version of ChatGPT, known as ChatGPT Plus, consistently delivered the best translations across various languages. However, Google Translate also showed improvement, performing surprisingly well compared to previous tests.

Overall, while ChatGPT Plus emerged as the preferred choice for translation, Google Translate demonstrated notable improvement, challenging the notion that AI chatbots are always superior to traditional translation tools.


Source: https://www.pcmag.com/articles/google-translate-vs-chatgpt-which-is-the-best-language-translator

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Google Implements Stricter Guidelines for Mass Email Senders to Gmail Users

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Beginning in April, Gmail senders bombarding users with unwanted mass emails will encounter a surge in message rejections unless they comply with the freshly minted Gmail email sender protocols, Google cautions.

Fresh Guidelines for Dispatching Mass Emails to Gmail Inboxes In an elucidative piece featured on Forbes, it was highlighted that novel regulations are being ushered in to shield Gmail users from the deluge of unsolicited mass emails. Initially, there were reports surfacing about certain marketers receiving error notifications pertaining to messages dispatched to Gmail accounts. Nonetheless, a Google representative clarified that these specific errors, denoted as 550-5.7.56, weren’t novel but rather stemmed from existing authentication prerequisites.

Moreover, Google has verified that commencing from April, they will initiate “the rejection of a portion of non-compliant email traffic, progressively escalating the rejection rate over time.” Google elaborates that, for instance, if 75% of the traffic adheres to the new email sender authentication criteria, then a portion of the remaining non-conforming 25% will face rejection. The exact proportion remains undisclosed. Google does assert that the implementation of the new regulations will be executed in a “step-by-step fashion.”

This cautious and methodical strategy seems to have already kicked off, with transient errors affecting a “fraction of their non-compliant email traffic” coming into play this month. Additionally, Google stipulates that bulk senders will be granted until June 1 to integrate “one-click unsubscribe” in all commercial or promotional correspondence.

Exclusively Personal Gmail Accounts Subject to Rejection These alterations exclusively affect bulk emails dispatched to personal Gmail accounts. Entities sending out mass emails, specifically those transmitting a minimum of 5,000 messages daily to Gmail accounts, will be mandated to authenticate outgoing emails and “refrain from dispatching unsolicited emails.” The 5,000 message threshold is tabulated based on emails transmitted from the same principal domain, irrespective of the employment of subdomains. Once the threshold is met, the domain is categorized as a permanent bulk sender.

These guidelines do not extend to communications directed at Google Workspace accounts, although all senders, including those utilizing Google Workspace, are required to adhere to the updated criteria.

Augmented Security and Enhanced Oversight for Gmail Users A Google spokesperson emphasized that these requisites are being rolled out to “fortify sender-side security and augment user control over inbox contents even further.” For the recipient, this translates to heightened trust in the authenticity of the email sender, thus mitigating the risk of falling prey to phishing attempts, a tactic frequently exploited by malevolent entities capitalizing on authentication vulnerabilities. “If anything,” the spokesperson concludes, “meeting these stipulations should facilitate senders in reaching their intended recipients more efficiently, with reduced risks of spoofing and hijacking by malicious actors.”

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