Google EAT, Link Building and the Future of SEO
I was talking to Karl Hindle, our CEO and resident SEO nerd, about the latest Google Core Algorithm update. My concern was whether or not our customers would be affected by this update.
His response confirmed what I suspected, “if you’re doing white-hat SEO, these updates rarely hurt and often help your rankings over time.” Now, White Hat SEO is a pretty big topic, but for the purposes of this article, I’m going to sum it up in one sentence…
White hat SEO is search engine optimization that adheres to Google’s search guidelines and avoids any practice that Google considers a violation.
In other words, don’t be sneaky. Focus on your customers.
This article isn’t about white hat SEO, specifically, it’s about Google EAT and how it can help with link building. I want to start with a quick overview of white hat link building…
White Hat Link Building
There are many ways to build quality backlinks to your website. Some of the methods are best done by an SEO company. That said, there are still things you can do to build those so-called quality links.
These are links from reputable websites that have some organizational relevance to your website, for example, this link on the Frederick Chamber website where we are listed as a trusted partner.
I am also listed as an advisory board member with a link to our website in TechFrederick, another member organization. And we won this year’s coveted Tech Games trophy!
They sent out a press release about this year’s games and I noticed our name wasn’t linked. I very kindly asked them to change that, and they did. Just like that, another quality backlink!
Guest posts and interviews
These are articles you write for well-known blogs and magazine-like websites. For example, I wrote this article about landing pages for Spin Sucks, a popular marketing and communications blog.
In this article, I have links to original content on our website as well as a link in my author profile. Google considers these links on this Trusted Website to be signals that I am a trusted author and that our website contains authoritative content worth linking to.
If you are lucky enough to have well-known experts in your organization, try to interview them on reliable industry websites. These interviews show Google that your company’s experts are valued by other authoritative organizations.
And, of course, make sure those interviews contain links to your content and your website. For example, what we do with our Wellspring Digital Chat series helps interviewed experts because I include links to their content in the intro and transcripts.
I also invite these guests to share the interview on their social media and websites, which means more high-quality backlinks for us!
Original content on LinkedIn and Medium
It’s a very easy and effective way to get backlinks to your content. Write original article content on sites like LinkedIn and Medium, then reference other authoritative content on your website with, you guessed it, links!
Don’t just copy your blog content and paste it as is on these platforms. I used to tell people to do it because it worked, but Google will value that content much more if it’s original. And those backlinks will have more value.
What does a good backlink look like?
These should be clear and obvious links (using an underline or otherwise indicate that it is a link) and contain relevant anchor text that is not on -optimized.
Anchor text is the text you link to. For example, the anchor text in that last sentence is “Anchor Text”. 🙂
These must also be links placed on the website by the site owner. The links in this article, because they are relevant, useful and placed by me, are quality links.
Links that someone puts in comments could be considered spam because they are not generated by the site owner. I’m simplifying a bit but you get the drift.
Quality backlinks are usually placed in the body of the page content and not in the footer. Again, the links in this article are valuable, especially to websites outside of our domain, because they are contextually relevant and within the body of the content.
Of course, you don’t always get quality backlinks by asking nicely, you have to earn them. Create EAT content on your website if you want to attract more quality backlinks.
This isn’t Google’s plan for world domination or a ploy to get you to Terminus (sorry, vague Walking Dead reference).
Google EAT is a guideline, a suggested set of principles to follow.
EAT stands for…
- Expertise – you and your people know what you’re talking about, having credentials, a resume, and/or online content history to prove it. Google will use various tools in its arsenal to validate whether or not you know your stuff.
- Authority – you are considered a valuable resource within your industry, but more specifically by Google because of the content you create and because of the experts who value that content by referencing and linking to it.
- Reliability – your website is safe, easy to use, and you’re real with real location, real people, and real deals.
These principles are all outlined in Google’s Quality Rater Guide. A team of 1,000 real people uses this guide to evaluate Google search results.
In this guide, Google talks about “high EAT pages”, meaning pages that check these boxes well. These pages can be most page types, as long as they offer a high EAT value. From Google, these can be…
“…pages and websites of all types, even gossip sites, fashion sites, humor sites, forums and Q&A pages, etc. In fact, some types of information are found almost exclusively on forums and discussions, where a community of experts can provide valuable insights on specific topics. Google Quality Rater’s Guide
There is a ton of interesting information on EAT. Lily Ray and Bill Slawski have been killing it with explorations of all things EAT lately. Definitely look for them.
Google EAT is a warning
EAT is a warning to businesses and organizations that continue to ignore quality content and White Hat SEO efforts and just hope they will rank.
Let me bastardize this line from a Tool song. “Google EAT is a message of hope for those who choose to hear it and a warning for those who don’t.”
What Google wants
The Internet is a vast ecosystem. A big part of this ecosystem is noise. Google works hard to filter valuable content out of this noise. They want to make sure they can trust whoever creates it.
It’s not just academic content, it’s all content on the web. Google, using a very complex system of algorithms, examines each website, content page, content creators and content distributors to determine…
- Who needs this content?
- Is it good EAT content?
- Does the person writing this content know what they are talking about?
- Do others think this is good content?
- What is the link between this content and the research carried out?
- Are people clicking, reading and sharing this content?
Try to figure out how they do just that and your head will explode. Leave that to SEO experts like Lily Ray and Bill Slawski. You have a business or organization to manage. You have bigger fish to fry, so to speak.
Just understand that Google is telling you that content is important and can affect your rankings in SERPs (search engine results pages) as long as it is…
- EAT content produced by subject matter experts
- validated by other experts
- on a trustworthy website
Don’t worry so much about the signals that Google reviews. Worry about the content you create and whether you have qualified White Hat SEO to support your onsite and offsite SEO efforts.
Once you have this content, share it!
The future of SEO has been here for a while
If you read as much about SEO as we do here, you’ve noticed a trend with Google. They don’t like that the SERPs list the junk. They don’t like people trying to game the system.
The Google Panda, Penguin, Fred and Bert updates, in addition to having weird names, were all aimed in one way or another to eliminate low quality and low value websites from search results. . Check out this Google Update overview article by Emily Hindle (it runs in the family).
I don’t know about you, but it seems Google has been consistent about what it expects from webmasters. For example, Google specifically told webmasters…
“Several times a year, we make significant and significant changes to our search algorithms and systems. We call them “major updates”. They are designed to ensure that, overall, we are fulfilling our mission to present a relevant and authoritative content to internet users – Google Search Power Blog
It seems pretty clear to me. So, the future of SEO relies on relevant and authoritative content. Authority comes from external validation. External validation happens when you create quality EAT content that gets shared and linked.