Cam Elliott

Search Engine Optimization

Google Says You Are What You ‘E-A-T’

Google’s latest two algorithm updates, Medic and Birthday, each had a significant impact on where affected websites found themselves ranking within the search engine results pages (SERPs).

Many shifted from the No. 1 position to much lower positions or disappeared from the SERPs altogether.

SEO experts note that e-commerce, financial, legal and medical websites, referred to as Your Money or Your Life (YMYL) websites, suffered the greatest negative impact in search rankings and traffic.

Why? Google firmly believes that such websites need to have a high degree of expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness (E-A-T) in order to properly guide consumers.

In short, both updates adjusted how a website’s reputation is evaluated, thereby impacting its individual SERPs ranking.

It’s also important to remember that the updates followed closely behind Google’s revision to the Search Quality Rater Guidelines in July.

These guidelines are implemented by Google’s search-quality raters – individuals who manually visit websites and score them for the search giant.

Though manual scores don’t impact your website’s search ranking, you can hedge your bets that the search algorithms that do directly impact your ranking are closely aligned.

In the raters’ update, Google introduced a new section asking raters to consider both the “beneficial purpose” of a website’s content and the reputation of the content creator.

Such sections suggest a need for in-depth analysis of a website’s content to understand both its purpose and perception.

If your website has been negatively impacted by the latest updates, critically analyzing your website through the Google E-A-T lens is your best repair strategy.

Does your website showcase your expertise through a prominent About section with biographies for contributing bloggers or staff?

Is the relationship between your website pages and content obvious and purposeful? How does your social media strategy align with your individual brand, and is your brand verified across several social platforms?

Have you secured your website with an SSL certificate, and do you need to showcase GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) compliance?

Is your Pagerank contributing to or inhibiting your SERPs ranking, and is it time to focus on influencing new and more trustworthy backlinks?

With each update, Google has attempted to refine how its search engine evaluates your website’s overall reputation.

Your primary focus should be on any adjustment that helps to instill a sense of expertise and trust within your audience, while also focusing on activities that build your authority across the internet.

As you evaluate your website, remember that you are what you “eat.”

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Stalled Out in Search Ranking? Consider Your PageRank and TrustRank

There are a jaw-dropping 2.3 million internet search queries per minute. How does Google decide which results you see? How can you get your business to the top of the list? While there’s no free “easy button” for improving your rank overnight, a little knowledge about how PageRank and TrustRank work can take you a long way in your quest for a coveted spot in the first ten results.

Google analyzes more than 200 factors when deciding how to rank a webpage. Examples include how prevalent a topic is across your site, how responsive each page is to mobile devices and how quickly your site loads.

Of course, performing in-depth analysis of these factors in real time isn’t practical. Enter PageRank and TrustRank. These two proactive algorithmic approaches help Google evaluate which webpages should rank higher or lower within the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs).

PageRank rates website pages on an importance scale of zero to 10, with 10 being the most valuable.

A webpage’s PageRank is appraised on backlinks, which are outside hyperlinks driving traffic to a page. For example, a blog post that links to an original article on CNN.com has created a backlink to CNN.com. The page that created the backlink is known as the referrer.

Webpages that receive high volumes of backlinks are perceived by PageRank to contain more valuable content. Like individual referrals, backlinks are Internet votes of confidence. The placement of backlinks are also subject to Google’s quality assessment. Backlinks that originate within a referrer’s most valuable real estate, like the homepage, carry more weight.

While PageRank emphasizes the quantity and placement quality of backlinks to determine value, many professionals within the Search Engine Marketing (SEM) industry believe passionately that Google uses TrustRank to determine the value of a webpage’s backlinks based on the reputation of the referrer.

This approach is rooted in the notion that “birds of a feather flock together,” meaning good websites link to good websites, and those of ill repute link to equally questionable ones. The weight of a backlink on a website with a PageRank of 10 is greater than that of a backlink on a website with a PageRank of 0. Thus, backlinks from highly credible websites, such as federal or national news publications, are highly valued.

Though Google has not publicly acknowledged TrustRank as a legitimate search factor, Google frequently instructs that authentic content is the best way to ensure high SERP placement.

If you feel that your website is consistently not ranking high enough within the SERPs, consider the number and type of backlinks pointing to your site. While there are a variety of ways to influence your backlinks, realigning your content to be more topic focused, easily searchable, and authentically valuable to consumers are all great ways to procure new and improved backlinks.

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