Last week we talked about how Google assesses content based on Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness (EEAT). Today, we’re going to dive a bit deeper into the subject of authoritative content and how you can craft the kind of helpful, reliable, people-first content that will make you stand out from the crowd.
How do I know if my content is authoritative?
The prospect of writing authoritative content might seem intimidating at first, but fortunately Google has produced a terrific guide that can help you evaluate your content by asking yourself a series of questions. Here are some of the most important:
Does the content provide original information, reporting, research, or analysis? Remember those book reports you had to do in high school? You probably had classmates who thought they could get away with summarizing the plot and calling it a day. But they were missing the point of the assignment. The teacher didn’t want to read 25 abridgements of The Catcher in the Rye. Instead, they wanted you to create something new and worthwhile. Well, Google feels the same way. They don’t want you to simply repeat what others have said. You can draw on other sources, of course, but it’s important that you contribute something original.
Does the content provide a substantial, complete, or comprehensive description of the topic? Nobody’s asking you to cover every single facet of a topic (that’s not even possible!), but you should aim to provide as thorough a discussion as you reasonably can. Don’t be afraid to provide pertinent background information. After all, your readers will likely have varying levels of knowledge about the subject.
Does the main heading or page title avoid exaggerating or being shocking in nature? We’re all familiar with clickbait by now, but while it can be a tempting tactic, it’s a temptation best resisted. Clickbait might get eyes on your content, but it tends to leave people unsatisfied when the content doesn’t live up to their expectations. Resorting to cheap gimmicks will only hurt you in the long run.
Is this content written by an expert or enthusiast who demonstrably knows the topic well? This is where your publication’s About page really comes in handy. If you have relevant degrees or professional qualifications, don’t be afraid to highlight them. But even if you don’t have formal qualifications, there are other ways to establish authority. If you’ve published books or articles in your field, it would be a good idea to mention them. Dan Koe also has some useful advice on how you can establish your authority even without formal training.
Does the content have any spelling or stylistic issues? Look, we’re all human, and even the most talented writer will sometimes make a typo. But if they start to appear with some regularity, your readers will likely start to question your authority. After all, if you can’t get the little things right, what else might you be overlooking? Editing your own prose can be a challenge, especially if you’re running a one-person band. Hiring a copyeditor is one option, but you could also try putting your content away for a while and then re-reading it before publication. The passage of time can help you look at it with fresh eyes and see things you might otherwise have missed. You could also try tools such as Grammarly, but like your computer’s spellcheck, it won’t necessarily catch every mistake.
Everybody needs to EEAT
We’ve talked before about how Google thinks of high-quality content in terms of Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness (EEAT). This is particularly important for ‘Your Money or Your Life’ (YMYL) content. As Jenny Abouobaia explains, this is material that relates to the safety, health, and financial stability of readers, including topics such as news, finance, civics, law, and shopping. It’s easy to see why Google would want to take special care to prioritize authoritative content here since they don’t want people making major decisions on the basis of shoddy information.
But EEAT isn’t just for wonky publications. Even sites that focus on lighter fare like celebrity gossip or fashion need to be mindful of EEAT. As JS Interactive points out, Google wants to provide its users with the best answers it can, regardless of the topic.
How to stand out from a crowd of AI-generated content
AI-written content is becoming more and more prevalent. While it might seem like human authors are facing a losing battle, EEAT can come to the rescue. As Dennis Consorte explains, one of the problems with all this AI-generated content is that it lacks a recognized author. While AI can marshal facts in a reasonable manner, its attempts often feel superficial. Human writers can bring a level of skill and depth of knowledge that AI can’t yet match. If you can write with authority, Google is likely to reward you in the search rankings. But be warned: if you’re just spamming AI-generated content, Google will punish you for it.
The importance of being authoritative
Authoritativeness is more important than ever. Google loves content with substance that’s written by people who know what they’re talking about. They want you to go the extra mile and present your readers with unique insights instead of simply stitching other people’s content into the prose equivalent of Frankenstein’s monster. Be thorough. Be original. And don’t publish stuff that’s so riddled with typos that it looks like your cat walked across the keyboard. Not only can this improve your SEO, but it will also help you deliver the kind of content your readers actually need. Everyone wins!