In recent years, the concepts of E-A-T and its closely related acronym YMYL have become hot topics in SEO.

Are expertise, authority, and trustworthiness ranking factors? Should you build them into your content?

This seoClarity mini webinar will clear away the fog on E-A-T and YMYL.


What Does E-A-T Stand for in SEO?

The term E-A-T stands for expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness, and comes from Google's search quality raters guidelines. This is the primary training document for Google's search quality raters — people hired to rate the effectiveness of Google search results at ranking the highest quality sites and pages.

However, the input of the search quality raters does not directly affect search rankings.

Instead, it acts as a feedback source to help Google search algorithm engineers tweak the algorithm factors to try to get closer to ranking higher the kinds of sites and pages the raters rate highly.

The raters are told to concentrate on three factors in evaluating the quality of a page:

  1. Expertise of its creator,
  2. Authoritativeness of the creator's content and the site itself, and
  3. Trustworthiness of all three as well

What is YMYL Content?

YMYL stands for Your Money or Your Life. YMYL content and sites may significantly impact or harm to a person or group of people. As Google writes:

YMYL topics can directly and significantly impact people’s health, financial stability or safety, or the welfare or well-being
of society …"

In the past, YMYL content want classified into specific groups, like news, government and law information, finances, shopping, health and safety, and people groups. But with a recent change to the search quality rater guidelines, newer categories have been established:

  • YMYL Health or Safety
  • YMYL Financial Security
  • YMYL Society
  • YMYL Other

Plus, Google has noted that YMYL assessment is a spectrum, and created a chart to help explain if something is in fact a YMYL topic.

Googles YMYL Spectrum Chart

The Importance of E-A-T and YMYL

Here's how E-A-T and YMYL come together.

The more YMYL a site or page is, the more weight raters are told to give E-A-T.

This has been a long-time concern of Google's, as exemplified by the Google authorship experiment from 2011 to 2014, where content authors who could be verified with a Google+ profile could qualify for a rich search result highlighting them as an author.

Google readers are trained to look for the following when evaluating E-A-T of a page or site:

  • The expertise and credentials of the authors of the content

  • The reputation and standards of the site

  • Consensus about the information among recognized experts, as well as information being current and accurate

Here’s the important part about E-A-T: it doesn't necessarily matter for all sites or content.

What constitutes an expert varies with the content. For some content, like restaurant reviews, everyday patrons can be considered experts.

Overall, the more YMYL a page's topic is, the more E-A-T might matter.

Here are some other factors that aren't specifically E-A-T, but nevertheless might contribute to it:

  • Is there enough content to satisfy the query?

  • Can the user easily learn about the site and the company behind it?

  • Are there easily accessible pages on things like customer service, shipping, and privacy policies?

  • And finally, the overall reputation of the site and the marketplace.

When Should You Think About E-A-T?

First, evaluate how much your site and content align with Your Money or Your Life topics.

Apply the rule: the more YMYL your site is, the more you should care about expertise, authority, and trustworthiness. 

However, the general principles of E-A-T can only benefit users for any site. The YMYL factor just helps you prioritize.