Ever since E-A-T took on a central role in the SEO discussion, it has become the source of many myths and misunderstandings.

It has also proven difficult for many in our industry to understand this topic.

The reasons for that are obvious.

Aside from approving a few select resources on E-A-T, Google has not specifically confirmed which ranking factors besides PageRank and Links are considered part of their E-A-T ratings.

It's almost like looking for signals that correspond to expertise, authority, and trustworthiness. We should give this an acronym like E-A-T and maybe suggest that people target it. Oh wait, we did: https://t.co/1fs2oIS54L pic.twitter.com/xNL424dDdq

– Danny Sullivan (@dannysullivan) October 11, 2019

This leads to a scenario where we have a lot of questions about the role of E-A-T in Google's algorithms.

While Google has made it clear that search quality evaluators don't directly affect Google's search results, they haven't answered many of the other ubiquitous questions about E-A-T and the mechanisms behind it, such as:

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  • How does Google identify authors and experts?
  • How does Google determine if a website is classified as YMYL (Your Money, Your Life)?
  • How do Google's algorithms determine what is consistent with the scientific, medical, or historical consensus?
  • Is E-A-T rated at the page, domain, entity and / or company level?

Fortunately, many of the answers to these questions can be found by reading Google's patents, which, among other things, describe the processes that Google uses to evaluate pages.

Some of Google's patents – especially those filed in recent years – contain information about how to identify authors, categorize websites, and classify expertise that can help explain how Google E-A-T may be algorithmic.

A disclaimer about Google Patents

It's important to note that these are also Google's patents no detailed explanation of how their algorithms work.

Especially in view of that We don't know exactly which patents they are actively using and for which Google products.

However, the patents can help us understand what Google's algorithms are capable of.

I reached out to Google patent expert Bill Slawski to explain how Google's patents can help us gain a deeper understanding of how E-A-T works.

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We worked together to create this article.

Below are some of the most common questions about E-A-T and how Google's patents can help answer those questions.

1. How does Google know who the authors of a website are?

There are a variety of Google patents out there that will help answer this question.

In the beginning, Google applied for the Agent Rank patent in 2007.

According to Slawski, this patent "can potentially improve the ranking of pages based on the identity of authors or editors or commentators or reviewers on pages."

The patent included the ability to identify these authors and experts (also known as "agents") using their digital signatures, such as: B. their byline, to identify and evaluate the content based on their combined reputation values.

However, after the core update on August 1, 2018, Google's John Mueller made it clear that Google does not use the reputation of individual authors as a ranking factor.

Nevertheless, Slawski notes that it is important to distinguish between "reputation" and "expertise" or "authority".

Reputation is like Other perceive an author.

Authority and expertise are attributes that Google itself rates and assigns to a specific author or other entity.

While the concept of authorship has evolved a lot since then, a look at Google's recent patents reveals that they are still working to identify authors online.

Google filed a patent for Generating Author Vectors in March 2020.

It allows them to identify authors across the Internet by their writing style alone, even if their names are not specifically mentioned on the page.

In his article Author Vectors: Google knows who wrote which articles, Slawski explains that Google's new patent uses a neural network system based on a series of words that can be used to identify an author, even without the text marked as such is written by this author.

Google can then create an "author vector" that:

  • Characterize authors.
  • Identify unique characteristics of their writing style.
  • Identify other authors whose scripts are similar.

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When this patent is actively used in Google's organic search algorithms, it has a number of interesting implications for search engine optimization.

For example:

  • Google may be able to determine if a site mistakenly used an expert's name as the author of an article they did not write
  • Google may be able to assign authorship to articles that do not have the author listed based on their writing style alone
  • Google may analyze a particular expert's quality and writing style to determine what expert content should look like on the subject. Similarly, Google has a patent that suggests that the quality of content can be classified using n-grams and n-gram statistics can be compared between websites.

These implications suggest that Faking a good E-A-T isn't as easy as it sounds.

Claiming that your content has been written or reviewed by experts is not enough to improve your E-A-T if the quality of the content itself is not as expected.

2. Does Google only look at on-page factors and links to identify authors and experts?

Interestingly, in early 2020, Google received a patent called Speaker Identification, which can be used to identify a speaker using speech recognition.

Google does this by looking at unique aspects of this speaker's communication, such as his accent.

This patent is probably applied most often in places like YouTube, where Google has an enormous database of audio and video content that it can analyze to identify and obtain information about speakers.

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Slawski points out that this is part of a larger trend he noticed during his 16 years of analyzing patents:

"Google wants to index actual speakers, authors, and websites, each treated as a unit, and understand and index them based on the features that make them unique."

This patent is only shown How far can Google possibly focus on E-A-T?

Text content in organic search results is likely not the only source of information Google uses to rank experts.

The process can extend to audio, video, and possibly even pictures all products from google.

3. Can Google only recognize entities that are in its knowledge diagram?

We don't know exactly how Google rates authors and other entities that aren't on its knowledge graph.

However, in Google's most recent video, "Search in 2020," Google said it was "using data that is spread across multiple sources" to answer user questions.

Since 2018, Google has been working with the US Census, the World Bank, and other data sources in an open database called Data Commons.

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Google announced that it will go a step further by including this data as a "new layer of knowledge graph".

Google will use natural language processing to better understand user intent and to map queries to relevant sources in data commons.

You can view a list of these data sets here in the Linked Open Data Cloud.

It's hard to say how this will change Google's search results. However, given the large amount of data available in Data Commons, Google may be able to spot thousands of new entities that are not currently listed in the knowledge graph.

This is especially true for U.S. census data, which contains information about millions of people that Google is unlikely to recognize as a business right now.

4. How does Google determine if a person or brand is a true expert or authoritative in their field?

This is one of the most frequently asked questions about E-A-T, and it is at the heart of what many SEO pros wonder about.

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Is there a certain threshold that one has to meet in order to be considered a true expert or authority on a particular subject?

As a reminder, there is no E-A-T score or YMYL score that was specifically confirmed by Google last year.

However, a look at Google's recent patents can help us understand how Google may be working to measure the level of knowledge of a particular company.

The patent that comes closest to answering this question is the patent for Website Representation Vectors.

Most notably, this was submitted at the same time that Google was releasing the now infamous August 1, 2018 core update (informally known as the "Medic").

The patent shows that Google is able to categorize websites into different categories of expertise such as experts, apprentices and laypeople and rate pages based on the authority of the content found on those pages.

The patent claims that Google can use "any convenient method" to generate these classifications, which is pretty open.

However, it also includes some examples of how Google can do this, such as:

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  • Analyze the text or images on the website.
  • Viewing other website content (i.e. links).
  • A combination of two or more of the above.

Another patent granted to Google in 2017, entitled "Obtaining Authoritative Search Results," describes the process by which Google ranks authoritative websites for queries that require authoritative results and how Google ranks authoritative websites from low quality websites can differ because they contain little content or too many ads.

Between the various patents listed above, it is clear that Google is at least working towards identifying authors (whether or not they are specifically mentioned on the page) and assessing their competence or authority on a given subject by analyzing a multitude of on- and off-page factors.

Google has not specifically confirmed that steps like listing the author's credentials in a bio or linking to other places mentioned online are factors to consider when measuring E-A-T.

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However, Google stated thatMillions of tiny algorithmsWork together to design E-A-T and YMYL.

So it is fair to assume that these signals are part of this viewing process.

Mueller recently confirmed the importance of checking out what SEO pros are saying about E-A-T when it comes to improving health and medical content performance.

At least the generally recommended approaches are good for users, but Müller states that Google can take them up too.

More from @johnmu: Check out what SEOs explain about E-A-T. Understand how best to showcase your content, author profiles, and more. John can't guarantee this will improve ranking, but make sure you have all of these signals for users. Google can also pick it up: https://t.co/IPg9MI5r08

– Glenn Gabe (@glenngabe), October 16, 2020

5. How is a website classified as YMYL?

The patent listed above – Website Representation Vectors – is the best place to understand the mechanisms Google uses to determine what content qualifies as YMYL: your money, your life.

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In this patent, Google uses neural networks to understand patterns and functions behind websites, dividing those websites into categories like health, medical, finance, and more.

As part of this process, Google can also identify the expertise required for specific topics, such as B .:

"(E) Knowledge experts, such as doctors, the second category of web sites written by knowledge trainees such as medical students, and a third category of web sites written by non-experts in the knowledge field."

While the patent does not clearly describe which categories qualify as YMYL, it does show how Google categorizes websites into niches and rates authority accordingly.

The patent also indicates that on some queries, Google may limit the retrieval of results to those included in a certain category of domains.

Here is Slavski's explanation of how this could be done:

"If this process limits the number of websites that Google must return search results from based on the knowledge domain they might be in, it means Google crawls fewer websites to return results than the entire Google index of the web."

The search system can select, search, or both data only for websites with a certain classification, which reduces the computer resources required to find search results, e.g. B. by not selecting a website, searching it, or both regardless of its classification. "

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The above part of this Google patent indicates that for certain queries, Google may look within its established group of high authority websites within a certain category when rating pages.

If you've ever wondered why you keep seeing the same 10 to 20 authoritative domains on a particular topic – especially YMYL topics – this may be the reason.

6. Does Google measure E-A-T at the author, page, domain or brand level?

There is no patent that clearly answers this question, but Google states in their search quality guidelines that E-A-T stands for “the main content creator; the main content itself and the website. "

Google also revised the Quality Guidelines in 2019 to expand the term YMYL from page-level considerations to “topics”.

The Mechanics of E-A-T: How Google Patents Can Explain How E-A-T WorksGoogle updated its guidelines for YMYL to expand it from Pages to Pages and Topics.

This wording throughout Google's documentation suggests that Google's E-A-T ratings are likely to be done on the website Entity level.

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This would make sense given what Google is building with its Knowledge Graph: a repository of 500 billion facts about 5 billion companies and the connections between them.

While Google's patents did not specifically mention evaluating companies based on E-A-T considerations, Google's Gary Illyes stated the following at the 2019 Pubcon conference:

“We have companies for very popular writers. For example, if you were an executive at the Washington Post, you likely have a business. It's not about the author, it's about the entity. "

Just like "YMYL" can be a topic within a page, a recognized entity on your page can potentially have a good or bad E-A-T.

Because of this, adding author bios can be an effective SEO strategy, especially for authors recognized on the Google Knowledge Graph.

Additionally, SEO professionals should look for ways to ensure that Google can easily identify entities on the page, such as: B. Using structured data to improve E-A-T.

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For more information, the Google Related Companies Patent from 2013 provides more information on how Google identifies and rates companies.

Snack & speculation

E-A-T is a gray area in search engine optimization.

However, an understanding of Google's patents over the years helps solidify Google's seemingly consistent mission:

  • Identify authors, organizations, and many other types of entities.
  • Classifying these companies and understanding the level of authority required to be experts on these topics.
  • Establish connections between entities.
  • To understand how authoritative entities are on their respective subjects.
  • Identify the characteristics of relevant bodies and experts and potentially use this knowledge in their ranking considerations.

Hence, any steps you can take in your SEO strategy to optimize and simplify this process with Google are likely to result in stronger SEO performance.

E-A-T focused SEO doesn't involve quick fixes or short term hacks.

It's about making sure that the best traits of your brand, your writers, and your experts are clearly displayed on your website.

Not just for SEO benefits, but above all to give your users a sense of trust.

More resources:

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Photo credit

Screenshot by the author, October 2020

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