Hyung-Jin Kim, the VP of Search at Google, said at SMX Next in November 2022 that, “E-A-T is a template for how we rate an individual site. We do it to every single query and every single result. It’s pervasive throughout every single thing we do.”
This acronym has now become E-E-A-T as the extra E stands for experience. So what does all of this mean for local search engine optimization (SEO) practitioners?
E-E-A-T stands for experience, expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness. It was developed as part of Google’s search quality rater guidelines, and is essentially the cornerstone of any kind of long-term organic growth.
Google itself says that its automated systems are designed to use several different factors to rank content, and after identifying relevant content, its systems aim to prioritize those that would seem to be the most helpful. This is where E-E-A-T comes into play.
Google notes that while E-E-A-T itself is not a specific ranking factor, using a mix of factors that can identify content with good E-E-A-T can be useful. Google’s systems give more weight to content that aligns with strong E-E-A-T for topics that could significantly impact health, financial stability, or safety of people, or the welfare or well-being of society.
Why E-E-A-T Matters for Local SEO
Multiple local SEO tactics will directly relate to E-E-A-T. For example, experience will relate to a Google Business Profile posting, local employees, and customer photos, expertise will relate to local service pages and blog posts, authoritativeness relates to local links, and trustworthiness relates to local reviews.
SEO practitioners can leverage competitive advantages by incorporating such local tactics into a greater E-E-A-T strategy. E-E-A-T was not designed as a series of weights or ranking factors because it is instead a primary emphasis on quality.
This means that by achieving a high-quality customer experience, a website will be rewarded with high-impact rankings. There are ways that each local SEO tactic may be incorporated into an E-E-A-T strategy.
Impact of Experience
Experience is the newest factor in E-E-A-T and emphasizes a customer’s perspective. Some users want to hear from other people who have used a product or service instead of reading content from a licensed professional.
There are different ways local businesses can make a customer experience more accessible. These include local reviews, Google Business profile postings, employee bios, and customer photos.
Let’s examine each of these elements.
Google Business Profile postings
Companies can help themselves by regularly posting on Google Business Profile (GBP), which will connect directly with users who want to better understand a company’s day-to-day culture. Customers will be able to better understand their potential experience with a business when they see what is occurring behind the scenes.
Posting regularly on GBP is not always a direct ranking factor, but it can help establish a more human element.
When most people are looking for services, they will want to know more about the human beings who will be providing the service. Employee bios will help contribute to a culture of transparency and communication.
Consider which story a person might find more interesting, the story of ABC Law Firm and how it got started or Joe Lawyer who works there and had to work hard to become an attorney. The bottom line remains that providing information about employees goes a long way in helping people get a better understanding of what to expect when dealing with a company.
Employee information should always be made available to users, if not through GBP then through a company’s actual website. Allowing people to learn more about your team can go a long way in creating trust.
Companies will want to share as many photographs as they can of the experience they provide. Businesses can take their own photos, or they may ask for permission to use the photos of their customers.
When a company asks its users for permission to share photos, it will also help them establish greater trust among members of their community. Pictures can be used in sections such as before and after graphics or simple “Examples of our work” sections.
In 2021, Google rolled out its About this result feature, which allowed people to click the three dots next to search results to learn more about where information was coming from and how Google determined it would be useful. Google also unveiled the Perspectives carousel that appears below Top Stories and showcases insights from experts and other voices on topics people are searching for, About this author, which is also three dots that provide information about background and experience, and About this page, which lets people type in a URL in Google Search and information from About this page populates at the top of the Google Search results.
Expertise can be created in multiple ways. The two most common are blog posts and local service pages.
Local service pages
Local pages are a frequently used local SEO tactic, although they rarely offer enough content to actually rank for search engine result pages (SERPs). One location page will not have enough space to go into depth about products or services.
On a local service page, a website can build upon its local expertise by offering detailed information about its services to a certain community. Substantial content about some kind of local service can demonstrate to a user and search engine that a business is actually knowledgeable.
This means that when a mechanic has seven locations across the Chicago area and wants to rank for “car repair,” one location will probably not cut it. By publishing a service page for specific suburbs such as Naperville, Evanston, and Elmhurst, the mechanic can further emphasize their expertise.
Other examples of informative content on local service pages can include troubleshooting sections, resources sections that link to blog posts, and customer testimonials.
Several local websites have some kind of blog. Not many will connect their blog’s editorial calendar with the customer experience.
It can be helpful to know what a customer team is receiving complaints about, what kinds of information might educate and empower customers, and which topics are not being covered by other local blogs. While a local criminal defense lawyer could write a frequently published piece of content entitled, “When you need a criminal defense lawyer,” there is significant doubt about how effective the blog will be since the area will be very competitive.
Look for more specific situations that have not been written about. When there was some kind of unique situation in a local area, it can be beneficial to discuss how a company dealt with the matter since the topic is not going to be widely discussed.
When a company can offer a unique perspective about how it dealt with a particular issue, it can help garner more local attention and rankings. A blog post will develop expertise when it is relevant to a customer.
Blogs must be well-researched, localized, easy to read, and backed by authors who have necessary expertise. Companies should look past basic keyword research into content opportunities that help make their content stand out and provide thought leadership.
Impact of Expertise on Quality
A website’s on-page SEO strategy must place an emphasis on expertise above all other tactics. Many websites utilize SEO elements such as meta descriptions, title tags, and headings.
Companies can be rewarded for their expertise when their content proactively addresses their user base.
Authoritativeness will be an earned concept and third-party entities typically have to vet it. A local company might publish the most comprehensive and impactful content in the industry, but nothing will matter if nobody references that content.
When it comes to authoritativeness, Google’s rater guidelines advise people to “consider the extent to which the content creator or the website is known as a go-to source for the topic.” Organizations need to be publicly recognized for their content, quality products or services, and local relevance to build authority around target keywords.
Several types of local links should be considered in local SEO:
The simplest tier of authoritativeness will relate to the consistency of a local business’s name, address, and phone number (also known as NAP consistency). Consider how many times you have sought a business listed on Google Maps only to find that its location was completely incorrect.
Accurate contact information will be critical to lead generation. Google’s information will only be as good as the online consensus.
When building online citations, a local business lists its basic information across several websites. Rather than relying on one website as a single resource for NAP, search engines may validate information through multiple online listings.
Beyond NAP consistency, local businesses should also amplify their relevance within communities. It will take much more than a single Google Business Profile to become recognized for nearby quality products and services.
Consider that you are seeking fried chicken in Philadelphia. Federal Donuts might not seem like a fried chicken location, but it is highly rated and is often described as being the best fried chicken in the city.
Beyond this, Federal Donuts was founded by an award-winning chef and regularly hosts community events.
Local websites cannot be limited to just content relating to their basic services, troubleshooting, or frequently asked questions (FAQs). Most everyone will be working on the exact same types of content.
If competition is tight, innovation will be the best way for a company to stand out. A company should try to use its expertise to conduct a local survey and publish that data or see if there is an employee who transformed the industry landscape with a new or innovative technology.
Many local media outlets, industry publications, and social media users will immediately recognize original data and innovation. Links from trusted third-party organizations achieved at scale can amplify authoritativeness.
Google has said trust is the most important aspect of E-E-A-T, although it needs to be leveraged with experience, expertise, and authoritativeness. Reviews are incredibly important in this respect.
BrightLocal has said 98 percent of consumers researching local businesses “occasionally” read online reviews, and Moz reported that 86 percent of consumers said reviews are either “the most” or “somewhat” important factor when choosing a business. Local reviews typically come in the form of third-party reviews or GBP reviews.
Third-party website reviews
Although local SEO involves many different industries, certain occupations will face significant local demand and competition. This includes medical providers, home service providers, legal professionals, real estate, and restaurants.
All of these providers will be associated with specific local review websites. Many people review experiences with local attorneys on Justia, for example.
In most major local SEO verticals, reviews on a Google Business Profile are no longer the only strategy. Additional effort needs to be applied to trade-specific review websites.
Google Business Profile reviews
GBP is essentially the review space for all local businesses, and the use of Google for reviews has increased from 81 percent in 2021 to 87 percent in 2023. When any business serves local customers, it will probably have a GBP that has reviews.
Getting users to leave reviews can be a challenge for local businesses. Many resources exist to help companies improve local reviews, whether it is hiring a reputation management company or promoting reviews with some kind of email marketing strategy.
The Challenges of E-E-A-T
Each of the pieces of local E-E-A-T will be ineffective on their own. This means that companies must master all four aspects of E-E-A-T to become effective.
E-E-A-T in local SEO will be a compilation of several tactics into a greater strategy. It will accomplish growth for a business through a collective emphasis on quality and user experience.
Local SEO Help in Houston, TX
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