Google’s algorithm seems to be ever-changing, making it difficult for website owners and search engine marketers to figure out exactly what will help you rank at any given moment.
Will it be your content? Do meta tags still matter? Are those spammy backlinks harmful or not?
It can often feel like SEO is a moving target – especially in an industry as competitive as legal.
One thing that we know for sure (because Google confirmed it in February 2019) is that E-A-T is an incredibly important part of Google’s algorithm. This is a little acronym that plays a big role in how you optimize your website content for search engines.
So, what is E-A-T and why does it matter for your law firm? In this post, we are breaking it down and giving you actionable tips for making your legal website SEO-friendly.
What Is E-A-T?
E-A-T stands for Expertise, Authority, and Trust – and relates to the quality of the content on your website.
We all know that Google values high-quality, user-friendly content. For a while, what that meant has been up in the air. With Google’s E-A-T, we now have a framework for what really matters in your website content.
Here’s how E-A-T translates into your content in practical terms:
Google wants to see that you are an expert in your given field. By highlighting your expertise, it shows search engines that your content is accurate, truthful, and useful.
This is especially important in niches such as legal, medical, or financial, as many readers come to your website looking to get their important questions answered. Sharing inaccurate information could have some pretty bad consequences.
Google will not rank a website if they think there’s a chance that the information may mislead users. Therefore, you should make sure that your content is factually correct, well-researched, and helpful.
Not only does your site need to show mastery of your chosen subject matter, but you also need to prove that you’re an authority in your industry. Consider this as your reputation online.
If you are sharing content under your own name, that means showcasing your credentials or experience in your field. If you have guest writers or contributors on your website, that means highlighting their credentials as well.
Users must be able to trust you, your website, and the information they find on it.
Not only do users need to feel they can trust your information, but also that your website isn’t going to do anything to harm their computer or their personal data. Again, Google is more likely to rank websites that provide value and create a good experience for users.
Why Is E-A-T Important for Your SEO?
Google values high-quality content. In fact, Google’s own Quality Raters Guidelines gives a full guide on exactly what they consider to be high-quality content.
The third point in the guide talks about why E-A-T matters for SEO.
Google says that, first and foremost, a high-quality website page has a high level of E-A-T.
Even pages in niches that don’t require large amounts of training, education, or expertise to produce, such as gossip websites and message boards, can be deemed high-quality due to their relative levels of E-A-T.
By contrast, low E-A-T content can have a negative impact on a site’s SEO:
“Websites or pages without some sort of beneficial purpose, including pages that are created with no attempt to help users, or pages that potentially spread hate, cause harm, or misinform or deceive users, should receive the Lowest rating.”
In short, the higher your levels of E-A-T, the higher quality scores your pages get, and the higher your website ranks. The more high-quality pages your website has, the better your website performs in the search engine rankings.
What Makes a Low-Quality Page?
If a high-quality page helps your rankings, then it stands to reason that a low-quality page would hurt your rankings. But what makes a page low-quality in the eyes of Google?
Here are some of the characteristics of a low-quality page, according to the Quality Raters Guidelines:
- Low E-A-T
- Low-quality main content
- Too little content for the purpose of the page
- Overly exaggerated or shocking page titles
- Ads that distract from the content
- Lack of information on who created the page, making it difficult to verify the E-A-T
- Negative reputation of the website or the creator
Your top priority should be to create content that appeals to your target audience and provides a significant amount of value. If your content is inaccurate, doesn’t serve a purpose, or includes elements that hinder the user experience, Google isn’t inclined to showcase your website in the search results.
And, being in such a competitive industry, you can’t afford to miss out on that valuable traffic.
How Does E-A-T Relate to “YMYL”?
Google categorizes some websites as “Your Money or Your Life” (YMYL) because they sell products or provide services that are important to the overall health and well-being of the users. These sites are held at a higher standard due to the type of content that is being shared.
For instance, websites in the medical, legal, and financial fields are considered YMYL sites because they often offer advice that can greatly impact users’ decisions and well-being.
That’s why, for law firms, high E-A-T is especially important.
The higher your site’s E-A-T, the safer your users feel visiting your website, interacting with it, and acting on the information found there.
When users feel safer, they’re more likely to stay longer and engage with your content. This improves your site’s rankings and increases trust, helping you get more traffic and gain more clients.
How Can You Improve Your Website’s E-A-T?
Now that you’ve learned more about E-A-T and its importance for your legal website, you may be wondering how your site’s content measures up.
Low rankings and traffic could be an indication that there is room for improvement. If your content isn’t performing well, working on your E-A-T is a good place to start.
You can also consider the best practices below when it comes to creating new content.
1. Add Author Names & Biographies to Content
Determining who’s creating the content and that person’s credentials is a crucial part of your website’s E-A-T.
For blog posts, articles, and question and answer pages, this means including the name of the person posting the content, as well as a biography. This information helps establish the authority and expertise of the creator, especially if your website has multiple creators.
On your landing pages, make sure customer support and contact information are easy to find. If this information isn’t prominent and easily accessible, it can lower your E-A-T score.
2. Cut or Edit Content with Low E-A-T
If you’ve got pages that are ranking low and you suspect they may suffer from low E-A-T, working to get them up to speed or cut them entirely is going to make a big impact on your website’s overall performance.
For pages that aren’t that important to your website, or that are too far beyond repair to simply edit them, completely pulling them from your site can salvage your E-A-T. This should be the method of last resort with the pages on your site.
However, many of your pages likely can be improved with some simple editing to improve the E-A-T scores.
If your page provides crucial advice but lacks the expertise of a high-authority author, adding an expert author to your page can help. This is especially necessary for those YMYL pages – those core, central pages that talk about why your business is better suited to serve your clients.
Additionally, if a page is poorly written, poorly edited, or lacks an authoritative voice, going through and elevating the copy can improve the E-A-T.
3. Make Your Site Secure
A large piece of E-A-T, especially on those YMYL pages, is whether or not your users feel safe interacting with your website.
Even if you aren’t collecting personal information or taking payments, ensuring your site is marked as “secure” can go a long way to getting users to trust you. This is especially important now that Google Chrome marks pages “Not Secure” if they don’t have an SSL certificate installed.
If your website doesn’t already have one, invest in an SSL certificate to make your site more secure for users.
4. Improve Your Brand Reputation
You don’t need to work a reputation management firm in order to improve your brand’s presence across the web. There are things you can do to build authority in your niche and help Google trust your website’s content.
Beyond adding author biographies to your own content, you can look to how third-party websites are talking about your business and expertise. If you don’t have much of a presence online, then you can work to get featured in authoritative directories.
Law firms and attorneys have a great deal of third-party reputation-building opportunities available, including:
- Bar associations
- Local Chambers of Commerce
Creating profiles on these sites allows you to 1) link to your existing website, 2) build out a bio that includes your most important credentials, and 3) generate reviews for your business.
When creating these profiles, make sure that all the information is correct and up-to-date. Then, you can link individual attorney profiles to the bios on your law firm website in order to build authority.
You can also work to build relationships with other websites in your industry in order to contribute guest posts and boost your authority.
These sites can include legal advice columns, blogs, and industry magazines. You may even get a high-value backlink in return. Getting featured here can help improve your third-party reputation and gain some much-needed E-A-T.
Helping Law Firms Build Their E-A-T
Is your content optimized for search engines?
Creating exceptional, high-authority content that builds your site’s Expertise, Authority, and Trust means having a deep understanding of the subject matter and a superior understanding of what your audience wants to see.
For law firms, your E-A-T status is incredibly important when it comes to your website’s SEO.
At WDWC, we know what it takes to create the kind of content that legal website visitors are looking for. By partnering with our experienced content creators, you can build your website’s E-A-T and bring your site the traffic and conversions you want.
Looking for high-quality legal content? Work with us today.
Alex is a successful entrepreneur, marketer, and president of We Do Web Content, an Inc. 5000 business. His firm devises content and marketing strategies and produces online content for law firms, medical professionals, and small businesses nationwide.