In speaking with attorneys about search engine optimization, we’ve received thousands of questions about the process. Many want to know what exactly it is, how it’s done, what works and what doesn’t. In discussing the necessity for high-quality information, many attorneys are quick to question how the search engines are actually able to crawl each website and decipher good information from subpar content. Once we had an attorney comment that Google must employ millions of web surfers to do this well.
In truth, much of the process is automated by the search engines who send out millions of “bots” which crawl and assess the content on pages, looking at things like LSI keywords, originality, links (both incoming and outgoing) and relevance. But these bots aren’t people and they’re not perfect which is why Google hires approximately 5000 Google Search Quality Raters through a third party agency. These individuals are responsible for assessing the quality of search results and help to refine the search engine’s algorithms.
These Raters are provided with Google’s Quality Rating Guidelines, a 160 page manual which includes instructions on reviewing search results and the various sites found within them. In the most recent version, leaked last year, the search engine emphasized three key attributes in identifying high quality sites. Raters, and the search engines, are looking for a high level of expertise, authoritativeness or trustworthiness or E.A.T. for short. Rather than fretting over whether you’ve incorporated enough keywords in a single page of content or whether your meta descriptions are more enticing then your competitors, spend time putting your site through the E.A.T. test.
When it comes to the expertise component, the search engines understand that there are experts in any given industry. With medical information, for example, this should only be delivered by individuals who are healthcare professionals. The same goes for legal. As a licensed attorney, you are an expert in the law and high-quality original articles produced on your areas of expertise will be recognized as such by the search engines. Now if you also wanted to write an article about your train collection that is probably best suited for a separate website that is not related to your law practice’s site.
In terms of authoritativeness, the search engines examine the site’s reputation. Are experts in this area linking to the content? If so, the author must be an authority, delivering high-quality information to visitors. While the authoritativeness factor may seem a bit out of your control; it isn’t. Write good content, and share it. If it’s really good, it will get traction.
Finally, trustworthiness is a key component necessary to eliminate spammy sites that engage in black hat techniques. If, for example, you allow guest posts on your legal blog in exchange for posts on other third party sites, the search engines will likely pick up on the link exchange and the trustworthiness of your site will come into question.
So while there are many technical elements of SEO, E.A.T. conquers all else. Write good content and approach SEO with good sense, avoiding spam tactics.