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How SEO will boost your business during and after the Covid-19 crisis: our 11-step guide decodes E-A-T and YMYL and much more
Now is the best time to be reviewing your website.
During the lockdown period, people are spending more time online, researching their needs and putting themselves in a position of strength ready to make a purchase. Now, is an excellent opportunity to connect not only with existing customers but to reach out to potential new ones as well.
If you are already continuing to invest in your search engine optimisation (SEO) strategy, then you might want to use this chance to increase and strengthen your activity to give your business the boost it needs. If, however, your website content has fallen out of date and your website performance is suffering, then for you, undertaking a review is more than just an opportunity, it just might be your saving grace.
For most businesses, the website is the most critical mechanism for having a presence in the marketplace and building a relationship with prospective customers. Even for complex B2B products, the site will offer valuable information to customers seeking specific data and the answers to their questions. With the current social distancing measures in place and lockdown, face-to-face conversations and contact are minimised, all websites need to be working harder.
To achieve website success, your content plan and your SEO plan need to pull together in unison. Without both working together it won’t work at all!
When time is short, and the opportunity is great, it’s time to get ‘focused’, and in this article, we are getting ‘focused’ on two crucial elements of SEO – E-A-T and YMYL – and why they are vital for your website’s success.
Don’t be put off by the acronyms! Our 11-step guide begins by explaining what E-A-T stands for and the role it plays in your content and SEO activity. We go on to put E-A-T into context by explaining other vital aspects of website success, such as ‘beneficial purpose’ and YMYL – which are of particular importance during a health pandemic if the industry within which you operate is regulated or sensitive.
We will decode the jargon and help you get up to scratch with what’s essential in the battle to get noticed on the web.
Here’s what we are covering in this article:
What is E-A-T?
The acronym stands for Expertise, Authority and Trust, and refers to the quality of content on your website. It means that you need to ensure that your website content is well-researched, accurate and reliable. E-A-T is made up of three principles that Google uses to assess website content. It is Google’s way of protecting searchers from low-quality content that has the potential to be detrimental to them. It was introduced in 2013 but slipped under the radar until it appeared in Google’s 2014 Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines.
Expertise is about ensuring your website content provides high-quality information on the topic in hand – the best out there. It is also about the value of your content, meaning it needs to provide the answers to the questions that your audience are asking, to help them make informed choices. Know your audience. Know their pain points.
To build authority in your field, you need to ensure that all information you provide to users of your website is accurate and helpful – and kept up to date.
A website’s authority can also be boosted when other reputable sites or sources on the same topic or industry, link back to it.
You need to demonstrate to your visitors – likely potential customers – that they can trust the content on your website. Typically, Google’s quality raters rate trustworthiness by looking at your entire site. They focus on finding such things as privacy policies, editorial policies, and security information, so users are reassured that your website is one to be trusted.
Why is E-A-T so important?
In the world of website optimisation – SEO – it is vital that you keep up to date with Google’s ever-changing requirements. After all, your website is your company’s shop window, and you want to attract as many people to look at it as you can. Once they are there, you then need to get people through the door, by clicking on your information pages and ultimately converting them into customers. Ensuring they have a great experience while navigating your site is also of enormous importance. This means that it must be easy for visitors to find what they are looking for – whether it be information about your business, how to contact you, answers to their questions, inspiration or to make a purchase.
Growing the number of visitors to your website, and the proportion who convert to customers can take a long time. The chances are that it will happen more quickly if you build a reputation for providing expertise, authority in your area of specialism and the trustworthiness of your site. When it comes to content marketing, it is all about building a relationship with the user, no matter where they are in their user journey, so that when they are at the point of purchase, you are the first brand that will come to mind.
E-A-T can have a profound impact on your website’s performance because Google wants to ensure that the sites it displays/ranks first on the Search Engine Results Page (SERP) have a beneficial purpose in terms of providing accurate and helpful information.
What is ‘beneficial purpose’?
A phrase for which every website owner should be aware! It’s a subject that Google takes extremely seriously. The premise is that every web page should be created to help users, to address their issues and answer their questions, thereby serving a ‘purpose’ and providing ‘value’ in their decision-making journey. It’s about understanding who your customer is. Google is against those sites that are out there purely to make money or to do harm by spreading fake or alarmist ‘news’.
Your Money or Your Life (YMYL) content is the type of information that, if presented inaccurately, or deceptively, could have an impact on the reader’s happiness, health and safety, or financial stability and it’s something Google is particularly sensitive about, and with good reason.
The internet is currently flooded with information and advice about Covid-19 health issues, and the effect of this pandemic on the economy and personal finances. Some of this content is helpful, some of it is downright inaccurate. This is where trust and authority play a significant role.
The YMYL niche is an area Google wants to tighten up on. It holds itself accountable for such content even though it is not legally obliged to do so.
If your website has any type of content that falls into this ‘sensitive’ niche, you must be careful that what you say is based on fact and is accurate at the time it is stated. This way authority and trust will build naturally.
Right now, this includes website owners, bloggers, and journalists writing about housebuilding, mortgages, business and finance, healthcare or food production – to name just a few such topics deemed to be sensitive.
You must be absolutely certain that the information you provide will not adversely affect the life or livelihood of your readers. Google will penalise such content, meaning your website will not be ranked, and you’ll face a genuine risk of losing customers, or worse. It’s therefore advisable to bring in or consult online experts, armed with the relevant information, to write your YMYL content.
Carry out a content audit
To perform well for E-A-T, YMYL, and beneficial purpose it is a good idea to carry out a thorough content audit, considering at every turn whether your content would pass muster with Google’s quality raters.
Start with the landing pages – and remember this is not just the home page. It is any page that appears when a visitor arrives there via a PPC (pay per click) advert or an organic search engine result – i.e. the ‘start’ of the ‘user journey’ or experience. You need to ensure that every page is relevant and has a purpose. Your content audit will reveal which pages are not, including those which are out of date and those which duplicate other pages. If you do have duplication of content across several pages, you will be penalised by Google for keyword cannibalisation and plagiarism.
Here are some things to think about when carrying out a content audit:
- Does a page clearly and effectively give the user the information they are looking for?
- Does it talk to them in a tone of voice that they can relate to?
- Is it accurate and trustworthy?
- Does it include calls to action (CTA) that lead visitors on to a piece of content or a transactional page that will help them complete the next stage of their user journey?
Any page which falls below best-practice E-A-T and YMYL either needs to be rewritten with E-A-T in mind or simply archived.
Establish the intent of each content page on your website
To be able to deliver the exact content that your user is looking for in their time of need, you must have a clear understanding of search intent – i.e. what they are searching for and why. Often, users key in search criteria looking for an answer to a problem – identify these search terms using your informational keyword set and look at where these queries are taking users on your website. Creating content pages which satisfy the intent of users at every stage of their customer journey will help in your mission to become the go-to source for authoritative information in your area of business. Also, if they like what you have to say on a subject, they may even become an ambassador for your brand, by linking to your content on their website or talking about it on social media.
Optimise your ‘About us’ pages
Visitors to your website need to very quickly understand who you are, what you do, and why you do it. This falls under the expertise and authority categories of E-A-T. Providing a detailed account of how your company came about, who launched it and how it has grown over the years is beneficial information for the user and demonstrates your integrity. It applies to new companies as well as those that have been around for many years. Everyone loves a good story, and this is the chance to tell yours and make it as interesting and memorable as possible. The ‘About’ page allows you to explain why your company, or its owner or managing director, is an expert and authority in your industry. It might be that your business has been established for many years, and this will naturally illustrate capability and breadth of experience. Make sure you list any industry awards and accolades that you’ve won. You’ll also want to link to relevant social media channels for both your company and the authors who write for you.
Make your ‘Contact us’ page easy to find
You know just how frustrating it is yourself when you open a web page, like the look of what it’s offering and go to get in touch, but you can’t easily find how to do so.
This immediately rings alarm bells with Google’s quality raters as it falls under the trustworthiness part of E-A-T. Throughout the Quality Rating Guidelines, Google mentions that it should be easy to contact the company whose website you’re on. In Google’s eyes, if your website isn’t allowing visitors to contact you, you’re probably hiding something. It’s all about transparency and user experience. If you want your website visitors to be able to call you, put a phone number in a prominent, easy to find position on your website. Use a live chat plug-in to let visitors chat with you. Have a dedicated “Contact Us” page and clear directions as to how to email a query to you.
You should also post a Terms and Conditions agreement on your website. This should set out the parameters a user must agree to, to use your website. It is not a legal requirement, but it helps with your trustworthiness and the level of professionalism with which your site is viewed.
Invest in security
It’s vital to ensure your website domain is secure. This requires the correct implementation of HTTPS coding – which is very important to Google because it helps to ensure that a nefarious third-party entity won’t intercept any data that your users input into your website. Again, this is all about trustworthiness.
How is this going to help my bottom line?
Every company should have a website as it will serve as an invaluable shop window for your business – if you do it right, that is. During these months of lockdown, many firms of all shapes and sizes are experiencing a downturn in website traffic, and ultimately, this likely means a drop in sales. One way to help build up the number of visitors your website attracts, and therefore potential leads, is to ensure it is SEO optimised, taking into account Google’s focus on E-A-T, YMYL and beneficial purpose when it comes to content.
So, if you have more time on your hands than usual, now is a brilliant moment to grasp the opportunity to take a long, hard look at your web pages. If you follow our guide, you’ll have the essential tools to help get your website ranking higher than it was previously. It will likely take months for the SEO elements to come together. But, by taking the steps now to make sure your website is functioning at its best – so that it attracts more traffic and potential customers – you will eventually find that the changes we advise will, ultimately, lead to an increase in sales.
Everything you do to help build your website’s E-A-T in the context of YMYL content and with beneficial purpose in mind will help you build brand awareness and reputation. This is a great way to help you stand ahead of your competitors, not only during lockdown, but when the economy starts picking up. Which it will.
This guide is intended as a starting point – there’s a lot to say about E-A-T and SEO!