Google’s overarching goal is to answer users’ questions. A “win” for the search engine is for the first page of results to be filled with links to sites that perfectly match the searcher’s needs. You know that Google tinkers regularly with its algorithms and establishes new processes to evaluate websites. This ongoing development enables the search engine to create the perfect match—in the form of a SERP—for every query. While establishing better logic to parse a user’s submitted search terms is an important part of Google’s methodology, the company’s bigger challenge is to identify sites with high quality content.
E-A-T helps Google evaluate websites for high-quality content
An important philosophy that Google has developed is summarized by the acronym E-A-T. In its simplest form, Google assesses a site by gauging how well its content provides expertise, authority and trust.
I had the opportunity to speak at the PILMMA Super Summit in Chicago earlier this month and I made E-A-T a focus of my presentation to the gathering of lawyers and law firm marketing professionals. I heard other references to the E-A-T philosophy during the conference, including Ken Hardison‘s focus on educational marketing. (Photos of the PILMMA event are available on the Consultwebs.com Google+ page.)
E-A-T, unlike some search marketing techniques and site optimization practices, is straightforward and easy to understand.
E-A-T requires expertise
Sites that provide useful content from industry experts are in demand. Google establishes an author or a site as “expert” based on first-person experience in addition to formal education or training. For a law practice, Google would like to see content related to the firm’s areas of expertise and written with a narrow focus on useful information and data.
E-A-T requires authority
Websites with high editorial standards for content earn points for authority. In addition to having expert-compiled content, the ideal site enforces strict style guidelines. Legal websites should be well-edited, written with “readability” appropriate to the intended audience and laid out to provide useful information to the reader while being easily indexed by search engines.
E-A-T requires trust
Online reviews are an important component of a site’s “trust” level. Law firms must establish a reputation management system that promotes positive reviews. But other factors come into play when Google evaluates a site’s trustworthiness. When other established experts denote a positive reputation on your website, Google takes notice.
Applying the principles of E-A-T to your law firm’s website
In my talk at PILMMA’s annual conference, I noted several specific content improvements that benefit law firms’ client prospecting and customer outreach while also being rewarded by Google:
- Providing helpful online assets, including video, infographics, downloadable documents and shareable content
- Encouraging online reviews
- Creating a great user experience with visually compelling design and content
- Featuring well-vetted and up-to-date content from established authorities
- Limiting unfocused content or peripheral subject matter
Instituting these search marketing fundamentals will result in a law firm website that provides expert, authoritative and trustworthy content. For a more detailed overview of the E-A-T principles, read Google Search Quality Guidelines Now Reward Expertise, Authority, Trust.