Law Quill | Understanding EAT and SEO (Wait, What?)
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Understanding EAT and SEO (Wait, What?)

The ins and outs of digital marketing can be confusing, and to make things even more complicated, there are 200+ commonly used acronyms associated with online advertising. By now, you probably know the acronym SEO, which stands for Search Engine Optimization. Doing SEO effectively seems to change as Google’s algorithm changes, but one required SEO component that has recently come to the forefront is the acronym EAT, which stands for expertise, authority and trustworthiness. Google wants to make sure that the content on your website is truthful, useful and accurate, and this is especially important with law-related websites, where people have questions about potentially life-changing issues. If you want your law firm to hover high on the search engine result pages (otherwise known as SERP), you should know a little more about the intersection between EAT and SEO. 

What is EAT?

Website owners involved in digital marketing have known that producing abundant, high quality content is key to good search engine results and quality website traffic. This is why it is helpful that Google recently boiled down this vague and subjective requirement down into a tangible framework with the concept of EAT: expertise, authority and trustworthiness. 

Expertise

Google needs to see that your law firm shows expertise in the legal industry, and that it provides content that is valuable, relevant and factually correct. Readers have important, life-impacting questions when they visit your website, and if there is a chance that your website will mislead visitors, Google will not rank you well. 

Authority

Your law firm’s website needs to show not only that you have a solid grasp on your content, but also that you are an authority within your field. You can prove your credibility by displaying your credentials and show that you and all of your website contributors have the authority to provide guidance in legal matters. 

Trustworthiness

Your website visitors must be able to trust you and the information they find on your site. They also want to know that your website will not compromise their personal information or harm their computer. Google takes trustworthiness seriously and this factor greatly impacts the ranking of your law firm’s website. 

A Few More: QRG and YMYL

Ready for some more acronyms? The last two that relate to EAT are: Quality Rater’s Guidelines (QRG) and Your Money, Your Life (YMYL). 

QRG

Google’s Quality Rater’s Guidelines (QRG) functions like a textbook for anyone who wants to understand what Google considers high quality content, and it is loaded with discussions about EAT. Google is constantly updating its guidelines, and the newest versions contain more information about websites designated: Your Money, Your Life (YMYL).

YMYL

In a recent update, Google outlined guidelines for websites that contain pages or topics that may potentially impact the future health, happiness, safety, or financial stability of an individual.  These types of websites are dubbed “Your Money, Your Life” sites, because if users come away with inaccurate or outdated information, it could result in real-life negative consequences. Any website that covers law, medicine or finances fits into the category of YMYL and EAT is extremely important for these websites. Any YMYL website that lacks EAT will be designated as a low quality website and will not find itself in the rankings. Pages that contain the following YMYL content must be high in EAT:

  • Legal, financial or medical advice
  • Public information and news that informs citizens
  • Science-related articles
  • Advice pages on high-impact topics like parenting or home remodeling
  • Skilled hobby pages that require expertise such as photography or playing a musical instrument
  • Shopping (any site that takes credit card transactions)

EAT and SEO: Avoid Low Quality Pages

If high quality pages boost your rankings, then low quality pages demote them. Your website’s top priority should be to provide high quality, accurate content that serves your target audience. Best practices of EAT and SEO do that by avoiding the following characteristics of low quality pages:

  • Lack of EAT
  • Sparse content for the page’s purpose
  • Low quality page content
  • Exaggerated page titles, aimed to shock users and draw them in
  • Distracting ads
  • Negative reputation of the site or owner

 

How Can Your Law Firm Improve EAT and SEO?

If your website is not performing as well as you’d like, you may need to make some strategic improvements. Tackling the EAT and SEO components of your website would be an excellent place to start, so consider the following steps.

Revamp Website Content

Examine your pages for the three characteristics of EAT and SEO: expertise, authority and trustworthiness. Check your content for errors and confirm that there are no broken links. Rewrite your content if necessary to improve it and give it an authoritative voice. In addition to upgrading your content, check to make sure that your landing page contains contact and customer support information; if this is hard to find, it can lower your EAT score. 

Add Author Names and Bios to Content

Since your law firm’s website is a YMYL website, it is important that your content is connected with authors that have expertise in the legal field. This is why it is essential that articles tell who has created the content, and linking an author bio to each post is also a good idea.

Improve Your Brand Reputation

There are several things you can do to build a strong and solid brand online reputation. One smart option is to start creating profiles in online legal directories such as: Avvo, Martindale-Hubbell, Nolo, Justia and FindLaw. Adding your law firm to your local Chamber of Commerce website gives you the opportunity to share your bio and credentials and offer links to your law firm website. Building relationships with additional local organizations also improves your brand and gives you an outlet to create links to your website — another smart SEO move. Finally, adding social media to your marketing plan is an ideal way to build trust in your brand and get your name out to potential clients. 

Secure Your Website

YMYL pages need to be secure and feel secure to your visitors. If your website does not already have an SSL certificate, this would be a wise investment. Google Chrome designates pages as “Not Secure” if their SSL certificate is not installed. Even if you do not collect online payments or gather personal information, confirming that your site is marked “secure” has a big impact on how potential clients perceive your website and your law firm.

Law Quill | Understanding EAT and SEO (Wait, What?)

What Is EAT and Why It Is Important

Law firms can benefit from learning about EAT and how to gain a good EAT score, as it helps them get a better search engine ranking for their websites. Generally EAT is vital for any search queries, but this importance can vary depending on the search topic. For instance, EAT may not be that important for searches involving subjective topics, like images of cute animals. However, EAT is typically very important for law firms and their content, as the issues discussed can have a significant impact on users. This means if a law firm publishes content that is unhelpful, contains little research, and lacks authority, it is likely to achieve a poor EAT score, leading to a low Google ranking.

How Does EAT Work?

While EAT involves human concepts, Google cleverly applies this to its algorithms to achieve improved search results that rank high-quality content further up the SERP. This process involves thinking of potential algorithm improvements and then showing the results of these adjustments to its team of Quality Raters. These individuals view a sample of search results with these changes and then without them. Then, the Quality Raters provide feedback regarding how useful each set of results was, using EAT as a guideline in their decision-making. With this information, Google determines whether to implement the changes to its search engine algorithm.

Additional Tips for Improving Your Law Firm’s EAT

According to Play Media, EAT became a very important SEO factor in 2018, when Google released an algorithm update to encourage website owners to produce high-quality content. Below are some extra tips to consider for improving your law firm’s EAT score, which can also lead to better search engine rankings.

Gain More External Links

Getting more external links from authoritative websites is a highly effective way of improving your law firm website’s EAT. Google’s algorithm can often detect when an external link is important, so try to get high-quality links from reputable sources. One way of gaining more external links is by publishing unique content that other companies within the legal industry may reference.

Include Up-To-Date and Accurate Information

For law firm websites, including the most recent information is essential for improving EAT. Ensure you update your content regularly to avoid sharing outdated information with prospective clients, as this is likely to result in your website becoming untrustworthy. Alongside this, check that your content only contains factually accurate information. To do this, use trusted and legitimate sources to verify the information you include in your content.

Seek Extra Reviews

Another effective way of improving your law firm’s EAT involves gaining extra reviews. Google’s Quality Raters use these reviews to determine whether a website is trustworthy and authoritative. In particular, try to gain extra positive reviews on relevant websites that your potential clients might use, as these reviews carry more weight than those that are not industry-specific.

Publish Content Written by an Expert

Since law fits into the YMYL category, it is essential that you publish content written by an expert. This means either you or another lawyer from your firm writes the content if it specifically relates to legal matters. Expertly written content for law firm websites has a significant, positive impact on EAT scores and SEO rankings, so avoid outsourcing this task to an individual in your firm without formal legal training. Additionally, it can be beneficial to occasionally get legal professionals from other organizations to contribute guest content to your firm’s website, particularly if your site has a blog.

How Law Quill Can Help EAT and SEO

Building a highly regarded YMYL website with high scores in EAT may sound ominous, but improving your website’s expertise, authority and trustworthiness may only be a matter of some simple alterations. Once you catch the mindset, all of your future content can be created with these powerful SEO tools in mind. Keep in mind that search engine standards keep changing, so stay informed by watching the updated QRGs to ensure that your content will stay near the top of the SERPs.

We are here to help and would welcome the opportunity to visit with you for free regarding your law firm website’s content, and how we can take these tasks off your plate! Schedule a free visit with us by scheduling a quick phone or zoom call at your convenience on our calendar today. You can also email us at support@lawquill.com.