As a marketer you’re likely to have heard of content authority and how it impacts Google ranking, but how exactly do you go about building it?
If good content is buried under online algorithms or evaluated as poor quality, it makes it all the more difficult for new audiences and customers to find. That’s why you need to improve your content authority.
Google has a variety of methods to rank and score websites and associated content using their Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines, including E-A-T, YMYL, and ‘beneficial purpose’. The latter is one of the easier factors to tackle – ensuring your page benefits or helps the audience.
The world’s most popular search engine is, after all, focused on delivering answers to questions. Overall, content that comprehensively tackles audience queries on a particular topic is likely to be well-ranked.
Specialist content authority
Another quality rating for content is the Your Money or Your Life (YMYL) rating. This is content that has the potential for a negative impact on an audience’s happiness, health or wealth. Suspicious content receives a lower ranking, to safeguard consumers against issues such as fraud.
YMYL topics stretch across news, civics, law, finance (especially pages where people can make purchases or transfer money online), health and safety, and more. Pages suggesting dangerous cures to diseases, for example, or extolling the benefits of pyramid schemes are ranked lower or even penalised.
So how do you get YMYL pages right? This is where E-A-T comes in, a factor that determines page quality. The acronym translates as expertise, authority and trustworthiness.
Google recognises author expertise as a key factor, so known thought leaders and academics writing for established and credible websites, are affiliated with content expertise.
There are exceptions for ‘everyday expertise’, which includes life experience and not necessarily qualifications or training. However, non-YMYL pages will generally use this form of expertise.
When other parties present, share or cite your content and ideas, it creates ‘authority’. If your author name frequently appears on a particular topic, that creates authority. Being able to substantiate your own content with weighty references such as university studies, can also help.
Think of the websites that you consider to be good, true and reliable sources of information – they are likely to be ranked with authority. The algorithms generally see well-established websites as authoritative too.
The Google scoring system considers negative sentiment against a brand. Bad online reviews can pile up for some impact on your content e.g. if you state you provide the best service and the reviews don’t match with this assertion.
Your audience trusts you to deliver accurate information and your website should reflect that. When other credible sites link to you, that supports how trustworthy you are.
What else can impact rankings and content authority?
Be mindful of website ‘penalties’, which can impact your search result rank. A Google Review team can manually apply a penalty to your website for breaching guidelines. However, there can be an automatic application during an algorithm update. The first sign of a penalty is usually disappearing traffic.
A quick check of your Google Search Console will show a warning or message if a manual penalty is applied, and Google has solutions on how to resolve these.
Algorithm penalties are a bit of a no-fault problem, but it may mean making some changes to your website. The internet is ever-evolving, and websites need to evolve alongside it, such as improving compatibility across devices.
The exact way in which Google scores content remains a bit of a secret. However, you can improve web content in a way that satisfies the algorithms as well as your audience.
How to improve your E-A-T score and content authority:
- Examine your web search terms – what are the visitors searching, why, and do you provide the answer?
- Always think ahead for your audience journey – plot and plan next steps, next actions, and next relevant asset
- Segment and group content for a better user experience – difficult site navigation leads to lower ranking
- Check and optimise your website response times and page load speed – timeliness and efficiency improve scores
- Select your area of authority and build content pillars and strategy around it – everything you produce for that authority goes towards building expertise and trust
- Increase author expertise and recognition by contributing to other publications and using appropriate citations. Backlinks to your site also increase trustworthiness and authority too
- Create author schema markups – author profiles are another way to add credentials and demonstrate authority in content
- Regularly review your insights for relevancy and freshness. Consider archiving them or taking offline if necessary, and check for 404 results or loose ends in site architecture
- Don’t over-fluff content; word count is not as important as pure, verifiable and helpful facts…
- … however, an ‘unsatisfying amount of main content’ earns low ratings, so long-form is your E-A-T friend. Ultimately, you should focus on quality over quantity, which builds audience trust
- Match topics with the right readability level, and always scrutinise grammar, spelling and keywords for mistakes
- Use unique imagery – original images contribute towards quality rater guideline adherence
- Google can’t decipher pictures of charts – use tables or a graph library to embed easily-readable information
- Ten things you can’t guess are true! The rankings frown upon exaggerating titles that don’t reflect the true content.
The final lesson
With all this said, never forget to meet the audience’s expectations and needs above everything else. There is a slight disconnect between what your audience thinks of your content and how Google ranks its authority. Being a trustworthy, accurate and quality source of information for your customers trumps external evaluations of authority.
If you want guidance on building content with authority, get in touch and we can help!