EAT SEO: what is it and why is it essential for a YMYL site?

In the world of digital marketing and Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), EAT stands for Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness. The acronym is commonly used as a standard reference of Google’s guidelines for page quality and quality content. EAT SEO is particularly relevant in YMYL (Your Money or Your Life) industries such as medical and healthcare.

EAT SEO came into effect with the Google Medic update in 2018. In short, it shook up the medical and health industries. But in a good way. It separated the wheat from the chaff when it came to quality content on health and medical websites. So, we’re going to take you through a quick description of what EAT SEO is, what it means for medical and health businesses and how to plan for success. Whether you’re a medical marketing company like us or manage digital marketing in house for a health company this article will give you a better grasp of Google’s quality raters guideline.

How does an EAT score translate into a website or content?

The internet has created a world where almost everything is available at the click of a button. Consumers hang out on social platforms, surf the web and watch videos for many hours a day. All the while, being constantly flooded with advertisements and calls to action hailing from every industry, from medical to fashion.

With so much information out there, it can be difficult for consumers to differentiate genuine products and high-quality content from those that are not. And this is why flawless medical marketing is essential. Whilst you can try drop-shipping a fake pair of Adidas on Facebook using testimonials from your friends, it’s a very different story for medical and healthcare companies.

Like us, Google understands that medical and healthcare is important — after all, we’re dealing with people’s health, wellness and ultimately, their lives. As a result, Google looks to deliver users the most high-quality content from the most authoritative site. This is all the while still satisfying the underlying desire is to keep you browsing the net and displaying those lovely clickable ads that generate so much revenue.

And that is why, for a ymyl website or ymyl page, such as those created by those in medical and healthcare, the google algorithm and ranking are more heavily influenced by the Google EAT score. Despite this being integrated into Google’s algorithm a few years ago now, John Muller from Google has recently stressed the importance of EAT for YMYL content:

Make sure that the site that you’re providing represents a really high standard. And that the content is of really high quality and that it’s put together by people who understand what they’re doing. That it’s not something like a run out of a garage kind of site. And that’s something that I think, especially for the medical area, is supercritical.”

Following the EAT Guidelines

If you’re new to the concept of EAT (Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness), you’re probably wondering why it’s so significant when it comes to gaining the trust of Google, and its users. And don’t worry it’s not all technical SEO. It can be achieved with a good content and backlink strategy that is well planned. To get you up to speed, here’s a quick overview.

Expertise

To earn the trust of site visitors and Google alike, you must be seen as having expertise in your field. In this case, we’re talking about medical products or healthcare services. And, just like visiting a medical professional. Your level of expertise is crucial.

Consumers are increasingly sensitive to what information they take in from a medical perspective and products they put into their bodies or use to manage their health. When it comes to medical marketing, the stakes are high, and ingested information from the world wide web is nothing to take lightly. People can be easily influenced. Even when the person communicating information is not an expert — just look at how quickly crazy conspiracy theories can spread on social media.

Beware! If you don’t come across as an expert, people (and Google) will probably notice!

To gain search engine points and earn a polished reputation among consumers, proven expertise is invaluable. But how do you demonstrate expertise on a practical level, to bots that are crawling the net? Ian Booth from MOZ recommends several approaches, notably:

  1. Understand what your audience is looking for, and aim to deliver for (and exceed) their needs.
  2. Try to find out the intent behind the searches so your audience understands the wider picture.

Both of these involve research and planning, in particular, SEO strategy, keyword research and mapping the customer journey. This will uncover the questions people are asking as they become aware, consider and commit to your product or service. Ensuring a high level of content quality and an increased chance that it will connect with your customer or target audience.

Authoritativeness

The medical field also requires a strong display of authority. Naturally, this is an extremely important quality rater in health content. Being an authority points towards a new level of formal expertise: years and depth of knowledge regarding the product, service or topic that you’re selling or being a content creator for.

Authority means being at the top of your field. There are ways to demonstrate this through digital marketing, which tend to revolve around network effects.

  • Aim to create content that is easily shared on social media.
  • Get mentioned by another authoritative site, the media or in news articles. What’s better than word of mouth?
  • Earn quality backlinks from other websites.
  • Always be building your brand — it should be forever evolving, not just standing still.
  • A Wikipedia page also helps to display authority.

Trustworthiness

In the world of medical marketing, you must show users that they can trust the company behind the product, app, blog or website. And this trust isn’t necessarily the easiest to gain. Think of it like trusting a new doctor, or dentist who is going to perform root canal — you have to get to know them, feel comfortable and trust the information you’re given. You want to feel like they’ve got your best interests at heart. Earning the trust of visitors is essential because you’re in the game of impacting health.

But how do you build trust?

  • Deliver everyday expertise in a way that your customers will understand. Don’t overwhelm them with medical jargon if that’s not their point of reference.
  • All of your main content should have a beneficial purpose. Don’t just sell to them, create value and a useful perspective.
  • Your content marketing plan should include content which acknowledges your customers’ pain points. Highlight their key worries or concerns and present your brand as a place where they can find solutions to their worries without judgement. This is key in medical marketing as often potential patients or customers feel overwhelmed by health content. It can be scary stuff!
EAT and trust
Just like this lady trusts Dr Drill, your visitors need to trust your business and the information on your website.

EAT SEO and the Value for Your Medical or Health Business

EAT is not only valuable from the perspective of Google’s army of bots, although that’s obviously important. Expertise, authority, and trust are incredibly significant when it comes to all aspects of your healthcare-related business, as it influences the perspective of potential (and existing) clients.

Try to infuse all of your communications, marketing, main content, sales and support material with the same concepts and you’ll be on the right track!

It’s important to note that EAT may not only affect your website’s rank via computed algorithmic assessments. Google’s quality raters — actual humans (and SEO experts) who help to tune the SERPS also keep it in mind when determining if a site or page provides the quality of content required to meet their high standards.

If you want a good rule of thumb to follow, then aim to make users feel comfortable reading, sharing, and eventually recommending your content. If that is the case, you are quite likely to have (and receive the benefits of) a high level of expertise, authority, and trust.

The concept of EAT, at its core, is the reason users both see and then choose one website over another. The higher your EAT rating, the better the chances of users visiting, revisiting, and sharing your website with the rest of the internet. That helps your message reverberate for all the right reasons and gets you closer to hitting your goals.

As most medical marketers know, when organic traffic numbers increase and bounce rate decreases it’s a good thing. When this happens, the Google SEO algorithm will rank you higher in search results and you’ll experience a positive feedback effect.

Creating EAT-friendly, trustworthy medical content

The entire concept of EAT can be distilled down into one central point: buyers, especially in the medical niche, have to trust you before they are willing to do business with your business. Your website and content is a direct reflection of the brand, team and dedication behind it and that extends out to all your marketing and communications.

According to Google, websites and individual pages (including landing pages and every blog post) lacking a high EAT rating are considered low quality by the search engine. There’s no room for consumers to think even a single page of your website is inferior in quality when it comes to medical content.

By putting out useful, engaging content that establishes itself as accurate using the right kinds of signals, you can meet EAT requirements and position your site and brand as a quality reference. Without question, it’s essential to a successful and prosperous medical marketing strategy.

Google certainly doesn’t want to be responsible for playing a part in any negative outcomes as a result of untrustworthy content, so if you don’t demonstrate trust, expect to be demoted in the Search Engine Result Pages (SERPS).

Here’s a checklist to work through when creating any healthcare or medical content. 

  1. Do your keyword research, customer journey mapping and create a light SEO strategy. This should include key terms which match your desired customer needs. 
  2. Create content or landing pages that respond directly to their queries in a simple and accessible way. 
  3. Optimise your content or landing pages in line with your strategy and research. 
  4. Use references for any stats — don’t just pull them out of thin air.
  5. If quoting or writing content on a specific YMYL area, talk to or use information from an expert. 
  6. Don’t make any false claims or assume contextual knowledge. Give your customer the full picture and all the information they need to make informed decisions about their health. 
  7. Take out references to anything that is overly salesy or seems disingenuous. There is nothing more un-trustworthy than heightened language and lofty promises in medical or healthcare marketing. 

Further optimising your healthcare marketing in line with the ranking algorithm

So how can you further address EAT on your medical or healthcare website or landing page? Firstly, never hesitate to display validated credentials or personal experiences. Product and customer reviews can also be great ways to establish authority when it comes to medical marketing.

Brand reputation is important here too. Collect positive reviews using 3rd party platforms (as we do on Clutch), and provide great customer service so you can address any issues before they attract negative indicators for your business online.

Onsite, aim to have a contact page, a clear privacy policy, terms and conditions, cite external sources and link out to authority sites.

As you can see, EAT’s influence within the medical content niche is more profound than simply having general knowledge on a subject. Users have to feel safe when visiting your site and engaging with your business, but they must equally believe that the information that you present can be trusted.

Medical marketing is not for the faint of heart. It takes a dedicated team and many hours to implement the correct strategies that stimulate better growth. If you’re feeling overwhelmed and would like to chat about how we can help you reach your goals faster and with better clarity, contact us today!

Jade Attwood

Jade Attwood

After working up from content intern to Head of Editorial at a London agency, Jade made the move to healthcare. Initially, as Head of Marketing for a consumer-facing therapy app then as Marketing Manager at an NHS-focused medical device company. Now in Australia, she brings her skills and experience to Fluidic.

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