Experience, expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness. The four pillars of valuable content, at least according to Google. But do we actually understand what these words mean, and how they should be applied to content? Not just the words on the page, but the structure as well. I’m going to dissect E.E.A.T in a series of three posts, starting with this one, which lays down some basics.
Why Am I Covering E.E.A.T. Today?
I received an email a couple of weeks back from a past client who in the middle of last year, let go of their entire content team apart from a couple of editors. Why? You probably guessed already. They had decided to embrace generative A.I. as a content creation tool.
This worked out really well for them. Until it didn’t. They were saving on the cost of a 10-person writing team, and only having to pay two editors to plug a prompt into ChatGPT, format the output, and publish it on the company website.
The firm published over 1,500 pages of A.I. generated content in the second half of 2023. And then, just before Christmas, Google deindexed 1,322 of those pages. The email they sent me, was to ask if I could help them fix the problem.
Quality Is Not All About Spelling and Grammar
I had a quick call with the marketing lead, and asked what process they had been following to produce the content. I was told that a custom ChatGPT prompt was being fed a topic, and the resulting text became the basis of their content with very little editing.
What they did do, is add a short introductory section to make sure they hit search intent at the top of the page. They also took time to find some decent external links, and set up internal links as well.
The comment that stuck in my mind during this call, was “The content reads fine.” I took a look at a few pages, and in general, indeed it did, ChatGPT had done a good job of grammar and structure. I’ve seen worse content produced by real people. But this is not where the problem lies.
Generative A.I. Is Like a Human Content Rewriter
Consider for a moment what generative A.I. tools like ChatGPT are doing. They are using the data they were trained on as input, and outputting it in a new format. There are no new ideas, fresh opinions or fascinating insights produced.
This is like sending a content writer a piece of content and asking them to reword it. You won’t get anything new in the output. Imagine sitting with a group of people who keep telling you the same thing over and over again, but in different words. It would drive you crazy eventually. You would stop listening. Or in the case of search engines, stop indexing the information.
Don’t forget that Google actively employs search quality raters, that follow very detailed guidelines to decide whether a page is high quality or not. And the E.E.A.T concept plays a very big part here.
What Is a High-Quality Page?
Let’s take a look at the specific criteria that search quality raters look for when trying to decide if a page is high-quality. This is before they start evaluating how closely the content follows the E.E.A.T. guidelines. A high-quality page exhibits the following::
- Has a beneficial purpose.
- Will not cause harm.
- Has an adequate level of trust when covering YMYL (Your Money or Your Life) topics.
- Has a title that explains the content of the page effectively.
- Ads, banners and other marketing/monetisation features do not interfere with the main content.
- Identifies the content creator.
You have to tick all of these boxes before the actual page content is evaluated under E.E.A.T. In the case of this client, they were definitely within a YMYL space. I think anyone dealing with YMYL topics should be prevented from publishing A.I. generated content based on outdated information, with little or no fact-checking. Well done Google.
E.E.A.T. Comes Next
So far, I have covered what makes a page high-quality in the eyes of Google before the E.E.A.T. concept is applied. Just because you ticked all the boxes above, doesn’t mean your content will automatically be graded as high-quality. This is where I think a lot of people using A.I. generated content are going wrong.
They have covered the basics, and have also likely employed on-the-page SEO best practices. They are following the letter of the law, and ignoring its spirit. E.E.A.T. goes much deeper than this. I’ll explain how in my next post in this series.
I am a professional freelance content marketer, with over 18 years of experience in creating all forms of content. If you have a content marketing project I might be able to help with, then please feel free to contact me through this site.