Google's Rater Guidelines say that the creator of the website should be authoritative in the website niche. For example, if I were to start my blog about Search Engine Optimization (SEO), how can I improve my authoritativeness as the creator of the website so that Google knows that this guy is trustworthy to write about SEO
Guest Author on popular blogs?
Okay… first off… that's not what the Quick Response Graphic (QRG) says. In fact (and I just double checked) the word "authority" only appears in that document exactly one time. It appears in a "bad example" table saying that the page has "no evidence of medical expertise/authority." Beyond that… the word is simply not in the document.
I've talked about this a couple of times recently, but it's important so I'm going to break it down again – for you and anyone else who reads this.
The "A" in E-A-T stands for "Authoritativeness" – and either "Authoritative" or "Authoritativeness" appears in the GRG 55 times. This is an incredibly important distinction to keep clear in your mind when thinking about these concepts and how you might apply them to SEO – especially since E-A-T doesn't have a direct correlation to ranking – it's simply a means by which humans can evaluate the sum of what the algo is trying to do in a much more complicated and computery way.
Authority is something you are "given" – it's not something you can demonstrate or really even build up. Authoritativeness is something you demonstrate – even in the absence of any real authority.
Think of it like this:
A police officer has "authority" that is given to them by the government in one way or another. They don't have to do anything but pass a test and the Sheriff or whomever swears them in and "poof" – they have been given authority to pull you over, arrest you, and all that kind of fun stuff.
Authoritativeness, on the other hand, is something you demonstrate. Whether you have any real authority or not, you can be authoritative.
In Mayberry (The Andy Griffith Show), if a bunch of kids were playing in the mud and Sheriff Andy told the kids to stop it, they would stop. Andy carried himself in an authoritative way and was bolstered by the authority given to him.
On the other hand, when Deputy Barney Fife (Don Knotts) would tell the kids to stop playing in the mud, they'd laugh and run away – often tossing a lump of mud in Barney's direction as they scurried away. Barney had plenty of authority to tell them to stop, but he was a baffoon and simply didn't act with any authoritativeness.
Now, if Aunt Bea were passing by, she had no real authority to tell the kids to play in the mud – but if she told them to knock it off, the kids would stop, apologize, and turn to go about their day. Again… she had no authority, but she would act with authoritativeness that people would respect, admire, and appreciate.
And so that's the thing here… with Google there is not really anything page-wise or site-wise that represents "authority." (Trust/Trustworthiness are things, but that's a whole new can of worms). You don't "build" authority with Google – all it's looking to see is if you are creating content with authoritative value.
You need to show that you are either Andy (someone who acts authoritatively AND has some real authority on the subject) or Aunt Bea (someone with no real authority but who demonstrates authoritativeness). And of course, you want to avoid being Barney at all costs.
That's it. Really. It's that simple (which is why I have so much trouble believing our industry has this whole concept so screwed up).
Thank you for explaining it so authoritatively. Appreciate it.
But I still do not understand how you would have/build that authoritativeness given you are a new player?
Chauhan do your homework about competitor research, analyzing competitor strength and weakness, etc.
You're basically starting at 101 level of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and competing in a business. So maybe what you really need is to just go back to the starting line and research all these fundamental things about how to compete in business.
The problem with people just starting out with SEO is that they think that all they need is a formula do this do that do this and then you have success. No that's not how it works. You really need to understand the fundamentals of competition of supply and demand all of these things.
So quit running in this race, go back to the starting line and maybe first start out with getting a definition of what authoritative means. Then read some books or something about business competition strategy read some biographies of like some successful people and what they did to achieve success..
What you're asking is for practically a lifetimes worth of knowledge in a Facebook post. That's not going to happen. There's no five easy steps to becoming an authoritative. There's no oh do this silo do this skyscraper make your content 10 times better than your competitor and that'll solve all your problems, no it doesn't work that way. Those are just misleading tactics, formulas.
You don't "build" it – you demonstrate it.
Use the right jargon and write clearly so that humans and the algo Natural Language Processing (NLP) extractions can figure out what you're talking about – and make sure those things make sense. If you start spewing out numbers or data or something – cite the source of those numbers. Don't make crazy claims – connect the dots between points.
Take a look at the Quick Response Graphic (QRG) again and read through that E-A-T section. When you read it with an understanding that they're not looking for you to "be an authority" but to determine whether or not you are acting authoritatively – the clues and things in there will make a lot more sense too. Trust me – read the guidelines again with what what I said, above, in mind. It will be like you're reading a completely different book.
Chauhan ✍️ » Truslow
I already see the perspective you are talking about. Thanks for the correction. 🙂
Chauhan ✍️ » Montti
I was actually using that example to make my question clear. Not thinking about getting into business.
Reason for me digging is itself the proof I want my fundamentals to be clear and not just follow the "actionable SEO techniques". Just the lack of mentorship in SEO makes it a bit hard. Eventually will be there.
Appreciate your response. Thank you.
Montti » Chauhan
Well, when you create a website, that's a business. In business, in general, there's a five year window a serious business tries to plan for in terms of making some wind to support their wings. So when creating a website, you create for yourself a five year plan for taking over a niche, and really stick to it.
Start with easy ranking goals then build increasingly harder goals. Hammer that content, make it excellent and remember that content is not just text. Just hammer it to be as best for your audience and just crank that out, hard.
I know a woman who started from zero, new to a niche and she built a huge site after a few years that blew away competitors who'd been in the space for years. She blew them away because, 1. she was an expert in the topic and 2. she was putting 200% into every article, into the look of the site, into link building every day. After a few years she was making scores of thousands of dollars every month, enough so she could appoint a Chief Executive Officer (CEO), hire content writers and editors and go live on the beach.
Chauhan ✍️ » Montti
Lovely and inspiring 🙂 I know its a long shot, but can you disclose who she is?
Montti » Chauhan
Nope. She's a friend I have known for many years, almost 20 years. She started out as a Pay Per Click (PPC) expert working for others, then solo then she took what she knew about conversions and content and killed it.
Jenni » Truslow
Backlinks represent authority. That's literally the whole premise of why Google was different to other search engines, that it was created with an emphasis on sites referencing each other resulting in authority in the same way university paper citations signpost which are most important.
Truslow 🎓 » Jenni
I agree – that's correct. But when we're talking about E-A-T, we're not talking about that kind of authority. It's not a sitewide thing, it's not a value you can "build" for yourself or any other entity besides a single "web page" (which can then pass some of that along to another web page).
Michae » Truslow
Personally (and not arguing against your discourse), I hire subject matter experts to create content. Not for Google, but for me and the readers. Anything less, and I would feel fraudulent.
And it probably helps at some margin with organic links having those credentials listed in the author blocks.
That being said, not every subject matter expert can write worth a shit, so it makes it quite a bit harder to select those who can and are willing to do so at a reasonable price ($20-30 an hour is what we pay, more at a PhD level for occasional pieces).
We were doing this before Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness (EAT) was a thing.
Truslow 🎓 » Michae
Yep. We are in this situation a lot too. We have a few house writers who are well versed in many things – but can't know them all. We'll often have experts (often people from the company we're working with) create outlines or even "near ready" content – which our writer can then turn into prose that's good to read, hits semantic triples for Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and passes the quality tests. The expert's name still goes on the content and our writer is basically just a ghost writer.
And it definitely helps (in certain fields anyway) if the one with the by-line has some alphabet soup that comes after their name. No doubt.
Marvin » Truslow
This is a good take. However, I think you might be arguing semantics here as most people who say "authority" does mean authoritativeness. Gordon Ramsay doesn't actually have any authority on cooking outside of his kitchen, but he is seen as an authority on it and he speaks with authoritativeness about it.
It also seems to me that authoritativeness is demonstrated via entity recognition (with regards to the company/organisation) and backlinks, from Google:
"particularly for topics like health, or in times of crisis. But in these areas, we also develop features to make information from authoritative organizations like local governments, health agencies and elections commissions available directly on Search."
That indicates to me that they have a database of "authoritative" entities which makes sense, such as the CDC, government, Universities etc. That pertains more to the actual authority which you mentioned as I don't think Google sees an Alex Jones site as an authority source despite how many links his site gets.
Then there is this:
"To do this, they identify signals that can help determine which content demonstrates expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness.
For example, one of several factors we use to help determine this is understanding if other prominent websites link or refer to the content. This has often proven to be a good sign that the information is well trusted. Aggregated feedback from our Search quality evaluation process is used to further refine how our systems discern the quality of information.
Content on the web and the broader information ecosystem is constantly changing, and we continuously measure and assess the quality of our systems to ensure that we're achieving the right balance of information relevance and authoritativeness to maintain your trust in the results you see."
In the context of those paragraphs, I would say that "authoritativeness" is somewhat of an external factor because if they are constantly trying to find the balance between "relevance" vs "authoritativeness" and relevance is mostly* dictated by the Onpage, then by that balancing act, the authoritativeness probably comes from offsite. Either because it has been cited enough times thus it is seen as being authoritative on the subject or it is an actual authority per their database (it's Harvard). And SEO users have long hypothesized that Google is constantly tweaking to balance out Links vs Content relevance.
You are using the guidelines wrong.
Those guidelines are recommended by Google to be used as a way to objectively judge your own website using the guidelines.
It is not a guide to how to build a site that ranks better.
Hmmm..but they say the website should have a reputation (which essentiatlly means links in a sophisticated way). This leads me to think, what Google has in mind. So keeping points from the guidelines before building the site and planning ahead shouldn't be a bad idea. Correct me if I am wrong.
Montti » Chauhan
The guidelines are there for judging the QUALITY of an existing site. That has just a little do with factors that make a site POPULAR with users.
What made Zappos popular?
What makes the PMs of Pakistan/India popular?
What made Harry Potter movies popular?
POPULARITY is super important and the QRG says absolutely nothing about that. So put that QRG thing down and focus on popularity and user satisfaction.
Truslow 🎓 » Montti
Forgetting quality and focusing only on popularity works once you've managed to break that quality threshold that has so many sites locked into that "crawled not indexed" thing going on.
While I agree in the idea that popularity is important – very important… I'm not sure I agree that it should come at the cost of creating and being able to adequately demonstrate quality – both to the humans and the machines.
Montti » Truslow
I am NOT advocating forgetting quality. 🙂
In another post I recommended to focus content on being EXCELLENT (it's in another post in this discussion) and on user satisfaction. So I get where you're coming from, but that post is part of a larger dialogue.
The POINT is that following the QUALITY Raters Guidelines will only get you to Quality but quality is not enough. You need both quality and popularity, and the QRG will NOT get you to both.
Make sense? 😏
Kristine » Chauhan
Basically the Quality Raters Guide is meant for Quality Raters to evaluate tweaks that Google has done to its algorithms.
So Google is using core algorithms to try to make sites surface that are like that but they don't look at the items in the Quality Raters Guide to rank the site.
Like they don't look at your author's expertise to decide whether to rank a page.
So you need to have quality on a site but don't follow the Quality Raters Guide to decide what that is … and then you need to be popular … which does involve link values.
So stick to just good old SEO which is excellent quality content that matches user intent, good technical including schema, good site structure, good internal linking, and links into your site.
Put down the Quality Raters Guide cuz you'll waste a lot of time and money trying to follow things in there that have no relevance to ranking a web page.
Though it's fine to use it as a general guide.
As someone who ranks #1 nationally for the keyword "Loan calculator" with a DR0 (zero) website with basically no links at all, I can tell you that the people behind the website are one of the most important aspects of ranking Your Money or Your Life (YMYL) websites.
You are happy to talk about showbusiness with a stranger on the street, but you are less likely to take investing advice from the same person.
In fact, you will take the advice, but only if you immediately recognize that it is that guy from TV who runs that financial show you're familiar with.
The same applies to the website. It's an empty shell until connected to trustworthy people. Not websites, people. Links are too easily manipulated so their importance in this is minor, if you can PROVE a website is genuine in terms of each of the three E-A-T letters, plus the User Experience (UX)
My other website has DR15 and for the past 5 to 6 years no bank had chance to get anywhere close to ranking top-converting financial keywords. Same is happening in health, on a 40M people market. Links are totally overrated and useless in YMYL
One of my websites has an article with over 1.000 comments. That article ranks number two for three consecutive years for the financially most valuable keyword in the country. (It cannot rank number one because that belongs to the actual institution this keyword is about, but I have much more Search Engine Result Page (SERP) real-estate so it is just as ranking number one). The Ahrefs Domain Rating (DR) and the PR of that page is a joke. But people know that the PERSON answering those questions is THE number one authority on the topic.
In answering your question, yes, use all that. Have a great author page linked from the articles, have a good public part of the LinkedIn profile, invest in Public Relations (PR) as much as you can. Don't mind Google; make sure people recognize the author as the true authority. Turn it into a star if you can.
I have yet to see a website with 0 backlinks ranking no.1 for any competitive keyword. Kang also has a long-standing challenge with a prize if anyone can find an example of it. So if you do have an example of one, especially "loan calculator", I'd love to see it. I just checked all English speaking countries and all of the top 10 are DR60+.
Mišo » Marvin
Here is the simulation of searching the keyword "Loan calculator" in Croatian language, from Croatia:
The websites ranking below are Erste bank, National bank (HBOR), Raiffeisen, Unicredito (Zaba) etc. All the huge players have thousands of linking domains. I have 18 backlinks, all domain checkers and spammy generated pages. Plus one forum comment… DR0.
Still the website ranks #1.
Competition is crawling it like crazy, scratching their heads how is that possible. And nobody wants to actually work hard to get there without generating false signals…
With all due respect, I don't think that is ranking top for any of the reasons that you mentioned above (perhaps partly at best). It's ranking top because of the exact match domain and low competition. The competition is far lower in Croatia with the number 4 site having only 5 links.
I'm of the belief that pages are ranked individually, there is no such thing as "Ahrefs Domain Rating (DR)". However, a high DR is an indicator of how many high Pagerank (PR) pages you have on your site and the PageRank from those pages are often directly or indirectly leveraged towards a target page on your site, but that may not always be the case.
So taking all things into account, you basically have an exact match domain (and the only one with Exact Match Domain (EMD)). And because you're the only one with that domain, brand name etc, it's possible that Google has even associated that query with your brand as an entity. They think that query is a branch search, and of course your brand comes out top. The number 4 site has 5 links, the number 3 site has 0 UR. The reason is most definitely not because you've demonstrated the most expertise, trust or authority on this subject.
That isn't to donwplay what you did, but that is far different from ranking for "loan calculator" in USA for example where the average Referring Domains (RD) to the page is 400+ and the minimum is 87.
Mišo » Marvin
That particular website is the only one I can discuss publicly. I have very similar results in Your Money or Your Life (YMYL) in Canada, US and EU, both in finance and health.
The various Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness (EAT) things I was mentioning were mostly about the other websites I mentioned. Not the Loan calculator one.
The calculator website is not one I am talking about when it comes to author expertise, because there is no author or brand or anything else on it. It ranks partly due to the EMD and that is true, as I stated in one of the previous threads. This particular website was mentioned just to stress out that there are various ways to achieve top results, and links are not always the key. It ranked nowhere and as it gained popularity it ranked #1 over the years.
I am fully aware of the fact that ranking nationally is not the same as ranking internationally or in the bigger market, but Google algorithms work the same everywhere and number 4 has DR53 and number 3 is DR57. All big competitive websites. This time it is an EMD, but other times it is something else at play. There are enough long-term strategies to utilize that do not involve spending time building links.
I also have a DR15 website that easily ranks for all top-converting financial keywords against heavy competition, and a DR23 website that practically holds all health keywords in a country of 40M.
My final point is that this approach is a good choice for businesses that want long-term growth and stability for themselves, and they align their strategy with online as well. Algorithm updates either don't touch them or reward them. It has been like this for almost a decade, and there is nothing to change.
On the other end, if I had to rank for a trendy product such as the Fidget Spinner, I'd black-hat the hell out of it, because that would be the appropriate strategy for that particular project. 🙂
Marvin » Mišo
I agree that links aren't always the answer, there's plenty of cases where the top ranking pages have minimal links relative to the competition but are ranking simply because they are exactly what the user want.
I've seen plenty of those examples over the years, they're usually tools such as the loan calculator above e.g, word comparison tool, tarot reading online etc. there were much larger websites but the single page site that did exactly what it says on the tin won. My hypothesis at the time was that they were ranking due to User Satisfaction, probably with Click Through Rate (CTR) too as when people look for "loan kalulator" and you're called "loan-kalkulator.hr", you are much more likely to get clicked even more than the pages above you.
As for the other bank sites and the DR. It really depends on how they're leveraging that DR or more specifically, the other pages on their site, to rank their loan kalkulator page. Going by backlinks to URL alone, they're in the same ballpark as your URL.
And yes, whilst the algorithm is the same worldwide, the dataset they have been trained on are completely different so their understanding of the words and entities in that language is different. I remember in some locations, where Google thought "man and van [location]" is a brand search because so many websites were calling themselves "man and van [location]". In that instance, based on the feedback from the dataset at the time, they thought it was a brand search rather than sentence. If you create a site with gibberish Klingon language brand name and then go on to search for that word, Google might treat is a brand search unless they have enough dataset to think otherwise (that word consistently being used on other documents contextually so that they have a better understanding of it). Comparing Croatian language to Klingon language in terms of Google's data on it is obviously a huge stretch but my point is, how sophisticated Google's understanding of words and entities can differ between languages.
Also agree with being able to rank with much weaker domain with great content. I had a 7 month old site ranking top in the US for data engineering and data science, with about Ahrefs Domain Rating (DR) whilst the rest of the competition was at Ahrefs Domain Rating (DR)+ or so. It could have been the quality of the content, the focus of the niche, quality of the links, who knows, it does happen. But I have never seen it done in the US or UK without any links, you can get far without links but for a competitive keyword, most of the competition should have their on-site done correctly and if nobody is linking to your content, how great is it really?
Mišo » Marvin
Thanks! I cannot answer properly right now, but just to clarify that I'm not talking about ranking without links. I'm talking doing it without (active) link building. Links are inevitably coming if other important aspect are in place. 🙂
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