We’ve all educated ourselves on Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness (E-A-T). We’ve all debated whether it’s a ranking factor or if it’s not. And we’ve all struggled to determine whether a client is part of a Your Money or Your Life (YMYL) niche and whether we should pay attention to E-A-T when making content decisions. E-A-T should inspire local content creation and all content creation at every level, no matter how big or small our clients are.
E-A-T quickly shows us the type of considerations we should make when creating content, even if it doesn’t matter for checking off boxes for SEO best practices. It gives us a glimpse of the things that are important to Google and what they look for, but beyond that, it really shows us what we should find important when crafting content for our local clients.
Local content is critical for our clients to connect with their potential customers. Unfortunately, they often don’t have the brand recognition that customers instantly trust. They have to earn it. One of the only ways to do that online is with the content on a website, blog, Google Business Profile, and more. If that content isn’t enough to convince that person to pick up the phone or fill out a contact form, what else does a local client need to do to earn that trust?
Whether something is a ranking factor or not, we should encourage our clients to put their best foot forward in all they do online. Of course, the better the content, the easier it is to rank and promote. But more importantly, the better the content, the more trust is built between our clients and their potential customers — that is the true goal of what we’re trying to accomplish as digital marketers with local content.
What is E-A-T?
E-A-T, or Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness, is one part of how Google’s Search Quality Raters manually evaluate Google’s effectiveness in serving search results. E-A-T comes directly from the Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines:
One of Google’s big goals is to serve the most relevant result for a query. By encouraging E-A-T in niches that directly impact someone’s well-being, Google, in theory, is fulfilling this goal with accurate information that doesn’t cause harm to the searcher.
E-A-T is not a direct ranking factor. We’re not sure if, when, or how Google might try to leverage it as a ranking factor, or if they will at all. That honestly doesn’t matter, as digital marketers working with local businesses and brands, our focus needs to produce quality content.
The Current State of Local Content
As we discuss the current state of local content, ask yourself these questions:
- How long did it take you to write the last piece of content on a client’s website?
- How long did it take you to research that piece of content?
- Did you pick your client’s brain or ask for feedback on your content brief?
- Was your client excited about what you wrote?
The sad state of affairs for local content creation is that we’re not taking enough time to research topics, leverage our client’s expertise, and write quality content. With local clients, often, we’re limited by hours, budget, or even buy-in that high-quality content is essential for success—and not just for improving rankings.
Look at local location pages as an example. The majority of location pages out there are often duplicate, low-quality content. Many are thin and filled with fluff. Even more, pages are built upon one another using the skyscraper technique gone wrong. When was the last time you saw a local location page that made you go, “Wow! This IS awesome.”
Instead of that “wow” moment, you’ll often find this type of content created, optimized, and leveraged for businesses online:
Service pages are another example. How many have you seen recently that honestly say something new about a product or service your client offers? How many have you seen address their potential customer’s pain points that aren’t just a rewritten version of a competitor page or post? Service pages are a prime example of how to use your client’s expertise and trustworthiness as a business to convince their potential customer to pick up the phone.
Most of the time, our clients don’t know what quality content is because they don’t know better. They see how little their competition is doing and feel that’s all they have to do to rank. We usually get away with doing the bare minimum when producing a local content piece, optimizing it, and watching it rank pretty well with little effort. But is this in the best interest of our clients and ensuring they’re being showcased as an authority in their field? Absolutely not.
Why E-A-T Matters for Local Content Creation
The Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines give us examples of what qualifies as YMYL topics. It’s not about what your client does. It’s what they share and how they do it. We’re sure any of us could find examples with our clients where E-A-T should be considered for producing the best possible piece of content. Here are some situations that Google calls “high E-A-T” content, where they recommend bringing in a subject matter expert to ensure things are accurately presented when you land somewhere online:
Instead of simply doing the bare minimum, we should encourage one another to set our standards higher, not just for our client’s trust but also for Google’s. It’s right there. Even though it’s not a ranking factor, it doesn’t mean we can’t aim higher when creating content for clients — no matter the niche.
You Don’t Have to Create All the Content, Just the Right Content
We’ve all worked with a local client who has 25+ location pages, a service page for every location, and 100+ blog posts that aren’t doing anything but holding a site back. Many of those clients’ websites are a hot mess because the content is thin, duplicated, spun, or has any number of issues with quality that not just Google but their potential customers are turned off by.
We need to stop churning out content for every location, service, query, etc. because it’s easy to throw up anything. Instead, we need to focus on the right content that meets the client’s goals: For example:
- If a client wants to focus on a particular market, is a location landing page necessary for every suburb in that core market?
- Could you rank a single page for multiple locations because the search volume is so low Google understands that people searching in the neighboring suburb would also see the main city as a result?
- How much effort are you putting into research to determine the right piece of content for the client?
We need to do much more research into the nuance of location and service pages to ensure we’re not creating more work down the line of consolidating, removing, redirecting, or simply bringing down a whole website’s authority because of the amount of thin content spread throughout a domain.
Every piece of content created for a local client needs to be hyper-focused on driving meaningful results. Just because a page ranks for something easy because there’s little to no search volume doesn’t mean it’s driving conversion.
Use E-A-T to Update Good, Existing Content First
One of the easiest ways to improve the quality of content on a client’s website is to look at what’s already there before moving to new content creation. Thinking from the E-A-T perspective, ask yourself the following about a local client’s content:
What content on the website would benefit from being written from an expert perspective?
Suppose a client has blog posts discussing how-tos, do-it-yourself guides, or sharing information to educate. In that case, these are good candidates for working with the client to get more information and leveraging their expertise to boost the quality of the post in question.
- Ask your client their initial thoughts and ask specific questions during your content research phase.
- Ask them if they agree or disagree with particular points of the content.
- Ask for a quote to include or a personal story about the topic.
Asking your client questions directly in your deliverable or content brief is a quick way to point out what you need and why it’s relevant. Here’s an example of asking how a client is directly involved in an event through Google Docs:
These are ways to introduce expertise into existing content without relying on the client to write it themselves. You can weave in the feedback or rework parts of the content to make it more authoritative and trustworthy to the client’s audience.
What content on the website would benefit from being consolidated or merged into one page?
When it comes to sub-service pages or suburb location pages, these could be combined to capture the target keywords and create a more robust landing page for your client’s potential customers. Identifying low-performing location and sub-service pages is a quick opportunity to create a more fulfilling landing page for a service or area without re-inventing the wheel.
- Start with a list of location pages that are low-performing and determine if they border one another geographically.
- Do keyword research to determine how people are finding your client in those locations.
- Dive into the local SERPs to see what type of content is ranking and how Google understands the query intent. Suppose multiple locations show up for the same set of local queries, despite adding a city to the keyword. In that case, chances are you can merge the pages and rank for the entire area vs. having multiple suburb location pages.
The possibilities of how you use E-A-T to encourage local content improvements on a client’s website could be endless rabbit holes you go down.
As your clients get used to you picking their brains, they’ll also start looking at the content on their website differently and get excited about what it can do. They’ll also get excited to see how they can help during the process because instead of you simply writing it for them, they’ll feel like they’re part of the story process from start to finish.
Then Use E-A-T to Create Content That Leaves the Competition in the Dust
One of the most interesting tidbits to take away from YMYL niches is what Google says right here in its Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines:
Depending on how long your local client has been in business, they will have a wealth of knowledge at their fingertips to share with you and with their clients — no matter the niche they’re competing in.
Unfortunately, in most cases, it’s up to us to pull that information out of them with thoughtful questions, follow-ups, and prodding. The gold mine in creating new local content is creating blog posts for the top and middle of the funnel before guiding them to the bottom of it.
Here are some tips on getting quality content ideas inspired by E-A-T from your clients:
- Ask your client about the most challenging issues they’ve faced with their customers. Then, you’re looking for what your client did to resolve the issue to write about.
- Get a list of the most common questions a client’s customers ask them. You’re looking for the pain points those customers have to write about the solutions.
- Leverage People Also Ask queries for the services you’re targeting for a client. Go over what you discover and ask your client to pick out the interesting questions. Your clients will often have an anecdote or something interesting to share about that question which will make what you write more unique.
- Check Google Trends for rising ideas and see what people are starting to talk about to increase topic coverage. Then, ask your client what they think about the trends to see what industry knowledge they can share about why those topics are rising.
- Browse Reddit for related subreddits in your client’s niche. You’re not looking for professional-based ones. Instead, you’re looking for ones where potential customers might be asking questions, seeking advice, or looking for guidance on issues they’ve encountered for inspiration.
E-A-T Inspired Local Content Creates Lasting Opportunities for Clients
Creating local content doesn’t have to be boring or the same old, same old. It can be challenging and exciting. Consider E-A-T and what its goals are meant to accomplish when crafting new content or updating existing content on your client websites. While it is not a ranking factor, we can use what we know about why it matters to create better content for our local clients. That content could mean the difference between being seen, earning trust, and driving business to your clients for years to come.