Google pays a great amount of attention to the websites it chooses to appear in search results. With thousands of domains competing for the same spots, Google must use various quality indicators to sort the best from the rest and provide its users with the best experience possible. However, Google cannot always rely on its algorithm to tell it what’s what.
Beside from crawling a page, semantically analysing it, and understanding its layout, Google also uses various external triggers to help it evaluate whether one page is “better” than the other.
This all happens underneath Google’s EEAT concept. So, what exactly is EEAT, and why does it matter for financial services? Allow us to explain.
What is EEAT?
In 2018, Google sanctioned a core algorithm update in an attempt to serve the best quality content in the search engine results to benefit the user.
At the end of 2022, Google updated EAT to add an additional ‘E’ – ‘experience’.
EEAT stands for experience, expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness. This framework is used by Google to identify whether a webpage is worthy of ranking higher than others in search engine results pages (SERPs).
EEAT is closely linked to another principle used by Google ‘Your Money Or Your Life’ (YMYL).
What is YMYL?
YMYL is a phrase used to describe a type of webpage. Webpages that fall under this category discuss subjects that are concerned with sensitive topics such as health, wellbeing and, crucially, finances. Therefore, you may hear of YMYL referred to as ‘Medic’.
EEAT is what’s used to determine whether these YMYL pages are worthy of being ranked.
EEAT in detail
To shed some more light on EEAT, let’s look at each letter in detail:
Experience: The first E in EEAT stands for ‘experience’. Experience was added into consideration towards the end of 2022 in a bid to incorporate more evidence-based, experiential factors into an author’s creation process.
Not to be confused with user experience, experience looks to identify whether the author has the necessary involvement with a process, service, or product to enable them to write about it.
Expertise: Next, Google must determine whether a person or brand has the right level of knowledge to talk about a given subject. Experts are seen as being a voice of reason among a field of other outlets, with them possessing a proven track record of skills and information.
Authoritativeness: Authoritativeness is all about reliability and reputation. Google instructs its quality indicators to conduct a brief background check on authors and websites to verify if they are a dependable source for information. Authority may look at what credentials are referenced within an author bio, or even how many reviews and testimonials a site has to its name.
Trustworthiness: If we think of EEAT as a holistic model, trustworthiness would sit in the middle of the Venn diagram as the most important factor. Trust mainly refers to how dependable a website is, looking at factors like accuracy, honesty, and safety.
Why does EEAT matter?
While Google has continually communicated that EEAT is not a ranking factor, websites that fall foul of EEAT guidance are considered lower quality, and therefore have a harder time ranking for competitive keywords.
These days, it takes much more than having a technically optimised website; to stand the test of time, a website has to offer unique insight that is dependable, without negatively impacting a person’s health, happiness, or wealth. This means that financial services brands, in particular, must work exceptionally harder with their content.
Ranking fluctuations due to EAT in August 2018 – SEMrush
The above graph shows the sheer impact that EAT had back when it was formalised in 2018. Of the 300 sites reviewed by SEMrush, 42% experienced ranking fluctuations due to the newly introduced principles.
EEAT and Consumer Duty: A common goal
In addition to the EEAT framework, financial services websites are also heavily regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority under its impending Consumer Duty standard.
Consumer Duty evaluates how brands within the financial services sector communicate with potential customers. Consumer Duty is necessary due to, as the FCA claims:
‘More financial decisions are now in consumers’ hands’ and it’s an ‘increasingly fast and complex, digital environment’.
Ultimately, Consumer Duty aims to increase the amount of trust there is within financial services – sound familiar? It’s clear that Google and the FCA share a common belief: your online communications need to be clear, accessible, put consumers first and engender trust.
EEAT in financial services: guidelines and best practice
So, we know that EEAT is an important obstacle for financial services brands to overcome, but how exactly is it done?
We recently audited 50 reputable websites within the financial services sector, evaluating them on their approach to EEAT. There were some strong examples, which have enabled us to collate a few guidelines:
For experience, your website needs to answer this simple question: are your authors experienced enough to talk about finance?
Your company might have loads of relevant experience, but if you can’t convey it properly, you’ll likely never reap the rewards. To do so, make sure your website meets the following criteria:
• Introduce author bios within blog content, including job titles, past experiences, social platforms, and accomplishments.
• Offer unique visual content that shows personal experience e.g. graphs, explainer infographics, real-life pictures or videos.
• Showing evidence of experience in content where relevant e.g. “when I previously encountered this problem, this is what I did”.
• Recommendations, opinions, and considerations for readers.
Here are some examples of author bios:
In financial services, your customers turn to you for knowledge and expertise. To get this across, your content should include:
• Detailed, thorough analysis which gives value to readers.
• Evidence of expertise in content where relevant e.g. “I’ve seen in the industry over the last decade how this thing became really important and is now less so, for this reason”.
• Both internal and external research with relevant referencing.
Authoritativeness is where you’ll demonstrate your ability to talk about a subject. Here, you must provide Google with various signals to indicate your high reputation and solidify your credentials. This can be accomplished both on and off your website:
• Feature authors with strong social followings and proven industry prominence.
• Use author and article schema to tell Google who the author is, and what type of page it’s looking at.
• Demonstrate topical authority with an extensive amount of high-quality articles around your industry.
• Acquire author features and mentions on other websites.
• Secure links to your blog content from authoritative third-party domains.
Just like in real life, trust is earned in many different ways. In the context of EEAT, this happens through three disciplines. To show Google how trustworthy your site is, you must satisfy the following:
• There are case studies and testimonials present.
• There are no errors and content is up to date, particularly on high-visibility pages.
• There are pictures of staff or real people on the website.
• There is no content which could be harmful or deceive people.
• The SSL certificate is enabled.
• There is a HTML sitemap present, with XML sitemap sent to Google.
• There are no 404 pages.
• There are no broken internal or external links.
• There are external links to content from authoritative/relevant domains.
Get ahead of EEAT principles
Understanding and complying with EEAT principles is crucial for success in the search landscape. Unfortunately, the process isn’t always clear, including various obstacles that can lead to fluctuating search rankings.
We at Balance specialise in helping financial services websites meet and improve their EEAT compliance and improve search rankings. Our services include auditing your existing approach, developing a tailored content marketing plan, securing high-quality backlinks through digital PR and devising a long-term digital strategy for success.
Contact us to learn more about how we can help your financial services website thrive in the competitive digital world.