Mention a Google algorithm update to a marketer in your association, and chances are, their immediate response will be fear. While these changes are often minor – according to Google – they can significantly impact content rankings and an organization's reach on the search platform. Their main aim, however, is to provide a better experience for Google users.
The E-A-T Guideline, in particular, has continued to impact search rankings and changed how we create content.
But what is it, how does Google use it and should it influence how purpose-driven organizations produce content? Read on to learn more.
Understanding the E-E-A-T Guidelines
Launched in 2014, Google’s E-A-T guideline “evaluates if our search ranking systems are providing helpful, relevant information.”
The criteria they use to evaluate if content fits the bill is whether it displays expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness. Google added another “E” to the mix in 2022 – experience – which assesses whether or not the content outlines first-hand information on the topic.
The point of it all? To serve up trustworthy content.
How Does Google Quantify Trustworthy Content?
So how does a search engine judge the content it’s finding on your association site? Here are some things to consider.
- Expertise – Google looks for content created by experts in their field. They evaluate the author's credentials, education, experience and other factors to determine whether they are qualified to write on a particular topic. For example, if someone with a medical degree writes a blog post about a health-related topic, Google is more likely to consider that “expert” content.
- Experience – In addition to technical expertise, Google is also looking to establish trust through first-hand experience. For example, if someone is giving a recommendation of your association’s credentialing program – content written by someone who earned it would have more credibility than someone who had never taken a course from your organization.
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- Authoritativeness – Outside of who’s writing for your association, Google also considers the authoritativeness of your actual website when ranking content. They look at the website's reputation and the quality and quantity of external links. For example, leverage your association’s research data and studies to generate backlinks from other blogs and authoritative websites. Finding these opportunities to collaborate can help increase traffic while also establishing your organization as the authority on a topic.
- Trustworthiness – Content must be trustworthy for it to be helpful to readers. In other words, it should be fact-checked and verified before being published online. Is it written objectively or biased? Does it provide a clear view of both sides of an issue? Content should be unbiased and honest, so readers feel confident in understanding what was presented. Additionally, any claims made must be backed up with evidence and references so that readers can trust the accuracy of the information.
It's important to note that E-E-A-T guidelines are not the only factor that Google uses to rank content, but they are increasingly important. This may be great news for associations and non-profit organizations.
What These Guidelines Mean for Associations and Non-Profits
Read any of the criteria above and think, “well, my association fits the bill perfectly.” We agree.
As associations look to build a content strategy, leveraging the advantage you already have should be a top priority. Not only will it help align with Google’s E-E-A-T principles, but it’ll also help grow your organization’s reach through organic search.
So how do you build content this way?
- Focus on Quality – Google evaluates the quality of content as a critical factor in determining E-E-A-T. Associations should focus on producing high-quality content that is relevant and useful to their members. From blog posts and infographics to videos and podcasts, the better the content, the more likely it’ll rank online.
- Highlight Organizational Expertise – Purpose-driven organizations have a clear advantage when it comes to expertise. Not only can they help establish rules and regulations, like in the case of standards associations, but your association members are also experts in their fields. So when you start producing content, make sure this authority is established. Whether your organization showcases the professional qualifications of guest authors, interviews top experts for articles or creates in-depth case studies, prioritize establishing authority.
- Encourage User Engagement – Google also considers user engagement signals, such as the click-through rate, bounce rate and time spent on a page when ranking content. If a user lands on your site and stays on the page for a significant amount of time, engaging with the content, it may consider that page a valuable and trustworthy source of information. For associations looking to increase engagement, consider adding a comment section to your blog, adding CTAs to make it easier for users to find additional content and always ensure your members know when you’ve added new content.
Let’s look at what this might look like in practice. Suppose a nonprofit organization focused on mental health wants to create content on managing anxiety. In that case, it can feature articles written by licensed mental health professionals or academic researchers, with clear citations to studies or research that support their claims. The nonprofit could also host webinars or Q&A sessions with experts to provide additional insights and demonstrate its expertise.
Understanding Your Association’s Authority in Search
As associations contend with engaging members, growing their audience and growing their reach, thinking like a marketer can have significant benefits. While many agencies and organizations struggle to establish the authority rewarded by Google’s E-E-A-T guidelines, associations have a built-in advantage.
Whether leveraging your members and staff to create authoritative content, spending the time to establish your expertise through studies, or building trustworthiness by earning backlinks to your content, prioritizing E-E-A-T can have a lasting impact on your organization’s content.