More threads by djbaxter


Jun 28, 2012
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Google's John Mueller is Asked About Links and E-A-T
by Roger Montti, Search Engine Journal
August 26, 2019

Google’s John Mueller was asked about the value of inbound links for establishing a website’s Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness (E-A-T). E-A-T has been encouraged by Googlers as something web publishers should cultivate. Could links be a way to demonstrate to Google that a site is expert, authoritative and trustworthy? ....

There are two problems with E-A-T authorship signals.
  1. It is easy to invent that an author is an expert (such as a doctor).
  2. There are no patents or research papers that specifically outline an algorithm that searches for on-page authentication of the authority and expertise of an article author.
The first point exposes how open to manipulation on-page author credibility signals are.
The second point shows there is close to zero likelihood that such a ranking factor exists because no university or search engine has undertake to study such an unreliable on-page ranking factor as on-page ranking credentials.
Here is the question:
“With E-A-T, how much value do external links carry? Surely providing that you’re an expert on page is not sufficient.

What else matters? Mentions or external links from relevant sites?”
It’s a reasonable question. If on-page factors are unreliable, that must point to off-page factors such as links or mentions as factors that could vouch for a web page’s expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness.

Links have traditionally filled that role in Google’s algorithm.

Google’s John Mueller answered:
“We don’t have any explicit information with regards to what you need to do there.”
There’s no need to read between the lines. It means that John declines to answer the question. He didn’t say yes and he didn’t say no. He refused to answer the question. ....

John continued his answer, providing useful information that confirms that seemed to confirm that SEO practices such as on-page author signals are not direct ranking factors.

This is what John Mueller said:
“A lot of this comes from the Google Raters Guidelines which are not direct search results or search ranking factors.”

"But rather this is what we give folks when they evaluate the quality of our search results.”

That’s an explanation of how the concept of E-A-T is specific to rating search results but is not related to the search results themselves or search ranking factors.

I saw this the other day, and I'm still not 100% on what to think about it. I think EAT is a ranking factor, but more as a concept than a tangible thing (or list of things) that can be implemented or manipulated. There are things you can do as an SEO on page that will point the user in the right direction to find the evidence that the site author is a trusted expert in their field, and that's where linking would come in. But you have absolutely no control over whether or not that expert is going to do what they need to do on their end to earn that status, or make sure it's translated into the online space where it can send those positive signals (like mentions, links, chatter, etc).

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