Putting the E(xperience) into E-E-A-T

Posted on: January 26, 2024


Neil Bates


You've probably heard of E-E-A-T by now, but working out how to enhance your website content to suit these guidelines is trickier. That extra E added to Google's Search Quality Rater Guidelines back in December 2022 has changed the game for the SEO community, requiring us to demonstrate Experience, know-how and first-hand knowledge on the topic we're writing about if we want to rank well in the SERPs.

E-E-A-T acts as a cornerstone in SEO content creation and we're going to take you through the basics before honing in on Experience. This will help you to really put the extra E into E-E-A-T, paving the way to stronger content and (hopefully) better search engine rankings.

What does E-E-A-T mean?

  • E-E-A-T stands for Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness. These are crucial components in content creation that establish your credibility by ensuring high-quality, authentic, and reliable content.
  • Leveraging E-E-A-T into an SEO content strategy involves highlighting your unique experiences, showcasing expertise, maintaining website authoritativeness, and developing trustworthy content that has been properly researched with the reader in mind.
  • Common E-E-A-T pitfalls include neglecting user experience and a lack of transparency regarding content ownership, which can decrease trust and authority. To prevent this, creators can prioritise user needs and clearly attribute information to enhance authenticity and credibility.

Now you're confident with the fundamentals of E-E-A-T, we want to focus on Experience and how you can demonstrate it to your users and Google Bots as part of your SEO strategy.

Plate with the google logo cake on it, with a slice taken out of it

Experience in E-E-A-T

"What does experience have to do with SEO?" we hear you ask... a lot, it turns out. Experience is the first element in the E-E-A-T acronym, but the last to be added. We all knew where we stood with E-A-T, and then of course Google had to shake things up for 2023 with a new key component as part of their Search Quality Rater Guidelines (a handbook used by contractors – employed by Google – to evaluate the quality of your pages for search results).

To satisfy the Experience part of the E-E-A-T framework, you need to demonstrate first-hand knowledge and involvement in the topic you are writing about. When content creators bring their personal experience and insights into their work, it adds a layer of authenticity and value that can’t be replicated by the latest generative AI software or a copywriter putting in half an hour's research.

A group of experienced tradespeople

The key to showcasing experience is to highlight your unique skills, credible achievements and personal insights in relevant content. Whether it’s case studies from a successful project, an award you’ve won in a relevant industry or years spent in the field, sharing these elements can make your content more engaging and truly demonstrate experience.

And let’s not forget: your unique experiences and insights can make your content more relatable and valuable to your audience, improving the chances of it showing up in search results.

Importantly, having such experience in a particular subject makes your content feel more authentic. It creates a real connection with the audience, builds a level of trust and demonstrates the author’s credibility.

This authenticity can create a step-change in your SEO content strategy too. It can assist you in meeting those E-E-A-T guidelines, which in turn should help improve your Google search rankings (although not directly a ranking factor, more a signal) and steal a march on your competitors.

What's the difference between Experience and Expertise in EEAT?

Experience and Expertise sound quite similar and have similar meanings in general discourse, but they're not the same thing, especially in SEO and of course E-E-A-T.

Experience in E-E-A-T refers to the practical knowledge or skills gained over time through direct involvement or exposure to something. It's about demonstrating that you've been there, done it (got the t-shirt) and now you're using your unique insights based on that lived experience to inform others.

Expertise, on the other hand, is about the depth of understanding that you can demonstrate in your subject matter. You need to really know your stuff, but this doesn't necessarily have to come from first-hand experience. This can come from formal education, professional training or self-guided study.

Put simply, Experience is what you've done; Expertise is what you know.

A short clip from oppenheimer with press flashing

Consider this example from one of the biggest films of 2023 - Oppenheimer. Two of the protagonists are J. Robert Oppenheimer (played by Cillian Murphy) and General Leslie Groves (played by Matt Damon) - one a scientist, one an army veteran - working together to build the first-ever nuclear bomb as part of the Manhattan Project.

Oppenheimer, as a theoretical physicist, had the expertise, having come up with the scientific research needed to make an atomic weapon possible. And Groves, the acclaimed Army leader, had the experience, having fought battles and led successful military projects beforehand.

Oppenheimer had all the theoretical knowledge that a scientific expert could possibly have, but without the practical first-hand experience of Groves, the project could not have succeeded. Similarly, Groves' extensive experience in warfare couldn't have led to the creation of an atomic bomb without Oppenheimer's scientific expertise.

That, in essence, is the difference between the two Es of E-E-A-T and why you need them both.

Why did Google add Experience to E-A-T?

The theory goes that Google decided to bring Experience into its quality rater guidelinesto help human content creators communicate with their users, somewhat protecting true content writers from the rise of generative AI and large language models like Chat-GPT and Bard.

By requiring writers to demonstrate experience of their chosen topic to create content that appears high in Google search rankings, Google is ensuring its users will always be served with the most reliable content ahead of any AI-generated content.

That's not to say there isn't a place for AI in content creation, but it must be used to merely assist in the process, rather than doing everything for you at the click of a button. At the end of the day, AI can’t possibly have the experience in a subject matter that a human being can, so the content created entirely by AI will always be inauthentic, often littered with errors and poorly ranked as a result.

The addition of Experience to Google's Search Quality Rater Guidelines is great news for content creators, you just need to know how to best showcase your experience to your users.

Demonstrating Experience in practice

Having unpacked Experience-E-A-T and shown how it's different to Expertise, we can now discuss some best practices for showcasing experience in your content creation.

No matter the purpose of your site, whether it's an eCommerce platform, a news website, a blog, a business site or anything else, there are several proven ways to improve the Experience element of your E-E-A-T strategy. But remember, SEO is never an exact science.

A woman trying on new running shoes

Describe your Experience

Readers want to hear information from an authoritative or trustworthy source who has experienced the subject themselves. If it's a product or a service on offer, they want to hear how it performs in real-life scenarios. Users will naturally trust an independent source with first-hand knowledge over a company with a vested interest.

Say you're a keen runner with a review blog creating content around the latest running shoe that a big brand is raving about. Take the shoe for a spin, spend time experiencing the product and assess whether the claims the brand makes about the shoe ring true to you.

Think about the previous shoes you have worn for miles upon miles. How is this one better? How is it worse? Add details personal to you, like how it suits your pronation, your foot shape or the type of terrain you like to run across. Mention the weather, how fit and strong you felt that day or if you were a little off pace. If you're into the aesthetic side, show how well the shoes complemented your running ensemble and what else you could wear them with. All of this combines to essentially say: "I was there."

Most of all, be honest. Whether the shoe is amazing, average or awful, tell everyone and tell them why, using your experience, not what a brand creative copywriter claims.

"About Us" content

We're not all bloggers. Often content creators are writing on behalf of a business, so the key here is to demonstrate the experience of the company. An effective way to do so is through thorough 'About Us' content. All business websites should have an 'About...', 'An Introduction To...' or 'A History Of...' section on their website. If you don't, it's high time to make one. If you do, can you make it better?

This section of your site should detail pretty much everything there is to know about your company. When and where it was founded, what services the company offers and what sets you apart from the competition. You should also note the key people within the organisation and the experience they have in the business and the sector and any plans for the future.

Just this information alone is not enough though, it simply forms the backbone of the content that should be on there. Go into as much detail as you can and incorporate information that a user couldn't find out about the business elsewhere.

You can include info on big successes for the business, but also maybe some tough times the company went through or some things that didn't quite work out as planned. Every business has its ups and downs, so why pretend that yours hasn't?

Past experiences aren't always positive and sometimes we learn more from bad experiences, helping us make improvements for the present and future. Adding the rough to the smooth creates authenticity and demonstrates that all-important experience we have been talking about.

Don't be afraid to roll up the blinds and let everyone have a peek inside your business. It's a good way to build trust with your customers and it's a good way to satisfy Google's desire for Experience.

Share real-world case studies

Case studies serve as a critical element of any business website.They provide potential customers with credible evidence of your services and demonstrate that all-important Experience for E-E-A-T.

These success stories can illustrate how your company addresses specific challenges, the strategies you employ to overcome them and the success you achieve as a result. This not only helps to build trust and credibility but also allows prospective clients to picture how they could also benefit from your services or products.

If you're working in B2B, try to include quotes and testimonies from clients to really enhance the trustworthiness of the case studies you're including, along with indisputable evidence of any results you're shouting about.

There's no doubt that case studies will significantly enhance the Experience element of any business' E-E-A-T strategy. They give  concrete evidence of your expertise and the positive impact of your work, hopefully strengthening your online presence and SEO performance.

Example case study for Imperial College

Author pages

Another fairly simple way to bring a business site into line with Google's Search Quality Rater Guidelines on Expertise is to introduce author pages into your site, especially if you employ any kind of blog or long-form content platform.

Users don't want to read a faceless blog post that could be written by anybody (or AI software), they want to see where this information is coming from and why the content creator knows what they're talking about. So tell them.

At the top or the bottom of any piece of content should be the author's name and photograph, linking through to their author page. On this page, there should be details of this author's experience in the field, including a quick bio and a list of previous jobs, articles and achievements, showing the reader why that information is credible.

You could choose to use Person Schema here to fully mark up the author pages for Google and really demonstrate the experience of the author.

Author pages are not a difficult addition to a site, but they show everybody that this content hasn't been written by a machine, it's been carefully put together by a person with a face and experience.

While we're here, please be sure to add published dates and updated dates close to the author's name as another really easy way to satisfy E-E-A-T guidelines.

Lady shrugging

What to do if you don't have experience

So the obvious question you might have is: "What do I do if I don't have any experience in the field I am creating content for?" This may seem like a bit of a quandary but it can be solved, you just need to enlist a little bit of help.

Everything there is to be experienced, has been experienced by someone, somewhere. You can find them, and get them involved in your own content too.

Consider industry experts - their first-hand experiences of certain topics and fields is a valuable commodity in modern-day content creation. They don't have to write the whole article, but having an experienced professional on board will add unique content that can only be shared as a result of experience.

Incorporating a few lines or quotes from somebody with demonstrable experience to back up what you are claiming is a surefire way to show users and Google that your content is to be trusted.

If you don't know a specialist who will do you a favour through a friend of a friend of a friend, perhaps you'll need to release a little of your budget to bring an industry expert on board. They might even agree to do it pro bono with a link back to their site as a little 'you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours' type of arrangement.

Either way, any investment like this is sure to be a good one, helping increase the topical authority of the page and overall authority of the content on your site through genuine experience.

This means you can put the E in E-E-A-T without having the experience yourself.

Summary and recap

In conclusion, E-E-A-T is an indispensable principle in the realm of SEO and content creation and Experience is a huge part of that. Understanding Google's emphasis on Experience, distinguishing it from Expertise and learning to showcase one's own unique experiences will allow content creators to improve the quality of their content, enhance their online reputation and aspire to those higher search rankings.

Ultimately, the journey to mastering E-E-A-T is a continuous process that requires constant learning, experimentation and improvement. And we know by now that Google likes to shake things up every now and then, but there can be no doubt that demonstrable experience is always going to be an essential part of high-quality content that should shine in the eyes of search engines.

So hopefully you can take away some of the tactics I have suggested here and employ them on your site to make sure your users and Google's search quality raters can truly recognise and appreciate your experience.

And finally...

After all this, you might be thinking, "what experience does this guy have to inform me about using experience for SEO content creation?" Well, fair enough...

Ey up! My name's Neil - great to meet you. I was born and bred in the East Midlands and have six years' industry experience in digital content creation, plus a further three years of many forms of writing for my BA English degree. I've recently joined The Digital Maze as SEO Account Manager and would be delighted to talk to you about your SEO needs.

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Neil Bates

SEO Account Manager

Ey up! My name’s Neil – great to meet you. I was born and bred in the East Midlands and have six years’ industry experience in digital content creation, plus a further three years of many forms of writing for my BA English degree. I’ve recently joined The Digital Maze as SEO Account Manager and would be delighted to talk to you about your SEO needs.

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