If you’re a small business owner, you’ve heard it over and over again: It’s important to convince Google your small business website is credible.

Unless you’re a search engine optimization (SEO) expert, you probably have more questions than answers. Questions like:

  • How do I get my website to rank higher on Google?
  • How do you get to the top of Google search results?
  • How do you increase your chances of showing up in search results?

You probably know following SEO best practices can help your company appear higher in the web search rankings…

…but have you applied that to your own business?

In this blog post you’ll learn how show expertise, authority, and trust on your small business website so that you can optimize it for your customers and the all-powerful Google.

Let’s dive right in.

What is E-A-T for SEO?

Over the last five years, Google has announced eleven updates to their algorithm.

In 2015, Google released their Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines, a 160-page document spelling out what they consider high quality search results. One of the insights shared was a focus on E-A-T. The acronym stands for “Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness.” In 2018, Google doubled down on E-A-T with their “Medic” update.

So, what do you need to know about E-A-T?

The first thing to keep in mind is Google’s priority is showing people useful, relevant, and credible search results. So, it’s important your website demonstrates expertise and authority.

One Reason Small Business Owners Should Optimize for Search Engines

Google claims its ranking algorithm takes roughly 200 different factors into consideration.

That’s a lot of factors to stay on top of.  But neglecting your website could harm your business. After all:

  • Nearly two-thirds of small businesses rely on their website to connect with customers
  • 71% of small business owners do their own digital marketing
  • 93% of online experiences start with a search engine

How do you get better rankings and traffic if your schedule’s packed already and you don’t have the time to handle SEO? One way is to publish content that demonstrates your expertise and authority.

If you don’t have a credible website, you run the risk of being penalized by Google.

Does Your Website Lack Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness? Here’s How to Fix That

Here are five ways you can make sure your website looks credible to search engines…and potential customers.

1. Make sure all claims made on your website fall in line with current thinking and best practice.

Besides the articles on your website Google has access to articles from academic and industry journals, government websites, and authorities on specific topics.

This means if the information on your website contradicts the latest thinking and best practices in your industry, you run the risk of being seen as less trustworthy by Google. If this happens, you could lose visibility in the search engine.

One area where business owners are particularly vulnerable is having outdated content like old blog posts. Information that may have been correct at the time of publication can become outdated as practices change.

That’s why you should update blog content regularly. To boost credibility, back up any claims made on your website by referencing authoritative sources like government websites or peer-reviewed journals.

If you outsource your blog content to a web content service then you should make sure that whoever is writing your content is a specialist writer in your industry, and even then you should always have an in-house editor who reviews all posts before they are published on your website.

2. Make your team’s credentials clear on your website

Google evaluates expertise by looking at your website as well as the people behind it.

For example, if someone is looking for information on local tax laws, Google wants to show content from accountants or lawmakers. When deciding which sites to rank Google looks for information about the people within an organization like their qualifications and credentials. 

Make your team’s credentials as easy to find as possible.

The best way to do this is to create a dedicated “Meet the Team” or “About Us” page on your website. Use that page to list everyone in your company and their credentials. This information should match your company’s LinkedIn page.

Credited articles on your site to the person most qualified to write on that topic. 

3. Get featured on authoritative websites in your industry

Google looks at your organization’s digital footprint as a whole when measuring the authoritativeness of your website. 

The more “digital evidence” that you have of your company and personnel being thought leaders in your industry, the more likely your website will rank for competitive terms.

A great place to start is getting your company mentioned on authoritative websites like industry organizations and professional associations.

If you or anyone in your company is a member of a professional association, has sponsored or spoken at an industry event, or has a relationship with an association with an online presence, contact those sites and see if you can get your company mentioned.

Getting your company featured in industry publications or local press (especially if they link back to your site) will help boost your website’s authoritativeness. 

4. Make sure your website has the “social signals” of being a business

Google favors websites that have “signals” of representing a brick-and-mortar business. This is particularly true in industries where brick-and-mortar businesses are still the norm.

These “signals” include:

  • Having a “Google My Business” page connected to your website
  • Having a “Contact us” page that contains your physical location
  • Having customer reviews
  • Having social pages with engagement
  • Being cited in the local press.

The more of these signals that you display, the less doubt there will be about the veracity of your organization and content in the eyes of search engines.

5. Observe the guidelines for “YMYL” pages

Google has defined what they call YMYL (Your Money or Your Life) pages.

According to a Google white paper, “For these “YMYL” pages, we assume that users expect us to operate with our strictest standards of trustworthiness and safety. As such, where our algorithms detect that a user’s query relates to a “YMYL” topic, we will give more weight in our ranking systems to factors like our understanding of the authoritativeness, expertise, or trustworthiness of the pages we present in response.”

Google considers it a YMYL page if your page includes content that can affect someone’s health, happiness, safety, or financial stability.

What about you?

Now that you know more about what Google is looking for when they evaluate websites, you can make any adjustments you need to improve your site.

Even small tweaks can help convince Google your small business website is credible and increase your chances of showing up in search results when customers look. 

For more small business advice check out some of our other posts here.