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E-A-T: Using Structured Data to Market Yourself to the Machines

As SEOs, we spend a lot of time optimizing websites so that they’re technically sound. Most of our work involves technical enhancements that help to get web pages ranking high in the SERP so that we can get our websites in front of potential clients to sell them our products and services. Optimizing websites for search engines has meant ensuring a good site speed, writing great content, making sure your sitemaps are easily indexable, and having plenty of backlinks. Well, now we’re starting to think of this in a new context – E-A-T.

What is E-A-T?

E-A-T stands for Expertise, Authority, Trustworthiness. There’s no metric to measure E-A-T, the concept basically argues that when Google lists websites in the search results page, they want to offer the best information available on the web. Though E-A-T may not be a quantifiable metric that Google uses in its algorithm, they certainly rank for the qualities of expertise, domain authority and trustworthiness. They are trying to promote the best, most accurate content – and protect users from trash. So it’s not enough to have great content on a fast website, you need to back up the credentials of your organization and the authors of your content.

Now, more than ever, it’s important that your information isn’t just accurate to the topic it speaks to, but it is correct and qualified. There are ways we, as search marketers, can establish our authority that go beyond regular SEO enhancements, and one of those weapons in your search arsenal should be structured data.

What is structured data?

Structured data is a common computing language that basically organizes content and facts from your web pages in a consistent and organized way in the back end so that when your site is crawled for indexing, the information can be clearly communicated to the machines. Using a schema for structured data allows you to speak a common tongue when listing facts about your website, such as your address, phone number, the founder of your company. For example, the structured data for this page would basically read:

Hey! I am a blog post, written by Laurence Williams, posted on this date, this is my headline, this is my description, this is the information I am trying to convey.

How to use structured data to improve E-A-T

If you’re trying to be the authority on a certain topic, you need to prove your subject matter expertise. We need the machines to know who you are and why they should trust you. By using structured data to promote contributors to your website, we can demonstrate their credentials as well as point to other profiles that demonstrate who that person is and their skill set: a personal website, their LinkedIn, any professional profiles they may have. (Or, the greatest authority, Wikipedia). When we explain who we are in this way, we tell the machines that the two profiles are about the same person so there is a consensus about who you are and what your expertise is. We remove the ambiguity.

We’re at the point when we’re promoting ourselves to the machines. We’re establishing and defining our authority, proving to the machines our credibility, our E-A-T.

Your contributors should build their brand as experts in their field. When we generate backlinks, we should borrow the credibility of other journals or publications in the field to build your reputation by association. However, don’t overlook other aspects of SEO; structured data and E-A-T don’t make up for technical flaws on your website. Rather, think of E-A-T as the new philosophy that should guide your SEO.