I shared a post from Marie Haynes yesterday about what we are seeing following the massive Google algorithm update on August 1. She does a good job of digging into the data. The update is called the Medic update because it seems to have hit medical sites that hardest, or what those in the industry call YMYL sites. Your Money or Your Life. Google tends to look at medical or financial sites as the most important and will sometimes lead with them when doing algorithm adjustments based on quality, etc. However, much of this stuff rolls out across all sites eventually. Last year I did a series of talks on E.A.T and SEO, as that was a big theme coming out of the Seattle SMX Advanced in 2017. E.A.T. stands for Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness. Important concepts for Google in ranking. They just are working on how to quantify that and grade it with an algorithm. This update really hits hard on that even more.
W.H.E.A.T.S. and SEO
OK, so what is WHEATS and why is it important. I’m sure you gathered from the mention of EAT above, that WHEATS includes Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trust. The whole acronym is Website Has Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness, & Speed. With the speed updates and studies this year, which I have discussed in previous posts, Google has shown that speed is very important to ranking highly as well, as it is a big part of User Experience (UX), which Google deems the biggest ranking factor, though vague, as many of these other “factors” are that they share with us.
Google mentions these key things in their guide to the people they have manually review sites for search quality. These manual reviews are not part of the algorithm, but their input is used to test and tweak the algorithm, so it is obviously what Google is striving to do. While speed may be obvious and we are all trying to make our sites faster, the other pieces are a little more vague.
Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trust
These concepts are a bit vague, but Google’s guide goes into some specifics about what they mean. Obviously, “Content is King” in SEO, and your content should show your expertise and knowledge of the subject and should serve to help and inform and not just to sell. It is ok to sell your product or service, but Google wants content that helps and informs. If you use your content to show your expertise, it will sell you anyway.
The other pieces that feed into this include links, which have always shown to be the top individual ranking factor, but as I have been predicting since at least 2014, reviews are becoming another factor for establishing these metrics. Google specifically mentions to the manual reviewers to look at reviews on places like Yelp and the BBB, when considering whether a site is authoritative and trustworthy. Another metric growing in value appears to be mentions. Your brand and your actual writers on your site showing up as mentions on other authoritative sites. Getting your writers out there and working in the same industry and writing on an authoritative industry site can help their value on your own site. Local businesses being mentioned on community sites along with links, can help prove to Google that they are active in that community and reputable. Google is getting better and better at measuring these and weeding out what is fake and what is real, though many in local search would say they have a long way to go in policing reviews and business names withing Google My Business. That being said, it is becoming more and more important, and probably punishing the introvert, as getting your business out there and involved is becoming more and more important to online success.
It also may be more important for small businesses to add schema to their website than ever. I have always suggested it, but having organization and author schema to help Google understand who you are and connect you to these mentions is more important. If you can help Google connect the dots, you might as well do it. It is also probably more important than ever to tell Google (and your users) about important things you have done. Use your About page to link to mentions in major news stories or other highly trusted sites you may have appeared on. It is important to make that link.
Keep churning out great content and get it out there for people to see and enjoy. Make sure it helps your customers or clients or patients with information, and not just sales jargon. If they trust you, they will hire you.