August 2018 saw a huge Google algorithm update. Termed the “Medic” update, many websites that present medical, diet, or fitness information saw a large decline in traffic.

SEO experts who track algorithm updates large and small believe this update tied back to an earlier one in February 2017, when websites that offer financial, legal, and medical advice were negatively impacted.

Websites that allow for the purchase of products or services were affected as well as Google views these as YMYL websites – aka “your money or your life.” Google presents this idea in its Quality Raters Guidelines, where it states that websites presenting legal, financial, or medical information can “potentially impact the future happiness, health or financial stability of users.”

YMYL sites were being held to a much higher standard in terms of expertise, authority, and trustworthiness – or what’s now referred to as E-A-T. If they didn’t meet these standards, their rankings were negatively impacted.

According to Google, a YMYL website needs to present information from credible and authoritative sources. A fitness company’s blog, for example, could potentially negatively impact users’ happiness and health – and even financial stability if the site was also selling fitness services or products.

What the E-A-T guidelines mean is that the fitness company can no longer write generic blog posts about fitness tips. Instead, the company needs to present information written by credible authorities, e.g. credentialed fitness trainers or medical professionals, in order to prove expertise and authoritativeness to users.

The onus is on YMYL sites to demonstrate products, services, advice, and even the company itself, can be trusted.

Google Guidelines

Google’s 160-page Quality Raters Guidelines document gives full details of the actual guidelines their human quality raters use to analyze websites. Google made these guidelines public to help businesses create better websites. Google quality raters don’t actively reward or demote websites. Instead, their findings are used by Google’s algorithms.

Within the document is the concept of E-A-T, which encompasses a website’s onsite and offsite reputation, the credibility and authoritativeness of its authors or creators, and even whether or not it’s clear who owns and manages the website (e.g. is there a Contact page?). For YMYL sites, including B2B e-commerce sites, lack of good E-A-T is a serious issue.

E-A-T and manufacturing websites

Whether or not you offer e-commerce or for-fee consulting or services, it’s imperative to view your site from the Quality Raters Guidelines perspective – especially with regard to E-A-T.

When Google changes its algorithm, it affects all websites – including those owned by smaller manufacturers where the information presented simply describes their services. What does this mean for you? Let’s break down each component.

Expertise stands for the credibleness of the company or author who created the content. For manufacturers, this is displayed via capabilities, FAQs, challenges solved, client list, company history and so on.

Especially important are management team bios which show the people behind the company and its products and services. Bios need to include people’s expertise, length of time at the company and within the industry, degrees, credentials, etc.

Authority stands for the accuracy of the content as well as outside metrics that support the company or content. One important aspect is a website’s off-site reputation, which is seen in press mentions or write ups, reviews, and even BBB ratings.

According to the Quality Rater Guidelines, if a website says one thing, but media mentions or third-party reviews says something completely different, Google tells its quality raters to believe the third-party sources.

For smaller manufacturers with limited media mentions or offsite reputation sources, onsite reputation is the key. Your website needs to show authority via testimonials, case studies, and other info.

Trust stands for the trustworthiness of the website and the company. Does it use https? Does it have an About page and a physical address as well as email and phone information?

For manufacturers offering e-commerce, Trust also includes having easily accessible payment and refund terms, and a privacy policy. It also means including your physical mailing address, phone number, and email so that people can easily contact you should they have a problem with their order.

Google wants it to be clear who is responsible for the website and the business. Having a verified Google My Business listing also helps. Ensuring your website includes these E-A-T factors will help with better rankings as well as inquiries – because what’s good for Google is good for your customers.