Google’s E-E-A-T update redefines what a credible website should be. Act now to optimize your SEO and stay ahead of evolving search engine algorithms.
E-E-A-T, which stands for Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness, is a game-changer when it comes to content and website best practices. Navigating this new landscape is both a challenge and an opportunity for businesses like yours.
To seize this opportunity, you must understand and integrate E-E-A-T into your SEO strategy.
In this deep-dive, we’ll explore the ins and outs of the E-E-A-T update, how it affects Google’s SEO guidelines, and its specific implications for Your Money or Your Life (YMYL) sites.
We’ll also provide a comprehensive guide on how to align your website with E-E-A-T benchmarks by showcasing your industry knowledge, creating user-focused content, acquiring high-quality backlinks, and embracing transparency.
Don’t fall behind the curve while competitors move forward. Learn how to keep your website relevant by embracing Google’s E-E-A-T update.
- E-A-T versus E-E-A-T: What Is Google’s E-E-A-T Update and How Does It Affect My Website?
- The 4 Levels of E-E-A-T
- Impact of the E-E-A-T Google Update on YMYL Websites
- 10 Key Steps to Optimize Your Website for Google’s E-E-A-T Update
- Frequently Asked Questions
E-A-T versus E-E-A-T: What Is Google’s E-E-A-T Update and How Does It Affect My Website?
In the ever-changing world of the web, the spotlight on your online content often comes down to the whims of Google’s search algorithm. This tech giant, which rules the global search engine realm, uses complex factors to decide who gets the gold—those coveted top spots in search results.
In December 2022, Google significantly changed its E-A-T concept, now known as Expertise, Experience, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness or E-E-A-T, in its Search Quality Rater Guidelines update.
Here’s what happened. The old E-A-T, which stood for Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness, gained an extra ‘E’ in 2022, standing for Experience. This addition highlights the importance of content creators sharing their personal experiences, especially when it comes to ‘Your Money or Your Life’ (YMYL) topics.
So, What Exactly is E-E-A-T?
E-E-A-T stands for Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness. These pillars shape Google’s algorithm to favour websites that excel in these areas, ensuring the most relevant and helpful search results.
Here, ‘Experience’ means practical knowledge of a subject. This could be anything from personal stories to hands-on involvement with a product or service or unique insights into a particular topic.
Why Does the E-E-A-T Update Matter?
It’s all about ensuring that Google users receive accurate, impactful content. By aligning your website with E-E-A-T benchmarks, you increase your chances of appearing in Google’s search results, attracting more organic traffic and potential customers.
E-E-A-T also plays a big part in establishing trust. You’ll inspire confidence and stand out from the competition by showcasing expertise, delivering authoritative content, and building trust through things like reviews, testimonials, and secure payment options.
As Google continues to fight misinformation and subpar content online, E-E-A-T is a powerful tool for ensuring users get accurate, reliable, and up-to-date information.
Businesses that prioritize E-E-A-T in their SEO and content strategies are more likely to be seen as credible information sources and thus get more free traffic from Google.
Now that we’ve covered the basics of Google’s massive E-E-A-T update, let’s dive deeper into each component—Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness—and explore how they shape Google’s SEO guidelines and impact your website’s performance.
The addition of ‘Experience’ in Google’s E-E-A-T update shows a clear commitment to boosting the quality and relevance of content in search results.
Experience is all about firsthand encounters or practical knowledge related to the topic at hand, bringing a unique, personally-informed perspective.
When incorporating experience into your content, personal anecdotes or case studies involving your product or service usage highlight your unique viewpoint and enhance credibility. Sharing your experiences makes everything more relatable and engaging to readers.
The E-E-A-T update becomes particularly significant when dealing with YMYL (Your Money or Your Life) topics. In these cases, firsthand experience provides an assurance of authenticity, such as financial advice from someone with proven experience in the sector.
However, it’s important to note that while sharing your experiences, the information must still be factual, current, and supported by credible data.
Experience should complement, not replace, thorough research and fact-checking.
The next pillar of the E-E-A-T framework is ‘Expertise.’
Expertise refers to your depth of knowledge in a specific field. It means your content is not just accurate and reliable but full of detailed insights, going beyond the basics to cover the complexities of the topic.
There are various ways to demonstrate your expertise. You can showcase your formal education, professional credentials, or awards.
But expertise isn’t only about official qualifications. It can come from years of experience in a specific field, involvement in professional bodies, or authorship of thought leadership pieces or books.
When it comes to YMYL topics, expertise is a must. Google expects such content to come from individuals with relevant qualifications or credentials, such as health advice from healthcare professionals. However, it’s important to remember that content should be fact-checked, current, backed by reputable sources, and presented in an understandable and accessible manner.
Expertise, along with the right experience, can dramatically improve the quality and trustworthiness of your content.
The third pillar of Google’s E-E-A-T framework is ‘Authoritativeness.’
Authoritativeness focuses on how well-recognized you or your brand are as experts or thought leaders in your field. Building authoritativeness is a long-term commitment that requires consistently delivering high-quality, reliable content over time.
One of the key indicators of authoritativeness is the presence of high-quality backlinks from other reputable websites. These backlinks signal to Google that others trust and cite your content, boosting your authority in search rankings.
Additionally, mentions or recognition from respected institutions, as well as endorsements or testimonials from experts or influencers, can enhance your authoritativeness.
Engaging with your audience through comments, feedback, and active discussions strengthens your authority. It demonstrates that users value your content and can further validate your expertise.
Your authority can also be demonstrated through your social media presence, with large follower bases or high engagement rates.
But it’s essential to balance authority, expertise, and trustworthiness. High authority without the necessary expertise or trust can lead to misinformation or reduced credibility.
It’s essential to ensure that your content remains accurate, reliable, and supported by reputable sources while showcasing your authority.
The final element in Google’s E-E-A-T guidelines is ‘Trustworthiness.’
Trustworthiness refers to the reliability and dependability of your content, both from a user’s perspective and in the eyes of Google’s algorithms. It forms the foundation of your E-E-A-T score and provides assurance to users that they can engage with and act on your content with confidence.
Credible sources are essential for establishing trustworthiness. Your website content is more trustworthy when it contains references or citations that validate it and is regularly updated with new information.
Website security is another important aspect of trustworthiness. A secure (‘https’) website protects user data and offers a safe browsing experience.
User experience is also a factor in building trust. A user-friendly, responsive website with a clear layout and fast load times can increase trust, as can prompt customer service responses.
Together with expertise, experience, and authoritativeness, trustworthiness completes the E-E-A-T framework, underpinning Google’s approach to assessing the quality of web content.
In the next section, we’ll explore the four levels of E-E-A-T and discuss what it takes to climb the E-E-A-T update ladder and achieve better SEO rankings.
The 4 Levels of E-E-A-T
Google’s E-E-A-T is not a one-size-fits-all metric. Google’s Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines describe E-E-A-T as a spectrum with four distinct levels. Understanding these levels can help you gauge where your website stands and what you need to do to climb the E-E-A-T ladder.
1. Lowest E-E-A-T
At the bottom of the E-E-A-T spectrum, we find spammy websites that provide a poor user experience.
These sites often lack substantial and reliable information, feature unclear main content, engage in harmful practices or scams, and employ manipulative tactics.
As a result, they struggle to inspire trust and fail to meet users’ search needs effectively.
2. Lacking E-E-A-T
Even decent websites can sometimes need to catch up in certain aspects of E-E-A-T, highlighting the importance of maintaining topical relevance to build a solid E-E-A-T foundation.
Websites at this level may fail to fully serve their intended topic or purpose, regardless of having a good reputation or other positive factors. Examples include:
- The content creator needs more substantial experience, for example, a restaurant review penned by an individual who has never dined at the establishment.
- The content lacks the necessary expertise, such as an article on skydiving written by someone without prior knowledge.
- The website or content creator needs more authority and trustworthiness on the subject matter, such as finding tax form downloads on a cooking website.
- The page or website needs to inspire trust in fulfilling its intended purpose, like a shopping page with minimal customer service information available.
3. High E-E-A-T
Websites with a high level of E-E-A-T demonstrate a well-balanced combination of experience, expertise, authority, and trustworthiness.
You can find high E-E-A-T content across various platforms, including news or government sites, relevant videos, small business websites, and even blogs.
These sites satisfy user search intent, deliver high-quality content, and showcase clear expertise. Google’s Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines notes that pages with high E-E-A-T are trustworthy or very trustworthy, and have the following qualities:
- Demonstrate a high level of effort, originality, talent, or skill such that the page achieves its purpose well
- Contain adequate information about the website and content creator for the purpose of the page
- Author and/or publisher has a positive reputation
- Serve a beneficial purpose
- Are not expected to cause harm
- Include quality titles that summarize the page
- Do not have ads or sponsored content that significantly interfere with the main content
4. Highest E-E-A-T
The pinnacle of E-E-A-T achievement lies in websites that go above and beyond to provide top-notch content that fully satisfies user search intent.
Such websites produce accurate, in-depth, well-articulated content that aligns with expert consensus when necessary. It’s not just information—it’s enlightening, adds value, and has a profound positive impact on users. Websites or content creators who establish themselves as unparalleled authorities in their respective fields possess very high E-E-A-T.
Google’s Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines notes that Tthe criteria for highest-quality content can vary depending on the purpose and type of website. Here are examples of such content:
- News: Exceptional reporting that uncovers new and valuable information, backed by primary sources and meeting professional journalistic standards.
- Artistic Content: Unique and original creations by highly skilled artists, requiring significant talent and effort. YMYL standards apply if the content relates to YMYL topics.
- Informational Content: Original, accurate, comprehensive, and clearly communicated, reflecting expert consensus. While expectations may differ based on the subject, all very high-quality informational content shares traits of accuracy and clarity.
Climbing the E-E-A-T ladder requires meticulous content curation and a strong focus on user satisfaction. The effort invested pays off, as Google recognizes and rewards websites with high E-E-A-T scores by offering better search rankings.
Impact of the E-E-A-T Google Update on YMYL Sites
YMYL, which stands for Your Money or Your Life, includes websites that provide information or services with the potential to significantly affect someone’s financial status, health, safety, or overall quality of life. This can range from sites offering financial advice to those sharing the latest news or parenting tips.
The introduction of Google’s E-E-A-T update — Expertise, Experience, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness — has specific implications for YMYL websites. Because incorrect or unreliable information can have far-reaching impacts on users, Google has set up specific measures to assess the quality and reliability of YMYL sites.
YMYL sites, especially those related to crucial aspects of users’ health or financial well-being, must closely follow E-E-A-T guidelines. Content creators on YMYL sites can share personal stories as long as they don’t mislead or defraud users. Pages detailing personal experiences on YMYL topics can still rank high on the E-E-A-T scale, provided the content is reliable, secure, and agrees with expert consensus.
But when it comes to giving YMYL advice or guides, the content should ideally come from certified professionals in the relevant fields. Certain types of YMYL information need to come directly from industry experts, highlighting the importance of maintaining high E-E-A-T standards for these websites.
10 Key Steps to Optimize Your Website for Google’s E-E-A-T Update
To tap into the power of Google’s E-E-A-T update, it’s crucial to ensure that your website’s SEO strategy is aligned with them.
By focusing on Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness, you can enhance your website’s credibility and visibility in search results.
The standards for attaining very high E-E-A-T will vary depending on the page’s focal point. The bar is higher for YMYL topics and topics with much competition.
But regardless of the topic or industry, you should apply some universal E-E-A-T principles to everything you publish. So let’s delve into the key steps you should take now.
1. Provide Accurate and Verifiable Information
A fundamental part of building E-E-A-T is making sure your content is accurate and that you can easily fact-check it.
Supporting your information with references, citations, and links to credible sources is crucial. And it’s just as important to ensure that the sources you link to are trustworthy. Connections to questionable websites can harm your credibility.
This is why Wikipedia ranks so well across so many search queries. While Wikipedia pages rely on crowdsourcing, they link to reliable sources.
By making it easy for users to verify the accuracy of your content, you boost your E-E-A-T score and improve your SEO.
2. Prove Your Organization’s Authenticity
Your website needs to show it’s part of a real organization. To establish authenticity and bolster your website’s E-E-A-T, you must go beyond surface-level claims and demonstrate that your organization is genuine and trustworthy.
- Provide Detailed About Us Page: Dedicate a comprehensive “About Us” page that provides an in-depth overview of your organization. Include information about your mission, values, history, and the people behind the scenes. Communicate your organization’s story and how it aligns with your products or services. This helps users connect with your brand and understand your commitment to authenticity.
- Share Team Bios: Introduce the individuals behind your organization by creating engaging and informative employee bios. Highlight their professional expertise, qualifications, and achievements. Additionally, include personal details such as their interests and passions to add a human touch. This showcases the real people driving your business and builds trust with your audience.
- Display Physical Address and Contact Information: Provide a physical address, phone number, and email address prominently on your website. This transparency reassures users that you have a legitimate presence and allows them to contact you if needed. Verifiable contact information adds credibility and reinforces the authenticity of your organization.
- Show Photos of Your Offices or Operations: Include original and high-quality photos of your offices, facilities, or production processes. Visuals offer a glimpse into the real-world aspect of your organization, making it tangible and relatable to your audience. This level of transparency instils trust and authenticity.
- Highlight Certifications and Awards: If your organization has received certifications, industry awards, or recognition from reputable sources, proudly display them on your website. This demonstrates external validation of your expertise and adds credibility to your brand. Ensure you provide details about the certifications or awards and the criteria required to achieve them.
- Showcase Community Involvement: Demonstrate your organization’s commitment to giving back and community involvement. Share information about charitable initiatives, partnerships, or events reflecting your values and community engagement. This showcases authenticity and highlights your organization’s social responsibility and positive impact.
All of these steps can significantly increase your site’s E-E-A-T and in turn boost your SEO results.
3. Make Contact Details Easy to Find
Building trust with your audience is essential, and one way to do this is by making your contact information readily accessible.
Create a dedicated “Contact Us” page with an email form and phone number. Consider placing your contact details in a prominent location such as the footer of your homepage.
You establish an open and transparent communication channel that enhances your website’s trustworthiness by providing multiple contact points and making it easy for users to reach you.
4. Be Transparent
You need to go beyond providing accurate information to strengthen your website’s trustworthiness. It’s time to implement practices that prioritize transparency, ethics, and user safety, such as:
- Disclose Potential Conflicts of Interest: Be upfront about any potential conflicts that could impact your content or reviews. If you have a partnership or receive compensation from a company or product you feature, clearly disclose it to your audience. This transparency helps maintain the integrity of your recommendations and builds trust with your users.
- Offer Terms and Conditions: Publish clear terms and conditions that govern the use of your website, including any limitations, liabilities, and disclaimers. This demonstrates your commitment to transparency and establishes a framework for user engagement on your site.
- Engage in Open Communication: Encourage open communication with your audience by providing accessible channels for feedback, questions, and concerns. Display contact information prominently and respond promptly and thoughtfully to inquiries. Active engagement shows that you value user input and are dedicated to providing a transparent and user-centric experience.
- Showcase User Testimonials and Feedback: Display genuine user testimonials and feedback to provide social proof of your website’s quality, products, or services. Ensure the testimonials are authentic and include real names or identifiable information to build credibility. Genuine testimonials can demonstrate transparency and reinforce the trustworthiness of your offerings.
- Share Company Policies and Practices: Go beyond the standard legal disclaimers and share additional policies and practices highlighting your commitment to transparency. This could include information on your sourcing practices, sustainability initiatives, or community involvement. Openly sharing these details showcases your values and allows users to make informed decisions based on their alignment with your principles.
Remember, transparency is an ongoing effort. Regularly review and update your policies, address user feedback, and adapt your practices to maintain trust and credibility.
By prioritizing transparency, you strengthen the foundation of your website’s E-E-A-T and foster long-term relationships with your audience.
5. Showcase Your Expertise
One of the key elements of Google’s E-E-A-T framework is demonstrating your expertise. That means highlighting your subject matter experts’ qualifications, affiliations, and experience.
If you’re creating new content, consider including expert quotes or inviting industry professionals to contribute articles. Google’s guidelines prioritize content from expert authors. For example, a parenting blog written by a recognized authority in the field would score high for E-E-A-T.
For YMYL topics, expertise is incredibly crucial. Google expects content on these subjects from individuals with relevant qualifications or credentials. For example, health advice should ideally come from healthcare professionals. It must be fact-checked, current, backed by reputable sources, and presented in an understandable and accessible manner.
Consider having your experts write guest posts on other websites to enhance your brand visibility and emphasize the qualifications or skills of your content creators. This will boost your website in turn.
6. Champion Authentic Reviews
Genuine customer reviews are a powerful tool for validating your expertise and building trust with your audience.
Encourage satisfied customers to rate and review your services on platforms like Google My Business, social media, Yelp, Glassdoor, and more. Make it a habit to invite feedback after every interaction.
You should also respond to reviews, both positive and negative, on a regular basis. Google offers the following suggestions for dealing with bad reviews:
- Be prompt: Respond to negative reviews promptly to show you value customer feedback.
- Stay professional: Remain courteous and avoid taking reviews personally, maintaining a professional tone.
- Understand the issue: Investigate the customer’s experience and acknowledge any mistakes, offering genuine apologies when appropriate.
- Show empathy: Display compassion towards the customer’s concerns and offer to discuss the matter further through email or phone.
- Be authentic: Sign off with your name or initials to demonstrate that a real person is addressing and taking the issue seriously.
As for fake negative reviews? Check out our step-by-step process for how to deal with fake negative reviews of a business, including how to report fake reviews and what to do when removal isn’t possible.
Creating case studies about happy customers is another great way to enhance your trustworthiness and E-E-A-T standing. We’ve generated thousands of qualified leads using custom case studies tailored to our clients’ needs and markets.
7. Secure High-Quality Backlinks
Securing high-quality backlinks from reputable websites is another important aspect of building E-E-A-T.
Google’s algorithms now prioritize the quality of backlinks over their quantity. Focus on obtaining backlinks from relevant and authoritative websites in your industry. The anchor text used in the link and the overall authority of the linking domain are also essential factors to consider.
Avoid engaging in “black hat” link-building tactics, as they can harm your website’s credibility and ranking. Instead, focus on creating valuable content that naturally attracts backlinks from reputable sources.
Quality backlinks act as endorsements, signalling to Google that your content is trusted and relevant.
8. Write For People, Not Search Engine Algorithms
Google prioritizes content that benefits users over content created to enhance search engine rankings. Create valuable, high-quality content that addresses users’ needs as your primary goal, with search engine optimization as a secondary objective.
Ensure your content is unique, substantial, thorough, and enlightening. When you reference other sources, you must do so without plagiarizing or simply rewording them.
Avoid creating search engine-first content. Prioritize your audience’s needs and preferences instead—even if you’re using generative AI tools like ChatGPT for SEO content.
9. Refresh Your Website’s Content Frequently
Users often attribute greater trust to websites that show signs of being updated or reviewed recently. Maintaining a competitive edge involves regularly infusing your site with fresh, high-quality content. This delivers updated information to your audience and signals to Google your ongoing activity and business status.
Don’t forget to refurbish existing content, too! Certain themes, like breaking news, product launches, or recurring events, call for timely updates.
10. Make E-E-A-T Clear and Conspicuous
Users make quick decisions about which sources to trust, so making your website’s E-E-A-T readily apparent is crucial.
If users can’t quickly determine your site’s expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness, they may leave and look for other sources.
Ensure that each page answers key questions: Who is the author? What credentials do they have? Is the information adequately sourced? Can users quickly contact the author or site owner? Are there any errors?
The more transparent and upfront you are, the more trust your audience will have in you.
Harness Google’s E-E-A-T Update for SEO Excellence
Your website’s E-E-A-T (Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness) must be prioritized and nurtured as part of a comprehensive search engine optimization strategy.
Google’s E-E-A-T update reflects the evolving demands of internet users who seek trustworthy and credible sources of information. They want content created by experts, endorsed by authorities, and deemed reliable by both humans and search engines.
We’ve explored numerous strategies to showcase your site’s E-E-A-T, from highlighting your organization’s capabilities and providing transparent reviews to acquiring high-quality backlinks and creating valuable, user-centric content that is regularly updated.
However, it’s important to remember that these guidelines are not simply a checklist to complete. They are part of a long-term commitment to quality content, transparency, and a consistent user experience.
The goal is to cultivate an authentic and valuable online presence that users and search engines can rely on.
Navigating this complex landscape can be daunting. Our team of SEO experts understands the intricacies of E-E-A-T and is ready to guide you on your journey to establishing a trusted and successful online presence.
Because at the end of the day, improving your E-E-A-T is not just about boosting search engine rankings; it’s about delivering genuine value to your audience.
Frequently Asked Questions
E-E-A-T stands for Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness. It is Google’s framework for evaluating website credibility and content quality, ensuring users receive accurate and trustworthy information in search results.
E-E-A-T is important for SEO because it redefines what a credible website should be in the eyes of Google. By prioritizing Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness, businesses can enhance their content quality, user satisfaction, and trustworthiness, leading to higher search rankings and attracting more organic traffic. E-E-A-T aligns with Google’s goal of providing accurate, reliable information to users and serves as a powerful tool to combat misinformation and subpar content online.
Google assesses E-E-A-T (Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness) by evaluating various factors. Experience involves firsthand knowledge or practical involvement in a subject. Expertise considers the depth of knowledge in a specific field, including qualifications and thought leadership. Authoritativeness looks at recognition and respect from peers, industry authorities, and the public. Trustworthiness includes accuracy, transparency, ethical practices, and user-friendly experiences. These aspects collectively determine a website’s E-E-A-T score, influencing its ranking in search results.
Yes, E-E-A-T applies to all types of websites. Google’s E-E-A-T update emphasizes the importance of Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness for determining a website’s credibility and ranking. Whether it’s an informational blog, e-commerce site, or news platform, aligning with E-E-A-T principles is essential for establishing trust and delivering valuable content to users.
Yes, certain industries and topics require higher E-E-A-T standards. The previous E-A-T update emphasized the importance of expertise and credibility in finance, health, safety, and legal sectors. With the addition of ‘Experience’ in E-E-A-T, these industries, known as “Your Money or Your Life” (YMYL) topics, now emphasize firsthand experiences and personal insights. Content involving financial advice, medical information, legal guidance, and similar areas necessitate higher E-E-A-T standards to ensure reliable and trustworthy content for users.
E-E-A-T (Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness) can impact local search rankings. Google’s emphasis on providing accurate and trustworthy information applies to all websites, including local businesses. By aligning with E-E-A-T principles, showcasing expertise, building authority, and establishing trust through transparent practices and customer reviews, local businesses can improve their online visibility and local search rankings.
Ready to step up your SEO in Google Analytics 4?
Whether you’re an analytics pro or just starting out, we’ll take you through 5 easy ways to use Google Analytics 4 (GA4) to measure your SEO performance and take your strategy to the next level:
- How to create ‘Views’ like Universal Analytics in GA4 in order to segment or exclude certain traffic to get the most accurate numbers for your SEO reporting
- How to create a Traffic Acquisition Report to see exactly how much of your website traffic comes from search engines like Google Search and Bing, and why
- How to see your top backlinks in order to determine which backlinks are really worth the investment
- How to create a Landing Page Report to analyze which of your website pages are attracting the most organic traffic and which need to be improved
- How to see if your organic visitors are converting and follow their path from discovery to conversion so that you can patch any leaks in your marketing funnel.
Grab a cup of coffee and get comfortable. Let’s dig into the world of SEO in Google Analytics 4!
Background: What’s the Difference Between Universal Analytics and Google Analytics 4 for SEO?
Google Analytics 4 (GA4) is the latest version of Google Analytics, and it brings some significant changes compared to Universal Analytics (UA).
GA4 adds a ton of new functionality, a brand-new interface, and most importantly a completely new data model. This provides some significant advantages over UA when it comes to measuring SEO performance, including:
- Enhanced Measurement: Google Analytics 4 introduces automatic tracking called enhanced measurement which automates a wide range of tracking processes you had to set up by hand in Universal Analytics. GA4 automatically tracks page scrolling, clicks to external sites, using site search, video engagements (including starts, progress, and completion), file downloads, and more.
- Cross-Device Tracking: Google Analytics 4 features reliable cross-device tracking using Google Signals or User-ID. In other words, GA4 can tell when a user switches from their mobile device to a desktop computer and treats them as one user. Not only is it more accurate than UA, but it also offers you deeper insights into how people use different devices.
- Improved Session Tracking: Google Analytics 4 no longer breaks sessions as it goes past midnight, causing it to appear that a person has two sessions when they actually only have one.
- Enhanced Funnels and Paths: Google Analytics 4 offers a robust funnel exploration feature that provides you a detailed look at the steps your users take to complete certain goals on your website, like filling out a form or making a purchase.
- More Flexible Conversion Goals: Google Analytics 4 enables you to set up additional and more flexible conversion goals that can be used to better understand your site.
There are, however, some big changes and missing features that make the transition to GA4 challenging for marketers.
One significant difference from UA is that GA4 does not offer separate Views by default—so, in the next section, we’ll tell you how to configure GA4 to get the same results.
GA4 also lacks certain reports that were available by default in UA and have to be configured manually. We’ll also discuss how to create custom reports for organic traffic, landing pages, backlinks, and organic conversions in GA4.
1. How to Create Views and Filters in GA4
In Universal Analytics, a View is a subset of data for a single domain based on filters that you have applied. Marketers often use Views to exclude internal traffic, test new reporting set-ups, or filter traffic by geographical location.
However, due to a change in the overall account structure, Views are not available as a way to filter data in Google Analytics 4.
The good news is that GA4 does allow you to filter Data Streams to provide a similar experience to UA’s Views.
To create an equivalent to UA’s Views in GA4:
- Click into the Reports section of GA4. In the left navigation menu, it’s the second option from the top.
- Click into the default Events report under Engagement.
- Click on the pencil icon in the top right of the screen to customize the report.
- Click Add Filter to apply a filter based on any of the available dimensions.
- Select a Dimension. For example, if you want to create a filtered view of traffic from one country, apply a filter where the dimension of County equals the country you want to see.
- Click the blue Apply button.
You can also filter certain types of traffic at the Property level. This is the best way to go about excluding traffic that comes from your own staff, since internal traffic can skew the data and make it more difficult to understand exactly how your SEO efforts are performing.
How Views and Filters Help You Measure SEO Performance
Like views in Universal Analytics, this custom GA4 report filters your data so that you can analyze it in a more focused and actionable way.
By creating separate Views for different countries or regions, for example, you can analyze the performance of your website in each location and understand which areas are driving the most traffic. The same can be done using GA4 report filters.
2. How to Check Your Organic Traffic in GA4
To understand where your website users are coming from and how they got there, you’ll need to customize the Traffic Acquisition Report under Acquisition.
- Click into the Reports section of GA4. In the left navigation menu, it’s the second option from the top.
- Click into the default Traffic Acquisition report under Acquisition.
- Click on the Primary Dimension, which is Session Default Channel Group by default.
- From the list of Dimensions, select Session Source/Medium.
- In the search bar above the Primary Dimension, type Organic and press enter.
Now, you can assess the performance of your SEO efforts metrics such as users, sessions, engaged sessions, and average engagement time.
Analyzing Organic Traffic Growth with GA4
SEO is one of the most powerful tools a business can use to boost its online visibility.
However, without tracking how many visitors are coming to your website through organic search, you won’t know if your SEO strategy is really working or not.
By tracking how many visitors come to your website through organic search, you can gain valuable insight into what is working and what isn’t. Measuring your organic traffic in GA4 will not only help you fine-tune your SEO strategy, but also help you optimize your entire digital marketing strategy for long-term success.
3. How to See Your Top Landing Pages by Organic Traffic in GA4
If you’re familiar with UA, you’ll remember that a landing page report was available by default by clicking the Behavior drop-down menu, then clicking Site Content, followed by Landing Pages.
GA4 isn’t quite as intuitive, but it only takes a few extra steps to create a report that gives you your top landing pages by organic traffic.
- Click into the Reports section of GA4. In the left navigation menu, it’s the second option from the top.
- Click into the default Traffic Acquisition report under Acquisition.
- Click on the Primary Dimension, which is Session Default Channel Group by default.
- From the list of Dimensions, select Landing Page + Query String.
- Click the + Plus sign and select First User Medium.
- In the search bar above the Primary Dimension, type Organic and press Enter.
Voilà: you have a report that tells you which of your landing pages drive the most organic traffic!
Unlocking SEO Insights with a GA4 Landing Page Report
When you start seeing organic traffic coming in, it means that your SEO efforts are paying off.
Customers are finding what they need on your website—and Google is rewarding you for it.
You can use what’s working on that page to improve your SEO across your website.
Pages with low traffic, on the other hand, might be missing the mark. By taking the time to spot these pages and make the necessary improvements, you can work to unlock your website’s full potential for generating traffic over time.
4. How to See Your Top Backlinks in GA4
You can use GA4 to get detailed information about which of your backlinks drive the most traffic to your site, and which of them carry the most weight for the search engines.
By analyzing this data, you can identify which websites provide the greatest value to your SEO efforts and where you should focus your link building efforts.
- Click into the default Traffic Acquisition report under Acquisition.
- Type Referral into the search bar and press Enter.
- Click on the + Plus sign to add a Secondary Dimension.
- From the list of Dimensions, select Session Source.
This report provides information about the source of your referral traffic as well as information about the traffic that helps you determine the value of those backlinks.
Use the objective metrics Google Analytics gives you — number of visitors, page views, pages per visit and bounce rate — as well as subjective characteristics like relevance, uniqueness, and authority.
Analyze Referral Traffic to Boost Your Search Ranking
Building backlinks is one of the most essential SEO strategies. One of the factors determining the ranking of your website on Google for targeted keywords is the number of quality links that point to your website.
5. How to Check Your Organic Conversions in GA4
Measuring the volume of website traffic alone can give you a general idea of how your website is performing, but it doesn’t tell the whole story.
Conversions in GA4 measure how effective your website is at driving desired actions from visitors. These actions could be anything from making a purchase to subscribing to a newsletter or downloading a PDF guide.
To create an organic conversion report in GA4:
- Click into the Explore section of GA4. In the left navigation menu, it’s the third option from the top.
- Click on the Blank exploration report template.
- Name your report Organic Conversions.
- Set the date range to at least 30 days.
- First, you’ll need to create a Segment.
- Click on the + Plus button next to Segments and click the User Segment button.
- Name the new Segment Organic Search.
- Click Add Condition and select First User Medium.
- Click on the Add Filter button. Set the first box to Contains and the second to organic. Click Apply.
- Click the Save and Apply button in the top right corner.
- Next, you’ll need to add Dimensions.
- Click on the + Plus button next to Dimensions.
- Search for the following Dimensions and click the checkbox for each one:
- First user source/medium
- Landing page
- Event name
- Item name
- Device category
- Click the Import button in the top right corner.
- Finally, it’s time to add Metrics.
- Click the + Plus button next to Metrics.
- Search for the following Metrics and click the checkbox for each one:
- Total users
- User conversion rate
- Session conversion rate
- Event revenue
- Click the Import button in the top right corner.
- Double-click the First User/Source Dimension to add it to the Rows section.
- Double click all the Metrics one by one to add them to the Values section.
- Under Values, select Cell Type Heat Map.
Why Organic Conversions Matter in GA4
Organic conversions and organic traffic go hand in hand when it comes to measuring the success of your SEO strategy.
While organic traffic is essential for getting visitors to your website, conversions are what really tells you that the effort you’re putting into SEO is moving the needle.
If you’re getting a lot of website traffic but your conversion rate is low, it may indicate that your website is not effectively converting visitors into customers; or, that your SEO efforts aren’t bringing you the right kind of traffic.
Additionally, comparing your organic conversion rate to that of other channels can help you understand which channels are driving the most valuable traffic to your website. For example, if you see that your organic traffic has a higher conversion rate than your paid traffic, it may indicate that you should redirect some of your PPC advertising budget to SEO.
With this information, you can make data-driven decisions that will improve your website’s performance and drive more revenue to your business.
Unlock the Keys to SEO Success with Google Analytics 4
Google Analytics 4 (GA4) is a powerful tool for measuring your SEO performance.
By following the steps outlined in this post, you can track the most important SEO metrics, create accurate views, and make data-driven decisions for your SEO strategy.
Remember: GA4 can be a bit daunting at first, but with a little bit of practice and the right guidance, you’ll be a pro in no time!
If you find yourself getting overwhelmed or need help with integration, don’t hesitate to reach out to our team. We offer done-for-you GA4 integration and can help you set up your account, track the right metrics and create accurate views.
Contact us today to learn how we can help you drive more traffic to your website.
Trying to increase your website’s ranking on Google? Heard horror stories of Google’s updates completely wiping sites off the search rankings? It happens, but not at random. Let’s have a look at what exactly a Google penalty is – and the reasons Google may drop your site in its rankings.
What is a Google Penalty?
Let’s start with Google’s goal: to eliminate poor-quality content to refine the quality of search results.
To do this, Google released their Penguin update in 2012, which wiped some sites out of search rankings altogether. This update downgrades site rankings based on many factors (which we will chat about shortly), forcing companies to change the way they look at SEO and prioritize the quality of their content.
Subsequent updates continue to sharpen the search engine’s ability to judge the quality of a site.
Why Does Google Penalize Websites?
1. Your Website is Outdated
The design of a website plays a large factor in its site ranking. Two main design concerns are whether the site is mobile-friendly or if it is new or up-to-date. According to Forbes, “you could lose anywhere from 5-30% of leads based on this factor alone”.
When you’re building your website design, make sure you also keep meta titles and meta descriptions in mind. They help Google understand what keywords your website wants to rank for; without them, Google may not recognize your site as relevant and penalize you.
2. Poor Link Structure
What makes up link structure? Let’s break it down:
- External links – these connect your content to other sites. You want to link to other high-ranking websites so that Google will associate your content with other high-quality sources. Additionally, these sites should be relevant – for example, if your website is fashion-themed and only links to sites about food or electronics, Google views this as a problem. Linking to low-quality or irrelevant content sites will put you straight on Google’s radar to drop down in ranking.
- Internal links – these connect your content to other pages within your website. It gives Google an idea of how your website is mapped out and what your overall site content is like. That being said, it’s important to interlink to relevant If you’re linking your blog post about saving money to your pricey gift shop, for example, you may get penalized.
- Backlinks – these are links from other sites that direct back to yours. The goal with backlinks is to get high-ranking websites to link back to you. It would be fantastic to have backlinks from CNN or New York Times. This is high-level, but the idea is you want to avoid fake or illegitimate websites to maintain a higher ranking.
When it comes to links, remember – quality over quantity.
3. Buying Links
Yes, some companies still buy links to their website to increase in ranking.
Google sees this as an attempt to deceive PageRank, which calculates where your site should appear in search engine results based on what content Google views as relevant and high-quality.
When you try to manipulate Google, they can catch this – and the bad links you have been buying. Buying links can even drop you off the rankings completely.
4. Your Content Has Little Value
This can be anything from not enough content, shallow content that your readers have already found on many other sites, or content obviously trying to rank for keywords. These are all the wrong way for your content to help rank your website.
Your site must offer significant content to readers. Google judges how users interact with your website. If people visit your site and immediately leave, Google will catch on that users don’t value your content and will penalize your site and it’s ranking.
5. Slow Speeds
How frustrated do you get when a page is taking 10 seconds to load? Do you abandon the page and move on?
A lot of people do – and Google notices. Neil Patel recommends using a caching plugin or a CDN right away to avoid this issue.
If you’re not sure how fast your existing site is, check out Google’s PageSpeed to see if you have room to improve on your desktop or mobile site load time.
In the end, you must always put the user experience at top-of-mind.
They’re the ones visiting your websites and, in turn, buying your products or services. The goal is to give them the most seamless experience, so they have no reason to exit your page.
Doing this will help avoid penalties, increase the quality of your traffic and number of conversions, and create a happy relationship between your website and Google.
How users interact with your website can have a significant impact on its search engine ranking. Factors like how long a user spends on a landing page, or whether the user clicks through to another page on the site, help Google’s search engine algorithm determine your site’s quality and relevance to search terms.
One of the ways we measure site engagement is by looking at data collected by Google Analytics: metrics like bounce rate, visit duration, and pages per visit. These numbers give insight into whether the page resonates with your audience and how to better optimize it.
However, the engagement data you can access with Google Analytics isn’t what Google uses to determine search engine ranking. The search engine algorithm uses different engagement metrics, and unfortunately, these numbers are a bit harder to pin down than bounce rate.
Below, we’ll discuss the meaning of three important terms that illustrate how users interact with your site: bounce rate, long clicks, and pogo-sticking.
Understanding Bounce Rate: Hits, Sessions and Bounces
Before we talk about bounce rate, it helps to get a refresher on how Google Analytics collects data.
The moment a user lands on a website, Google Analytics begins to record a ‘session’ for that user. A session is a single continuous visit to a site, which can include viewing multiple pages on the site and interacting with the site in different ways. Google Analytics tracks everything the user does on the site during that session, including how long the user spends on a specific page (Time on Page) and the total duration of the session.
A session ends in one of three ways: the user leaves the site, is inactive for a period (30 minutes by default) or the clock strikes midnight (in which case Analytics starts tracking a new session for that user beginning at 12:00 AM).
In addition to tracking sessions, Google Analytics also tracks every ‘hit’ that occurs during a session. A hit is any user interaction with the website that triggers data to be sent to Analytics, such as:
- Clicking a link to another page on the site
- Leaving a comment on the page
- Playing a video
- Purchasing an item
- Clicking a button to Share the page on social media
A bounce is a session that ends without a hit. It means the user viewed a single page on the site before exiting, without interacting with the page (at least not in a way that triggers a hit to Google Analytics).
Bounce rate is the number of bounces divided by the number of sessions or the percentage of users who landed on a page and left without interacting or viewing other pages on the site.
Is High Bounce Rate Always a Bad Thing?
A high bounce rate equals a low retention rate. If visitors are leaving a site after viewing a single page, it means that page has not enticed them to engage with or go deeper into the site.
Whether this is a bad thing depends on your objective.
Some pages are built purely to inform. If a visitor lands on a Store Hours page, for example, it is likely they’re already planning a trip to the store and need a bit more information. One would expect that page to have a high bounce rate because once it has done its job, the user should be good to go.
It’s for this same reason that blog posts and news articles tend to have a high bounce rate. People usually visit those pages to obtain a specific piece of information. If the page delivers, the user can leave.
However, a high bounce rate can also indicate problems with your site. It could be that people bounce because the page is of low quality, or it didn’t meet their expectations.
In other cases, a high bounce rate reveals a flaw in your marketing strategy. A flawless page will nonetheless generate a high bounce rate if you’re sending the wrong kind of traffic there.
Finally, bounce rate can yield clues to some of the important factors that impact on your search engine ranking.
Does Bounce Rate Affect SEO?
Bounce rate can tell you a lot about whether people find a page useful and relevant. Usefulness and relevance is information that Google’s search engine ranking algorithm wants to know, too. So, does bounce rate affect SEO?
The short answer is, no. Google confirms that bounce rate is not a ranking factor. Not every website uses Google Analytics, so Google has no way of obtaining widespread data on bounce rate. Plus, as we noted above, a page can be exactly what users were looking for and still have a high bounce rate.
But bounce rate is fundamental in uncovering other numbers that do impact SEO: long clicks and short clicks.
What Are Short and Long Clicks?
The search engine algorithm does not consider a page’s bounce rate when it comes to determining its ranking in the results. However, it does notice how Google’s users interact with pages that appear in the search engine results.
When a user clicks through to a site from the search engine results page (SERP), Google tracks how long the user spends on that site before returning to the SERP. A long click occurs when a user clicks through to a result and does not return to the SERP or remains on the site for a long time before returning.
Short clicks, on the other hand, occur when a user clicks through and then quickly backtracks.
Another important term here is dwell time, or the time a user spends on a site before returning to the SERP.
Difference Between Short Clicks, Long Clicks and Bounce Rate
Unlike bounce rate, short and long clicks do affect a site’s search engine ranking. And it’s unfortunate that Google Analytics doesn’t track them because this data provides even more insight into a user’s activity than bounce rate.
Bounce rate only shows how many users bounced; it doesn’t tell you why. They may have closed the browser, returned to the SERP, or gone for a lunch break.
Short clicks, on the other hand, reveal that the user went right back to the SERP after clicking. Some call this pogo-sticking: you can visualize the user hopping from the SERP to the site and then back to the SERP in quick bounces. Pogo-sticking is a clear signal that the page didn’t fulfil the purpose of the search query.
Although Google Analytics doesn’t track short clicks, long clicks or pogo-sticking, it is possible to uncover some insight on these numbers using bounce rate. Bounce rate and pogo-sticking are directly proportional; if a page is getting a lot of short clicks, it will have a correspondingly high bounce rate, while a higher proportion of long clicks will lead to a lower bounce rate.
The challenge is uncovering the reasons why users bounce.
Are Short Clicks Always a Bad Thing?
Like bounce rate, there are some cases where pogo-sticking is normal.
Take health-related search queries, for example. Users who are researching symptoms will likely want a second opinion, so they’ll bounce back to the results page more than once during their query. It is likely that Google’s algorithm recognizes this and takes it into account.
All signs point to 2018 being the breakout year for voice search.
It’s more than a novelty. Voice search is an evolution in the way we use search engines, and search engine giants like Google and Bing are already changing their search engine algorithms to adapt.
So, what does this mean for your business? To understand how voice search will impact your search engine optimization strategy, let’s look at the core differences between voice search and text search.
How Does Voice Search Work?
Voice search lets you use a search engine app by speaking to a device rather than typing the query on a keyboard or touchpad. The app uses voice recognition software to transcribe the spoken words into written text. Then the search engine algorithm strives to deliver the best possible results.
Voice search has been around in various forms since at least 2002 when Google launched the first incarnation of its voice-enabled search function. Believe it or not, there was a time when users dialled a phone number and received Google search results via text message! It was a far cry from the instant answers voice search delivers today.
Differences Between Voice Search and Text Search
Just as with a text-based search, the search engine algorithm aims to deliver results are as useful and relevant to the voice searcher’s query as possible. But the differences between voice search and text search can have a big impact on what those results look like — and how the algorithm goes about finding them.
1. Device (and Search Engine) of Choice
According to Google, more than 60% of all searches now come from mobile devices. A sizable 20% of those mobile searches are of the spoken variety. But not all voice searches are made on-the-go; more and more voice searches come from voice-enabled smart speakers.
The year 2017 saw an explosion in the number of smart speakers in homes across North America. Amazon, the frontrunner in the market, sold millions of Alexa-enabled devices on Black Friday alone.
Why does this matter? Not only does the device of choice impact how people search, but which search engine they use.
Although Google remains the search engine of choice for most people, Amazon’s Alexa uses Bing by default. So does Microsoft’s Cortana. Together, Alexa and Cortana represent over half of all smart assistant use, meaning the majority of voice searches from smart speakers actually use Bing, not Google.
If smart speakers continue to proliferate, and Amazon stays on top, Bing will become increasingly important to businesses who want to rank among voice searchers.
2. What People Search For
Voice search is more accurate and functional than ever. The more we use it, the better the voice recognition software behind the app becomes. However, Google’s own research shows people still avoid using voice search for certain subjects.
People are most willing to raise their voices on quick queries in the moment. They use voice search to find the nearest restaurant, ask how late it’s open, and check its star-rating on Yelp. That’s why local SEO is huge when it comes to voice search.
But when it comes to so-called ‘sensitive’ subjects, like healthcare, people prefer to search the old-fashioned way. Not surprisingly, the same goes for anything you could classify as ‘adults-only’. What is surprising is that social media is still largely taboo for voice search as well. Perhaps that’s because 63% of Internet users worry about voice-enabled technology spying on them.
Though this gap could decrease over time, not all types of content will necessarily benefit from optimizing for voice search today.
3. How People Search
The biggest difference between voice search and text search? Tone, phrasing, and word choice. To optimize their site for voice search, businesses will have to turn an ear to how their customers talk.
When people use a voice search app, they’re more likely to phrase the query as a question. They use natural language, choosing words that reflect a conversational tone. They expect quick answers to specific questions.
Ranking for voice search queries will require businesses to focus not only on long-tail keywords that come up in these queries, but on direct answers to users’ most common questions.
Search engine algorithms are increasingly able to precisely detect user intent. If your site can deliver, you can leverage voice search to climb the rankings and reach customers who know exactly what they’re looking for.
Google Analytics offers a wealth of data. You need to know what to prioritize, or else you will spend hours trying to understand what all the numbers mean for your website traffic.
The main point of Google Analytics is to figure out how your website is performing, and what that means in relation to your marketing efforts. Let’s walk through this process.
Starting Point – Acquisition > Channels
Every time you log into Google Analytics, you want to look at the Acquisition Channels. It’s the best way a quick snapshot of what is happening with your website. You will quickly be able to identify any success or issues occurring on your site.
The default timeline in this section is one week, but that is a small sample size for most websites. Switch your timeline to a 30-day period for more reliable results. Compare this to the previous period, and you will have a great starting point to identify the performance of the website.
Further, you can break down the traffic into specific channels to get a more detailed grasp of the performance. If something is off, it usually jumps out here.
What to Do if Traffic is Up
This is a great thing! But just because traffic is up this month does not mean your job is done. Ideally, you’d like to see an increase in traffic month over month, so try to figure out what caused the increase and replicate it for the future.
Tip: Compare each channel’s engagement or conversion data to see which might be underperforming.
What to Do if Traffic is Down
Obviously, this isn’t ideal, but don’t worry. A change in traffic could be based on a factor outside of your control.
The most common reason for changes in traffic is seasonality. Keep in mind how your industry ebbs and flows, and standardize your results to get a better sense of how you are doing relatively.
The first step in accounting for seasonality is to analyze the year over year data. While this is not a perfect comparison, it can still be a good litmus test to see if the changes are normal. If your year over year data is also down, then you probably have a bigger issue on your hands, where further investigation is required.
The next step to determining reasons for a decline in traffic is to compare month over month data from the previous year. Look at the changes in traffic from past years, and compare that to the current data to get a gauge of your results. If your current decrease in traffic is less than previous years, you can consider your results successful.
For clarity, here is an example. In a previous year, your drop in traffic in October was -40%, but this year your drop in traffic is -20%. Although your overall traffic is still down, when you factor in seasonality, your YoY traffic is up 20%!
If your traffic is still down after accounting for seasonality, then you will need to conduct a deep dive into your analytics to figure out why. Carefully check out the performance of each individual channel to find out which avenue could have a problem.
Tip: Take a close look at your top three channels, as they are the largest contributors to your traffic.
Here are some factors to consider for each channel when traffic is down:
- Organic traffic – Check your keyword rankings.
- Social – Check into what content you’re posting.
- Paid – Check your total spend amount and cost per click.
- Referral – Check to see if you have lost any backlinks.
- Direct – There is no simple solution to why direct traffic is down. Any traffic that comes to a website that is not specifically classified will be logged in direct traffic, meaning it is difficult to pinpoint the problem. Fluctuation in traffic can often be attributed to spam.
Finally, if you still can’t seem to figure out why your traffic is down, look at individual page views and content types on your website. Certain types of content and landing pages my not be as relevant as you expected, causing a drop in traffic. For example, if you sell air conditioners, but it has been a cool summer, then you would not have as much traffic to those pages as usual.
If a single page has a dramatic decrease in views, this might be an SEO issue. If a page is no longer ranking properly, it might explain why traffic is down.
Engagement metrics are another important data set to analyze. Key metrics include bounce rate, average session duration and pages per session. These metrics are large indicators of conversion likelihood, so continually monitoring and trying to improve engagement can lead to an increase of success on your website.
What to Do if Engagement is Down
Different types of traffic have different engagement metrics, so analyze where your traffic is coming from before panicking. Social and Paid traffic generally have poorer engagement metrics based on the nature of their medium, so if you had a massive influx of traffic to these channels, don’t be concerned when engagement is down.
Check out individual page engagement metrics to identify specific underperforming pages. Often, landing pages leave users with “nowhere to go”, causing high bounce rate and low session duration. Simply, when users finish with the content, there are no prompts to send them elsewhere on the website. A blog with related posts of links to a related product/service will have better engagement than a post that does not. Fixing underperforming pages is a great way to improve the overall metrics.
Finally, check behaviour flow and see which landing pages have high drop off rates. If you can identify which pages are not giving users the information they need, causing them to leave the site, then you can improve the overall engagement rate.
Checking these metrics should give you a good sense if there is an issue or it’s just normal fluctuation.
Google Analytics can give you a ton of information about your website. Once you know how to interpret the data, you will have new ideas on how to improve traffic and engagement, leading to a more successful website!