You Can’t Spell E-A-T Without Trust: Why Your Business Needs Reviews

Stephen McCance April 10, 2019

Here at Red Cow Media, we all love to eat. But, that isn’t what this blog is about.

No, instead we’re talking about E-A-T. A factor which Google outlines as an important factor impacting the performance of your pages in search. Otherwise known as Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness. And more specifically, we’re going to delve into the ‘T’ of trust and why exactly your reviews might be more important than you ever thought for your local SEO.

What is E-A-T?

If you have ever read Google’s Quality Guidelines (which in all honesty is a select few, brave, individuals), then you will know that the concept of E-A-T is one that is discussed in great detail. This alone tells us that it is an important ranking factor in SERPs. But, this was all but confirmed last year during the August 2018 period directly following the Medic Update. Sites which presented failings in any and all of the E-A-T categories saw a sharp decline.

So, it almost goes without saying how important E-A-T is in the post-Medic Update world. If your site excels in one area, but not the others then chances are it will affect your site badly regardless. Working to adhere by each E-A-T factor on your site, then, is vital to a consistently performing website in 2019.

Here’s the word of Google in regards to E-A-T:

Explanation of what E-A-T means

With the full effect of poor performance in terms of E-A-T being felt after the Medic Update in August 2018, more and more focus has been placed on this particular quality factor. How can you ensure your site is consistently E-A-T compliant?

It’s a conundrum which has to be tackled in stages. This blog will concern itself with the trust element, more specifically, reviews.

Do Reviews Help SEO?

The answer to the above question is fairly simple: absolutely, yes.

Customer reviews aren’t just a nice sentiment from well-meaning individuals left to boost your business confidence. They can, in fact, be another element in the ever more complicated concoction which leads to search success. Even more so if your SEO efforts are focused on local SEO. In which case, reviews can be the ace up your sleeve against competitors.

This is because Google tailors results based on locality as much as the keyword performance. If we type “Thai restaurant” into the Google search bar, then this is our result:

Google maps screenshot

First things first, we have the Local Pack, a goldmine for local SEO optimisation, which for us here at the Red Cow office centres on Manchester as this is where we are based. As you can see, the first organic search is also Manchester-optimised. So, even with broad keywords, we need to consider the importance of local-tailored searches that Google prefers to present to create the best user experience. Which is why reviews are so important for local SEO.

Reviews are one of the key factors which affect whether or not you appear in this hallowed Local Pack. Others include information from your Google My Business profile (proximity, title keywords, etc.), links, citations, social signals and the relevancy of your on-page. Reviews are likely only second in importance to your other organic ranking factors – the good old optimisation, keywords and links that we all focus on most in SEO. So, the fact they are so often overlooked for local SEO can be quite troubling.

Of course, if you’re not a local business you may be wondering if reviews still matter for you. While they may not affect your Local Pack, there is still evidence to suggest that legitimate reviews do help the performance of your site – especially if you have regularly updating reviews on product pages.

It indicates trust from customers (good for your E-A-T rating) and gives Google more regularly updating content (which likely contains keywords). Both important ranking factors, whether you’re a local business or not.

Final Thoughts

When you think of SEO, reviews aren’t exactly the first thing that pops to mind. Things like keywords, optimisation and links tend to be better associated with this digital strategy. But, search has come a long way since hiding keywords in the footer of your site and hitting number one overnight. Other, less obvious, methods need to become part of your everyday strategy – especially in terms of local SEO.

So, start hunting customer reviews! Offer incentives such as 10% off the next purchase, make leaving reviews super easy, try to gain reviews through broader surveys and even using social media to prompt more reviews can be effective.

And alternatively… just ask nicely.


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