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A significant drop in positions is every SEO specialist’s nightmare. Especially since the cause is often not mentioned by Google. Chances are that if you are dealing with such a drop, you should take a good look at the quality of your website and content. In these cases, EAT comes into play. Especially when it comes to a your money or life (YMYL) website.

Big drops in Google rankings often come after an algorithm update. In some cases, Google announces what the update entails, but much remains guesswork and a gray area. When performing the updates, Google always prioritizes the quality of the search results.

If the terms above do not mean anything to you, here is a short explanation:

Meaning EAT

This abbreviation stands for Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness. EAT is one of many guidelines Google uses to determine if content is valuable to readers and should rank well.

  • The E in EAT stands for Expertise and this means that you must be an expert in the field with the text.
  • The A stands for Authoritativeness and this shows that you are an authority or that the writers of the content are.
  • The T stands for Trustworthiness. This means that the website must be reliable, including on the technical aspect (SSL).

Google uses several signals to determine the trustworthiness of your site. Read more about why Google EAT is so important for your website here .

Meaning YMYL

As Google puts it, “A YMYL site may affect someone’s future happiness, health, financial stability, or safety.” It is therefore important that these websites offer high quality content. If Google sees the website as a YMYL site, then you won’t rank at the top if you don’t meet the EAT guidelines.

Optimizing content: case

A Publicis Groupe customer suffered a ranking drop at the end of 2019 following a Google update. A number of attempts to regain the positions followed in 2020. The website has several articles that contain medical content. We had internally checked and optimized this content, unfortunately without result. So it was time for a new strategy with a bigger approach. We looked at the algorithm updates that had impacted many websites before October 2019. In an August 2019 Google blog, Google wrote:

As explained, pages that drop after a core update don’t have anything wrong to fix. This said, we understand those who do less well after a core update change may still feel they need to do something. We suggest focusing on ensuring you’re offering the best content you can. That’s what our algorithms seek to reward.

After sifting through the search quality rater guidelines, it became clear to us that the medical-related content did not meet Google’s EAT guidelines. Much of the content was translated directly from English and was not sufficiently localized. No local medical sources were used for articles and literature written or reviewed by specialists. In addition, it was not made relevant enough for Dutch readers. Based on these figures, we have implemented 3 improvements.

Read also:  The latest Google updates in a row [EMEA recap]

1. Install check moment

To improve the quality of the content according to the EAT guidelines, we have had the current and new content checked by (medical) experts. In retrospect, we can say that it was also very logical to have this medical content checked. You don’t want to give your ‘customers’ incorrect information. Especially when it comes to serious medical topics.

2. Optimize and monitor resources

We also optimized the current sources by finding articles online that were reviewed or written by specialists. Preference was given to articles on websites of hospitals or medical specialist institutions. In addition, we used Dutch sources as much as possible.

We have listed the expert who reviewed the article at the bottom of the article with a link to a profile page of, for example, the hospital or clinic. By improving the relevance and authority of the article, the website also received more links with high authority.

3. Responding to search queries

We have made the article better suited to the search question by investigating which other questions are related to the subject. Among other things, we looked at the questions that appear under ‘People also ask’, also known as ‘People also ask’, which appears in the search results. In addition, we analyzed the top 3 positions by looking at which keywords they rank even more and which questions they answer. We have incorporated this into the text and added structured data as FAQ.

Case results

Even though we have been optimizing the content since the beginning of 2021, Google will only make any adjustments to rankings after an algorithm update. So we had to wait until the first algorithm update to see if the new content strategy had an effect. Core updates (major updates) are often announced by Google, but several minor updates are also implemented during the year.

It is best to keep an eye on the Google Search Blog for this. The first major algorithm update was in early June 2021, and positions skyrocketed immediately. This upward trend has continued for almost a year now and the positions and organic traffic are now higher than they were before the drop.

  • Impressions increased by 525%,
  • 227% more users, and
  • a growth of 1502% in top 3 positions (from 72 to 1153).

This increase is from the period June 2021 to January 2022 compared to the period before the period before (before the update). This update clearly mainly affected the medical content of the website.

Results Google EAT test.

Because the website has dozens of articles, it was not immediately possible to optimize all articles and have them checked by a specialist. In addition, specialists were not always able to make time due to corona. Even though a number of articles were not checked by experts, this had a positive effect on the articles. The overall reputation of the website had improved and this had an effect on other articles as well.

Benefits of optimizing with EAT

Optimizing a website according to the EAT guidelines is possible for many more websites than just YMYL sites. Optimizing the website according to these guidelines can have a positive effect for specialists in all fields. Think, for example, of a specialist in baking bread, making bicycles or city trips in Europe.

In addition to the fact that the website more closely complies with the EAT guidelines, there are also advantages for the specialist. They gain more name recognition, authority and they ensure that people are correctly informed. So, in addition to hours and time, this does not have to have an extra price tag.

If your website has been affected by a major drop in rankings, it is important to go through the following steps and analyze points:

  • Immerse yourself in the Google (core) updates of the past few months.
  • Analyze whether a particular hub of your website or pages were impacted the most.
  • Check if your competition or similar websites have also had a visible drop.
  • Check for crawling issues from Google in Google Search Console, for example .
  • Check whether there have been recent (major) changes on the website.
  • Rate the overall quality of the pages. Remove or improve any low quality pages and remove annoying ads.
  • Check for ‘spammy’ links pointing to your website and ‘disavow’ them if necessary.
  • Does your website have YMYL content? Improve your content using the EAT guidelines.

To find out which adjustment had an effect, it is important to spread the optimizations. So wait a few weeks or wait for the next core update.

Google will increasingly focus on the quality of the content, and can also recognize this better and better. In the quote from Google you could read that they recommend offering the best possible content. Optimizing content can be time-consuming, but if you do it right, Google will reward you handsomely for it.