26 May 2024, 07:38
By Michael Robinson Dec 12, 2018

E-A-T up to make a difference online

Thanks to a new Google algorithm, sites across the web have seen significant drops in organic visibility over the last few months – and furniture companies are no exception, says Salience’s Michael Robinson …

Google’s E-A-T update has a lot to answer for. Those not immersed in the Google universe probably wouldn’t have heard of E-A-T, which stands for Expertise, Authority and Trust. In short, this means Google is placing even more emphasis on site content and its trustworthiness, so it’s important to look at metrics that measure these qualities of a site.

Because of this, many sites may be seeing drops in SEO visibility  [described by Searchmetrics as “composed of search volume and the position of ranking keywords”] following the update, if they have little-to-no user-focused content on the site. 

Of the companies we’ve analysed, the ones we believe to be worst affected directly by the algorithm changes YoY are: maisonsdumonde.com (-55%); time4sleep.co.uk (-41%); mattressonline.co.uk (-35%); and furniturevillage.co.uk  (-30%).

Why? Google never gives away the specifics of algorithm updates – often, they won’t even announce there has been one. The whole industry is currently toiling away to try and figure out what is causing decline. 

One would hope to find a correlation among those seeing the most significant losses and those seeing the most significant gains. In theory, if there is an algorithm that searches for a signal to influence an organic decline, then there must also be sites that have seen an increase – so, just like our biggest losers, we also have our biggest winners in terms of SEO visibility YoY: furniture123.co.uk (+483%); happybeds.co.uk (+153%); leekes.co.uk (+102%); and bedfactorydirect.co.uk (+102%).

By understanding what these winners have done, losers can replicate their actions and see tangible improvements.

We know that the E-A-T update has been implemented to reward sites that are promoting authority-led content. Are you influencing users with opinion, or fact? Do you have the signals to show that you know what you are talking about, and are you qualified to pass on your opinion? This may be through on-site content qualified through site metrics in the market, or as an author qualified through their digital footprint or the content itself, by linking to trusted sources.

We looked at a couple of different metrics that could prove this, taking 10 winners and analysing their sites, comparing authority metrics and on-site content against 10 losers.

Metrics like domain authority, number of referring domains, trust flow and citation flow have been used. In short, they are indicators of a site’s content performance, and generally a higher score in any indicates trustworthiness.

And from this comparison, we can see that there is no trend between the winners and losers across all of these – a disappointing result. 

We went on to consider the various strands of content each site has, and their potential effect. Interestingly, seven of the 10 winners offered consideration-based content – content which is presented to users in the consideration part of the purchase funnel. In this instance, the material centred on buying guides that attempt to assist the user by answering any questions they may have before they go on to complete a purchase.

Five of the 10 losers did not offer such content, making it fair to conclude that the correlation may well suggest the increased importance of useful, user-focused content.

Digging deeper, we’ve looked to see if our winners’ guide and blog content is written by industry experts and influencers, and here we’ve witnessed surprisingly little correlation, with only one of 10 even stating who the author is.

This has left us scratching our heads – consideration content is important, but perhaps there’s no necessity for it to be written by someone with a significant digital footprint, so long as the content is factual and reliable.

A further trend we noticed is the importance of intent-led content for the winners. Sites that have consistently seen a loss in visibility have sparse content on both top-level and sub-level category pages, while those that have seen an increase boast significantly more content across the board.

Category pages have the potential to rank for a wide variety of terms. On-page content allows search engines to semantically link what you sell to what the customer wants – those losers that have little or no content are giving Google nothing to use.

Michael Robinson is the sales and marketing co-ordinator at Salience, a Chester-based search marketing agency which has provided services for household names, challenger brands and ambitious start-ups across retail, lead generation, finance and charity since 2009.

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