E.A.T: The Not-So-Secret Secret To SEO


A leaked internal Google manual has finally shed a little bit of light on the search engine’s SEO policies, reveals Kelly Kirkham…

On March 31 2014, Google’s Quality Rater’s Manual 5.0 was created. On June 11 2014, it was leaked to the World Wide Web. The 160-page manual reveals that Google ranks websites based on how they E.A.T. Confused yet? Let us explain in our handy dandy E.A.T. help guide.

As a bit of background, Google Quality Rater’s Manual 5.0 is sent out to Google contractors as a guide book for reviewing the world’s web pages for quality control and optimization. According to industry experts, the 5.0 version has been rewritten completely and isn’t based on earlier copies, as previous versions were. This guide acts as a baseline for quality controllers and includes specific websites as examples of best practice.

In this leaked document, one of Google’s featured guidelines is the acronym E.A.T, which stands for Expertise, Authority, and Trust. Google’s manual states that to be considered a top ranked website, owners need to focus on these three principles. The new rules for quality control are based on the level of service being provided as well as clear outlines for conducting business, including refunds, exchanges, customer service and the provision of truthful information.

In the manual, Google’s quality raters are instructed to validate the expertise of any recommendations on a site. Plus, they’re told to rate sites more highly if they have easily accessed customer service areas and frequent content additions. Many of the other considerations in the manual reflect the principles of good old fashioned business, giving more kudos to sites that take customer satisfaction into account. For example, too many ads or bad reviews will stand out to the raters and won’t look good for you overall.

Here are a few direct quotes from the leaked manual that pertain to each E.A.T category…


“Look for reviews, references, recommendations by experts, news articles, and other credible information created/written by individuals about the website […] We consider a large number of positive user reviews as evidence of positive reputation[…] When a high level of authoritativeness or expertise is needed, the reputation of a website should be judged on what expert opinions have to say. Recommendations from expert sources, such as professional societies, are strong evidence of very positive reputation.”


“Many websites are eager to tell users how great they are. But for Page Quality rating, you must also look for outside, independent reputation information about the website. When the website says one thing about itself, but reputable external sources disagree with what the website says, trust the external sources […] Be skeptical of claims that websites make about themselves.”


“Contact information and customer service information are extremely important for websites that handle money, such as stores, banks, and credit card companies. Users need a way to ask questions or get help when a problem occurs […] Look for contact information – including the store’s policies on payment, exchanges, and returns.”

Google had previously released a guideline similar to version 5.0 called ‘Your Money or Your Life’. This guideline was used when qualifying websites concerning health topics or other pages that are held to a higher standard based on the nature of the information. Such websites were more heavily scrutinized if it could affect an individual’s wellbeing or safety overall.

None of what has been recently revealed from Google is very shocking; actually it seems to be a model promoting good business and is quite refreshing. Google has proven that quality does beat quantity, at least when conducting business through websites.