Link building

Google EAT, link building and the future of SEO


I was talking to Karl Hindle, our CEO and resident SEO nerd, about the latest Google Core Algorithm update. My concern was whether our customers would be affected by this update.

His response confirmed what I suspected: “If you do white hat SEO, these updates rarely hurt and often help your rankings over time.” Now white hat SEO is a pretty big topic, but for the purposes of this article, I’ll sum it up in one sentence …

White hat SEO is a search engine optimization that adheres to Google’s search guidelines and avoids any practice that Google considers to be a violation.

In other words, don’t be sneaky. Focus on your customers.

This article is not about White Hat SEO, in particular, it is about Google EAT and how it can help with link building. I want to start with a quick overview of white hat linking…

White hat tie building

There are many ways to build quality backlinks to your website. Some of the methods are best performed by an SEO company. That said, there are still things you can do to build these so-called quality links.

Organizational links

These are links from reputable websites that have some organizational relevance to your website, for example, this link on the Frederick Chamber website where we are listed as a trusted partner.

I am also listed as an advisory board member with a link to our website at TechFrederick, another member organization. And we won this year’s coveted Tech Games trophy!

They sent out a press release on this year’s games and I noticed our name was unrelated. I very kindly ask them to change that, and they did. Just like that, another quality backlink!

Guest messages and interviews

These are articles that you write for well known blogs and magazine type websites. For example, I wrote this article on the landing pages of Spin Sucks, a popular marketing and communications blog.

In this article, I have links to the original content on our website as well as a link in my author profile. Google takes these links on this trusted website as a signal that I am a trusted author and that our website contains authoritative content that deserves linking.

If you are lucky enough to have well-known experts in your organization, try interviewing them on trusted industry websites. These interviews show Google that your business experts are valued by other authoritative organizations.

And, of course, make sure there are links in those interviews to your content and website. For example, what we are doing with our Wellspring Digital Chat series helps the surveyed experts because I include links to their content in the introduction and transcripts.

I also invite these guests to share the interview on their social media and websites which means more high quality backlinks for us!

Original content on LinkedIn and Medium

It is a very easy and effective way to get backlinks to your content. Write original article content on sites like LinkedIn and Medium, then reference other authoritative content on your website with, you guessed it, links!

Don’t just copy your blog content and paste it as is on these platforms. I used to tell people to do it because it worked, but Google will value this content a lot more if it’s original. And those backlinks will be more valuable.

What does a good backlink look like?

These should be clear and obvious links (using an underline or somehow indicating that this is a link) and contain relevant anchor text that is not not over-optimized.

Anchor text is the text that you link to. For example, the anchor text in this last sentence is “Anchor Text.” ??

These should also be links placed on the website by the site owner. The links in this article, because they are relevant, useful and placed by me, are quality links.

Links that someone puts in comments may be considered spam because they are not generated by the site owner. I’m simplifying a bit but you understand the drift.

Quality backlinks are usually placed in the body of the page and not in the footer. Again, the links in this article are valuable, especially to websites outside of our domain, as they are contextually relevant and in the body of the content.

Of course, you don’t always get quality backlinks by asking nicely, you have to earn them. Create EAT content on your website if you want to attract more quality backlinks.

Google EAT

This is not Google’s plan for world domination or a plan to get you to Terminus (sorry, vague reference to The Walking Dead).

Google EAT is a guideline, a suggested set of principles to follow.

EAT stands for …

  1. Expertise – you and your associates know what you’re talking about, having references, a resume and / or online content history to prove it. Google will use various tools in its arsenal to validate whether or not you know your stuff.
  2. Authority – you are viewed as a valuable resource within your industry, but more specifically by Google because of the content you create and the experts who value that content by referencing and partnering with it.
  3. Reliability – your website is safe, easy to use, and you are real with a real location, real people, and real offers.

These principles are all described in Google’s Quality Rater’s Guide. A team of thousands of real people use this guide to evaluate Google search results.

In this guide, Google talks about “high EAT pages”, that is, pages that tick these boxes well. These pages can be most types of pages, as long as they offer a high EAT value. From Google, these can be …

“… High-consumption pages and websites of all types, even gossip websites, fashion websites, humor websites, forums and Q&A pages, etc.” In fact, certain types of information are found almost exclusively in forums and discussions, where a community of experts can provide valuable insight on specific topics. Google’s Quality Rater Guide

There is a ton of interesting information on EAT. In recent times, Lily Ray and Bill Slawski have killed him with explorations of all that is EAT. Look for them certainly.

Google EAT is a warning

EAT is a warning to businesses and organizations that continue to ignore quality content and white hat SEO efforts and just hope they get ranked.

Let me bastard this line from a Tool song. “Google EAT is a message of hope for those who choose to hear, and a warning for those who don’t.”

What google wants

The Internet is a vast ecosystem. Much of this ecosystem is noise. Google is working to filter valuable content out of this noise. They want to make sure they can trust whoever creates it.

It’s not just academic content, it’s all content on the web. Google, using a very complex system of algorithms, examines every website, content page, content creators and content distributors to determine…

  • Who needs this content?
  • Is this good EAT content?
  • Does the person writing this content know what they are talking about?
  • Do others think it’s good content?
  • How does this content relate to the research being done?
  • Do researchers click, read and share this content?

Try to figure out how they do exactly that and your head will explode. Leave that to SEO experts like Lily Ray and Bill Slawski. You have a business or an organization to run. You have bigger fish to whip, so to speak.

Just understand that Google is telling you that content is important and can affect your ranking in the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages) as long as it is …

  • EAT content produced by subject matter experts
  • validated by other experts
  • on a trusted site

Don’t worry so much about the signals Google is examining. Worry about the content you are creating and whether you have qualified white hat SEO to support your onsite and offsite SEO efforts.

Once you have this content, share it!

The future of SEO has been here for some time

If you’ve been reading as much about SEO as we are here, you’ve noticed a pattern with Google. They don’t like it when the SERPs list garbage. They don’t like it when people try to play with the system.

The Google Panda, Penguin, Fred, and Bert updates, besides having weird names, were all in some way meant to pull search results out of low-quality, low-value websites. Check out this post about Emily Hindle’s Google update (it works in the family).

I don’t know about you, but it seems Google has been consistent on what it expects from webmasters. For example, Google specifically told webmasters …

“Several times a year, we make significant and significant changes to our algorithms and search systems. We call them “major updates”. They are designed to ensure that, overall, we fulfill our mission of presenting relevant and authoritative content to researchers. – Central Google Search Blog

It seems pretty clear to me. So, the future of SEO relies on relevant and authoritative content. Authority comes from external validation. External validation occurs when you create quality EAT content that is shared and linked.