Google to Grade Your Site with E for Experience

Google’s Search Quality Raters Guidelines Receives December Update

As many brands in the UK look to wind down after a busy winter period, Google has released some major changes to their quality rater guidelines for search.

The guidelines are used by Google’s search raters who help evaluate the performance of the systems used for search ranking. However, the document also helps content creators looking to self-assess their own success in search.

Google updates this document once or twice a year, with their last update being in July, however the latest update came last Thursday (15th December) with a whopping 11 new pages added.

The headline of the whole update is the change to Google’s E-A-T system, which has found itself with a new letter prefixed: E for Experience.

You can find the announcement from Google on Twitter here: 

The E-A-T system is used by Google to evaluate whether their search ranking systems are providing both helpful and relevant information to users. If a website can showcase their Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness, then they could be more likely to rank higher in search results.

Now referred to as E-E-A-T, or ‘Double-E-A-T’ if you’re cool, the system is now taking experience into account when assessing search results.

However, I prefer this take from Nati Elimelech from Wix:

Meet E-E-A-T

Previously known as E-A-T, Google’s new acronym, E-E-A-T, stands for:

  • Experience.
  • Expertise.
  • Authoritativeness.
  • Trustworthiness.

The introduction of Experience indicates that website owners and creators must have some first-hand knowledge on the topic or product they are producing content on, and this will factor into how Google values the quality of your webpage. Simply put by Google in the update:

Does content also demonstrate that it was produced with some degree of experience, such as with actual use of a product, having actually visited a place or communicating what a person experienced?”

The updated E-E-A-T is described in full in Section 3.4 of Google’s updated Quality Rater Guidelines. Google says that Trust is ‘the most important member at the centre of the E-E-A-T family’ with Experience, Expertise, and Authoritativeness being ‘important concepts that can support your assessment of Trust’.

From Google’s quality rater guidelines - Page 26
From Google’s quality rater guidelines – Page 26

Where Does Experience Differ from Expertise and Authoritativeness?

Google admits that there may be some overlap between Experience, Expertise, and Authoritativeness for some page types and topics with the example of, ‘someone may develop Expertise in a topic due to first-hand Experience accumulated over time’. They recommend considering the purpose, type, and topic of your content and to ask yourself ‘what would make the content creator a trustworthy source in that context?’.

In the context of Page Quality rating, Google recommends that your assessment of E-E-A-T should be informed by:

  • What the website or content creator say about themselves: Does your site have an About Us page, or Profile page with more information about the content creator?
  • What others say about the website or content creators: Is there independent evidence that your site has E-E-A-T?
  • What is visible on the page, including the main content and sections such as reviews and comments: Does your content represent your level of Experience and Expertise for itself?

YMYL Topics: Experience or Expertise?

It’s widely known that a high level of Expertise may be required for Your Money or Your Life (YMYL) pages to be trustworthy. However, with Experience being in the acronym, how does this affect the quality of YMYL pages?

Google explains that YMYL pages can sometimes be ‘created to share personal experiences, often regarding difficult life challenges’ and that ‘people turn to each other in times of need to share their own experience, seek comfort or inspiration, and learn from others’.

The following table was created to show examples of where Experience and Expertise are relevant for YMYL pages:

From Google’s quality rater guidelines - Page 28
From Google’s quality rater guidelines – Page 28

Who Runs the Site (And What is Their Reputation)?

In Understanding the Website (Section 2.5), Google implies that it is important to express who owns the website; referring to the reputation of those who are contributing to the website rather than just the website itself:

To understand a website, start by finding out who is responsible for the website and who created the content on the page. Then, look for information about the website and/or content creators on the website itself.

In Finding Who is Responsible for the Website and Who Created the Content on the Page (Section 2.5.2), Google states that the owner of the website should be clear to showcase who is responsible for a site.

Previously, Google looked at which individual, company, business, or foundation was responsible for the site. However, in this new update, Google has replaced ‘foundation’ with ‘organisation’ and ‘government agency’.

The following table was also added to the updated document to help identify who created main content on a webpage.

From Google’s quality rater guidelines - Page 17
From Google’s quality rater guidelines – Page 17

In Reputation of the Website and Content Creators (Section 3.3), Google added that ‘reputation research should be performed according to the topic of the page’; giving the example that pages containing medical information should be assessed on their reputation on the topic.

What This Update Means for You

Whilst this update to the quality rater guide seems rather huge, not much will change in terms of SEO strategy. At Fusion Unlimited, E-A-T is fundamental within our SEO strategy for our clients and the implantation of Experience allows brands to further flex their trustworthiness around their topic or niche.

If you’re worried that Experience isn’t represented on your site, say hello to the Fusion Unlimited team to see how we can help incorporate E-E-A-T into your SEO strategy.


It’s a busy time for brands across the UK, many of which are affected heavily by seasonality and approaching the height of the Christmas period. Consequently, ‘no news is good news’ on the algorithm front, and stable SERPs may be in demand.

Fortunately, that appears to have been the case for the most part during the November period. By now, most brands are likely to have seen the impact of the September core algorithm update settle, while October’s spam update appears to have primarily targeted low-quality, spammy domains.

So, what’s new in November?

Rumours vs Reality

November kicked off with rumours of an algorithm update circulating the web. Barry Schwartz of Search Engine Roundtable reported signs of an update through the 4th and 5th of November, as well as the 11th and 12th, and 18th through 20th, with plenty of chatter on forums to support the claim. The evidence seemed to suggest that there were some adjustments made to search, however this wasn’t confirmed by Google.

Additionally, these reports are not consistent with general trends the Fusion team has been seeing across client accounts, which could suggest that larger brands are unaffected to a certain extent.

Google’s Guide to Search Ranking Systems

The key SEO learning emerging from November is that Google has published a new document titled a guide to Google Search ranking systems. This document helpfully lays out which ranking systems are currently in use, and which have been retired. Google’s new guide also gives us some insight into how these systems are defined, how they are used, and what they mean for search.

Which Google Ranking Systems Are Currently in Use?

  • BERT
  • Crisis Information systems
  • Deduplication systems
  • Exact match domain system
  • Freshness system
  • Helpful content system
  • Link analysis systems and PageRank
  • Local news system
  • MUM
  • Neural matching
  • Original content system
  • Removal-based demotion system including legal removals and personal information removals
  • Page experience system
  • Passage ranking system
  • Product reviews system
  • RankBrain
  • Reliable information systems
  • Site diversity system
  • Spam detection systems

Which Google Ranking Systems Have Been Retired?

  • Hummingbird
  • Mobile-friendly ranking system
  • Page speed system
  • Panda system
  • Penguin system
  • Secure site system

These were included in the document for historical purposes and have either been merged into successor systems or been integrated into Google’s core ranking factors.

What This Means for You

Google’s transparency here allows SEOs to better understand how these ranking systems work and how Google defines different ranking factors.

For SEOs, there’s no one key action to implement immediately. Instead, staying strong on the fundamentals is likely to be the key to success for brands throughout this period, and any gains made through link building, publishing content, and improving your technical infrastructure could position you well for the next core algorithm update, which we expect will roll out around the late January-February period.

We recommend taking a step back and asking yourself:

  • Is my website strong on EAT fundamentals?
  • Are there any blockers to page speed that I may have missed?
  • Is my content publishing consistent in terms of quality and frequency?

Not sure how to implement these systems into your SEO strategy? Fusion Unlimited has the knowledge and experience needed to help – come and say hello.