Image credit: Tero Vesalainen / Shutterstock.com
Google recently released one of its periodic core algorithm updates and it’s got implications for your eCommerce site. The revised scoring system places new emphasis on your content’s expertise, authority and trustworthiness – hence the nickname ‘EAT score’. The consequence of this change is that some sites have lost positions in search results pages. Visibility in search results is key to eCommerce success, so it’s important to understand how your site is faring with the updated algorithm.
Recent changes mean that this score is now attributed to individuals as well as to brands and pages. It means personal authorship is taken into account just as much as the branding on content. The changes particularly affect what Google sees as particularly vital pages.
These include any pages where there is a transaction, whether it’s buying something or doing something important like opening a bank account or accessing advice on a medical condition. Google calls these pages ‘Your money or your life’ pages – perhaps because it sees them as critical to the future lives of the people reading them.
Immediately after the update, there was a sizeable drop in visibility for many sellers of nutritional supplements, including the Holland and Barrett health food and supplements chain. When Google revised how it assessed expertise, authority and trustworthiness, this site was clearly found to be failing in how it expressed these values.
EAT for product pages
EAT matters for eCommerce because it’s an important measure for ranking your product pages in search results. An EAT score can really make or break a site. As far as eCommerce sites go, EAT sets expectations for the basic criteria most users now expect from an online shopping experience.
Some of these are so laughably basic that you’re unlikely to not already be doing them; can a customer easily put an item in their shopping cart? Others might be considered slightly beyond basic eCommerce functionality; the ability to create a wishlist or filter by bestselling items.
EAT scores also assess your site search functionality. To score highly for your search offering you’ll need to be able to offer query interpretations and correct misspelled search terms. Many basic bolt-on search widgets struggle to meet this level of sophistication.
Your EAT score will assess all the content of your product pages, not just the product descriptions but also the functionality of the page and other features such as images. That means all of your site functionality needs to be built with crawlers in mind, from any interactive tools to how the shopping interface works. It’s always worth getting an expert SEO audit of your site to see how well it’s been built from a crawler’s perspective.
EAT also takes into account how secure and trustworthy your site appears to be. Using the secure HTTPS protocol and having visible security certifications will help. Also remember to cover the basics of trustworthiness, such as having your office address and company name on the site.
EAT scorers will scrutinize product information particularly carefully. Any content on the product page is divided into two loose categories of information: the main content and supplementary information. As you might expect, the main content is Google’s main area of focus in assessing the page quality.
Main content includes things such as the main product description but also shipping information and product safety. Supplementary information is everything else on the page, from the navigation content to other products advertised on that page.
Remember – authorship is now being taken into account, rather than just your brand or site. This means it’s worthwhile adding an author’s name to every post on your blog. Make sure their bio is also listed and that the bio details their authority in the area they are writing. Third-party information will also be taken into account when Google assesses the author’s expertise in their subject area, so there’s a renewed focus on personal branding around the web.
Expertise is particularly vital in areas where Google considers it’s critical that the author is informed about their topic. It’s particularly important if a page is considered to have a high impact on user wellbeing, for example, if you’re offering financial or medical advice.
This means any blogs that offer financial information should be tightly linked to an author bio that explains the writer’s qualification to give that advice.
If you’re running a forum when users can contribute to discussions, you may be penalized if those users don’t provide their qualifications to advise on the topic. For more frivolous topics, such as film forums or discussions of art techniques, it’s less vital for users to be qualified.
It’s worthwhile thinking whether your user-generated content is considered important to user well-being and how you might avoid a poor EAT score if it is.
Although your site won’t be penalized if no author information is available, it might be outranked by other sites that have fuller information on authorship. But you will be penalized if you use authors that are known for spreading misinformation. It’s worthwhile taking some time to review how you tackle authorship of any blog content and manage user-generated content on forums or message boards.