July 23, 2020
July 23, 2020

On May 4, 2020, a Google algorithm update occurred during the Coronavirus pandemic, raising eyebrows among many SEO experts. The world may be in crisis, but the web giants’ progress cannot be stopped.

Although the documentation relating to this update has not yet been published (it takes around 6 to 12 months following a major change to see the impact and in‑depth analysis), several experts in the field believe they have understood the basics of the update.

Their analyses have enabled them to observe a correlation between the changes observed and the E‑A‑T evaluation criteria.

While we await the documentation for the coming months, we will offer you a 101 course on Google’s algorithms and the E‑A‑T evaluation system to help you better understand the difference between the two and what happened on May 4.

A Google algorithm, what’s that?

Why talk to you about algorithms?

One popular belief is that the E‑A‑T is one of Google’s many algorithms. It isn’t. The difference may seem slight, but it’s not at all. Hence, it is important to clarify the difference to avoid confusion.

These mathematical algorithms are numerous due to Google’s frequent updates to ensure good service. Explaining the various components of each algorithm would take several hours, so we’ll spare you the ordeal. However, before understanding how Google’s algorithms work, it’s essential to understand their usefulness. Here’s an overview:

An example of the search process

Let’s take, for example, “best poutine in Quebec” as a Google query. Even if we know the best is in Drummondville 😉 Google has 2,060,000 documents to answer our query. This is where the algorithms come in.

These sort and rank the documents to present the most relevant results first. At this point, good SEO practices enable us to stand out from the competition and appear in the first search results.

In short, the algorithms decide whether your website appears on the first search page (or not).

If E‑A‑T isn’t an algorithm, what is it?

E‑A‑T is a set of evaluation criteria used by Google quality raters to rate a website. Think of these ratings as comments left by customers in a restaurant. Like a restaurant, Google uses them to see what can be improved and ensure the systems are working correctly.

But who are these quality assessors?

Google hires more than 10,000 people to evaluate search results manually. Their evaluations are based on the E‑A‑T criteria (among others; you can consult their working parameters in a light 168‑page document explaining the requirements they must validate) and enable them to rate a page or website.

Therefore, the evaluators aim to ensure that the search results are relevant.

These scores have no direct impact on a website’s ranking. However, E‑A‑T data is used to improve search engine algorithms. Therefore, improving your website according to E‑A‑T criteria is a long‑term investment since impacts can occur without any warning when an update is made.

Care must be taken, however, as not just the pages analyzed but all those that are part of the YMYL (if any) will be affected. The what? Don’t worry—the YMYL explanation is on its way!

In short, E‑A‑T should be seen as a way of making your website shine brighter than the competition.

Can I be affected by YMYL?

To be affected by Google’s rating system, you need a website that can be found using keywords related to a specific vocabulary. This includes anything related to “your money or your life”—shortened by Google to YMYL. Therefore, the websites in this category are all those that can potentially impact your money or your life directly or indirectly.

Among these are websites with content related to the following areas:

  • Health: everything concerning medicine, illnesses, hospitals, etc.
  • The financial sector: recommendations on investments, taxes, loans, insurance, etc.
  • Important news: articles written on subjects such as business, politics, science and technology
  • Law and civil society: current political debates or legal advice on sensitive topics
  • People groups: racial issues, ethnic groups, religious groups, etc.
  • Other: everything related to YMYL is considered, including training, nutrition, job search and university internships

As a result, Google has set higher quality standards for all keywords related to these categories. The reason is quite simple: bad information could have disastrous consequences for the user, whether in terms of physical health, mental health, financial health, happiness or safety. So, it’s essential to ensure that Google’s information is relevant and reliable.

What does the acronym E‑A‑T stand for?

Let’s break down the acronym letter by letter to answer this question.


No translation is required here since the E in the acronym represents the expertise criteria sought by Google evaluators. The expertise of the creator of the MC (Main Content) ensures that high‑quality information is shared.

“The expertise of the creator of the MC (Main Content).”

For example, the healthcare field is strongly affected by E‑A‑T since it is necessary to have a minimum of expertise to provide information. So, content created by a well‑known surgeon will have much more impact in terms of expertise than a comment left by an anonymous person on a forum. While both may have knowledge in the field, the surgeon has additional credentials that are taken into account by Google reviewers.


The A in E‑A‑T stands for authority. This criterion goes hand in hand with the last since expertise often comes with authority. Once again, Google evaluators use this criterion to assess the relevance of search results.

“The authoritativeness of the creator of the MC, the MC itself, and the website.”

Take Alexandre Taillefer, for example, who would decide tomorrow morning to write a blog article entitled “How to succeed in business" and publish it in Les Affaires newspaper. A graduate in business administration from the University of Sherbrooke has also decided to write an article on the same subject. However, it was published in the local newspaper L'Express. As a result of this E‑A‑T criterion, Alexandre Taillefer’s article will be published well ahead of the graduate’s, since Mr. Taillefer has the authority of a seasoned businessman. The publication platform can also influence the article’s authority, since the newspaper Les Affaires has greater authority in the business world than the newspaper L'Express.


The last letter, T, stands for the reliability or trustworthiness of the website. Google evaluators ensure that the websites affected by the E‑A‑T are trustworthy. They also check the trustworthiness of the content and its creator.

"The trustworthiness of the creator of the MC, the MC itself, and the website."

Similarly, suppose we choose to look at an e‑commerce site. In that case, we can be sure of its reliability by customer reviews’ presence (or absence). Indeed, it’s difficult to judge a retailer if no consumer can publicly share their level of satisfaction with their experience. Another criterion is the site’s level of security: a site that records transactions without being secure cannot be considered reliable.

How can I create content that meets E‑A‑T criteria?

Several best practices can be used to achieve E‑A‑T performance. Here are just a few of them:

Offer quality content

This one may seem obvious to everyone, but having good quality content is essential. It’s even advisable to remove from your website any content that could be considered low‑quality, even if it’s been published for a long time. In this way, we ensure that we are showing the best of our content to our readers and reviewers.

3 things to consider when creating good content:

  • Content must be accessible and understandable to the majority of people
  • Content must be continually updated, with update dates where applicable
  • Content must be written by a reputable, qualified author

If these points are respected, Google evaluators will inevitably increase the E‑A‑T score, which will impact your ranking in future updates.

Introduce the creator

To get a good E‑A‑T score as a YMYL site, it’s strongly recommended that you introduce each blog post’s author(s). Since sensitive subjects are in the spotlight, readers and Google evaluators need to be able to validate the quality of the source. In doing so, Google wants to ensure that the authors are tried and tested and that as many readers as possible are getting the right advice from someone they trust. It, therefore, goes without saying to dedicate a small part of blog posts to the author (often in the header).

Having a section on your website dedicated to author biographies is also a good idea. With this section, you can introduce yourself and your team. Moreover, the added possibility of inserting a link to this page saves us from introducing the author at the start of each article.

In e‑commerce, it’s not necessary to include the author’s name on a web page. However, it is recommended that contact information for the company or customer service be easily accessible.

Demonstrating reliability

If you’re in the YMYL business, it’s important to find a way to demonstrate your company’s reliability. There are several easy ways to do this.

A classic: customer reviews

No matter what the field, customers always have something to say. If the company interacts with users, letting them share their opinions demonstrates openness and reliability. So, there’s no point in setting up a comments section if no one will analyze them and act accordingly.

The equivalent of a diploma on the wall

It’s also possible to display accreditations, certifications, standards and the like on your website. Whether it’s specific to individual employees or the company as a whole, promoting them demonstrates credibility. It proves that the company can be trusted. You can add these elements to your website's "About" section because it’s the most logical place to do so.

And the grand prize for reliability goes to…

Another idea to boost your credibility is to display any awards and honours won by the company. Did you win the Best Employer ribbon? A customer service trophy? A product quality plaque? No matter, these are undoubtedly effective tools for enhancing your image and reputation!

Computer security belt

The final way to increase reliability is to secure your website. This is a good sign of trust for Google reviewers and users alike. This is particularly crucial for online businesses since they invite customers to enter private information to make purchases. Of course, website protection ensures that customers’ information remains private.

But what happened on May 4, 2020?

On May 4, 2020, Google issued a basic update that affected the organic ranking of several websites.

According to many experts, this update directly resulted from the COVID‑19 crisis. The reason for this theory is that the number of specific searches has skyrocketed, requiring Google to adapt to continue offering relevant, quality content. To put it bluntly, more and more city names were being entered into the search bar, and the results were directly affecting people’s lives. The algorithm was, therefore, adjusted to benefit regional media.

Indeed, COVID‑19 led users to consult YMYL sites more often, making it all the more important to propagate quality content. Although Google has not officially confirmed the algorithm update changes, several analyses have been carried out. These allow us to understand who has been affected and how. And as with every update, there are winners and losers.

The results of the battle for the first page of search results

Among the winners of this latest update are sites and brands with a strong link profile. These links are better known in the SEO world as backlinks: external links that lead to a website. An excellent example of a backlink is a retailer placing a redirect link to the supplier of a product.

It’s important to note that the winners were those who had good‑quality links, not more. It used to be that having lots of backlinks boosted your organic rankings, but now it’s quality that’s evaluated. Websites that focused on quantity saw a significant drop in traffic, while those that had a few good‑quality backlinks saw their traffic increase.

Another thing the experts were able to analyze was that the losers of this update often had things in common: 3 less well‑exploited aspects, namely expertise, authority and reliability. It sounds a lot like the 3 E‑A‑T criteria!

Previous updates have also highlighted the importance of E‑A‑T for YMYL sites, as some had lost a considerable amount of traffic due to non‑compliance with these criteria. So, the importance of good E‑A‑T practices is growing steadily.

That’s all well and good, but how do you improve your SEO?

Google has recommended website managers and SEO experts to help us get through the update. It’s advisable to base your content on quality first and foremost. Google also recommends analyzing your site by asking questions on the following 4 themes:

  • Content and quality: does the website offer original, valuable content beyond copying? Are the meta titles and descriptions attractive and designed to match the content? As a webmaster, would you like to share this content with friends?
  • Expertise: is the content reliable? Does the page contain errors? As a webmaster visiting the site via Google, would you trust it yourself?
  • Presentation and production: does the content seem well‑researched and produced, or is it more mass‑produced? Are there too many ads? Does the site load in a user‑friendly way on all devices?
  • Competitive comparison: does the website offer added value compared to competitors? Does the content meet user expectations?

Ultimately, it’s essential to understand that the latest algorithm update links directly with the E‑A‑T criteria. However, the E‑A‑T is not an algorithm in itself. As explained above, these criteria are tools used to update these famous algorithms. It was, therefore, probably on the basis of these criteria that Google based the May 4th update. You’ll need to adapt your practices to meet E‑A‑T requirements if you don’t want to plummet in Google’s organic rankings.

SEO problems? Nmédia can help!

Our marketing strategists and web copywriters collaborate to optimize your page, improve its positioning, and ensure maximum traffic to your website, all while respecting your personal business objectives.

Contact us so we can work together to develop a strategy tailored to your budget and see your company appear on the first pages of Google searches in no time!

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