How Google EAT Applies to Law Firms

As a lawyer, your website falls into what is known as YMYL – Your Money or Your Life. That’s not a threat, that’s what Google categorizes as a website of extreme importance to a person’s well-being. Google classifies the credibility of your website based on an element of their algorithm that’s been around since 2014: EAT – Expertise, Authority and Trustworthiness.

Here’s How Google YMYL and EAT Work Together

The law, finance, politics, health information and other critical topics fall into the YMYL category. It stands to reason that as Google’s moderators review these websites they want to recognize the websites with the most trustworthy information so that Users will trust that the results delivered on a search are credible. How do they do that? EAT! As an attorney, you should understand that both the benefits of crafting a strategy around Google EAT, and the ramifications of ignoring it can be significant.

In late 2018, Google released an update to their Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines to the public and reemphasized the critical nature of EAT. Google was being quite transparent about what their human search evaluators should be looking at when manually examining a website and determining how to apply this element of their algorithm to a YMYL website.

In section 3.2 the subject of Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness is explained:

“For all other pages that have a beneficial purpose, the amount of expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness (E-A-T) is very important. Please consider: The expertise of the creator of the MC [Main Content]; The authoritativeness of the creator of the MC, the MC itself, and the website; The trustworthiness of the creator of the MC, the MC itself, and the website.”

This means that more than ever before, Google wants to classify your website by your law firm’s reputation, authority and trustworthiness.

Will EAT Directly Impact Google Rankings?

Yes, your EAT rating could directly impact how your website ranks in Google search results. In February 2019, Google released a white paper titled “How Google Fights Disinformation” where they state:

“Our ranking system does not identify the intent or factual accuracy of any given piece of content. However, it is specifically designed to identify sites with high indicia of expertise, authority, and trustworthiness.”

If you have a YMYL website, which you do if you’re a lawyer, then you better start paying attention to how Google perceives your website.

How Does Google Know a Law Firm is Credible?

As you can imagine, the complexity involved in determining a website’s author as more or less credible than another is mind boggling. Within their guidelines, Google tells it’s rating team to consider references about you, or authored by you in a number of platforms to help determine your EAT (not in any particular order of known importance):

  • News articles
  • Wikipedia
  • Profiles on authoritative websites & legal directories
  • Blog Posts
  • Magazine Articles
  • Forum discussions
  • Ratings/Reviews from independent organizations or affiliations
  • Customer/client reviews
  • Social Media
  • Yelp
  • Better Business Bureau
  • Experience
  • Education
  • Awards

How Do I Update My Website to Improve EAT?

Now that you know Google could be scrutinizing your website, you should probably take a moment and perform an audit to improve how your EAT is conveyed. Here are the pages you should closely examine first:

Home Page: Quickly examine your Home page to see if it immediately conveys who are, what you do and the area you serve. Additionally, you should have credibility indicators like your awards, affiliations and preferably some selected client testimonials displayed.

Attorney Biographies: You should review your biography and make sure that all possible sources that could indicate EAT are highlighted. Additionally, other lawyers at your firm should do the same and check it annually. Many attorneys don’t like to “brag” about their accomplishments, but there’s evidence to suggest that a lack of displayed credibility may hinder your website’s visibility.

About Us: If you have an “About” section of your website, make sure that it clearly outlines what you do, and that the firm’s accomplishments, expertise and accolades are well represented.

Testimonials: It would be ideal to have client reviews and testimonials displayed throughout your website, and it’s also advisable to have a page accessible through the Main Navigation that showcases numerous reviews from Yelp, Google, Avvo and other review platforms.

Does Google Think You’re Unreliable?

It’s difficult to discern what Google thinks of you, but if your website can only be found on page 1 of results for searches for your name or law firm name there’s a problem. However, while the suggestions listed above may help, if you’re not well optimized on and off your website, it’s nearly impossible to rank well for a competitive search in a competitive city. For that, it may be time to call the experts in attorney SEO at Everest Legal Marketing.

About The Author

Doug Bradley
Doug Bradley
I work with law firms to increase their presence on search engines through website optimization. Marketing a law firm hasn’t been “like it used to be” for a while now and the only guarantee is that it will continue to change. Learn more about my experience here.

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