As many retailers may know, search engine optimization died of natural causes in May 2020 when Google fundamentally changed its search algorithms. This “core update” has given Google’s EAT principles (Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness) more weight. Google introduced EAT as a guideline for evaluating human search quality, and then published those guidelines to “help webmasters understand what Google is looking for on a web page”.
As EAT becomes increasingly important, retailers need to optimize their websites and align themselves with these new algorithmic requirements in order to improve search rankings. Brands adapting their websites to EAT should focus on:
Creating fresh, high quality content
The latest core update from Google makes fresh, quality content king. Easy to use, accurate, and up-to-date website content is critical to establishing the expertise, authority and trust that the Google search engine loves. Google notes that evaluating content against EAT criteria “can help conceptually align it with the various signals used by its automated systems to evaluate content.”
In this context, it is important for retailers to develop web content such as blogs, product descriptions and customer testimonials that is relevant, useful and engaging to website visitors. In the COVID-19 environment, retailers should also take special care to provide updated website information on opening and closing times, social distancing measures and available services (e.g. deliveries, roadside pickups, etc.).
Maintaining a strong, active social presence
With the help of social media, brands can expand content that leads the way under the new Google algorithms. Reaching out to target groups through high-quality, link-worthy content that receives more approvals, clicks, and comments leads to backlinks that improve SEO.
Retailers can maximize their presence on social media platforms by frequently asking customers to be followers of their pages and developing a regular cadence of publications that make their brand visible.
Manage and respond to reviews
Ratings that help build authority and trust (two key components of EAT) have always been important to retailers and are now an even more important weighting factor in search engine optimization. Retailers should make it a rule to keep an eye on business reviews on sites like Google Places, Facebook, Yelp, and Tripadvisor, and aim for between five and 10 reviews with an average score of 4.5 stars or higher.
It is also important to note that in reputation management it is not only important to post reviews, but also to respond to those reviews. Retailers can build trust with customers and Google by responding thoughtfully and sincerely to negative reviews and working to resolve issues.
The Google algorithm uses quotations to check the existence, legitimacy and trustworthiness of a company. Quotes that reference a company’s name, address and phone number (NAP) online on a number of relevant and trustworthy websites signal to Google’s algorithm that the company exists and is a key factor for local search engine optimization.
By choosing the right directories and ensuring that business information is updated and correct, retailers can improve local search rankings. To generate quotes, retailers should work to update business information in reputable directories like Facebook, Apple Maps, Yelp, and YellowPage.
As Google continues to roll out new algorithms to accomplish its mission of organizing the world’s information, retailers need to let outdated SEO strategies rest and prepare to reinvent those strategies to accommodate the next big algorithm update .
Steven Clayton is the founder and CEO of NetBlaze, a provider of marketing automation tools, management and consulting services for small businesses.