Critical KPIs for SEO Success in the E-A-T Era

Critical KPIs for SEO Success in the E-A-T Era

As 21st century humans, we track everything. 


Look around the office, (but not in a creepy way) and mounted on a number of wrists you will see fitness trackers. Hidden from view are apps connected to these devices that track how much water you drink, how many steps you take, and even how long you sleep, (now that is creepy.) 


We love tracking our health. As connected individuals we enjoy seeing the numbers, graphs, and charts that tell a story, producing tangible evidence of just how hard we are working.      


If your health is worth tracking, why not track the fitness of your SEO? Your website, like your daily water intake, needs constant attention.


So many small businesses today are simply releasing their website to the world and leaving it to float around in the ether, sometimes for years, which is not a particularly good idea.    


While your site may have gotten many satisfactory conversions when it first went live, over time you may notice a dip in activity. This slump could result in missed conversions and decreased engagement.  


KPIs or Key Performance Indicators can be a valuable tool to track your SEO performance in real time. Just as your fitness tracker will indicate when and where improvements can be made, consistently tracking your KPIs will reveal areas for growth.


Not only are KPIs critical for growth, they are instrumental in evolving your SEO strategy. Gone are the days when inserting keywords into every other sentence on the page was all the rage. Now, E-A-T is the new buzz acronym and it is affecting the SEO realm.     


More than any other digital marketing tactic, SEO has undergone some of the most significant changes. The somewhat shady tactics of yesterday are not effective, and in some cases, detrimental to your efforts. 


In 2019, so far, we have seen Google algorithm updates, the necessity of structured data, and periodic changes to the SERP. While the updates this year have not been particularly volatile, there is no telling what 2020 will bring, and rest assured that Google will not be offering any insight. Only that we must follow the E-A-T guidelines when producing content that is worthy of a lofty place amongst the SERP.  


We Don't Search Like We Used To


Search is much more intricate than it was five years ago, and we can expect the way the SERP behaves to change drastically each year. Google has changed the way search functions and the results are much more complex than they used to be, and more importantly, people are searching differently.


In any given search, organic traffic does not hold the weight that it once did and Google has switched up its content guidelines, now utilizing the Quality Rater Guidelines. Traditional KPI’s, while still extremely relevant, are changing. 


While you sleep, a clandestine group of individuals called the Search Quality Raters make sure that pages at the top of the SERP meet these guidelines. The information provided by these shadowy operators allows Google to adjust and improve the algorithm, I also like to think they dress up in brown fedoras while carrying bullwhips every Halloween, calling themselves the “Raters of the Lost Ark”.      



“Classic” KPI’s like keyword ranking, page rank, conversion rate, page speed, and organic value, are all valid and should still matter in your strategy. However, with the new Google guidelines for content, additional KPI’s need to be considered.  


Google unleashed the Medic update last year and changed the game for content all over the web. It was around this time that many outside of the SEO world first become aware of the EAT acronym. 


EAT stands for expertise, authority, and trustworthiness, and unfortunately all of the top ranking keywords in your arsenal will not get you ranking without these three nouns. 


For instance, many websites back in the old days relied specifically on keywords to maintain their top rank on the SERP. While this used to work quite well, it seems that a more nuanced approach is required in 2019. 


Keywords coupled with high quality, original content is the strategy needed to climb your way up the SERP organically. 


Expertise = Specialist


One reason you started your business is the fact that you can provide a service that is desirable to a segment of the population. Whether that be a wide selection of dessert breakfast burritos or an exceptional talent for drywall repair, you are the expert. 


Your content must convey that fact. 


Authority = Standing


Much more than expertise, authority establishes your business as a force to be reckoned with in the industry. 


You can have expertise without authority but you will never rank respectively in the SERP.


Trustworthiness = Confidence


We have been subjected to scams dating back to the beginning of the internet. Trust is an important concept, not just for the public, but for Google as well. 


Establishing trustworthiness is critical to survival in both online and brick and mortar businesses. If you do not have the trust of your potential clients, you may as well close up shop. 


KPI’s for E-A-T


Measuring the performance of the EAT criteria can be difficult as the KPIs are much more abstract. You could always write the best possible content and hope for the best, which is how many businesses approach their content. A hands off approach can work for a while but you will need evidence to see if your efforts are paying off.     


Link Building


Link building is one of the most helpful ways to build EAT credibility. The more inbound links you are generating, the more your business will benefit from a credibility standpoint. 


Links, inbound in particular, show that your content is trusted, and packed with authority.


To leverage inbound links, simply use your expertise and write some blogs or articles. You never know, they could go viral.


There are many ways to track your links and always remember, if you are changing URL slugs you must perform a redirect. 




We all have a love/hate relationship with reviews. They can be really good, mediocre, or downright awful. Some of the best compliments and the most vile criticisms can be communicated through online reviews. 


Most of us dread the thought of having a negative review hit the internet. When you have a stockpile of positive reviews, a negative comment here or there really will not hurt.


When you need to become worried, is when you are not getting any reviews at all. This would signal a need for a change.  


Of course if you have a lot of negative reviews it may be time to take some of them to heart and change the way you do business.   


Positive reviews show the world as a whole that you can be trusted. And if you are actually trustworthy, just let those negative reviews roll off of your back. 


Set a goal of achieving a certain number of reviews a month, even if they are not all positive, it will increase your trustworthiness. Don't be afraid to ask for reviews, asking can be a great way to increase your positive review count.   


When In Doubt, Track It 


The bottom line is, when thinking about your KPI’s it is always best to know where you stand. With the new E-A-T guidelines, higher quality content will get you noticed. Make sure you are tracking your performance so you can make adjustments.


Think like a Quality Rater and imagine what they would want from your site. If you feel like burning some time go ahead and tackle the Quality Rater Guidelines, all 166 titillating pages. Set aside some time because it is not light reading.  


When developing KPIs for EAT, simply come up with an acronym and go from there. In all seriousness, look hard at what you want to accomplish. How much you convey your expertise, authority, and trust to your audience. Pay attention to your links, reviews, and engagement. 


Ultimately, the new guidelines will be broken down and new KPI’s will be established, but don't expect them to disappear because you can't get better at what you can't measure. So slap that fitness tracker on your website and get it shredded, because those Quality Raters may be lurking in the shadows.

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Jason Atkins

Jason Atkins is the Content Marketing Specialist for Madwire/Marketing 360, a tech enabled marketing software & service company that designs, develops, and launches creative marketing solutions for small businesses. He has been in the trenches as a professional SEO and content marketer, helping small businesses succeed. He has written for hundreds of clients over the years and is passionate about giving a voice to the small business.

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