The Truth About E-A-T, Google Rater Guidelines, & Improving Your Site's Authority and Trust | Skipblast

The Truth About E-A-T, Google Rater Guidelines, & Improving Your Site’s Authority and Trust

Let’s get this out of the way first thing – 99.9% of SEOs who are writing up blog posts, tweets, and messages in Facebook groups about the Google Rater guidelines and E-A-T don’t know fuck all what they’re talking about.

And I’m so fucking tired of seeing gurus and wannabe gurus sharing their “knowledge” on this topic, when it’s clear to any one who’s ever been a Google Rater, talked to one, or had access to one that the majority of these chumps are just talking out their asses.


Right now you’re probably thinking, well, that the hell do you know? Well, the tl;dr is that I used to be a Google Rater and I’m married to one.

Here’s My E-A-T!

From 2011 – 2014, I actually was a Google Rater at Leapforce. The work was annoying as hell, but despite what Google says about raters not affecting search results, I was always able to tell when there was going to be a Google update about two weeks before it happened just based on the tasks that I got to work on.

But, that’s not really the point of this post. However, that is why I did this gig for as long as I did because I got some great insights from it.

Then, I was on a round-the-world trip and my VPN exposed my real location and before ya know it, my contract was terminated due to me working outside my country of residence, which is forbidden.

::sad trombone:: It was kind of a bummer for me to lose access to the rating tasks, but not really….

Yup, I still get to see all the rating tasks (from time to time) and can see when new shit is going to be implemented in the SERPs from those tasks since I know some people (update: I was reminded that I know more than one rater) who still work part-time as a Google Rater. In fact, just yesterday I saw some new guidelines that were pushed out on November 23rd and some new tasks that aren’t public anywhere. Of course, raters have to sign an NDA, so that’s no real surprise. (note: the info I’m sharing here was gained after my contract ended, and I cannot disclose things during my contract period due to the NDA).

And when I see something really interesting, I share it in my private Facebook group so there’s a few other people who get this inside knowledge. (update: I was also reminded that some paid forums and paid membership groups actually have screenshots).

The SEO Sky Is Falling

It’s with much humor that I’ve been watching various SEOs running around shouting about the sky falling since the August 1st update and how it’s all about E-A-T.

Here’s a little secret – that E-A-T shit was in the guidelines long before SEOs started paying any attention to it. I think SEOs are only obsessed with it now cause they need something to point to as a the reason their sites are taking a hit. So, anyways, for several years now the raters have been using that to rate the quality of pages/websites.

Could Google have suddenly turned that part of the algo up? Yeah, sure. It doesn’t change the fact that a bunch of peeps were declaring it a new thing when it really wasn’t at all.

I even saw one dude in a Facebook group flogging his new service where he makes sure your site is compliant with the Google rater guidelines and E-A-T ….ugh, I hope none you were foolish enough to pay for that. (update: now I’m seeing someone advertising their webinars on this topic…ugh)

i call shenanigans

If you’re looking for info on algo update or any other aspect of SEO and ranking, then you need to always think about how the person giving you information came about this info. Right now, it seems that most of these blog posts are written by SEOs who read about it from the Google Rater guidelines (y’know, the version that Google started making public back in 2015).

Now, I admit that I haven’t looked at the version of the guidelines that Google makes public in several years. However, the last few times that I did compare them to the ones given to the actual raters, they were not 100% identical to each other. But honestly, why would anyone think that they would be? Would you hand over the keys to gaming the system? It’s not like Google loves SEOs – just ask Charles Floate.

The Truth

Here’s the truth – I have no fucking clue what all these updates in recent months have been targeting. It seems like Google has been running some A/B split tests turning up and down different things and I don’t think that it’s any one single thing that they are testing. Sometimes it looks like it’s links, sometimes it looks like relevancy, sometimes it looks like freshness – I don’t know and the only people who I think really do know are the Google team deploying these updates.

But what I can give you the truth on is that all that bullshit you’re reading about meeting E-A-T and getting a high quality score is just people talking out their asses. Writing a 2,000 word essay on your about page is not going to boost you to the top 3 positions for your target keyword.

Yes, raters are supposed to research a site and it’s authors to determine their expertise. In fact, a version of the internal rater guidelines (that I saw after my contract ended) used to give a few different reputation sites for the raters to do their research on, including [removed cause I was contacted & told that this was not true and I’d remembered wrong]. I recall one version of the guidelines (again, that I saw after my contract ended) also telling raters to look on Amazon to see if the person is a published author on the subject. I think those recommendations have since been removed though.

Here’s a fun little fact about Google raters – these rating tasks can be allotted anywhere from a few seconds (yes, seriously) to over 15 minutes for the raters to do their work. Raters get paid based how much time they spend rating each task, UNLESS it takes the rater longer than the allotted time listed on the task. So, if you get a 5-minute task but it takes you 8 minutes to properly research and rate each URL, then you only get paid for the 5 minutes instead of the 8 minutes.

And the rating tasks are almost all under-timed for the amount of actual time it takes you to properly research each URL and rate them. So, what do you think this means? It means that raters can’t spend the required amount of time to do adequate research. And, since the raters are required to leave comments on these tasks, that’s additional time required to complete it.

So, what you end up with is basically a lot of spot checking instead of thorough research. And I can sure as hell tell you that no rater is going to go over their allotted time to read your 2,000-word fluff bio on why you’re an authority on supplements.

Update: I got some questions about raters that I wanted to address. Yes, there are several types of raters that are used by search engines (not just Google). Yes, I’ve seen some of the job listings and they seem to get different tasks, so not everyone seems to be doing the same things. I used to know someone who was a Google quality rater who then moved on to rating for Bing and then eventually doing social media quality tasks. No, I don’t think you should apply, unless you enjoy tedious work or just really need the cash. And I think it pays around $13, but also I think the pay rate varies by location (not only your city but your country – and yes, this isn’t just a USA thing.)

Well, if you’ve read this far into my rant, then it’s only fair that I reward you with some exclusive info on the latest guidelines update pushed out to raters just a few days ago. Though, honestly, I think that this E-A-T stuff is not really something you should be focusing on faking for the raters when there are so many other actually important things you could be doing.

The new update tells raters that website owners are faking their trustworthiness with fake reviews, etc. and that it’s no longer safe to go by reviews of sites/authors where anyone can add the review with no real quality control on who added the reviews. (I’m amazed it took them this long to acknowledge this!) So, they’re telling raters to look on sites that can’t be gamed like Wikipedia and Yelp – lol. Honestly, it’s foolish to think that many raters even spend the time necessary to do this research.

But seriously, just be an expert in your niche and you won’t have to worry about this nonsense.

Oh, and those wannabe gurus who’ve been telling you how important it is to link out to authority sources and list your sources at the bottom of your articles – they’re telling raters to not let that affect their page quality rating either. Whoopsie.

How To Really Build Trustworthiness For Your Sites

I am seriously so fucking tired of all these blog posts and social posts on “X Ways To Build Trust” and related bullshit. They all seem to give the same variation of meaningless tasks that keep you busy but actually have a piss poor ROI if you’re just trying to fake E-A-T for raters.

I’m sure you’ve seen some of these posts and articles that tell you the magic formula is some combination of –

  • lengthy “about” pages to spell out your expertise on the subject matter
  • pictures of a real person and not a stock photo
  • hire a proofreader/editor to fix any typos/mistakes you have in your posts
  • other meaningless shit

Now, I’m not saying that you shouldn’t do the things listed above, I’m just saying that doing them for the point of faking E-A-T is a waste of time. Honestly, if you’re having to fake expertise, authority, and trustworthiness, well, then you’ve got bigger problems than a Google rater, my friend.

Note: I just confirmed (on 11/26/18) that no where in the rater guidelines is anything mentioned about typos and similar errors affecting the site’s quality rating.

So, how do you really build trustworthiness for your sites?

It’s simple – create a fucking brand and not a shitty affiliate site.

I know, not the magic secret you were hoping for, right? Well, too bad cause it’s the truth.

If you’re spending your time creating a brand, then you don’t have to fake shit. It’s just natural. You should be approaching this whole site building thing like building a business, because you know what – affiliate sites CAN become real world businesses from simple things like creating and selling products on the site.

That’s why when I bought domains for the last few sites that I’ve started, the first thing I did before buying the domain was a trademark database search so that I can take the site all the way to a legit business/brand.

Not sure how to break free from the MFA sites or the shitty Niche Pursuits-style affiliate sites with the huge Tablepress table on the home page? Let me help.

  1. Create sites in niches that you are already an expert in, or where you’re interested in becoming an expert.
  2. Stop cutting fucking corners on content. Experts don’t charge $0.015/word for content. It’s better to have one-two epic posts created by experts than 10 posts created by some rando you found on UpWork that is really cheap to hire.
  3. Don’t make every post a buying guide or “best shitty product you don’t really need 2018” post.
  4. Buy the products you promote and take real photos for your reviews/buying guides. Yes, doing this can be expensive but you really get rewarded in the SERPs for it, trust me.
  5. Ditch the fake personas – even using your real photo with a nickname is a better option than a stock photo or cartoon drawing.
  6. Focus on strategies instead of tactics to grow your site.
  7. Hire real experts for the content where you can’t be your own expert – and don’t fucking cheap out on this cause it will bite you in the ass.

Can you still make those shitty affiliate sites and earn sweet cash from them? Sure, even I have a few of those left in my portfolio. However, the shelf life for them is short and I don’t want to be back in a cubicle ever again.

So, build for the long term from the start (or now, if you’ve already started).

You’ll end up ranking better, earning more, have an easier time getting backlinks, and be able to easily transition the site into a real world business.


4 thoughts on “The Truth About E-A-T, Google Rater Guidelines, & Improving Your Site’s Authority and Trust”

  1. Hey Shawna,

    Thanks a lot for taking the time to elaborate on the E-A-T issue.

    After reading this article, below are the two points that I find really really valuable … and I quote,

    “You should be approaching this whole site building thing like building a business, because you know what – affiliate sites CAN become real world businesses from simple things like creating and selling products on the site.”


    “So, build for the long term from the start (or now, if you’ve already started).

    You’ll end up ranking better, earning more, have an easier time getting backlinks, and be able to easily transition the site into a real world business.”

    Starting from next year, I intend to build and sell income generating websites – niche sites.

    I’m convinced that implementing the two ideas above in my business will help me command higher prices for any website that I intend to sell.

    Once again, thanks a lot for your advice on this topic.

    Keep up the good work.



    • Yes, you can definitely sell your sites for more money if you’ve put in the work to get them to the point of being a real brand/business.

      I like to try to future proof my sites in the event that one income source dries up I will be ready to pivot to something else without having to close down the site. So, starting out with those big end in goals in mind helps with that.

  2. Hi Shawna,

    Honestly some amazing insights there. We are scared everywhere by EAT, but we often neglect that raters are underpaid and at the same time they don’t have enough time. So, for them to make some money, they really need to be quick which comprises quality.

    Prior to reading your I actually didn’t think about it this way.

    Now, to the last point of stop building “Niche Pursuits-crap MFA” sites as you said. What would be your advice for someone who is starting or currently has one of those websites and not budget to buy products to review?

    I mean in the other post you have mentioned the appliances website that sells refrigerators for $1000s, and people are buying them online. So my point is unless you are NY Times and have an actual budget to buy those products, you then cannot really create any helpful content?

    How did you start out?

    I bet most successful people didn’t start their first websites with $$$$$$ in content and products. But as you start to generate revenue, you either invest it back into better content, or you create a new website with expert content on it.

    But as of the beginning, the thing you can do is to focus on “Niche Pursuits-shitty MFA” – this is at least my case, but I know I want to grow and invest more in better and better content/website.

    • Hi Eugen,

      When just starting out, unless you’ve got buckets of cash stashed away, it’s not really feasible to personally review everything. But you can still take the care to make your reviews the best in the niche by having the most in-depth content + getting unique photos (if you can- try looking for pics of the item used that people are selling on eBay, Craigslist, etc).

      And if you’re in a location where these products are in a local store, then pop in and see what kind of photos you can get. Back in the day I went to a local store and did just that!

      In regards to creating epic content when you don’t have the item, what I’ve done in the past is spend a lot of time actually reading all the reviews – not just the ones on Amazon, but also other retailers and forums. It gives you a lot of insight into what the buyers find important, which helps make your content better than the competition.

      Good luck!


Leave a Comment