As any digital marketer operating in the industry can attest, the principles of Expertise, Experience, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness (E-E-A-T) have emerged in recent years as one of the more important considerations for search engine performance.
This framework, while applicable across various domains, holds particular weight for websites operating in sectors such as healthcare, finance, and legal services. In these fields, the accuracy and dependability of information are not just preferred but expected. E-E-A-T stands at the forefront of this expectation, serving as a benchmark for search engines to assess the credibility and value of online content.
Establishing trust and authority is imperative for e-commerce entities in sensitive niches with significant implications for misinformation.
Table of Contents
A Quick E-E-A-T Refresher
Why does Google give E-E-A-T such weight? The answer lies in the search engine's commitment to reliable and relevant information in a world where ‘fake news’ and non-trustworthy content is rife in the online space. Google is responsible for promoting websites and pages that provide credible and trusted information. As SEOs, our job is to convey that information and signal those things about our websites to Google as clearly as possible.
This is super important in the e-commerce space. SEO is a great strategy for e-commerce businesses, and E-E-A-T considerations should be on the top your list.
Remember, on e-commerce websites:
- Experience signifies Google's emphasis on valuing content created from genuine, personal involvement or practical familiarity with the subject matter, ensuring that the information is not only authoritative and trustworthy but also grounded in real-world experience and expertise.
- Expertise is demonstrated through comprehensive product knowledge, detailed descriptions, and informational content about product usage and benefits. User guides and product review-type content can be very helpful here.
- Authoritativeness is established through user reviews, product ratings, endorsements, and mentions from reputable sources within the industry.
- Trustworthiness speaks to payment security, shipping and return policies, and transparent customer service practices. It also includes ensuring website security and data protection. Transparency in these areas is a must.
Click here for more information on each of the components of E-A-T.
E-E-A-T and User Experience
It’s no secret that user-experience is super important online; but the fortunes of an e-commerce business often relies more on good UX than for other kinds of websites. Online shoppers tend to be particularly impatient, moving through pages and websites quite quickly in search of the dopamine hit we all crave when finding the product we’re looking for.
When users have a smooth, informative, and hassle-free experience, their trust in the site increases. This trust, in turn, feeds back into the site's perceived authoritativeness and expertise.
So what can you do to ensure you keep visitors engaged for as long as possible?
The synergy starts with easy navigation. A site that's simple to navigate allows users to find what they need quickly, showcasing the site's expertise in understanding and catering to customer needs. Here are som
Clear, concise information is another critical aspect. When users find the information they're looking for without hassle, it not only enhances their experience but also builds the site's authority. This clarity extends to product descriptions, FAQs, and informational content, all of which should reflect the site's expertise in its niche.
Responsive design plays a pivotal role too. A site that performs seamlessly across devices demonstrates a commitment to user convenience, reflecting trustworthiness. It shows that the site values its users' time and experience, regardless of how they choose to access it.
A Word on Sensitive Niches
As mentioned, sensitive niches include sectors like healthcare, financial services, and legal advice, where the accuracy and integrity of information is essential for the common good. These niches are subject to intense scrutiny from search engines, reflecting the critical nature of their content.
While these are traditionally face-to-face services, we are seeing providers in these fields embracing the potential of selling online:
- There are now many online retailers in the consumer health and wellness space. They offer products that can be purchased using flexible spending accounts (FSAs), health savings accounts (HSAs), and other health-related financial instruments. These platforms often sell a wide range of health products, from medical devices to wellness products.
- The financial services sector has embraced e-commerce through online banking, investment platforms, and financial advisory services. The Federal Trade Commission discusses the future of banking and financial services in the context of e-commerce, highlighting the shift towards digital platforms for financial transactions and services.
- E-commerce in the legal sector can include the offering of legal advice through digital platforms, document preparation services, and online legal consultations. These services provide a more accessible and often cost-effective way for individuals and businesses to obtain legal assistance.
The main challenge for e-commerce providers in these spaces is combining the needs of the typical impatient online shopper with the increased scrutiny of information that these industries are subject to. Getting the balance right requires a deep understanding of both the digital and the regulatory environment.
Regulations to Keep in Mind
The legal thresholds and regulatory requirements need to be adhered to in these industries with great care. These vary depending on the region and the specific nature of the services offered. Here's a general overview:
Compliance with Health Laws: In the United States, for instance, e-commerce platforms dealing with healthcare products or services must comply with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) if they handle protected health information.
FDA Regulations: If selling medical products or supplements, compliance with Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations is necessary.
Licensing Requirements: Certain healthcare services may require professional licensing.
Financial Regulations Compliance: This includes adhering to laws governed by bodies like the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in the U.S. or the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) in the UK.
Anti-Money Laundering Laws: E-commerce platforms must have measures in place to prevent money laundering and terrorist financing.
Data Security Standards: Compliance with standards like the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) for handling credit card transactions is crucial.
Bar Association Rules: In many regions, providing legal advice is regulated by bar associations, and individuals or entities offering such advice must be duly licensed.
Disclaimer Requirements: Websites offering legal information often need to provide clear disclaimers that the information is not legal advice and does not establish an attorney-client relationship.
The integration of E-E-A-T principles into e-commerce SEO, especially in sensitive niches, is not just a best practice but a necessity. The key takeaways are clear: establishing expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness enhances search engine rankings and also builds a foundation of credibility and trust with users.
As digital marketing professionals, we must prioritize E-A-T in our SEO efforts, understanding that it's a continuous process of improvement and adaptation. By doing so, we not only align with the current search engine algorithms but also prepare our e-commerce platforms for future developments in the digital marketplace.