SEO and Google E-A-T: does it reward only the loudest voice in the room?

Last week (November 21), Ann Smarty published a Substack newsletter entitled SEO and Topical Authority, in which she assessed the trends in SEO and Google E-A-T and its potential reaction to the expected onslaught of AI-generated content in the next few years or months.

In her piece, Ann suggests that the “loudest voice in the room” will be the ones dominating the SERPS. It won’t be enough to produce expert-optimized content. It won’t be enough to interact on social media. No, those who dominate the SERPs will be those Google deems expert according to their nebulous and infamous “E-A-T” formula: expertise, authoritativeness, trustworthiness.

The Problems with SEO and Google E-A-T Formula

The problem with the E-A-T formula is that it’s never been clear exactly how a computer is supposed to assess this. For example, does it deem my dual master’s degrees in direct marketing and writing a proven example of content creation and marketing expertise? It should, but it probably doesn’t. How about my 30 years of experience leading marketing teams in various industries? It doesn’t even register that.

Instead, as Ann points out using screenshots from recent searches, search engines seem to register the ‘loudest’ voice in the rooms – the ones dominating the conversations across platforms.

You know the ones…

  • The consultant who slaps their face on every ad or social post
  • The consultant who brands themselves a guru of this or that
  • The consultant who aggressively pursues paid and unpaid advertising
  • The consultant who flies across the country to speak at conferences
  • The consultants with book contracts

Let’s be clear: doing all those things is fine if they feel right to you and are congruent with your brand. And therein lies the rub. Not all of us like to be loud. Some of us, myself included, would prefer to let our thoughts shine rather than our personalities. It’s not that we don’t have personalities – we do. But for some of us, being the loudest voice in the room isn’t our thing.

How Can You Convince Google of Your Expertise and Authority?

The question is how each of us can help Google understand our topical authority. (I use Google as an example of search because it remains the dominant player in the industry). The answer, I believe, is in personal branding.

If you are unfamiliar with personal branding, now is an excellent time to begin understanding it. It is crafting, managing, and refining your online reputation to ensure consistent recognition of your expertise.

I think that Google’s algorithm relies heavily upon consistent signals over time. It’s the “over time” part that people forget. In the short run, anyone can pump out consistent content on almost any topic. But it is the years of speaking, teaching, writing, and sharing information on one angle, one topic, that will eventually help your personal brand stand out.

I look forward to Ann’s subsequent reflection on this topic. What are your thoughts on this? Is Google giving too much attention to vanity metrics in their E-A-T formula? Or can you, as a marketer, work with this and use it to your advantage?