Expertise, authority and trustworthiness – also known as E-A-T.
Back in August 2018, Google rolled out a significant algorithm change that focused on these three words.
This update intended to prioritise websites where the publishers could show themselves to be:
- An expert in their chosen field
- A recognised authority within their niche, industry and/or profession
- Worthy of being trusted by external reviewers, influencers, peers and clients
The algorithm update was also about making sure that search results best match the search intent of a user and that low quality, untrustworthy websites would disappear further down the rankings.
Many people called it the ‘Medic’ update because websites giving medical or other potentially life-changing advice (e.g. financial) were hit the hardest.
E-A-T matters to your clients
While search engine optimisation may not be your priority (although it should be right up there), Google’s focus on expertise, authority and trustworthiness is something that we should all take on board.
It’s not just search engines that value these traits. Your existing and potential clients care about them too.
Even if your business falls outside of the medical and financial sectors, and as a trainer it probably does, you should still think about your E-A-T in every aspect of your training business.
This applies to the content you publish, your marketing, how you interact with your network, your client relationships and much, much more.
If you can find ways to demonstrate that you’re an expert and that what you do and say is to be trusted, it can only work in your favour.
These traits are at the core of creating an effective trainer profile.
How to demonstrate your expertise, authority and trustworthiness
The secret to demonstrating your E-A-T is only saying something that you can back up with evidence.
Online, you can do this by linking to and/or citing your sources, adding logos, or using statistics or quotes from reputable people and organisations, as just a few examples.
Much of this advice applies to what you do offline too.
Above all, it’s about being credible.
What makes you an expert?
People will want to know why they should trust what you say.
- What experience or knowledge do you have that makes you an expert?
- Why should clients listen to you over anyone else in your field?
One of my earliest blogs was about why it’s so important to understand your clients’ businesses.
In my early days as a trainer, I got loads of work from the insurance sector. Why? Because I had worked in that sector and understood it. I knew the underwriters from the brokers. I could speak their language and base my training in real-world experience.
This is why clients wanted to work with me.
Show how your credentials benefit your clients
Your website is a great place to tell people about your credentials. On your About page, for example, you can talk about:
- Your qualifications
- Your experience and track record
- Companies you’ve worked with
- The difference your training makes
- Publications in which you’ve been featured
You don’t have to rattle off your CV. Instead, think about your credentials in terms of why they will matter to your clients.
You can use this information in your pitches and marketing too.
If you’ve worked with companies facing similar challenges to those potential clients might be experiencing, then that will be hugely reassuring.
If you’ve been quoted as an expert in the media or had a popular guest blog published, this will act as a vote of confidence.
The secret is to think about every one of your qualifications, skills or experience and frame it with the questions, “Why should my clients care about this?” and “How does this benefit my clients?”
If you’re just starting and lack experience, let potential clients know why you’re passionate about the training you offer.
As a new freelance trainer, you can build your E-A-T by being great at communicating, showing you care about your clients and offering training designed to meet a specific need.
Above all, people value authenticity and it’s a concept/trait that’s at the heart of E-A-T.
If you can be genuine in your marketing, your customer service and your training, this will resonate even if you don’t have years of experience under your belt.
Ways you can show you’re an expert
There are several subtle but effective ways that you can raise your profile as an expert. You could try these simple ideas:
- Write a regular blog where you feature opinion pieces relevant to your target clients
- Say yes to public speaking opportunities (more about this below)
- Look for guest blogging opportunities
- Create a lead magnet, such as a free ebook or professional development materials
- Add a FAQs page to your website
- Comment on your clients’ social media posts from a position of experience
- Publish articles on LinkedIn
Get help demonstrating your E-A-T
People are most likely to believe that you’re an expert and trustworthy if they hear it from someone they already know and respect.
In the section below, we’ll be taking a look at social proof, endorsements, reviews and other techniques for getting recommendations.
Social proof tells others that you’re trustworthy
One of the biggest barriers to securing a training booking – or any kind of sale, in fact – is fear.
As consumers, we want to know that we won’t regret spending our money. The fear of making a mistake or, worse still, looking foolish for buying in the wrong place is incredibly powerful.
As social creatures, we look to others for guidance about how to behave in an unfamiliar situation or with an unfamiliar person. Social proof is about saying, “I’m trustworthy and I know my stuff but don’t just take my word for it – these people agree with me”.
If you can show potential clients that other businesses have bought from you and benefited from it, you can help to remove the fear barrier.
Social proof for your training business could include:
- Testimonials/reviews (on your website and third-party review sites)
- Endorsements (e.g. on LinkedIn)
- Case studies that show the difference you’ve made to a specific client
- Logos of professional bodies of which you’re a member
- Mentions in the media or by influential people within your industry
Give at-a-glance social proof
There are other, subtle ways that you can show social proof.
You’ve probably noticed that many websites now feature ‘Progress’ or ‘counter’ bars that give an at-a-glance view of things like how many clients someone has worked with or how many projects they’ve completed.
Here’s an example:
The purpose of this simple technique is to show potential clients just how many people have come before them and been happy with the service or product they’ve received.
The logos of other clients are another subtle indicator of trustworthiness. It’s a way of saying, “People know and trust these popular brands and these brands know and trust us”.
Simple visual techniques like this create reassurance before a potential client has read a word about you.
Getting and using testimonials
According to the latest annual BrightLocal Local Consumer Review Survey, 86% of us read reviews for local businesses before we’ll contact them.
We’ll read an average of 10 reviews before we feel we’re able to trust a business, and 40% of us only take into account reviews written within the last fortnight.
The survey also says that 91% of 18-34-year-olds trust reviews as much as personal recommendations.
These are big, significant stats that highlight the point I was making above about people wanting reassurance from other customers before they buy.
With this in mind, if you’re not collecting them already, it’s time to start using testimonials to market your business.
The power of endorsements
I briefly mentioned endorsements above within the context of LinkedIn endorsements. These act as a vote of confidence from other people in your network that you have the skills you claim to have.
Endorsements work in a wider context too.
For Google, and for your clients, one of the best ways to demonstrate your E-A-T is to secure an endorsement from someone who is seen as an influencer in your field.
An influencer is someone who is already known for their expertise, authority and trustworthiness. They have an audience and are viewed as highly credible.
If you can build a good relationship with an influencer who is prepared to endorse you as a trainer, it will skyrocket your visibility.
You don’t have to stop at online influencers.
Think about industry associations, campaign groups or working groups in your field.
Is there anyone who shares a similar audience to you and whose values resonate with you? Running an event with them or appearing as a guest speaker at one of their training sessions could be a great way to show you have the backing of a respected professional.
Say ‘yes’ to public speaking opportunities
Public speaking is another fantastic way to grow your reputation and your E-A-T.
It’s an opportunity to step in front of a new audience and to reach potential clients and influencers within your industry.
Public speaking opportunities can sometimes be found through:
- Local business networking groups
- Colleges and universities (what courses might appreciate a guest lecturer with your knowledge and experience?)
- Local not-for-profit groups
- Special interest groups
- Trainer Talk Local
It’s worth asking your network for their recommendations.
If you can’t immediately find any public speaking gigs, another option is to run a handful of public workshops.
Demonstrate your integrity
Ultimately, your expertise, authority and trustworthiness come from demonstrating integrity and good intention in everything you do.
This can range from following best practice for data protection when dealing with your mailing list right through to following up after a training course you’ve delivered.
E-A-T isn’t something you can establish overnight but, by keeping it at the forefront of your mind, it will gradually grow and open new doors.
Bonus tip: How Google sees your E-A-T
Did you know that Google scores the authority of your web domain as well as all of the individual pages on your website out of 100?
You can check out your domain and page authorities using a tool like the free MozBar. By checking this score regularly, you can track whether your E-A-T is going up or down from Google’s perspective.
This can be an indication of how your brand is perceived more widely.
A new website typically starts with a domain authority of one out of 100. High authority sites tend to be domains like Facebook or Wikipedia that are used worldwide and have extensive backlinks and internal links between pages; Facebook has a domain authority of 95 and Wikipedia’s is 93. It’s difficult for smaller sites to hit these domain authority levels.
The best approach is to keep an eye on your domain authority and to check which of your pages have the highest page authority too. What makes them higher authority than some of your other pages?
You might also want to keep an eye on the authority stats for your competitors as a yardstick. The MozBar mentioned above gives you stats for any site you visit.
Before you go, I’d love to hear what E-A-T means to you. Is it something you focus on in your training business? How do you judge the E-A-T of people and businesses you buy from? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the Comments below.
If you enjoyed this post and found it helpful, I’d love it if you shared it – thank you, it’s much appreciated.