How do you optimize for Experience from Google’s E-E-A-T guidelines?
In this guide, you’ll learn:
- What experience actually means (hint: it has three different meanings)
- 3 examples of perfect experience optimization
- What to AVOID at all costs
- How to demonstrate experience and make content that Google loves
- One “evil” way to demonstrate experience using AI (I didn’t want to share this, but oh well…)
Let’s dive in.
I Investigated E-E-A-T to Learn Exactly How to Optimize for Experience
There are three ways Google measures experience:
1. First-Hand Experience
“Does content also demonstrate that it was produced with some degree of experience, such as with actual use of a product, having actually visited a place, or communicating what a person experienced?”
This question is black and white because evidence of experience is easy to spot—more on this in a second.
But here’s the deal:
Experience is so important to Google that it’s mentioned 108 times in the Quality Rating Guidelines (QRG).
The question is, why?
It’s a pretty genius move on their part. Here’s why:
Experience Combats Thin Review Content
Google has been at war against thin affiliate content since Panda launched in February 2011.
The not-so-secret fact about most affiliate websites online is that they haven’t actually tried the products.
Here’s how a (bad) product review process works:
- Find a product with a high CPA
- Check out the reviews
- Write a regurgitation of those reviews
- Rinse and repeat
But that’s not even the most diabolical version of unethical affiliate marketing.
Things get really nasty in the information product sector.
Pyramid-scheme affiliate marketing programs teach students to “review” other courses and then promote their course as an alternative.
The not-so-cool part is that they always give the course they’re “reviewing” low scores even though they’ve never even tried or “experienced” the product.
Like this fake review of Gotch SEO Academy:
This guy wrote a review based on publicly available information, not from real experience.
Can you see how this won’t fly in a post-experience world?
Google knows it’s difficult to fake first-hand experience because it’s nuanced.
But evidence of “experience” goes beyond just the words on the page.
For example, unique photos or videos documenting the experience are difficult to fake.
That’s why Google says,
“Provide evidence such as visuals, audio, or other links of your own experience with the product, to support your expertise and reinforce the authenticity of your review.”
I’ll show you some good and bad examples in a second.
But this “experience” initiative stems from Google’s Product Reviews system.
Google’s goal is to crack down on websites reviewing products or services they have no experience with.
Theoretically, doing it well will rid the SERPs of thin affiliate content that isn’t helpful for users.
But that’s not all:
Experience Combats the Flood of AI-Generated Content
It’s no secret that you can instantly create AI content using ChatGPT.
But there’s a problem:
AI can’t taste, touch, smell, try, or experience anything.
The truth is that Google knows it can’t stop AI content from flooding its index.
That’s why Google stated that it isn’t against helpful AI content.
But here’s where Google pulled off a genius move.
They focused on the one thing that AI can’t do:
Actually experience something.
You can fabricate it, but the nuance of experiencing something is difficult to emulate.
But that’s not all:
Experience Can Be a Substitute for Expertise
Only some industries have formal qualifications to broadcast expertise.
For example, let’s say your website is about the “best coffee makers.”
There are no formal credentials that demonstrate expertise in knowing what the best coffee maker is.
So how can Google differentiate from one creator to another?
Well, the best way to explain it is through an example.
If you wanted to build a killer website about the best coffee makers, you’d need to model a website like Rtings.
They purchase the newest TVs, sound systems, etc., and test them in a lab.
That means they’re making financial investments in their product reviews and ranking these items based on a quantifiable and objective process.
As you can tell, optimizing for experience is simple but not easy.
Now that you understand why first-hand experience matters, here’s another part of this equation:
2. Experience in the Field
This is where things get interesting.
You can theoretically demonstrate “expertise” with degrees, certifications, etc.
But even with those external signals, you may have little field experience.
Think about this:
Who is more trustworthy in business?
Joe Schmoe with an MBA or Jeff Bezos without an MBA?
The answer is painfully obvious.
Like first-hand experience, in-the-field experience is difficult to fake.
The truth is that experience breeds nuance. The nuance that a degree can’t give you.
For example, you can study every facet of MMA your whole life.
But get into the cage with Jon Jones, and your education won’t save you.
Within seconds, the lack of experience in grappling, striking, and jiu-jitsu will be exploited.
This is the difference between vanity “expertise” vs in-the-field experience.
Another great example is One Bite Pizza Reviews. Dave Portnoy isn’t a chef or seasoned taste tester with an exquisite pallet.
But Dave has first-hand experience tasting hundreds of different pizzas.
This leads to the next point:
Experience leads to expertise.
But based on the examples above, it’s clear that in-the-field experience is far superior to anything else.
It’s the fastest way to learn a skill.
For example, do you learn SEO faster from reading this guide or building a website and trying to rank it?
The answer is the latter.
Here’s the point:
You don’t always need formal credentials to demonstrate experience in your content.
Does it hurt?
No, and displaying credentials is wise if you’re operating in Your Money, Your Life (YMYL) industries.
But for your content to stand out, it must have those little aspects that prove your in-the-field and first-hand experience.
And now the final piece of the “Experience” equation is:
3. The Searcher’s Experience
I’ve focused heavily on the experience of the content creator.
However, you must also consider the searcher’s experience on your website.
Each of these factors will influence a searcher’s experience on your website.
So now that you know the three pillars of experience, it’s time to look at some real-life examples.
3 Websites Demonstrating Experience Perfectly (+ Some Doing It Dead Wrong)
Disclaimer: Demonstrating experience in your content is one small variable in determining quality. Google uses thousands of variables to determine rankings. Correlation is not causation.
Let’s dive in:
Example #1: “best frozen pizza”
Right away, it’s clear that Google favors content that demonstrates first-hand experience for this keyword:
Let’s start with Tasting Table (which you should model).
First, you’ll see that they use language that demonstrates experience, like “we hit our local grocery store to find..”
“excited to try,” “we felt that,” or” did not sit well with our taste testers…”:
And lastly, the author’s bio page is detailed and clearly states their experience.
I also like how this page presents visual proof of experience:
Remember, demonstrating experience is more than just the words on the page.
Now here’s an example of a page that’s ranking poorly for this keyword phrase:
Notice that it lacks a first-person perspective or experience. And it’s just like any other generic list post you’ll see.
Same with this one:
It’s a generic list without proof that they’ve tried these products.
Low-effort content like the examples above won’t work well in the future (or even now).
Example #2: “purple mattress review”
It only takes a split second to see that the top-ranking result demonstrates experience:
And then they present awesome visual evidence:
On the opposite side of the spectrum, this poor ranking result demonstrates zero first-hand experience:
The easiest way to identify experience is to do a page search for “I/we.”
Generic review content rarely uses the first-person.
Think about that:
If I can figure that out, then the trillion-dollar company Google can too.
But to add insult to injury, this page uses the brand’s visuals:
That means there’s zero evidence of first-hand experience in the copy and with the visuals.
Don’t model this.
Example #3: “bluehost review”
It’s no secret that affiliate marketers love promoting Bluehost even though it sucks.
But let’s take a look anyway.
Like the other good examples, experience is evident in the title:
And then, in the content, they show in-the-field data comparing Bluehost vs. other providers:
Now let’s look at what not to do. Check out this example:
There is little to no objectivity in this review. It’s praising Bluehost and not giving the user an honest assessment.
Here’s another example of ineffective visuals when trying to demonstrate experience:
Don’t just pull images from their website. Instead, get screenshots from the backend using their tool.
This will prove that you have first-hand experience.
But here’s my favorite part (which was common among the site’s that review Bluehost):
Many of the reviewers aren’t even using Bluehost!
That’s like me saying I only wear Nike’s, and then you see me wearing Under Armour shoes.
So now the question is:
How do you demonstrate more signs of experience in your content?
4 Ways to Demonstrate Experience (Like an E-E-A-T Pro)
1. Do What’s Difficult
Google mentions “effort” 101 times in the QRG. It makes perfect sense because it’s like anything else in life.
You are rewarded for the effort you put into something like this guy:
Just kidding, but creating content is like other skills.
The more effort and time you invest, the better it (and you) typically become.
That’s why someone like Brian Dean can publish at a random cadence and crush everyone else.
Brian invests time, effort, and capital into making the best content possible instead of trying to maintain some silly editorial standard.
The funny thing is, I’ve been producing content that demonstrates “experience” for years, like when I analyzed 10,000 keywords to see what CMS is best for SEO.
And my idea behind these assets stemmed from my YouTube experience and studying top YouTubers like Mr. Beast.
Speaking of that:
2. Become a Human Guinea Pig
Look for opportunities to try things.
That’ll require you to invest in your content, like when I rated the best keyword research services.
I actually purchased these services and shared my findings.
Here are two more examples that you can model:
- We Spent $22,960 on Niche Edit Backlinks (Do They Work?)
- Top 3 Best Link Building Services ($1 Million Case Study)
3. Curate Experience
The highest effort content will require you to commit capital and time to demonstrate first-hand experience.
Fortunately, there is a workaround if you’re not into that.
You can use other people’s experience to create a content-rich page.
The first example is Rotten Tomatoes:
Rotten Tomatoes doesn’t do any first-hand movie or TV show reviews. Instead, it curates reviews from experts and fans:
G2 does the same thing:
Now I’ll show you how to demonstrate your experience using ChatGPT.
4. Use ChatGPT to Demonstrate Experience
ChatGPT can produce killer SEO content but struggles to demonstrate experience (out of the box).
Here’s what you can do:
Let’s say you wanted to rank for “Jack’s Pizza review.”
Start by getting the average word count from a tool like Surfer:
Then export the NLP keywords:
Now go to Amazon and copy at least one 5, 4, 3, 2, and 1-star review.
Then go to Google to search: reddit.com + “KEYWORD”:
Copy three or more opinions.
Then to take this to the next level, get some opinions from YouTubers.
For example, I copied the transcript from the One Bite Pizza Reviews video (with this extension):
And then used ChatGPT to give me a summary of the video:
Now it’s time to develop prompts that you’ll feed into ChatGPT.
Angle #1 – Other People’s Experience
Here’s a template you can try:
Project overview: I want you to write an objective product review article for “[PRODUCT]” based on the curated reviews, outline, and NLP keywords I’ve supplied below. I also want you to give [PRODUCT] a score out of 5 based on the reviews I’ve given you.
Important: This review is not from first-hand experience. Instead, it’s curating other people’s experience from around the internet. It’ll be helpful because someone won’t have to do any additional research since we’ve already done it for them.
Word count minimum: [#] words
Product overview: [2-3 SENTENCES ABOUT PRODUCT]
NLP keywords: [INSERT 50-100 NLP KEYWORDS]
Article outline: [INSERT OUTLINE]
[INSERT 5-STAR REVIEW] [INSERT 4-STAR REVIEW] [INSERT 3-STAR REVIEW] [INSERT 2-STAR REVIEW] [INSERT 1-STAR REVIEW]
[OPINION #1] [OPINION #2] [OPINION #3]
[OPINION #1] [OPINION #2] [OPINION #3]
ChatGPT (using GPT-4) will likely spit out ~500-700 words.
Here’s how the inputs above performed without any edits on Originality.ai:
Continue the dialogue to increase the word count and depth.
Angle #2 – Your “Experience”
Disclaimer before I show this: What you’re about to see has some ethical implications that need to be considered. I’m not the ethics police.
So it’s your choice to use the following method within your ethical guidelines.
Here’s the modified prompt:
Project overview: I want you to write a product review article for “[PRODUCT]” from a first-person perspective. Use “I” when describing your feelings about the product. I’ve supplied you with reviews from various sources. Use these reviews to formulate a review that demonstrates first-hand experience. Use the NLP keywords I’ve given you when it makes sense. I also want you to give it a score out of 5 based on the reviews I’ve given you. Additional guidelines: - Provide examples, tips and real life experience within the content, this adds to the trust factor. - Share a personal experience, perspective, or feelings on a topic. - Demonstrate that it was produced with some degree of experience, such as with actual use of a product Word count minimum: [#] words Tone and style: [INSERT AUTHORITY FIGURE] Product overview: [2-3 SENTENCES ABOUT PRODUCT] NLP keywords: [INSERT 50-100 NLP KEYWORDS] Article outline: [INSERT OUTLINE] Reviews: [INSERT 5-STAR REVIEW] [INSERT 4-STAR REVIEW] [INSERT 3-STAR REVIEW] [INSERT 2-STAR REVIEW] [INSERT 1-STAR REVIEW] Reddit opinions: [OPINION #1] [OPINION #2] [OPINION #3] YouTuber opinions: [OPINION #1] [OPINION #2] [OPINION #3]
One way to do this more “ethically” is to try the product.
Then create a content brief based on your experience to feed into ChatGPT.
This is an excellent option if you aren’t a great writer but have some great experience to share.
Audit Your Content Based on Experience
The best thing you can do right now to upgrade your content for SEO is to score it based on experience.
1. Copy a snippet from an existing content asset
2. Create the following prompt for ChatGPT:
Rate the content below targeting the keyword phrase "[KEYWORD]" on a scale of 1-10 (10 being the highest) based on the following guidelines:
Does the content demonstrate first-hand experience?
Does the content demonstrate in-the-field experience?
How well does the content share a personal experience, perspective, or feelings on a topic?
How well does the content speak from a first-person perspective?
Does content also demonstrate that it was produced with some degree of experience, such as actual use of a product, having actually visited a place, or communicating what a person experienced?
How original is the content?
How helpful is the content?
[INSERT CONTENT SNIPPET]
Here’s how ChatGPT rated my “best keyword research services” guide (based on the experience criteria):
3. Then run a follow-up prompt
Please share some actionable ways I can upgrade this content to demonstrate better experience and expertise to get this score to a 10/10.
Within seconds, it spits out some awesome recommendations:
All you need to do now is:
4. Upgrade your content + rinse and repeat
Execute the recommended changes to upgrade your content.
Then repeat with the rest of your content.
Optimizing for Experience is Simple, But Not Easy!
So, that’s everything you need to know about the first E (Experience) in Google’s E-E-A-T guidelines.
In the next post, I’ll show you everything you need to know about the second E (Expertise).
So, subscribe to get first access when it goes live.
Thanks for reading!
Check out the rest of the E-E-A-T series: