Recently, I’ve started working with a couple expat coaches in Bali including Gil Petersil, a master of networking, who regularly participates or hosts tea ceremonies for his business guests.
The purpose of these ritualistic ceremonies, especially when it comes to his teaching of effective business networking, is practicing presence, respect, consideration for others and receptivity without judgment.
While these principles can be a reminder of how to best establish the foundation for any business brand, similar principles embodied in three words can also best describe what is essential for any business leader who wants to grow their professional network.
These are the three pillars that prop up the presence, respect, and consideration – or should I say, the credibility of your brand.
Trustworthiness, Expertise and Authority – or T-E-A.
You’ve probably heard the expression that consumers today want to do business with those they “Know, Like and Trust.”
This has become incredibly important. As of late, each year marks a further devolution in trust according to Edelmann’s annual Trust Barometer. It’s further evidence why consumers flock to those that establish and reinforce trust with their customers.
In order to build trust into your brand, you need content and websites that help build or reinforce your reputation and that deliver outstanding value.
In fact, it’s become so important that T-E-A today also signals what Google and prospects are looking for – expert-level content that answers all the right questions.
T-E-A first showed up in Google’s Search Quality Guidelines in 2014 and has progressively become one of the most important aspects of SEO. It became especially critical after the August 2018 Google Medic update. Having stellar SEO content to support T-E-A can improve your chances of ending up near the top of Search Engine results and outlasting the test of future Google algorithm updates. It is essential for any successful endeavor.
The Basics of T-E-A
In its Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines, Google explains that T-E-A content has a “high level of Trustworthiness, Expertise, and Authoritativeness,” therefore it can easily be construed that placing high-level content on a web page or in an email can result in the following benefits:
- Google’s algorithm loves content oriented toward T-E-A so the end result can be higher search engine rankings.
- Behavioral metrics such as time on page and click-throughs to other pages on your site will increase.
- People are more likely to share valuable T-E-A information which increases social shares and backlinks:
- More featured snippets at the top of Google’s search results can command attention over even the first paid ads.
- Your email has a better chance of ending up in the Inbox rather than Spam or Promotions folders.
Still unsure of the meaning of the concept of T-E-A when it comes to marketing? Let’s break it down further.
Trust (or Trustworthiness)
When it comes to your communication efforts, the underlying elements to build trust are based on your expertise and how you are judged for your authority on a subject.
I place trust at the top because, according to the annual Edelman Trust Barometer, people worldwide have lost trust in most every institution. Therefore, it makes sense that Trust is the most important foundational element of your business. It should be the goal of every interaction you have with your target audience simply because people prefer to do business with those that they know, like and trust.
When your audience trust you, you can also gain the trust of Google. And being trusted by Google can help elevate your content to a trusted space in Search Engine Results. That’s quite an honor.
In fact, if your content lacks credibility, you simply won’t rank well on Google .
Trustworthy, quality content that is timely and accurate should be reflected in everything from the title to the copy.
Trust is generated over time and is constantly reinforced by how you, your company and those who work for and with you interact with your stakeholders, whether they be investors, employees, vendors, customers, or prospects. It doesn’t magically occur overnight.
Your goal is for your audience to see you as a trusted expert in your field.
Show your audience what you know by creating expert-level content. Provide story-telling from personal experiences related to your topic and be sure that content is relevant to your area of expertise.
For example, if you are in real estate, content could be based on what red flags to watch for when buying a house. You can determine exactly what your audience needs and wants to know by analyzing search intent using free sites such as AnswerthePublic.com which scans all search engines for relevant questions.
Expertise comes down to becoming the go-to in your niche by providing users with the accurate, high-quality content they’re seeking.
When you are trusted they will want to rely on you and your product or service.
Don’t stop there. That’s only the beginning. You’re also the authority.
You establish authoritativeness when your work receives mentions within your niche on niche topics. Other experts linking to your content demonstrates how polished and trusted your work is. This shows that your content delivers what the headlines and title tags promise. What you want is related websites with established authority in your industry promoting your content.
The more your content is able to regularly earn mentions or backlinks on other sites, the more your content and therefore you or your brand will be perceived as authoritative.
You can’t have SEO success without authority which in turn increases your domain authority ranking.
That’s T-E-A marketing in action.
Why Is T-E-A Important?
Aside from Google saying it’s important, T-E-A marketing is a good way to hold your content accountable, too.
So, what’s the big deal? It’s a pages’ value within a site that impacts where the site lands in Search Engine Results. T-E-A, in essence, defines a website’s value.
Google’s Quality Rater Guidelines (QRG) do not directly influence page ranking, but Quality raters do keep T-E-A in mind when determining how effectively a site or page meets users’ needs because they assess whether information fits a users’ expectations.
A site receives higher T-E-A signals if raters believe visitors might share or recommend the information In other words, get on Google’s good side.
T-E-A and YMYL Sites
YMYL (“Your Money or Your Life”) pages are topics that impact visitors’ legal, financial, medical, and safety. These are the types of topics that can seriously affect a person’s health, well-being, or finances and therefore it is easy to understand that T-E-A is extremely important to Google’s YMYL pages.
As high-stakes topics, content must be exemplary in its trustworthiness and is reflected in rich expertise and authority, so it’s understandable why Google should hold these types of sites to high T-E-A SEO standards. Just think of the consequences when YMYL content misses the mark.
Credible, high-quality YMYL content that matches search queries and is high in T-E-A value puts users at ease. Sites that genuinely provide helpful information or a solution to a problem are more likely to meet these demands.
The pages and sites doing T-E-A justice help people make tough decisions, but in this day and age of claims of misinformation and disinformation, in cultures that promote free speech, it ultimately must be the users themselves that must decide what is most accurate and trustworthy.
T-E-A is critical to creating genuinely helpful YMYL content. Do it right, and you’ll be positioned as a credible resource, and people will trust your research-based advice.
Best Practices For T-E-A In Your Content
Now that you know that the T-E-A we have here is not about something you drink but is really about Google’s algorithm, you should hopefully understand why it matters to your email communication and web pages.
When you emphasize trust, expertise, authority, you’re adopting a comprehensive approach to SEO and content marketing.
Let these three pillars prop up the credibility of your content.
If you want your pages to rank high on Google for the most relevant and searched for terms in your niche, you will want your content to be as helpful and accurate as possible.
Apply these T-E-A best practices to make your website more authoritative and trustworthy:
- Create an About page to let your audience know who you are.
- Collaborate with fellow experts.
- Regularly review your content and refresh it as needed so that it does not appear outdated.
There are no shortcuts to developing trust, expertise, and authority.
Your goal is to maintain an organically growing brand with a positive online presence.
Put these tips into action to elevate your brand, increase your SERP and enhance your revenue potential.
Play the game as best as you can, regardless of big tech’s recent missteps simply because, like it or not, Google analyzes everything.
Always strive to ensure every aspect of your digital communication aims to hit high T-E-A standards. By doing so, you give your business the best chance of getting to the top of Google’s ranks.
Are you taking appropriate steps to ensure high T-E-A content?
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