Topical Authority Explained: How to Build Topical Authority for Your Website
What is topical authority, and what’s the secret behind achieving it? This guide will answer all your questions about how to gain topical authority with your content.
*Special Note: This is part 3 of a 4 part series by featured guest author, Jasmine Melikyan, so check back tomorrow.
What’s the goal of SEO specialists?
To build content that both people and search engines love to get more organic traffic. The problem is that humans and machines think differently so it’s a bit tricky to create the golden middle for both. Tricky but not impossible. And one of the keys to creating such content lies in the topical authority.
But what’s that about? Some think it’s dead for SEO, the others associate it only with link building. Anyway, it’s a powerful thing when it comes to ranking your content and we are going to reveal everything you need to know about topical authority. You’ll understand why it’s still important and how you can become authoritative in your industry.
What is Topical Authority?
Topical authority is the website’s authority over a niche or broad topic. In SEO terms, authority is achieved when search engines trust your website and its content and see your website as an expert in your niche.
If you have relevant content on your website, you become authoritative in your industry. The vice versa is also true: if you have the topical authority it means you have relevant content on your website.
Back some years ago topical authority would instantly make everyone think of link building. Backlinks were the most important factor when talking about domain authority. But as you might know, Google is constantly updating its algorithms making the ranking process more complex. While I don’t underestimate the power of links, now there are many other factors that influence a webpage’s authority.
Let’s say there is a brand offering SEO services, which has a blog about SEO. There you can find blog posts and articles about keyword research, its best strategies, link building, etc. The content is structured and all pieces are linked to each other, making navigation through the content extremely easy.
How do users see it?
When users land on some of the website’s pages, they see an article about the topic they’re interested in. As they go through the content, they see links to some related topics which are also interesting for them. If this website’s content is well-written, using natural language, the users will be satisfied and come back to it again. This brand becomes an expert in the eyes of the users.
What do search engines see?
Search engines will crawl through this website and find out that its content pieces are related to each other and are all about SEO. They see that users stay longer on the website and actually click on the other links. It means to them that your page corresponds to the user’s intent.
Besides that, the website isn’t keyword stuffed or full of unnecessary links. And as there are many articles about one topic on this website it becomes authoritative for search engines and will have better chances to rank higher.
Why is it Important?
High Ranking on SERPs
First and foremost, topical authority (or relevance, whichever you prefer) helps you rank in higher positions on SERPs. Search engines trust you and see that your website contains relevant and valuable information about what users are looking for. It makes you a valuable source and thus a better website to appear in the first position.
More Organic Traffic
What’s the purpose of SEO? To get more organic traffic. When you have higher rankings on SERPs you get the chance to have more organic traffic. Besides, when users see that you’re an expert in your industry, they’ll come back to your website more and more, thus increasing traffic even more.
When you’re an authoritative source, brands and websites will notice that too, and you’ll have the opportunity to get more qualified backlinks. That will increase your authority even more. As an expert website, your content will be shared by users too, on social media, as different references and links.
Possibility to Rank for Competitive Keywords
There are extremely high-volume keywords, and every brand wants to rank for them, but very few manage to. When search engines qualify you as a topical authority, your website will become more competitive and you may start ranking for high-volume competitive keywords.
Reliable Source for Users
As you appear in higher positions and get more organic traffic, users will visit your website more and more. And if you have high-quality content, they will recognize you as a reliable source of information.
How it Works
Nearly ten years ago, when there was no Hummingbird, Google would show results based on exact keyword matches, without understanding what that was about. And the number of inbound links along with keywords played a critical role in ranking the website. Of course, the quality of the links was also important, but that was pretty much all.
The search engine wasn’t good at understanding the context and meaning of the keywords. And many websites were using these vulnerabilities, creating keyword and link stuffed content that would rank high. Those were tough times for original content creators.
But as Google’s main goal is to deliver the most relevant results to search queries, they developed a new way of ranking the web pages. Now, it’s time for semantic search. Google understands the contextual meaning of keywords and sees them as phrases, not just separate words.
It understands the synonyms of the words, their meaning and the user’s intent. Besides, Google has become better at analyzing the web pages, how they correspond to search intent, whether it’s keyword-stuffed or contains valuable information (hooray for original content creators), etc.
So if you want to be authoritative, you need to have keyword-optimized content which needs to answer search intent. You need to have internal and external links, your content must be well-structured and well-written, etc. The point I’m trying to make is you can’t just simply rely on backlinks if you want topical authority.
How to Build Topical Authority for Your Website
1. Create Topic Clusters
A topical authority is all about having many pieces of content around one broad topic. And you can have it by creating a topic cluster. A topic cluster consists of one pillar page, which covers the topic in general, and several subtopics, which cover the specific parts of the topic. A topic cluster is also a great way to structure your content, which will seem logical both to people and search engines.
To create a topic cluster (or several clusters), you need to identify a broad topic that you want to talk about. For an SEO services website, that topic could be for example keywords. There are so many things to cover about the keywords, like keyword research, keyword optimization, etc. So do some research and choose your main topics and subtopics.
2. Consider User Intent
Search intent is extra important for SEO. When creating content, don’t forget about it. Your content needs to answer the user’s intent. You have to know all the questions and issues the users have about your chosen topic and make sure to answer them all.
3. Regularly Update Your Content
SEO, as well as topical authority, requires regular hard work. If you become an authority doesn’t mean you’ll always stay as one. For that, you need to regularly add new content and update the old ones. The digital world changes really fast, make sure to follow the trends and changes and write about them as part of your topic clusters.
4. Optimize Your Content
Don’t forget about SEO, it still matters a lot. Make sure to optimize your content for the right keywords, add external and internal links, promote your content using different channels to increase your traffic.
And one more thing about keyword optimization. Don’t just target single keywords but rather several related keywords or keyword clusters. This way, even if you never use a certain keyword in your content, you might still appear on the search results for it.
Topical authority is indeed a powerful tool for SEO and content creation. But building authority is not an easy task and requires a strong strategy to achieve it. Though, you can rest assured your efforts will pay off. Being an authoritative source means having more chances to succeed.