SEO is getting hard each day— especially for new websites.
If you’ve been in the industry for a couple of years, you’ll agree that change is the only constant.
Like everything else SEO is also evolving.
What used to work back in 2017-2020 era may not work in 2023 and years to come.
But does that mean you can’t make it in SEO as a new site? Or can’t improve the SEO of an existing website?
Well, that’s not true, as if you understand the concept of Topical SEO and Keyword clustering, you might be able to outpace high ranking websites easily with a new website. And if you have an existing website, understanding how to create topical authority in SEO, will help you outrank your competition.
However, for an existing website, you might need to get back to drawing board for your website restructuring after understand this concept. We will discus that as we discus this topic in detail in the future guides.
For today, let’s improve our understanding of topical authority and learn something new.
Read on to learn how to leverage it to win on SEO even though you’re a small website.
What Is Topical Authority in SEO?
Topical authority is a crucial aspect of how search engines like Google determine the relevance and credibility of websites in relation to specific topics.
Rather than evaluating individual web pages in isolation, search engines analyze a website’s overall topical expertise and authority to assess its value as a resource for particular subjects.
As a semantic search engine, Google relies on associating websites with specific topics to rank them in search results effectively.
If you consistently produce high-quality content centered around a particular topic, you’ll interlink them throughout your website content.
These internal links not only improve site navigation for both Google and users, but they also contribute to the establishment of a website’s topical authority.
By interlinking content pieces that revolve around the same subject demonstrates to the search engine that you possess in-depth knowledge and expertise in that specific domain.
As a result, Google recognizes you as an authority on the topic and considers your website a trusted source of information.
Why is Building Topical Relevance Important?
Topical relevance/authority is important in SEO as it encompasses the key elements of experience, expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness (E-E-A-T) that Google considers crucial for ranking websites and delivering high-quality search results.
In fact, it’s something that Google recommends. According to Google’s SEO guide, cultivating trust in a specific area is crucial.
Google also outlines that content creators and websites must possess expertise in their respective fields.
This expertise reflects a deep understanding of the subject matter, allowing you to provide valuable, accurate, and well-researched information.
By showcasing your expertise in a particular topic, you establish yourself as a reliable source of information and gain credibility in the eyes of both search engines and users.
Having strong topical relevance is essential.
Firstly, it improves your website’s visibility in search engine results.
When search engines perceive your content as highly relevant, credible, and trustworthy for specific topics, they are more likely to rank your pages higher, increasing their exposure to potential visitors.
Secondly, topical relevance helps you establish a loyal and engaged audience.
When users recognize your website as an authoritative source within your niche, they are more inclined to trust and value your content, returning for more information in the future.
How To Measure Topical Authority for Your Website
Topical authority isn’t something Google created as a ranking metric.
In fact, it’s a term coined in the SEO community to refer to the depth of expertise about a particular niche.
Qualifying the best methods to measure topical authority is tricky in that case. However, there are some clues on how to measure topical authority.
One method is by using a tool like Ahrefs, where you can analyze traffic share by domains.
The concept behind it is that the more traffic a website receives from keywords within a specific topic, the more authoritative it is considered for that topic.
Another method that you can use to measure page topic authority is checking the number of organic keywords that the site is ranking for in a particular topic.
When a website ranks for numerous keywords related to a specific topic, it indicates that Google considers it as authoritative and relevant in that particular area. Having a broad range of keywords boosts a site’s credibility and expertise.
If your website covers multiple topics, here is one smart way to check if your topical authority is improving or decreasing. That is by using content group feature of SEOtesting.com, and you can watch the below video from 04:45 to understand this feature.
I tested this further by filling the content gap and increasing the content velocity around one particular topic. This resulted in overall improvement in the particular topic keywords (all pages), while ranking of the other topics on the same domain remain more or less consistent.
7 Strategies For Building Topical Authority
Now that you understand what topical authority entails, how do you build or improve it?
1. Create an Effective Content Strategy
To build topical authority, you need to create an effective content strategy. Think of content strategy as a framework that helps you create relevant content fulfilling users’ intent.
Here’s how to create a content strategy that helps establish topical authority.
Begin by identifying content gaps in your niche. Content gap analysis involves identifying holes in your content or important niche topics you haven’t covered yet.
A good tool you can use is Semrush’s keyword gap tool. It helps you compare your site’s keyword profile with your top five competitors.
Using the tool, you can identify unique keywords that your competitor is ranking for and you’re not. Once you’ve identified the keywords, you use them to generate topics around them.
Next, create insightful content that demonstrates E-E-A-T and fulfills user intent. This is important because search engines use quality rating criteria to evaluate topic relevance.
After that, perform content audits. This will allow you to assess the performance of your content, spot areas of improvement, and repurposing opportunities.
We have an entire guide on creating an effective content strategy—make sure to read it.
2. Create Pillars and Clusters for Your Keywords
In your content strategy, you identified content gaps, right?
Now, use the findings to create pillars and clusters.
Not getting it?
Here is a good analogy;
We have all seen houses being built. Every reasonable house will include vertical elements from the foundation to support the whole structure.
These vertical elements, known as columns, form the backbone or skeleton of the building. They are the pillars of the building. They bear the weight and transfer loads to the foundation, ensuring stability and strength. The rooms inside the building are the clusters.
Now, to bring this analogy into our context, the vertical elements or the pillars are the foundation of your content strategy.
They are the main themes in your niche. They are comprehensive pieces of content that cover wide topics in your niche. Like the pillars/vertical elements in the building, these content pieces serve as the focal point around where your content revolves.
Clusters on the hand link to the pillars.
Their content usually revolves around pillars. They are basically subsets of pillars but focus more on individual aspects of the main topic. They often provide in-depth explanations of a subject matter, like providing examples and practical tips.
Since they directly connect to pillars, they aid the audience in understanding the main topic much better. They also guide search engines in crawling your site and ultimately gauging your expertise on the subject matter.
3.Map Keywords to Pillars Using SERP Analysis
Well, when we talk about mapping keywords, it’s like creating a roadmap for your content.
It’s all about ensuring the keywords you use in your pillar post fit perfectly.
The goal is to ensure that your content aligns with the audience’s search intent.
So to achieve this, you must do a detailed keyword SERP analysis. Basically, you will search every keyword you plan to include on your pillar post on Search engines and note down the results.
Pay close attention to what each keyword is ranking or. Remember, what you see now is exactly what users will see when searching for the keyword. To identify the search intent and tailor your keyword to reflect the relevance of your pillar post.
Do away with any keywords that don’t resonate with the relevance of your content.
I highly recommend you to try a keyword research + clustering tool that could help you achieve this in a faster and effective way. Recently I tested this tool called Keyword insights that let you import keyword from Semrush or Ahrefs, and create a cluster for you.
I should be doing a detailed guide on this in the coming days, but if you are someone who can figure out a tool yourself, definitely try Keyword insights. I was so impressed with them that I ended up including them in our keyword research tools list.
Consequently, check for other related long-tail keywords to add to your pillar post. In short, ensure the content you include in your pillar post covers everything comprehensively.
4. Use Subtopics to Build Content Depth
Topical authority often goes hand in hand with content depth.
Subtopics allow you to showcase your expertise by breaking down the subject matter into smaller chunks that are easily digestible by your audience. And no, subtopics are quite different from clusters. They don’t conform to one central pillar topic as it is with clusters.
Subtopics provide an in-depth explanation of the main topic. Precisely, you will cover different angles of the main topic, but with one goal, making it more understandable to the audience.
Think of it this way; you are creating puzzles. Filling out the puzzles is your bigger picture. So to achieve this, you will need small pieces of puzzles to hit that goal.
Now those small puzzles are the subtopics. They help you achieve the goal of filling your puzzle. And in this case, subtopics help you achieve the goal of simultaneously educating your audience.
Basically, they allow you to cover various aspects of the main topic from different angles, providing your audience with the most refined information regarding the topic.
5. Analyse User Intent & Use That Effectively
Obviously, you cannot build topical authority without keeping user intent in mind. After all, why put all that energy into writing content that no one bothers reading?
Get inside your audience’s shoes and identify what they are craving.
- What are their pain points?
- What questions are they asking?
- What would they love to be addressed?
- What are their interests?
In general, understand their intent of searching for that keyword on Google. Moreover, keep in mind the motive behind their search. Precisely, what were they thinking to search for that keyword?
After clearly understanding your user intent, proceed and deliver solutions; in this case, the solution is content. The content should consistently cover everything concerning the subject matter to win their loyalty and let them see you as an expert. And that is how you will establish your topical authority.
6. Site Structure Is An Important Key
In as much as you can focus on content when building topic authority, don’t overlook your site’s structure. An exceptional and well-structured layout can make all the difference.
Search engines can easily differentiate mediocre sites from authoritative ones by considering the usability of the website.
Speaking of site structure, we mean aspects like the hierarchy of your pages and sections. Each section of your website should speak clearly to your audience with a specific goal.
The layout should be clear, with the navigation menu providing enough flexibility to your audience.
By exhibiting this clear organization, search engines will easily crawl and tell the relationship between different elements of your site. They can then easily determine the topical authority on your site.
7. Build Relevant Links (Internal and external)
Then finally, our last viable strategy for building topical authority is building relevant links. But this should come last after you have successfully built tons of high-quality content on your site.
As such, it will be easy for you to strategically place links to your interrelated content and create seamless navigation. It will also be easy for search engines to crawl your site and gauge your expertise on the subject matter.
The other key aspect of building relevant links is external linking.
External links refer to the links you include in your content that direct your readers to authoritative sites or sources from which you gathered information from. They are the references, demonstrating credibility to your audience and search engines.
Search engines tend to consider your sources before determining your topical authority.
So, in this case, if your external links come from reliable sources like Forbes, who knows, perhaps you could rank better.
So by including relevant links in your content, you can easily build topical authority and wow your audience.
Conclusion – Topical Authority and SEO
Topical authority is one of the differentiator in the present day, and something you should master along with some similar topics like:
- Keyword clustering
- Site Structure
- User intent
to name a few. As we move ahead, I will be sharing more tips and my experience around this topic. For now, if you would like to add your tips, tools and strategies around implementing topical authority, feel free to suggest in the comment section below.
Here are some of the top FAQ’s which I believe many of you might be having after learning about this topic. If I missed answering your question below, feel free to ask in the comment section below.
FAQ’s Related To SEO Topical Authority
As similar as they may sound, domain authority and topical authority are two different SEO concepts. Domain Authority measures a website’s overall strength and credibility in search engines based on factors like backlinks and domain age. It provides a general indication of a site’s SEO potential. Topical Authority, on the other hand, focuses on expertise within a specific topic or niche. It is earned by consistently creating high-quality content and establishing a reputation as a reliable resource.
Topical relevance refers to how closely your page’s content aligns with a specific topic or subject. It helps search engines understand how well a webpage meets users’ search intent. This is done by analyzing various signals, including keywords, content theme, semantic meaning, and user engagement. By producing high-quality, comprehensive content that directly addresses the target audience’s needs, you can optimize for topical relevance and increase your chances of ranking higher in search results.
Building topical authority is a long-term process that requires continuous effort and a smart content strategy. Generally, establishing a strong level of topical authority takes several months to a year.
This timeframe gives you an opportunity to create high-quality content, engage with the target audience, and build links (both internal and incoming) that indicate credibility and relevance within the specific topic or niche.
Simply put, there’s no accurate timeline for building topical authority. Everything comes down to consistency, quality of content published, and even competition in your niche.
Yes, it’s possible to build topical authority across different topics. But since topical authority requires you to create quality content consistently, you need a large team to achieve this. If you’re a small business or even a solo blogger, the best idea is to niche down to a particular topic and begin improving topical authority from there.
Building topical authority is a process that requires patience and constituency. Basically, there isn’t a quick methodology to build topical authority. Instead, you should focus on mastering SEO content writing and tracking and let Google take care of the rest.