When it comes to SEO, you probably would have heard the term “topical authority.”
It is believed that topical authority can help you increase search visibility, search engine rankings, and organic traffic.
But what exactly is topical authority? Why is it important? And how do you build it?
In this topic, we talk about all that and more. Specifically, we will address the following topics:
Topical authority is simply a measure of a content creator’s or website’s perceived authority in the eyes of search engines. Topical authority is built over time through proven expertise and trust in your field.
As you can imagine, topical authority comes from high-quality content. When you continue to publish high-quality content on a certain topic for a long enough period, you naturally build that topical authority.
It is important to understand that the perceived topical authority is not for a singular term or idea. It refers to a perceived authority over a niche or field — which is broader than a singular idea.
Additionally, context is also important when it comes to topical authority.
For instance, if you have a high-quality website that exclusively talks about the software Notion and how to use it. You have many blog posts on how different people can use Notion to their advantage: students, working professionals, content creators, freelancers, etc. In addition, you regularly share tips and tricks that can improve how people use Notion.
You recently published a blog post on how Notion can help you improve your productivity.
The website is primarily dedicated to Notion. You have a single post on productivity, which does not necessarily mean that search engines will perceive you or your website as an authority on productivity.
They may, however, perceive your site’s authority for all things Notion.
Topical authority came into play in 2013 when Google introduced the Google Hummingbird update.
Before Google Hummingbird, Google’s algorithm focused primarily on keywords. Keywords were used to identify what a web page is about as well as to perceive what search engine users would like to see when they are searching for a specific query.
Apart from keywords, Google also relied heavily on inbound links (backlinks) to determine how high a web page should rank on the search engine results pages (SERPs).
While both these search engine ranking factors — keywords and backlinks — are still extremely important, Google now also sees pages in a broader context, i.e., the topical authority of a website. It then uses this information to decide how high a page should rank for a search query — compared to other pages competing in the search rankings.
As we mentioned at the start of this article, topical authority can help you improve credibility, search engine rankings, and search engine traffic. This, in turn, can help you increase the organic click-through rate, conversions, and revenue.
Once established, topical authority can help you build a more long-term and sustainable SEO foundation for your website. In other words, because of your higher perceived authority, your site may have more protection against Google algorithm changes and updates that may topple rankings for smaller or less authoritative websites.
All good stuff, right?
So how do you build topical authority if it is so important and capable of playing a key role in improving search traffic?
Here are a few tips and strategies that can help you build and maintain topical authority.
Content is king! The quality of your content becomes all the more important when it comes to building topical authority.
And that starts with a robust, well-rounded, and detailed content strategy.
How to build a content strategy that supports and promotes topical authority? Here are a few tips:
User intent plays a key role in determining how well your website will eventually perform in search engines.
Remember we talked about creating content that is relevant and useful?
There are two ways to ensure that the content you are creating meets that criteria.
Topic cluster is a proven content marketing strategy that can help you build topical authority fast.
Topic clusters, as the name suggests, refers to creating a “cluster” of content assets on a site — all centered on the same broad topic for which you want to build topical authority.
There are three components of the topic cluster strategy:
The following graphic by Hubspot will help you visualize what the topic cluster strategy may look like in action.
Image source: Hubspot
Topical authority is a key component of a website’s long-term and sustainable success in search engines.
Pick a topic you are an expert in, focus on high-quality content, create lots of it, and rely on a robust internal linking structure that would make it easier for Google to find, link, and understand each page.
More importantly, continue doing it.
Remember that it is not just about building topical authority. It is also about maintaining it.
And the only way you can do this is by putting high-quality, useful, and relevant content on a regular basis, year after year.