What Is Topical Authority in SEO & How to Build It

SEO & Content Marketing
June 23, 2024 5 min
Justin Berg
Justin Berg

Founder of Rock The Rankings

Envision a scenario where a website can rank for every keyword associated with its niche—this is the essence of topical authority.

The idea is to become the definitive source on a broad topic by consistently producing high-quality, relevant content that meets searchers’ needs.

Achieving topical authority entails comprehensively covering all aspects of a subject, thus helping search engines recognize the site’s expertise in the given area.

For instance, an ATS product must explore numerous related topics, such as types of ATS, uses, benefits, etc. This thorough approach can elevate the site’s position in search results, surpassing larger and more authoritative competitors in the SERPs.

In this article, we’ll break down the importance of topical authority in SEO, and how you can build it for your domain.

Why is Topical Authority Important for SEO?

Topical authority is vital for improving a website’s visibility in search engine results pages (SERPs).

When a site consistently publishes detailed, high-quality content on a specific topic, it signals to search engines that the site is a trusted resource.

This association between the site and the topic helps Google understand the subject matter, leading to better keyword rankings and improved site authority.

Additionally, substantial content on a topic enables more efficient internal linking. This makes it easier for both users and search engines to navigate the site, increasing the chances of earning organic backlinks, which are crucial for driving organic traffic.

By focusing on creating interconnected content, a website can enhance its SEO performance.

Creating topical authority demonstrates knowledge and expertise, ultimately contributing to higher search engine rankings and greater overall visibility.

How Does Topical Authority Work?

Expertise, Authority, and Trustworthiness (E-A-T)

Google highlights the importance of “expertise” and “reputable websites” in its Quality Rater Guidelines.

High-quality pages typically exhibit a strong level of expertise or are highly trustworthy.

This focus suggests that establishing a website as a “subject matter expert” contributes significantly to the “authority” aspect within E-A-T.

Though E-A-T is not a direct ranking factor, it guides Google’s algorithms.

When Google perceives a website as an expert resource on a specific topic, it is more likely to rank that site’s content higher.

E-A-T is broken down as follows:

  • Expertise: Involves demonstrating in-depth knowledge of a topic.
  • Authority: Is built by earning recognition and respect in a particular field.
  • Trustworthiness: Relies on providing accurate, reliable information and maintaining a good reputation.

Striving for excellence in these areas can improve a website’s standing in search rankings.

How to Establish Authority in a Topic in Four Steps

1. Perform Keyword Research Based on the Topic

Identifying keywords that users are searching for and topics of interest is the starting point for most SEO projects.

To be considered an authority by search engines, it’s essential to identify and discuss all key points within a topic.

  • Choose a Relevant Seed Keyword: A good seed keyword is the foundation of your research. It should clearly focus on the topic without being too broad or too narrow.
  • Expand the List: Using tools like Keywords Explorer to identify related subtopics after choosing a seed keyword. This can involve looking at top-ranking results, keyword ideas, common questions, and competitive analysis.

2. Organize Content into Topic Clusters

Clusters are interlinked pages centered around the same subject.

This setup helps both users and search engines easily find relevant content.

  • Identify Pillar Topics: Select significant topics to support multiple subtopics. These will serve as comprehensive guides or pillars. Pillar pages cover broad aspects of a topic and link to more specific content.
  • Choose Content Formats: Depending on the type of information, decide on the format of your content. This can include guides, detailed definitions, or step-by-step tutorials.
  • Create Comprehensive Subtopics: Develop detailed pages that link back to the pillar content and other related subtopics. Internal linking among these pages is crucial as it emphasizes the connection between related content.

3. Produce Content That Establishes Authority

Creating depth and relevance in your content is crucial to building authority on a topic.

  • Develop Main Pillar Content: Start with broader content covering the topic’s main aspects. These pages should be exhaustive enough to provide a significant amount of information and can serve as an entry point for deeper exploration.
  • Write Supporting Content: Create specific articles that address narrower aspects of the topic. These pieces support the pillar content and often target long-tail keywords, catering to specific user intent.

Further Reading: Hub and Spoke Model

4. Build Relevant Links

Linking is an essential part of establishing topical authority. This includes both internal and external links:

  • Internal Linking: Within your site, ensure there are appropriate links between your pillar pages and supporting content. This helps build a semantic relationship and signals to search engines that the pages are connected.
  • External Linking: Pursuing high-quality backlinks from reputable sites enhances credibility. Focus on securing links from authoritative domains within your niche.

These steps will help you effectively build topical authority, ensuring that your content is informative, well-structured, and well-connected both internally and externally.

Further Reading: Link Building for SaaS

Final Thoughts

Building topical authority is a crucial strategy for improving SEO rankings on Google. It’s not a quick solution but requires consistent effort and patience.

To succeed, it’s important to cover a wide range of topics that your audience is interested in, particularly those related to your products or services.

This approach allows you to rank for various keywords in your niche.

Keep in mind that the benefits will materialize over time as your content gains credibility and relevance. Writing comprehensive and valuable content is key to becoming an authoritative source in your field.

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