Every site owner desires to have their content on the first page of Google.
On the other hand, Google can only show ten results on the first page, and it does so by providing the best content to its users.
The million-dollar question is, how do you make Google choose your site over others?
Build topical authority.
That’s what I tell my clients.
Topical authority gives you an advantage over large sites with thousands of links in your industry.
With topical authority, Google recognizes your site as an expert on a topic and favors your site for keywords relating to that topic.
You don’t have to take my word for it, though.
Matt Cutt has this to say about topical authority:
In this guide, we’ll dive deeper into the process of building a solid topical authority strategy for clients and personal sites.
What is Topical Authority?
Topical authority is a term that refers to thoroughly covering a subject. It entails creating valuable content on a specific topic.
Among hundreds of Google ranking factors, the topical authority has been proven to work repeatedly. Reasons for that aren’t far-fetched.
Google aims to provide the best result to searchers, and this is why it favors sites that exhibit expertise in a topic.
Which site would you trust if you’re looking for information about diabetics, a health website, or a random general site?
Which would you trust, a site that covers everything about diabetics or a general health site?
The better you cover a topic, the more chances you have of beating your competitors.
But this doesn’t just apply to the health niche; topical authority applies to all the industries.
Importance of Topical Authority – Why Does It Matter?
Although content and links are still important, link building is not the easiest SEO practice to implement.
Natural links are no longer what they once were. Many site owners choose who they link to from their site, so if you expect hundreds of natural links to your site, you may be disappointed.
It’s not impossible, but you’ll have to acquire it yourself, which can be costly if you want to scale.
That is the advantage you get when you establish topical authority.
Here’s a highlight of the benefits:
Topical authority leads to higher rankings
Google has long emphasized EAT (expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness) for site owners.
You can acquire expertise, authority, and trust by building topical authority.
As John Muller puts it, topical authority and relevance carry more weight than many other ranking factors.
Google favors sites that extensively cover a topic. So a well-executed topical authority strategy will give your website a boost in organic rankings.
Become the Go-to Expert in your Niche
With Topical authority, you become the go-to expert in your niche because you have everything covered about the topic.
And as the go-to expert in your niche, you become one of the first sites that come to mind when people are looking for a site to reference or an expert’s quote.
When that happens, it becomes easy to acquire links for your site.
Easy Link Acquisition
As said earlier, you get an advantage over competitors when it comes to natural link acquisition.
Topical authority makes you the right site to reference on a topic in your industry.
Right off the bat, if you’re looking for studies about content marketing, then contentmarketinginstitute.com and Hubspot will come to mind.
And WPBeginner.com comes to mind when looking for information about WordPress.
These sites have consistently acquired natural links to their pages, boosting their site’s authority and rankings on Google.
Well, you would be correct that these sites have been in existence for a long time, several years ago.
But there are smaller websites that started not too long and are killing it with topical authority.
KhrisDigital.com is an example. It has established itself as an authority in the sales funnel industry.
Here’s a look at the number of links pointing to a page on the site:
This site has consistently acquired links from top sites in its industry.
There’s no secret. This is Topical authority at work.
Hungry to know How?
How to Develop Topical Authority for your Site
Building your site’s topical authority can be likened to laying blocks. It is not an instant process where you turn on a button, and everything sets. You lay one block at a time.
That is, you create one content piece at a time, and the more content you have about a topic, the stronger the topical authority.
The age advantage is that the longer you have been in the industry, the stronger your authority will be.
However, if you focus intensely on a single topic, you can quickly establish your topical authority without having to wait years.
Let’s dive into the process.
Do Your Keyword Research ( find topic clusters)
Start with your keyword research. The basis of an effective topical authority strategy is your choice of keywords.
You have to find a topic to build authority around. It shouldn’t just be any topic; it should be a topic in your niche and something your target audience is requesting.
Assuming you have a functional website getting some traction from Google, start by analyzing your website (also known as content auditing).
- What content on your site has the best performance so far in terms of SEO traffic?
- What content is generating leads for your business at the moment?
- What content is generating the most revenue for your business?
Your answers to these questions will determine what topic you should establish authority about.
We all want an increase in revenue, so you should know what content (keyword and topic) generates the most revenue for your business to capitalize on it.
For example, if you have a health website where the majority of your SEO traffic and leads come from content about teeth whitening, that could be your magic topic.
Here’s what to do:
- Run “Teeth whitening” on keyword research tools like Semrush and KwFinder to find long-tail keywords and related terms.
- Use Google autocomplete to discover queries people search for relating to teeth whitening.
There’s also a good chance that one of these long-tail variations still has more keyword variations.
For instance, the keyword “teeth whitening kit” also has more long-form variations.
As you do your research, you’ll be surprised about how many low-competitive keywords and long-form variations are yet to be fully covered.
- “People also ask for” and “related searches” is a hub for content ideas too.
- Create a spreadsheet to record the long-tail variation of your keywords. That’s it.
It’s also not a big deal if you’re just getting started with your website and don’t have any personal data to guide your topic selection.
Find a low-competitive site in your niche that is doing well with SEO. Uncover their main commercial keywords. Find more long-tail variations of that topic and then stick to it.
Here’s a general rule to go by when compiling keywords and questions around a topic:
- Find long tail and short tail keywords.
- Focus more on low-competitive keywords
- Don’t be strict about the keyword volume. In a topical authority sense, we are more concerned about being valuable to the audience and being the go-to site for a topic than ranking for high-volume keywords.
Even if the keyword has 100 monthly searches, cover it.
Create Pillar Content
Immediately after the research, it is time to crunch out pillar content that will serve as the foundation of your strategy.
These are long-form guides, and they serve as an introduction to the topic. These guides might be competitive to rank at the moment but are essential to building topical authority.
When creating your pillar content, try to answer all the questions people might have about the topic.
You can create more than one pillar blog post if your niche requires it.
Create Supporting Content
As its name implies, supporting content includes the blog posts that complement your pillar content.
Supporting content gives you room to correctly answer questions and sections that you only slightly covered in your pillar content.
As an example, for teeth whitening, your pillar content could be – Teeth Whitening: XX Ways to Whiten Your Teeth.
While your supporting content can include:
- XX Teeth Whitening Kits that Works
- [X Brand Kit] Review – Does It Work?
- [Y Brand Kit] Review – Does It Work?
- [X vs. Y Brand Kit] – Which is Better?
And the chain continues.
Topical authority, in general, is like a pyramid. You keep building more and more content under a single topic until you have covered everything there is, and it takes long before this happens.
But if you have enough budget to outsource content writing to writers, you can scale up the content production.
And if that is a route you’re willing to take, ensure you create content briefs to help your writers stick to quality.
If you’re tight on budget and cannot afford to create a lot of content at the moment, you must be strategic about what you create.
We recommend beginning with bottom-of-the-funnel content. This type of content generates the desired results: leads and sales.
Either you run an affiliate site, agency site, or eCommerce store, you can easily bank on BOFU content (bottom of the funnel).
Examples of such include reviews, Best XX or YY, and other commercial keywords.
Infuse LSI Keywords
LSI keywords (known as latent semantic indexing keywords) are related terms that Google uses to rank a page.
LSI keywords help Google gauge the relevance of your content to the search query.
For a site to have topical relevance, you must also optimize individual content with LSI keywords to help Google better rank your site.
SEO tools like Surfer SEO, Frase, and SEOTagg help you optimize your content for topic relevance.
But you can also take advantage of Keysearch’s free tool to find LSI keywords to optimize your content and site.
For example, if you are writing about sales funnels, some LSI keywords that Google expects in your articles would be:
Sales, funnel, marketing, process, purchasing journey, potential customers, sales funnel software, funnel examples, and many more.
Run each of your content pieces via an SEO content optimization tool to find loopholes to optimize your content better.
Create Internal Linkings
Internal linking is an essential building block for establishing strong topical authority. It strengthens your site authority and also boosts the overall site architecture.
By linking from one content to another on your site, you spread the link authority and make it easy for Google’s bot to find and crawl your pages.
One of the benefits of building topic clusters is that it is easy to link from one page to another because you have lots of content on the same topic.
When you start ranking for a keyword related to that topic, other pages will naturally begin to pick up on the search engine.
Link building is not everyone’s favorite task, but it is necessary. Does it sound contradicting after saying topical authority beats other ranking factors?
Well, let’s break this down.
When just starting, you need links to push your content to the SERP top to get people to visit your website.
When your website starts getting traction from Google and people get to know your website as an authority around a topic, the higher the chances you have of securing natural links.
As an authority around a topic, natural links will trickle in at some point. But you shouldn’t sit and watch. Start building links to your website.
Go Ahead and Implement
Establishing topical authority isn’t as hard as you might think. It is also not expensive to implement.
So, go ahead and implement these tips and watch your rankings rise!
James is an SEO consultant based in London. Working with clients around the world to get more traffic from search.