What Is Topical Authority & How Does It Work

What Is Topical Authority & How Does It Work

You’ve probably heard the term “authority” thrown around a lot when it comes to search engine optimization (SEO).

But what does it mean exactly? And if you already know what it is, then you may be thinking, how can I add more authoritative content throughout my site?

Well, first, authority refers to the power or influence a particular piece of content has over other information on the internet.

In SEO, the higher the perceived authority a page has, the better the chance of ranking well in organic searches.

If you want your content to rank high on Google, you need to create authoritative content. By creating quality content, you’re building trust with both visitors and Google.

Quality content helps your reputation and increases your chances of being found on search engine results pages (SERPs).

This post will dig into everything you need to know about topical authority. So, let’s start by breaking down the SEO definition of topical authority.

What Is Topical Authority?

Authority is a measure of trustworthiness or credibility.

For search engines, it describes the level of importance given to a particular webpage or site. For example, Google uses authority signals to determine how vital certain pages are for user searches.

Topical authority is a measure of authority you earn through quality content. More high-quality, informative articles mean more people will trust your website as an authoritative resource on a specific subject matter.

For example, a blog post about SEO written by a well-known expert in their industry would carry more weight than a post from a beginner or someone who hasn’t established themselves as an authoritative expert on a topic.

On the other hand, a post from a brand-new company wouldn’t carry as much weight because no one knows or trusts them yet.

Topical authority is significant because it shows how well you understand your audience and what they’re looking for on the internet.

Topical authority is also a metric that ranks websites according to the quality of information they offer. You can gain topical authority through high-quality content, authoritative links pointing to your website, and social media shares.

When we talk about SEO and authority, it’s essential to differentiate between two terms: topical authority and domain authority.

While topical authority comes from the quality and uniqueness of a content piece and its on-page SEO superiority, domain authority supports more technical SEO, such as link building.

Why Should Content Creators Care About It?

Well, as we mentioned, topical authority helps with SEO and ranking higher for top search engines.

Therefore, content creators must add topical authority to their content creation and marketing strategy.

If you care about ranking on top search engines, like Google, then you need to care about topical authority.

Suppose you focus on integrating more topical authority in your pieces. In that case, they will get more clicks and views from people who are searching for information about those topics.

And the best thing about topical authority is that you can control it as long as you know how.

So now, let’s discuss how topical authority works before we offer some strategies you can use to maximize your topical authority on your site.

How Does Topical Authority Work?

Topical authority gained prominence with Google’s Hummingbird algorithm in 2013, transforming how Google analyzed content and creating a better strategy to assist users searching for information from their mobile devices.

It changed how content was ranked, which was now rated based on relevance to a user’s query.

In addition, Google could now analyze user content from more thought processes based on conversational searches, and it could accomplish this much faster.

Before Hummingbird, Google’s algorithms focused on keywords. Keywords were vital because they helped Google understand what users wanted to see when searching.

Google couldn’t understand or process the context behind user queries. For example, if someone searched for [how to bake a pie], Google might assume they meant a recipe.

But if you asked, [what is the difference between baking and cooking?], you might expect a different answer.

Google relied heavily on inbound links and other factors to determine whether a page should rank higher. These factors included link popularity, the number of pages the content linked out to, and the age of the domain or website.

Additionally, links from authoritative domains impacted SEO ranking, and it was crucial to focus on keyword research.

With topical authority, it is also essential to produce unique quality and thorough content with an authentic understanding of the topics discussed in a content piece.

In addition, topical authority leans into on-page SEO to effectively and organically build a brand’s website authority, which can help improve click-through rates.

Topical authority hits keyword optimization and numerous major on-page SEO factors.

If the piece has topical authority, the writer will likely include more keywords that relate to that topic, both intentionally and unintentionally.

And it’ll have better readability as content pieces written by influential writers who have a deeper understanding of a topic should be able to enhance readability.

Content will also be well-targeted. A brand with authority in its domain or industry will be able to determine the types of content that will resonate with its customers and provide the answers to their questions.

Now that we know how topical authority works, let’s talk more about how to create topical authority in content.

4 Strategies For Building Topical Authority

When trying to understand and build topical authority, Julia McCoy from The Content Hacker said it best, “‘Authority’ is a buzzword in SEO and content marketing. Everybody wants it, but not everyone knows how to get it and keep it.”

So, how do you create and maintain topical authority on a brand’s site?

Well, unfortunately, there are no overnight successes when it comes to topical authority. It takes a content strategist ready to take a diligent research journey and writing to build proper topical authority for a brand’s website.

But luckily, we’ve put some strategies together to help build topical authority.

1. Content Strategy

Creating a robust and detailed content strategy is crucial for building topical authority. This strategy should include a plan for a consistent stream of authority-building content pieces that incorporate keywords and topics you know your reader wants to learn.

Focus on helping your reading and sharing your knowledge. Assess what others are talking about in your industry and get involved, sharing your thoughts on topics you are confident in writing about for your site.

Use those initial topics as a jumping point to create more or further the discussion on leading topics within your industry.

You can also research what questions users are asking regarding certain topics and use that as inspiration for content pieces.

Then, plan out the best time to release each content piece so that it takes your followers and customers on a journey to more content or purchasing points on your brand’s site.

Finally, think about how you’ll share that content on your site, listings, and social media.

2. Topic Cluster

When choosing topics, you should focus intensely on a couple of topics, make them the pillar for your site, and become the leading educator on those topics.

Compiling content for a topic helps create topic clusters necessary for SEO.

Topic clusters show search engines that there is valuable content for searchers on specific topics and that your content is more authoritative than competitors.

Remember, Google looks for synonyms, subtopics, and answers to common questions from industry, not just keywords.

Topic clusters are groups of content assets on a website centered on the same broad topic. A topic cluster can help you answer all your audience’s questions about a subject matter.

Each topic cluster consists of a pillar page and cluster content. A pillar page is a top-level page that focuses on a broader subject area and targets more generic keywords.

Cluster content explores the subtopics or common questions within the topic cluster and targets less competitive keywords that connect with the main topic.

When it comes to topic clusters, focus on these three components:

  • Determine the focus topic.
  • Create a pillar page.
  • Leverage backlinks.

3. User Intent

Many content marketers use a relevant topical authority strategy focusing on user intent.

Google and other search engines have intelligent algorithms that focus on a user’s intent.

When a user is looking for information based on keywords or when they enter information about a subject, search engine algorithms attempt to figure out the user’s intent behind a particular query.

The algorithms can hone in on standard and minor interpretations of a user’s question. To better explain this, we can discuss the “Do, Know, Go” theory when it comes to how a user asks a question on a search engine:

  • A “do” question means they want an answer to a specific question that would result in an action. For example, the user wants to buy a product or book a service.
  • A “know” question means they want to know something about a topic. The user wants to gain information, whether it’s a simple or complex question.
  • And finally, a “go” question would be a navigational question, where the user wants to find a particular website or location by searching on the internet.

4. Site Structure

Another topical authority strategy involves the structure for a site’s metadata which helps a site to rank better.

A site structure should incorporate SEO indicators, such as using keywords that describe your content. It’s important to research which keywords will work best for different topic clusters and specific pieces of content.

Content marketers should include keywords in titles and meta descriptions of each piece of content on the brand’s site.

Adding relevant links to other pages on your site is another way for a brand to build authority.

Finally, for site structure, brands should create a sitemap so that the landing pages and content make sense for the customer’s journey.

Takeaway: Establish Topical Authority

As you now see, topical authority is paramount to a site’s ranking. And as we discussed, creating a genuinely effective topical authority strategy can take some time.

Remember, it’s a marathon, not a sprint. Nevertheless, link building and unique, well-written content are excellent ways to help build organic site authority.

In conclusion, I hope this guide has been helpful to you.

Topical authority is a powerful tool for ranking any page on Google; knowing when to use it will help you rank higher than your competitors.

To find out more, check out our other resources on building SEO strategies and creating site authority.

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