One of the most common answers you’ll hear to the age-old question, “How do I rank higher in search engines?”, is simply, “Search Engine Optimisation”. You know; do some keyword research, create pages targeting those keywords, establish internal links and backlinks to those pages and so on. All these measures are productive, but people still need to be aware of topical authority.
The importance of topical authority is something that has been spoken about, only relatively recently in SEO circles and it is understood that topical authority can help websites to rank higher in Google search. Topical authority indicates to Google, that a website is knowledgeable on a particular niche and provides competent and valuable information. As search engines such as Google aim to provide relevant and quality information about niches to their users, websites with topical authority are seen as trustworthy, and thus more deserving of higher rankings.
This article will outline what topical authority is, how and why topical authority is essential, and how to build topical authority.
Topical authority is the measure of a website’s expertise in a particular topic. It is derived from the words “topic” and “authority”; thus, when combined, it means being an authority in chosen topics.
Topical authority requires websites to demonstrate authority in a particular field, through a number of different ways. When users search for things that are made about topics that a website has topical authority in, those websites are more likely to rank higher than those that have less or no topical authority.
An example will better illustrate what topical authority is about. This example involves the most used search engine on the internet, Google, and a website focused on car engines. Car engines are a broad niche with various topics and subtopics. When the website provides detailed and individual content on all the information that can be sourced about car engines or provides valuable information that meets users’ (searchers) intent, then Google views the website as an authority on car engines. As a result, Google ranks the website higher for searches related to car engines.
There are exceptions where extensive content alone, still won’t make a website an authority on a given subject. This concerns topics that fall within what Google classifies as YMYL (Your Money or Your Life). This essentially refers to any information relating to the medical and financial sectors. Advice pertaining to each of these areas, can only be trusted if it has been written by someone who has the relevant professional qualifications.
If you were to read an article on the ‘ways to reduce high blood pressure’, then the article must be written by a doctor, in for it to be trustworthy. Following the advice on a medical topic from somebody who doesn’t have medical qualifications, could be dangerous to your health. Similarly, taking financial advice from an article, from somebody who doesn’t have formal qualifications, could be harmful to your personal finances.
At the beginning of the article, it was mentioned how websites use internal links, backlinks, keywords and more, to boost their rankings on search engines. Topical authority provides website owners with yet another opportunity to improve their rankings.
Since 2013, Google has used semantic relationships searcher intent behind queries. Since then, Google’s search algorithm has been constantly improved and updated to recognise sophisticated relationships. Semantic relations in this context means Google associates websites with topics when ranking as a valuable resource of keywords concerning such topics.
Because topical authority clarifies a website’s focus, Google easily recognises the website and ranks it higher. Plus, topical authority allows for more internal links and backlinks because the website provides more information and content about a topic.
There is no definitive answer to this question, seeing as though topical authority is a concept rather than a tangible metric such as using keywords, backlinks, and so on. However, some attributes or focus of Google’s algorithm help us better understand the concept. This includes what is known as E-E-A-T, which is an abbreviation for Experience, Expertise, Authority, and Trustworthiness. This allows Google to recognise and rank websites that prove to be reputable and have expertise in a topic highly.
Websites looking to gain higher rankings and more visitors should focus on building a reputation as a subject expert because it will strengthen how search engines like Google view their sites. Furthermore, “building a reputation as a subject expert” is what topical authority is about, as explained earlier, and this brings us to the next question, “how to build topical authority?”
The fact that topical authority does not have a defined structure on how it works does not mean there are no guides on how to achieve topical authority for your website because there are, and they are outlined below:
1) Do topic-based keyword research: Keywords are an effective measure to increase ranking on search engines, and topical authority makes it easier to use keywords. There should be no surprise that keyword research is the first step. You want to start by finding keywords relevant to your niche or topic, which should not be any. You want keywords relevant to what users search for concerning a topic and check vital information about the keywords before you decide on the keywords to use on your website.
Some of the information you want to look at when choosing keywords is the statistics, like the result for top-ranking keywords in a topic, keyword ideas and questions in a topic, keyword traffic across domains, and more. There are many keyword research tools available to help your research.
2) Create topic clusters: A topic cluster is the name given to the grouping of topically-related pages through the use of internal links. Topic clusters consist of interlinked pages with content focused on a subject. After sorting and choosing your preferred keywords from your keyword research, you pick topics for your website, which will be outlined on your pillar page.
The topics picked should have depth such that you can provide enough information to give the impression of a topic expert and be traffic worthy because you want a topic with the potential to attract traffic when the website ranks high. A pro tip when creating topic clusters is having a defined format of how you want your website content. Do you want content that serves as a guide, tutorial, or encyclopedia?
3) Write authority content: You should now have an understanding of what topical authority is. Authority means being knowledgeable on a given topic. Your site’s authority can be improved by writing pieces of quality content that address the various questions and concerns that users have on a given topic. To understand what these questions are, use the keyword tools that are found within SEO software such as SEMrush, Ahrefs etc. Beyond this, consider using Reddit, Quora and message forums dedicated to the topic you wish to become an authority on.
4) Build relevant links: Building relevant links to your content is a topic for another day, but backlinks will further help your website pages to improve their topical authority and rank higher in Google search results.
Building topical authority is a form of search engine optimisation, and is a great way to improve your rankings for a particular niche in 2023.
Get in touch with SEO Web Logistics today, and let us strengthen your topical authority for your chosen niche.