Although Google’s algorithms are kept secret, many experts believe that topical authority is a key ranking signal. When you have a lot of content on a topic, and that content is topically linked together, your site is more likely to rank for queries related to that topic.
Does it take longer to build topical authority? Absolutely. Is it worth it? Yes. And when you’re just starting out in your niche, it’s absolutely the right strategy. Much better than waiting until your competitors take all the SERP real estate and then trying to rank for their keywords!
What is Topical Authority?
Topical authority is the measure of how well a website covers a specific topic. It is based on a number of factors, including keyword usage, user engagement, and the number of times it is linked to by other sites.
Google’s PageRank algorithm relies on topical authority to determine what information will be displayed in search results.
Building topical authority can be difficulFortunately, there are ways you can boost the topical authority of your site without completely changing your content strategy.
1. Source High-quality Backlinks
One way to build topical authority is to get high-quality backlinks from other websites that are considered experts in your industry.
Backlinks are links from other sites that point to pages on your site. When you receive backlinks from other authoritative websites, it improves your reputation and tells search engines that you have valuable content.
To get high-quality backlinks, find authoritative websites already talking about your topic by running a Google search with the keywords you’ve targeted. For example, if you’re a plumber in Austin, Texas, you might search for “plumbing contractors Austin.” The top results are likely good places to try and get a link. You can also use tools like SEOmoz’s Open Site Explorer to enter a competitor’s domain name and see who links to their site.
Contact the webmasters of these sites and ask them if they’d be willing to link to your site. They may have an article with something like “The Best Plumbers in Austin”, and your goal would be to get on that list. Start by sending them an email. If you don’t hear back after a week or two, follow up with another email or call them on the phone.
2. Use Keyword Tools to Flesh Out Your Topic
The first step to building topical authority is to choose an area in which you want to be the go-to source. This is your topic. It can be as broad as “marketing” or as narrow as a certain segment of the population or a specific aspect of a broader topic.
Once you’ve decided on your topic, you need to figure out what subtopics are related to it—you might think of them as categories or sections within your topic.
Keywords are a great way to think about subtopics because they’ll help you discover what users who search for your topic may also be looking for.
You can find related keywords by checking out the “Searches related to…” section at the bottom of Google search results pages. Here, we can see that “heat inspections” and “heat inspections in hospitals” are both related keywords when searching for “heat inspections.”
There are many ways to do keyword research. I have compiled a list of 15 free keyword research tools to make your work easier:
3. Follow On-page and Off-page Best Practices
In order to rank for a topic authority, you have to have a good amount of content and links pointing towards your site in the first place. The best way to go about doing this is by following on-page and off-page best practices.
For on-page best practices, you want to make sure that all of your content is well written and relevant to the topic at hand. You don’t want every page on your site to be 100% topic-focused, as it’s not healthy for any website to have one singular focus. However, you do want to make sure that when you do cover your primary topic, it’s done so with the utmost quality.
Off-page best practices are more about getting links from other websites that are also strong sources of topical authority. It’s not going to help you if a bunch of sites with barely any authority themselves are linking to you – you need links from sites that Google considers reputable for that particular topic. For this reason, it’s important not to chase links just for the sake of link building – you really need to get authoritative sites linking back naturally based on the merit of your work and content.
This will help Google recognize you as an authority specifically in your topic area.
4. Use Link Structure to Your Advantage
When you’re building topical authority, it’s important to have your internal links support the topic. You want to make sure that every link from one page to another on your site is relevant to the content and topic of both pages.
For example, if you own a running blog, you don’t want to link from an article about marathon training to an article about how to properly lace sneakers. However, if you were writing an article about how best to train for a marathon, then linking from there to an article about proper shoe lacing would be appropriate.
The internet is a spider web of connections and the way you structure your site can help or hurt your SEO and topic authority.
This not only helps Google understand what your site is about and what topics your pages cover, but it also makes it easier for users to navigate through your site by showing them related content.
5. Nail down search intent early on
Your goal as an SEO professional is to give your audience exactly what they’re looking for when they’re searching for it. To do this, you need to get inside the heads of your users.
This means identifying what their broader search intent may be and creating content that satisfies that intent. For example, if someone is searching for “coffee shops in Portland, Oregon,” they probably want a list of coffee shops in that city.
If they are searching “best coffee shop in Portland, Oregon,” they probably want to read reviews or articles about the best coffee shops in that city. Nailing down search intent will help you create better content and also help you understand how you can further improve your existing content by meeting users’ needs better.
6. Create a deep site architecture
A deep site architecture is one where every category has multiple subcategories, and each subcategory has multiple deep pages connected via internal links.
Creating a deep site architecture makes it easier for Google to crawl your site and discover new pages. Google bots crawl websites in order to find what they need, so your site needs to be built in a way that allows them to find whatever page they need without any confusion.
Site architecture is all about creating the most efficient route possible for those bots – think of it as designing the shortest path from point A to point B with the least amount of roadblocks or detours along the way.
It also allows you to create a clear hierarchy between the various pages of your website which gives Google an idea of their importance.
7. Target Long-Tail Keywords Related to Your Main Topic
Long-tail keywords are phrases of three or more words that are highly specific to what someone is looking for. They get less search volume than one- or two-word keywords, but they have a higher conversion rate and can drive targeted results.
Whereas most people searching for the phrase “online shopping” are just doing some basic research, those who type “vintage soap dish online shopping” or “how to make your own soap” have a clear idea of what they want to buy and how they want to use it.
This is important because it tells you that if you’re writing about vintage soap dishes (perhaps because you sell them in an online store), you’ll likely convert more customers by using long-tail keywords in your blog posts than you would with more general keywords.
Google’s Keyword Planner is a great tool for finding long-tail keyword ideas relevant to your niche. Pick a few related keywords and use them throughout your post—in the title, headers, body copy, meta description, and even the URL.
You’ll find that your content will rank better in search results for those terms as well as for more general ones like “soap dish.”
How Topical Authority Helps You Rank Higher
A lot of the marketing hype about SEO focuses on optimizing for authority, but you might be overlooking a crucial step in the process. If your site is lacking in topical authority, you won’t get very far in the search rankings.
Take a look at your content. Does it answer questions about its topic? Do you have multiple pieces that discuss the same subtopics, or do you have a short blurb about a particular thing and then never mention it again?
If you just write one piece on a topic and never expand upon it, Google will assume that you are only an authority on that one topic. That means that your website will end up ranking lower than sites that cover more ground.
To become an authority on a topic, you need to create more content related to it. Begin by creating a list of keywords related to your topic and then creating more articles around those keywords.
This will help Google recognize that you are an authority on your subject matter beyond just the single topic of your original article.
Climbing to the Top is hard. Choosing a topic, creating content, and trying to rank can be stressful. These seven strategies will help you build topical authority – but of course, there’s more to it than that.
Part of having a successful blog is just putting in the time and effort to make sure that your posts are helpful, insightful, and informative.
But these strategies can certainly help speed up the process. Just be sure to put in the hard work in between implementing these strategies for optimal results.
Thanks for reading.
We hope this guide has been helpful to you and we wish you continued success in your own SEO efforts. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to post them in the comment section below.
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