Topical Authority – What Is It and How Can SEO Benefit From It?

Topical Authority – What Is It and How Can SEO Benefit From It?

Topical authority is a concept that seems to be rather simple. However, nothing further from the truth. This complex issue involves certain hazards and requires proper analysis as well as thorough preparation. Only then, it can bring the expected results and support the SEO process. What is topical authority and why is it important for your website? Want to find out? Keep reading today’s entry!

Table of contents:

What is topical authority in SEO?

According to the topical authority concept Google ranks better websites whose content is valuable and related to the main topic of the site. It represents a website’s authority and expertise in a certain niche, sector, or industry.

If you have a hard time understanding the definition, think about the following example: a dental clinic runs a company blog and shares valuable publications and posts concerning the dental industry. This way, it increases its topical authority as the main idea behind that concept is to promote reliable and profound information that is easily accessible and valuable for users visiting a specific website or blog.

Top quality texts, diversified content, fully comprehensive data and relevant industry terminology are only a few of the requirements you need to meet to convince Google robots that your website is valuable and deserves to be ranked in higher positions.

In a nutshell, topical authority is mainly about being knowledgeable in a specific area and positioning yourself as an expert. It involves broad and deep understanding of the subject and all related concepts which allows you to produce a text that is coherent and valuable for users.

Why is topical authority important for SEO?

Interestingly, topical authority wouldn’t be possible without artificial intelligence and machine learning. Modern algorithms do very well at recognizing the text and evaluating whether it’s related to a given topic. This means that the importance of individual keywords is decreasing as Google focuses more on topicality, shared knowledge and expertise.

Does it mean that you should no longer include keywords and keyphrases in the content you create? Of course not! Quality keywords and long tail phrases are still important. It’s just crucial to note that Google can easily assess whether the applied keywords match your website content and it can detect unfair activities such as keyword stuffing.

In this situation, it would be perfect to find a happy medium, which means that you should create valuable content where the most relevant keywords appear naturally. If you manage to do it, your efforts will surely pay off and the website will be displayed in high positions in the search results.

Google appreciates websites that exhaust the subject. What does it mean? Topical authority is about creating thematic clusters and valuable pieces of content that resolve all possible doubts of potential customers. Therefore, if you run an online store with frying pans, your page should also provide information on different types of the offered pans, comparisons, reviews, customers’ comments, blog entries discussing advantages and disadvantages of specific models or recommendations showing users when to select a particular frying pan.

topical clusters and pillar page structure

Source: https://blog.hubspot.com/

Why is topical authority important for SEO? Google rewards websites whose content is valuable for users. The concept of topical authority fits the idea perfectly – exhausting the subject allows you to naturally saturate your website with a wide range of keywords and produce top-notch content that will help you reach higher positions in the search results and will engage users.

Thanks to topical authority, you keep website visitors on your page for longer. If they wish to broaden their horizons and learn more on a specific subject, they don’t have to search for it in different places (possibly on your market rivals’ pages). They have all the necessary information at their fingertips.

How does Google evaluate your page content and topical authority? Robots are able to decide if your website is a valuable source of knowledge that exhausts the topic thanks to two important algorithm updates:

  • Panda
  • Hummingbird

Panda is responsible for analyzing broadly understood website content. Update 4.0 aims at rewarding pages that create content describing a given subject in a way that is not only unique but also appealing and comprehensive. Moreover, elements such as the author’s authority, the length of the text or the presence of useful links (e.g. to data sources, or related subpages) are also very significant.

On the other hand, Google Hummingbird examines the context, meaning and language of the content. Its main task is to match a specific topic to the text on the website. This update is considered to be extremely radical because for the first time in the history of SEO the content and its quality became more important than keywords.

How do the updates and topical authority affect websites? As a consequence of the updates, websites that want to rank higher have to create longer, valuable, and unique texts that meet users’ expectations, and are complemented with relevant keywords.

How to build topical authority?

Google strives to meet its users’ requirements in the best possible way by providing them with websites that fully answer the search queries. The algorithms comprehend the topics and terminology discussed by websites to decide if their topical authority is enough to consider them experts in the field.

What does it mean in real life? For Google, writing one article about SEO doesn’t make you a specialist, therefore you’re less credible than a website with hundreds of blog posts on a given subject or plenty of external links and posts on social media platforms. Keywords still matter, however they’re past their prime and if you want to act according to the principles of topical authority, keyphrases shouldn’t be the main focus of your activities.

Don’t perceive keywords just as lists of random phrases with high search volumes. Instead try to pay attention to:

Users’ intentions

Here, you need a broader perspective. What information may the people visiting your website search for next? At which stage of the sales funnel are they? What topics are potentially related to your content and may help you engage users? Maybe while reading about the basic volleyball rules people will realize that they wish to take up this sport and buy necessary equipment? In this case, they’ll surely appreciate expert advice in the form of articles, comparisons, and reviews. Try to exhaust the subject and provide the most obvious information that might be helpful to users.

Expert knowledge

Why don’t you discuss a given subject in the form of an interesting guideline or a technical article. This way, you can act as an expert which should quickly be noted by Google. Explain the most complicated terminology so that the users can comprehend your website content even better and show off your experience in the field. This will help you inspire trust among recipients.

LSI keywords

When trying to build topical authority, you need to remember about Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) keywords, meaning words that are related to a given subject and are semantically correct. For instance, how do you know whether a given site is about Apple devices or simply about the fruit? It’s thanks to LSI keywords that facilitate the understanding process of both users and Google robots. While writing your texts based on this type of keywords, remember to use them naturally and avoid keyword stuffing because otherwise you may be punished by Google. When talking about Latent Semantic Indexing keywords, it’s crucial to apply them naturally. If you aren’t sure how to do it, use tools like Answer The Public to see lists of phrases that are related to your chosen keyword.

topical authorithy and lsi keywordsSource: Answer the Public

Quality internal and external links can help you build topical authority of your website. How? By guiding both users and Google robots. When writing blog posts, category or product descriptions, think about your website elements that are related to the subject and link them in the text. Apart from increasing your chances of cross-selling and up-selling, such activities will inform Google that your content is well-thought out and creates a coherent whole.

If you publish an article about the best frying pans for pancakes, link specific models, entries discussing how to take care of these pans, and how to select the right product. Such an approach will support your topical authority SEO and will help you engage users. Who knows, maybe you’ll convince them that they need a specific frying pan and they’ll finalize the transaction at your store?

The same applies to external links. Make sure that pages that link to your page are thematically related. If you run a store with sports equipment, backlinks from a dental clinic won’t bring you many benefits. Moreover, PA (page authority) and DA (domain authority) of pages that link to you should be higher than the parameters of your website. This will show Google that your content is valued by quality pages, which will translate into better positions in the search results.

Content created in accordance with the topical authority concept should include a lot of links, applied naturally, as they help users access information necessary to resolve their doubts.

Topical authority and SEO. The takeaway

It can be safely stated that topical authority affects the SEO process of your website. This influential concept requires adaptability to encourage users to choose your website from hundreds of others. If being ranked high in the search results is your objective, take your time to build topical authority – valuable and comprehensive content is your key to success.

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Author
Managing Partner - Matt Calik

Managing Partner

Technical SEO specialist experienced in creating scalable processes based on agile methodologies. Responsible for international SEO strategies. He has strongly analytical approach to online marketing supported by over 12 years of experience. Previously associated with IT, motorsport, tobacco and financial markets. He has been building Delante for 5 years where he is Head of SEO and SEM department.

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