Topical authority is becoming the all-important metric for SEO (search engine optimization). It’s what search giants are looking at more and more when they rank your website.
What does it mean?
It means understanding and meeting your audience’s information need.
It means presenting well-researched, well-written information in a coherent, navigable format.
It means acquiring the traction, high-quality backlinks, and engagement you need to drive your site to #1.
It means establishing yourself as the go-to information source for your niche.
In today’s competitive digital landscape, topical authority plays a significant role in determining the success of your content marketing efforts.
Search engines like Google value content from authoritative sources and reward them with higher rankings.
This ultimately leads to increased organic traffic and potential conversions.
Furthermore, topical authority helps build trust and credibility with your audience. Readers are more likely to engage with your content and share it with others if its value is proven.
By providing valuable, accurate, and informative content, you position yourself as a reliable resource. You’ll foster a loyal following and enhance your brand reputation.
In this all-you-need-to-know guide to topical authority for beginners, we’ll:
- Explore the key components of topical authority
- Discuss practical steps to build it
- Highlight the importance of measuring and monitoring your progress
Dedication? Check. Persistence? Check. Expert-level knowledge? Keep reading.
Components of Topical Authority
What is topical authority?
It’s not a new concept. Visit a university library for a live example. Shortcut – check Wikipedia.
Topical authority represents a well-structured information silo created by expert writers and maintained by indexing professionals.
It addresses the information seeker’s need perfectly – and makes you the go-to resource for every question your audience has.
Here’s what you need to attain this status.
- Producing informational, research-driven content: You’ll need to consistently produce high-quality content. This requires thorough research and a deep understanding of your subject-matter. You’ll need to incorporate relevant data, statistics, and insights from reputable sources to support your points and arguments. The internet is a sea of misinformation – be the change you want to see. This time, it’s profitable.
- Addressing audience questions and concerns: It’s so important to identify common questions, concerns, or pain points your audience may have related to your topic. This lets you know what your audience is most interested in and helps you answer their most pressing questions. This builds trust and demonstrates that you’re listening.
Expertise and Authoritativeness
- Establishing personal or brand expertise: You should showcase your credentials, experience, and accomplishments – not being flashy, but make them count. Share case studies, testimonials, or industry recognitions to emphasize your expertise. If you’re an organization or a team, highlight the combined knowledge and experience of your members.
- Leveraging industry influencers and thought leaders: Where possible, collaborate with well-respected experts in your field to create content or share insights (this is always a great choice for a higher-budget video presentation). This builds the credibility of your content, may help you acquire valuable, organic backlinks, and showcases your brand to a wider audience.
Consistency and Relevance
- Regularly publishing high-quality content: Consistency is mandatory when it comes to building topical authority. A regular posting schedule shows search engines and your audience that you’re actively engaged and committed to providing valuable content – regular readers even come to expect content at certain times! Don’t disappoint your most ardent fans.
- Updating existing content to maintain relevance: Routinely review your existing content and make necessary updates to ensure it remains accurate and relevant. This is especially important if you work in a fast-paced niche (e.g. FinTech). Your users want to know about recent developments – give them the lowdown. Update or redirect old content where appropriate.
The components of topical authority are intuitive. This is because search engines are constantly seeking to replicate and build on the gold standard of topical authority – peer review.
How would peer review work online?
It doesn’t – yet. But search engines are making great headway to establish who is a trusted authority and who isn’t.
Let’s talk about that.
Steps to Build Topical Authority
The metrics for establishing topical authority are based on feedback.
Positive feedback from top sites is incredibly rewarding.
Relevant backlinks from high-trust websites are an essential component of building your authority.
Spammy feedback from guest posting farms… not so much.
Google has shown over decades that it is wise to black hat tactics. You need to do better.
Here’s a beginner’s guide to topical authority.
Identify Your Niche
- Find your area of expertise: Determine the specific subject matter or industry in which you have knowledge, experience, or passion. Focusing on a well-defined niche lets you effectively target your audience’s needs.
- Analyze audience needs and interests: You could be producing the best content in the world on an incredibly niche subject – no clicks. You also need to be a generalist to help your audience discover you. Outreach developments like content curation and expert blogging help you identify high-engagement areas and re-target your niche accordingly.
Conduct Keyword and Topic Research
- Use keyword research tools: Tools like Google Keyword Planner, SEMrush, or Ahrefs let you identify relevant keywords and phrases within your niche. Discover popular search queries, uncover content gaps, and optimize your content for search engines!
- Analyze competitor content: Your competitors’ content includes insights into what users want, what they’re interested in, and which information needs your competitors aren’t addressing. This helps you a) remain competitive on generic subjects, and b) establish yourself as a niche expert where your competitors aren’t publishing content.
Create High-Quality, In-depth Content
- Incorporate data and research findings: The best approach is always to create well-informed, data-driven content. This adds credibility to your content and shows your audience that you have a deep understanding of the subject matter.
- Employ storytelling and engaging writing techniques: Craft compelling content (or find an expert to do it for you) that not only informs but also captivates your audience. Use storytelling techniques, clear language, and a structured format to make your content easy to read and understand.
Leverage Internal and External Linking
- Develop a robust internal linking structure: Connect related pieces of content on your website via internal links. This shows search engines that your content is interconnected and relevant. It also helps users find the subjects they’re most interested in and could drive engagement on posts you never expected to perform so well.
- Earn high-quality backlinks from authoritative sources: Reach out to reputable websites within your niche to secure backlinks to your content, or work with a specialist to ensure your guest posts arrive within relevant blogs on well-chosen domains. Strong backlinks signal to search engines that your content is trustworthy and valuable.
E. Engage with Your Audience and Build Relationships
- Respond to comments and feedback: Engage with your audience. Address their concerns and acknowledge positive feedback. This fosters trust and loyalty, encouraging them to continue engaging with your content and sharing it with others.
- Collaborate with other experts in your niche: Partnerships and collaborations let you co-create content, share insights, and participate in events. This expands your network, increases your reach, and further solidifies your position as an authoritative source.
There’s nothing complicated about building topical authority.
What you’ve been lacking are the tools.
More on that below.
But we’ve got some answers to work through first.
This isn’t a one-time solution. You need to track your progress and respond to adversity.
Measuring and Monitoring Topical Authority
Authority only means so much if you’re producing great content without increased engagement.
But topical authority isn’t just a term. It’s a strategy.
Like any good strategy, it’s flexible. Here’s how to understand, monitor, and improve your topical authority.
Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to Track
- Organic search traffic: A steady increase in organic traffic over time indicates that your topical authority is improving, as search engines are ranking your content higher and users are finding your content more easily.
- Social shares and engagement: High levels of social engagement indicate that your audience finds your content valuable and is more likely to recommend it to others.
- Backlinks and domain authority: Monitor the number and quality of backlinks pointing to your website. Watch the trend compared to your website’s domain authority.
These metrics can help you gauge the overall credibility and trustworthiness of your site in the eyes of search engines – keep abreast of your KPIs and you’ll know whether you need to adjust your campaign.
Tools for Monitoring Topical Authority
- Google Analytics: The most-used tool of all. It offers insights into your website’s organic search traffic, user behavior, and engagement metrics.
- SEO software and platforms: Advanced tools like Moz, Ahrefs, and SEMrush offer features to track backlinks, domain authority, and keyword rankings. Paid services are often more effective than Google Analytics for determining your ideal direction.
Better than either is an SEO expert who can use best-in-class tools and years of experience to help you understand your website’s topical authority requirements.
Regularly Review and Update Your Content Strategy
Your content strategy must remain aligned with your audience’s needs.
Underperforming content should be adjusted or redirected.
Best advice: stay up-to-date with industry trends and developments. This helps maintain your topical authority and stay relevant in your niche.
The Importance of Topical Authority: Recap
Topical authority describes:
- Building a successful online presence.
- Improving your search engine rankings.
- Fostering trust with your audience.
Those are the results. They’re the results you need. But…
You came here to learn about the process.
And now you know.
Why You Need to Continue Building and Maintaining Topical Authority
Let’s finish this up with a quickfire round – are you ready?
- It’s the future of search. Topical authority is what the top search engines want to understand more than anything. It’s the missing component between the user’s information need and the highest-authority source. You can become that link.
- It complements other organic SEO strategies. Establishing topical authority requires astute website design and first-class content creation. It also goes hand-in-hand with strategies like content curation. It’s a holistic SEO strategy.
- You’d have to do it anyway. How else were you planning on showing people you know what you’re talking about?
Of course you’re ready.
Let’s get to work.