Remember when you used to just use a couple of keywords and Google would reward your content writing efforts with kick-ass rankings?
That doesn’t happen anymore.
Now, Google wants to serve its users with the most relevant, up-to-date, and high-authority content possible, and wants to be sure that they’re giving them the right information.
Enter: topical authority.
What is Topical Authority?
Topical authority is the relevance search engines assign to your website in relation to your niche. Your website’s topical authority is the perceived depth of expertise on a topic, and the content you publish strengthens the associations between your website and your niche.
While there’s no real way to measure topical authority (and Google doesn’t publish their ranking algorithm) there are ways to establish your topical authority through the types of content you publish and how you present it.
Why Does Topical Authority Matter to SEO?
Building topical authority shows search engines that your website is the go-to source of information for your industry. When search engines start to recognize your expertise, a few things happen:
- You’re more likely to win featured snippets. Authoritative content is more often to earn prime placement, especially if it’s written to Google’s specifications. Plus, once you earn one featured snippet, you’re more likely to earn more.
- You’re more likely to rank in the top 10 for your keywords. If Google deems you a subject matter expert, you’ll climb the ranks of search engines for your related keywords, resulting in you owning the Google front page for your keyword groups.
- You start ranking for highly competitive keywords. If you begin to rank for longer-tailed keywords related to your niche, you’ll start seeing those heavy-hitting keywords in the SERPs.
Remember: It takes time to build your topical authority and see the results in your SERPs. Topical authority is definitely the long game, and it’s 100% worth playing.
How Do You Build Topical Authority?
Think of your website as its own encyclopedia on your niche.
If you can provide enough useful, practical, and comprehensive content on your subject–and make it easy for both search engines and users to navigate–your website will start climbing in search results and get you that sweet, sweet traffic.
But it’s not as easy as just sitting down with a Word doc open and brain dumping everything you know. You can’t write a singular blog post with every topical detail and expect it to rank.
Building topical authority requires a strategy. You need to create a lot of content that goes into incredible detail, covering virtually every question someone might have about your subject.
Create Topic Clusters
Topic clusters are groups of related content that serve as an all-encompassing resource. Your topic clusters create a “map” that guides search engines and your audience through a hyper-specific topic.
You can learn more about how to create topic clusters here.
Add Supplemental Content
The more value you provide your audience, the more value search engines assign to your content. Think infographics, videos, screenshots, and embedded PDFs that provide visual context to your content.
Keep Your Content Updated
Establishing topical authority isn’t set-and-forget. Content needs regularly updated to make sure your website doesn’t have any ROT content.
ROT content is anything that’s redundant, outdated, or trivial. Perform regular content audits and keep your content fresh.
Earn External Links
Once your on-page content is solid, you can work on your external strategy. It doesn’t matter how good your content is if no one is linking to it. Contextual links back to your content signal to search engines that your content is valuable and relevant.
There are several ways to get backlinks. The most popular being writing guest posts, posting on Q&A sites, and asking other sites for backlinks (as long as you don’t do it in a cheeky way).
And when it comes down to it, the best way to earn backlinks is to write really, really useful content that’s so good that other websites will naturally want to link to you.
And–this is super, super important–never engage in any sketchy link-building tactics. Doing so risks destroying your topical authority.
Topical Authority Means Sky-High Rankings
If you want to be a sought-after content writer, knowing how to establish topical authority will help you deliver unparalleled results for your clients. SEO content writing is a high-demand niche. If you can build topical authority for your clients, you, in turn, will earn authority as content writer.
And you’ll be unstoppable.