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Topical Authority: What Is It And Why Is It Important For Publishers?

When people hear shocking news, their first instinct is to question the credibility of the information being shared. Next, research the source's authority for sharing this appalling event. What would you consider before believing it is a true story?
  • Who broke the news?
  • What is the track record of the source?
  • Does the source have a credible reputation?

These need to be considered to perceive credibility or trustworthiness, which is how authority is measured. Google uses topical authority in the same way to measure the authority of a site’s high-quality content.

In this article, we’re going to explain:

  • What is topical authority?
  • Why is topical authority important?
  • What is the difference between page, domain, and topical authority?
  • Strategies for building topical authority.

What Is Topical Authority?

Topical authority measures a site’s authority as identified by search engines based on the high-quality content in a specific niche. An article that an expert in a particular industry writes will gain more authority than someone new to the industry that has not established credibility as an expert on the topic. 

If Google were a library, the difference between stocking only one book on Aaron Donald versus an entire section on NFL players would show people that the library offers expertise within a topic, not just a part thereof. Instead of keyword groups or individual keywords, see topical authority as the in-depth expertise on a subject.

Why Is Topical Authority Important?

You might ask the question, why should a publisher care about this? If ranking at the top of Google search engines is essential to you as a publisher, managing topical authority should be part of your marketing and content creation strategy. If you still aren’t convinced, here are a few more reasons why it’s so critical: 

  • It connects with Google’s clustering algorithm.
  • Beat the competitors in SERP results. 
  • Expand the rank order of keywords.
  • Sustaining rankings are strengthened.

How Google Used Topical Authority

In 2018, Google Hummingbird brought topical authority into play. In contrast, before Google's update in 2013, its algorithm mainly focused on keywords and later heavily on backlinks (inbound links) to determine the ranking on SERPs of a web page. 

But, as a publisher, producing a relevant and authentic quality of a discussed topic is essential with topical authority. On-page SEO supports topical authority to organically and effectively build a site’s authority, which can improve CTR (click-through rates). Many primary on-page SEO factors and keyword optimization is reached with topical authority.

When writers unintentionally and intentionally include more topic-related keywords in a piece, that gives the content topical authority. Once authoritative writers with an expert understanding of a topic write content, it will be able to enhance the audience's readability.

A key ranking factor on Google is lower bounce rates. With correct keywords and relevant content, users are more likely to remain on your page. However, if irrelevant, they will leave immediately, increasing the bounce rate and informing Google to lower your authority.

What is the difference between page, domain, and topical authority?

Although there are some similarities concerning SEO-related topics regarding the page, domain, and topical authority, what makes them different?

Page Authority

Page authority measures ranking in search results of specific pages. Pages with spam links, little text, or computer-written content and low reader traffic are seen as low-quality content pages that will see low authority scores.

Domain Authority

Domain authority is a metric that measures a website’s authority. It is not individual or group keyword related but more about a website’s credibility based on the strength of a site’s backlinks.

Topical Authority 

Topical authority measures your site’s credibility based on high-quality and topic-related content. Ensuring authentic quality content on a topic seen as expertise reporting by search algorithms is essential.

Strategies for building topical authority

Building a topical authority site requires effort, consistent writing, and research. Still, here at rev·amp, we have put together strategies to simplify the process for publishers. Numerous practices are followed to build topical authority but let us look at the core fundamentals. 

  1. Authentic Content Strategy

Building topical authority is about creating a detailed and robust content strategy. You will require a plan within this strategy to ensure authority-building content focusing on topics while incorporating keywords that will interest your audience. 

But how do you create a content strategy that promotes and supports topical authority? Here are a few things to consider for the content strategy:

  • It should have a continuity of authoritative content.
  • Ensure content is valuable and relevant for users on search engines.
  • Build your content strategy around a topic or niche. Topical authority is built faster when your website focuses on specialization instead of covering everything and anything.
  • Ensure that you have content guidelines that focus on publishing high-quality content. 
  • Include the question: What are people searching for online? - and incorporate relevant keywords.

You can also use a content planner tool such as SurferSEO for building topical authority. The planner tool suggests clusters around the main keyword/topic.

  1. User Intent

Search engines such as Google have algorithms focusing on users' intent. The algorithms then focus on minor and standard interpretations of user questions on search engines. There is a theory to how users use search engines when asking questions for a better understanding - the “Know, Go, Do” theory.

  • The “Know” question is when a user wants more information about a topic.
  • The “Go” question is when a user searches for a specific location or website online.
  • The “Do” question is when a user has specific questions they want an answer to, resulting in an action. 

Then, give attention to the cluster structure of a topic by including the feature topic in the center and sub-topics around it, forming part of the funnel stages. TOF (top of the funnel), MOF (middle of the funnel), and BOF (bottom of the funnel).

Source: vec.studio

  1. Topic Cluster Strategy

It is about showing search engines the relevance and value of your content when users search for specific topics. The content should be more authoritative than competitors with the same niche. Keep in mind that Google focuses on answers to frequent questions from a subject, subtopics, and synonyms, not only keywords.

If you want audience answers on subject matters, topic clusters help you achieve them. It is a content marketing strategy that successfully builds topical authority faster. Topic clusters have three components:

  • Pillar page that targets short-tail and generic keywords on broader topics.
  • Cluster page that targets less competitive keywords, questions, or subtopics.
  • Internal links help search engines comprehend how all topic pages are linked. (If pages are easier to find on a topic, you can establish topical authority).

Source: Hubspot

  1. Website Structure

It is essential to know that if you want a website to rank better, a website’s metadata structure should form part of the topical authority strategy. Part of the website structure should be to include SEO indicators. Keyword research will help source keywords that work for specific content and topic clusters.

Using relevant keywords in meta titles, descriptions, and links helps build authority. And for content and landing pages to make sense to users, part of the website structure should be creating a sitemap to simplify the experience.

Conclusion

Topical authority forms part of a site’s sustainable and prolonged success in search engines. Once you decide on a specific topic that you are specialized in, create plenty of high-quality, relevant content while relying on a solid internal linking structure to simplify it for Google to understand, link, and find each page.

More importantly, topical authority can’t just be built and left. It needs to be maintained to be successful long-term. And to do that, ensure to provide relevant, authentic, and high-quality content regularly! 

Here at rev·amp, we focus on publishers and discover how we can enhance your business with our solutions and help you meet your goals!

Ferran is the Director of Catalog & Traffic at Softonic.
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