Establishing Your Topical Authority: 7 Steps for Ranking Higher in Your Industry

December 14, 2023
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In recent years, Google has begun to pay a lot of attention to the concept of topical authority.

Demonstrating experience, and creating valuable content are aspects that you should always keep in mind when you share information about your products, services, or articles on the blog.

The more you manage to make Google understand this, the more the algorithm will likely reward your content by promoting it in the top positions.

This is why you should consider a strategy that is also based on establishing a relevant topical authority around your brand and thus becoming a reliable, trusted, and valuable resource for Google and for users in the reference sector of your business.

Are you ready to dive in? Let's get started.

What is Topical Authority?

Topical authority is an SEO concept whereby a site is considered an authoritative and reliable resource on a specific topic in line with the reference sector of its business.

In other words, it is a strategy whereby the contents that are produced on the pages of the site address all the sub-topics of a given subject.

Google works through semantic associations. Based on the keywords used on a site, the search engine associates them with a specific topic.

Text from Google about how topical authority works.

Source

For this reason, to make Google understand your products and your offer, your site should intercept all those strategic queries.

The more reliable content on a subject you produce, the more Google considers you an authoritative online source, thus favoring the chances of being listed in the top positions of search results.

In this way, you can increase your online visibility, attract more potential customers, and become a reliable source for all users looking for product information or information in your niche.

If you are looking for a way to increase your brand's online reputation, working on your site's topical authority could be a great starting point for your strategy.

Why Topical Authority Is Important For SEO

Working on the topical authority of your site allows you to achieve many SEO and business objectives, such as better positions in the search results, and number of the ranked keywords.

In addition, you can increase:

  • The organic traffic of your site and the users who do not yet know your brand (thus also promoting its visibility)
  • The opportunity to acquire natural backlinks
  • The possibility of reaching potential customers with lead generation (for example, thanks to the promotion of content in social media or newsletters)

How to Create a Topical Authority Strategy

Let's see the steps to follow to work on the topical authority of your site:

  • Identify your target and the semantic area of interest
  • Analyze your site content through an audit
  • Perform a dedicated keyword analysis
  • Analyze competitors
  • Group keywords by themes and sub-themes
  • Set up an editorial plan
  • Write the content
  • Share the content on different channels

Let's go into detail.

Identify Your Target And The Semantic Area Of Interest

Before starting the research and planning of content, it is essential to identify your audience and the goals you want to achieve.

There are many topics to cover in a blog and it is important, even before starting an analysis of keywords, to identify the topic, subject, or theme on which you want to work to acquire authority and reliability for Google and users.

For instance, for an e-commerce site like House of Joppa, a Catholic store, it could be strategic to work on various semantic areas related to faith and home life, from home decor tips aligned with Catholic aesthetics to insights on deepening one’s prayer life, and guides on selecting thoughtful gifts.

In this way, it is possible to reach both the people who search with an informative intent, and those closest to the purchase or conversion.

Once the topic and the audience have been identified, it will be possible to start working on the content.

Board showing how to identify your customers.

Source

Analyze Your Site Content Through An Audit

If your site does not have a blog then you can move directly to the next phase, but if your site already has published articles, it is very useful to conduct a content audit before even starting with the keyword analysis.

The analysis of present contents allows you to:

  • Understand what content is already available and suitable to promote an internal link-building strategy when the articles are planned
  • Evaluate their ranking and traffic over time
  • Find contents that have not brought traffic so far, and then eliminate them to avoid wasting the crawl budget
  • Identify any opportunities for pieces that are not yet or not optimized enough

In this way, you will have a clear idea of which articles already exist relating to your semantic area of interest, those that can be revised, and the missing topics.

At this point, you can start your keyword analysis.

Perform A Dedicated Keyword Analysis

Keyword analysis allows you to identify terms and search trends to write content that meets user needs.

Taking the example of e-commerce for skin products, the starting point of the keyword analysis could be the query "skincare".

You should select all the informative keywords that can be covered in the blog, from the most "evergreen" topics to the more specific ones.

Graphic of keyword analysis

Always check the search results pages to understand the type of intent. If for a keyword the results are all category pages or product sheets it will be difficult to position an article, for example. Instead, consider whether you should target the positioning of that keyword with category pages on your site.

Furthermore, when choosing keywords also include those with very low monthly search volumes (10-0). To build a good topical authority it is important to also consider long-tail keywords with low search volumes capable of attracting users who are looking for very specific information and perhaps closer to conversions.

Being able to be present in SERP with well-in-depth content on a specific topic allows you to position high up in the results and be clicked.

Chart showing cost perclick and search volume of a keyword.

Finally, tools such as Ahrefs, Semrush, and AnswerThePublic also allow you to identify all those frequently asked questions around the topic of interest that it is important to cover with your content.

Analyze Competitors

When planning content, it will also be important to evaluate the content of competitors in the top SERP positions.

  • In the analysis try to evaluate:
  • The keywords that were used in writing the content
  • The structure of the paragraphs and the information contained in the article
  • The length of the content
  • How the metadata (title and meta description) were written and the keywords they used
  • What images have they included and if any infographics could be useful
  • How they have handled the final CTA

Try to understand why they managed to rank in the top positions and what elements made the content successful in the eyes of Google so you can use those same elements in your way in the blog content.

Once you have collected all this information you will be able to start clustering the keywords and setting the first themes for the editorial plan.

Group Keywords By Themes And Sub-themes

Once you have collected all the keywords around the semantic area you want to work on, you will have to divide them based on themes that cover a certain topic from multiple points of view.

This phase is important because it allows you to group all the keywords that have the same search intent and that are useful in helping the positioning of the article for that theme.

How can you do this?

Identify the main keyword on which you would like to focus the optimization of your article. The primary keyword tends to be the one that has a higher search volume and for which the articles in the SERP present exhaustive content on that topic.

Once you have identified the main term, evaluate which are the related keywords that allow you to delve deeper into the topic in your article.

Again, how to choose them?

Based on search intent for example. Try searching for the different related keywords in SERP and evaluate the articles that appear. If for some queries the articles are always the same then they are probably terms to be used in the same topic associated with the main keyword.

This is because Google understands that users searching for those keywords have the same intent as the main one. If, however, you notice that the search results page is made up of articles that are vertical on the same topic, then try to evaluate writing a specific in-depth article on that topic.

In a topical authority strategy, it is important to be able to delve more and more specifically into the semantic area of interest. For this reason, always evaluate the possibility of writing as many vertical articles as possible on the identified sub-topics.

If, for example, you decide to work on the topic of skincare, the possible semantic clusters could be:

  • Meaning of skincare
  • Which products to choose for skincare
  • Phases and steps of skincare
  • Skincare for combination skin
  • Skincare for oily skin
  • Skincare for sensitive skin

In this way, it will be possible to provide increasingly specific and in-depth information on the topic to make Google understand that your site represents an authoritative and reliable resource on the subject.

Clusters by parent topic board

When you have clustered all the topics, then the time has come to plan your editorial plan.

Set Up an Editorial Plan

The editorial plan is a fundamental tool for planning content over time.

So, how to choose when to publish a specific article?

There is no single answer to this question but it depends on the sector, your objectives, and also on the keywords. However, there are some metrics you could follow to plan the content:

  • Priority. If among the articles you have selected, there are some very strategic topics for your business, you could organize your publication following an order of priority for your business.
  • Conversion funnel. When choosing the topics to cover in the blog you should certainly consider writing articles that cover all phases of the customer journey. For this reason, in programming you could follow the stages of the funnel, starting from the publication of those that are more "evergreen" (pillar contents) to those that are more specific and close to the point of conversion, or vice versa.
  • Seasonality. An excellent way to plan content over time is to follow the seasonality of the themes, especially in some sectors such as cooking. To evaluate this a tool such as Google Trends allows you to have an idea of the keyword's seasonality to publish content in line with the search trend.

Google keyword analysis

However, be careful with Google's timing. When you publish an article you must always consider that the search engine will take some time to metabolize it. This is why I always advise you to plan for the publication of the content a few months before the seasonality identified by the tools.

For example, if you have a cooking blog and would like to publish an article with the recipe for pumpkin risotto, given that the search trend peaks in the autumn period, you should publish the article in the summer, so that Google can analyze it and position it in search engines.

This would also allow you to have the time necessary to intervene in the content by optimizing it for potential keywords or new search trends. In this way, you could scale the search results page over time up to the peak of seasonality and have the content well positioned in the period in which the search trend is at its highest.

Write the Content

When the editorial plan is ready, the creative phase of writing the content begins.

How can you optimize the article to be well-positioned on Google?

Here are some tips:

  • Naturally use the identified keywords. Insert the keyword in the main areas of your content such as titles, subtitles, headings, and in the body of your text. However, avoid stuffing them excessively as this could lead to a penalty from Google. You can even utilize AI paraphrasing tools to rephrase paragraphs and sentences, maintaining a consistent flow while steering clear of the overuse of complex or difficult-to-read terms.
  • Optimize images with alt tags. Adding descriptive and relevant alternative text to your images can improve their visibility on search engines.
  • Use meta tags and descriptions. These are the snippets of text that appear under your website's title in search results. Make them compelling, and informative, and include keywords when appropriate.
  • Make use of external links to reputable sources. This shows that you have done your research and can improve the credibility of your content.
  • Focus on quality, not quantity. Aim for longer-form, well-written, and informative articles rather than shorter ones filled with fluff.

Also, when building topical authority, one aspect you need to pay close attention to is the internal link-building between different articles. When writing your content, always evaluate what the related topics are and how to connect them to previously published posts. This has several advantages and allows:

  • To help Google find the articles on your site more easily
  • Allow users to continue browsing your blog by moving from one article to another thus increasing the time a user spends on your article
  • The positioning of vertical articles on keywords with low search volumes

When your content is ready and well-optimized, it means it's time to publish it.

So now, what to do next?

Share The Content On Different Channels

Today more than ever, searches take place not only through the search engine but also thanks to social media. This is why when your article is published, to encourage greater visibility of the content and reach potential customers, you could consider sharing the content on social media, through email campaigns, or in your newsletters.

Integrating the editorial plan with the one provided in your newsletter would allow you to intrigue your potential customers with an in-depth analysis of a topic of interest. For example, use keywords in the subject of emails that you know users are sought after to have a greater chance that will be open and read.

For this reason, knowing your ideal audience well and the people you intend to address gives you the advantage of already knowing what they are looking for, their interests, and their needs.

Then, sharing your knowledge in the blog and promoting it in your newsletter could be the match. A perfect match between their needs and searches and what your company can offer.

Final Words

Building a topical authority around your brand in the eyes of Google is not a strategy that ends the moment the article is published.

The content control and monitoring phase is essential to intercept new opportunities and topics to be addressed and possibly modify the strategy based on search trends.

Working on topical authority is a strategy that over time allows you to achieve great SEO results and achieve excellent visibility as a brand.

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