One thing we talk about a lot at Digital Hothouse is topical authority. It forms part of nearly all our bespoke SEO strategies for clients, however, it is important for us to make sure that our clients know exactly what topical authority means and how the tactics we deploy will help them to improve their overall topical authority.

In this post, we are going to explore topical authority in SEO and why it matters if you want to rank better for the keywords you are targeting, as well as a host of related keywords that you might not necessarily have identified, but that have the potential to drive highly relevant traffic to your site.

SEO has come a long way since the early days of keyword stuffing and link building. Both of those elements – keywords and external links are still important, however, the way the tactics are carried out has completely changed. Today, it’s important to understand how topical authority fits into the overall SEO landscape and how improving your topical relevance can be a game-changer for your SEO.

So, let’s dive into this SEO superpower and explore some of the lesser-known strategies to boost it.

What is Topical Authority and Why Does it Matter?

Topical authority refers to the expertness and relevance a website or page has on a certain topic, a topic that is crucial for a successful SEO strategy. It signifies your website’s credibility and depth of knowledge on a specific subject. It’s like earning a Ph.D. in your niche – the more in-depth and valuable your content is, the more Google recognizes you as a trusted authority.

Gone are the days when you could juggle a myriad of unrelated topics on your site and hope to rank well among the search engine results pages (SERPs). Nowadays, search engines like Google are on a mission to ensure that when they serve a page in response to a user’s query, it’s of high quality, highly relevant, and from a trusted source.

A recent survey by Search Engine Journal found that 64% of SEO professionals consider topical authority a critical ranking factor. Why? Because Google wants to deliver the most relevant and reliable results to searchers. By establishing topical authority, you position your website as the go-to source for everything related to your niche.

Understanding the depth of a topic and being able to cover it thoroughly places you as an authority in your field. This not only heightens your credibility with the search engines but also with your human audience, who are ultimately being served by your content. Topical authority is Google’s way of saying, “You know what you’re talking about, and we trust you enough to recommend you.”

Building Your Topical Authority Arsenal: Beyond the Basics

While high-quality content remains the cornerstone of topical authority, there’s more to the story. Here are some often-overlooked strategies to strengthen your topical arsenal:

Embrace the Power of Content Clusters

Create a cluster of content around a central pillar page. The pillar is a broad topic that you break down into a series of more in-depth blog posts, FAQs and related concepts, each focusing on a more specific aspect of the topic. This tells search engines that you cover the topic uniformly and in detail. Together, these linked pages form a content cluster, an effective way to tell search engines what your site is about and to establish topical authority.

Target Long-Tail Keywords

While high-volume keywords might seem tempting, long-tail keywords with lower search volume can be goldmines for topical authority. These hyper-specific keywords indicate a deeper search intent, allowing you to create targeted content that directly addresses user needs.

Long-tail keywords are longer, more specific phrases that visitors are more likely to use when they’re closer to a point of purchase or when they’re using voice search. They’re a little bit counter-intuitive at first, but they can be highly effective if you know how to use them. By creating content around these long-tail keywords, you’re not just indicating relevance; you’re also targeting an audience that’s seeking exactly what you’re providing.

Leverage Internal Linking

Internal links guide visitors from one page to another, they help to define the architecture and hierarchy of your site, and they signal to search engines the important pages on your site. Strategic internal linking connects related content, allowing search engines to understand the thematic flow of your website.

A well-structured internal linking strategy can show the search engines that a specific page is an authority on a particular topic, and as a result, they’ll rank it higher. This not only strengthens your topical authority but also improves user navigation and keeps visitors engaged for longer.

Become a Thought Leader in Your Niche

Don’t just create content, contribute to the conversation! People trust thought leaders, and so do search engines. By regularly sharing your expertise, insights, and opinions about topics in your niche, you’re building a reputation as a go-to source in the industry.

Participate in industry forums, write guest posts on authoritative websites, and engage with influencers in your niche. This can lead to more backlinks from other trusted sites and further increase your topical authority. By actively sharing your expertise, you establish yourself as a thought leader and amplify your topical authority.

Curate Compelling Content

While original content is king, there’s value in curation as well. Identify high-quality content from other sources and create a well-structured compilation piece that offers a unique perspective. This demonstrates your understanding of the broader topic and positions you as a trusted curator.

Your content should not merely exist to stuff keywords. It should provide value, be engaging, and keep the reader on the page. High-quality, regularly updated content that educates, inspires, or informs will help you maintain topical authority over time.

How to Measure Topical Authority

Tools like Moz’s Domain Authority, Ahrefs, and SEMrush can be used to gauge your topical authority, but keep in mind that topical authority is not a metric you can directly measure. It is a culmination of various factors such as quality of content, user experience, and overall site health, all of which influence where you stand in search engine rankings.

This can make it tricky for us to measure and report on topical authority, however, by monitoring the keywords that websites rank for and grouping keywords together in topical clusters, we can start to see a picture of how topical authority is increasing based on both the strength of the rankings but also the number of related topical keywords a site ranks for.

What Does Topical Authority Mean in 2024?

Search has evolved significantly in the past few years, with advancements in natural language processing and an increased understanding of user intent. Topical authority is no longer just about what keywords you rank for; it is about your site’s depth of expertise and the user’s willingness to engage with your content.

Tips for Gaining Topical Authority & Trust from Users

  • Understand User Intent: Ensure that your content aligns with what users expect to find when they type in a search query.
  • Stay Updated: The digital world doesn’t stand still, and neither should your content. Regularly update your content and publish new articles to signal to search engines that you are a current source of knowledge in your niche.
  • Engage with Audio and Video: The rise in voice search and the escalating demand for video content are definite signals to include a versatile mix of media in your content strategy.
  • Get Social and Get Reviewing: Social signals like shares, likes, and comments are excellent indicators of user engagement. The same goes for product and service reviews—positive feedback can further cement your authority on a topic.
  • Link Building: Earn backlinks from other authoritative sites. These will always be one of the most powerful endorsements of your site’s topical authority.

Search engine algorithms will continue to grow in sophistication, awarding the top spots in SERPs to those with the deepest, most relevant, and most user-focused content. It’s the ones that master topical authority that will continue to thrive. Remember, it’s not a destination; it’s a continual process of adaptation and growth.

Beyond the SERPs – How Topical Authority Can Help to Rank in a New SGE Environment

The rapid rise of AI in search is changing the landscape for SEOs. Perhaps the biggest shift we expect to see is the rollout of Google’s Search Generative Experience (SGE), which promises to significantly alter the landscape of SERPs.

This evolution underscores the importance of topical authority more than ever before. SGE, leveraging AI, aims to provide users with more intuitive and contextually relevant answers by understanding the breadth and depth of content available across the web. Consequently, websites that have established themselves as authoritative sources within their niche are likely to be favoured by these advanced algorithms.

By ensuring content is not only comprehensive but also expertly written and up-to-date, publishers can align themselves with the goals of SGE. This approach, focusing on becoming a go-to resource for specific topics, will be crucial for those looking to maintain or improve their visibility in this new, AI-driven search environment.


Remember: Building topical authority is a marathon, not a sprint. Consistent effort, high-quality content, and a strategic approach are key to becoming a topical titan in your niche. By implementing these strategies, you’ll not only improve your SEO ranking but also establish yourself as a trusted resource for your audience.

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