Topical Authority: Today’s Criteria for Boosting SEO

What does it take to rank high on search engines? Keywords? Videos? Pictures? Today, SEO takes a more sophisticated approach as Google refines its criteria to ensure users get the precise content/information they seek. It’s all about E-A-T: expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness. Google now focuses on in-depth, high-quality content that shows expertise in a specific area—clearly demonstrating you’re a topical authority in your space, the go-to for your industry, product, service, or topic. Today, you need topical authority.

Topical authority defined

Previously, SEO algorithms were based on general content quality standards, such as word count. Now, engineers calibrate these algorithms using a more nuanced approach. Where we once measured SEO success against general SEO practices, the algorithm now assesses your content as compared to other competitors in your niche.

Topical authority is just one aspect of a broader trend toward a more accurate quality measurement by evaluating your content based on your competition. As Search Engine Journal put it, “Topical authority is a measure of authority you earn through quality content. Why is topical authority important? The publication provides a compelling reason to dive deeper into content: Topical authority is significant because it shows how well you understand your audience and what they’re looking for on the internet. Topical authority is also a metric that ranks websites according to the quality of information they offer.”

Bottom line: if you want to rank higher in top search engines like Google, increasing topical authority must be part of your SEO strategy—because the more informative pieces of content on your website, the more your brand or business will be perceived as a trusted resource.

By examining top-ranked content by competitors in your specific niche, you can get a sense for what works well for your audience. As you review their website content, make a note of the length of content, how often they publish new content, and how they handle internal links and backlinks.

In Google’s own words

Let’s go to the source and see what Google says about optimizing search results. Beyond looking at keywords, Google uses several types of data to assess whether the search results are relevant to queries. “Just think: when you search for ‘dogs,’ you likely don’t want a page with the word ‘dogs’ on it hundreds of times. So with that in mind, algorithms assess if a page contains other relevant content beyond the keyword ‘dogs’—such as pictures of dogs, videos, or even a list of breeds.”

But there’s more. With relevant content identified, Google prioritizes those that seem most helpful by determining which content demonstrates E-A-T. “For example, one of several factors we use to help determine this is understanding if other prominent websites link or refer to the content. These backlinks have often proven to be a good sign that the information is well trusted.”

How to build topical authority

How, then, do you boost the quality of your content? Topical authority considers keyword optimization, for starters. Your content should include more keywords related to the topic (but be aware of keyword stuffing) and clearly demonstrate a deep understanding of your topic. This strategy will help search engines understand your website’s topic and help you rank higher.

In addition, your website content must go deeper. If you’re trying to sell a service, for instance, showcase all the reasons why your business or brand versus your competitor, and be sure to provide more content than your competitor. Show expertise and appeal to your audience with value adds like videos, guides, or e-books. The result? Your website looks more authoritative, and Google and customers take notice.

Quick tips

The following are a few tips to consider.

  1. Showcase your knowledge about current events related to your topic. Ensure your website doesn’t get “stale.”
  2. Identify new trends on the topic and write about them.
  3. Cluster your keywords into themes that are relevant to your website pages. This way, you can target many keywords per page rather than only one or two, creating additional opportunities for customers to find your content online.
  4. Be a first! Share something new, even if it’s not on SERPs.
  5. Link out trusted resources—it shows you’ve done your homework.
  6. Continually update your content. You want to be current on your topics, and over time, information becomes outdated. So stay up to date, always.

Change for the better

Without a doubt, SEO is changing for the better. If you’re serious about boosting your search ranking and revenue, boosting topical authority must be a part of your SEO strategy. Whether for digital marketing, PPC, performance marketing or SEO, topical authority helps drive activity lower on the customer journey funnel. And that’s always good for business.