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Dec 14, 2022

Topical Authority: A Way Forward For Keyword Research

Suman Samal, Asst. Marketing Manager
Suman Samal
Topical Authority: A Way Forward For Keyword Research

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Looking to take your keyword research to the next level? If so, you will want to consider building topical authority. This concept is becoming increasingly important as more and more people are turning to online resources for their information. 

Not only does topical authority help you boost your ranking on search engines, it can also help you build an understanding of your target audience. 

In this article, we'll walk you through the basics of topical authority, how it evolved and why it is relevant in keyword research. So read on, and get started on building that competitive edge!

What is topical authority?

Topical authority refers to a website building trust and recognition over a while in a particular field. Such a website is associated with proven expertise and high-quality content.

To gain topical authority, you need to know your audience inside out. You need to understand their interests, opinions, and concerns. And you must have something valuable to offer that will appeal to them. The most effective way to achieve topical authority is by creating quality content that speaks directly to your target audience.

Some examples of websites with a high trust signal are Reuters.com and Webmd.com. These websites' reputations precede them. They usually rank on the first page of SERPs. You know that the information on these websites is vetted and can be accepted without needing to validate it.

Search engines generally favor domains with authority over a particular topic or industry. This means that writing and covering topics related to the website's content niche is beneficial for SEO. 

Authority can be established through quality content, links from other relevant sites, and social media shares. By doing this, you will increase the chances that your readers will find what they're looking for on your website instead of going down irrelevant rabbit holes. 

Let's jump into an example to understand this better.

Let's say you want to start gardening, and you come across two websites. One has an article about how to begin gardening and what you will need to know. The other covers this plus additional information on related topics such as how to garden depending on the space you have and what plants to choose, what type of soil to use, what the different container options are, etc.

If the content is of good quality, it's obvious that the second website gives you more information, puts things in perspective, and is generally a lot more useful. Using this logic, a search engine would consider the second website to have a higher topical authority.

The history of topical relevance: How it evolved 

Let’s talk about how topical authority came to be at the forefront of SEO. Google’s Hummingbird algorithm, implemented in 2013, had a big impact on the search landscape of the internet. 

From ranking search queries based on backlinks and keywords alone, the search engine could now analyze natural language and evaluate the meaning of related terms. This meant Google had the power to figure out how relevant any piece of content was and could rank it accordingly.

Before this, Google’s algorithm was based on, as mentioned, keywords, backlinks, and many other factors such as the quality of the backlinks sites, the location of the keyword, social media shares, etc. 

The algorithm basically scored blog posts and other pieces of content on these factors, which meant it could be taken advantage of. The algorithm was not able to understand semantics. This gave rise to shady techniques to boost SERP ranking, such as keyword stuffing. 

This also meant that content creators had to churn out new content that had to be based on keywords and other factors, and high-quality content became a second priority.

With the change to the Google search algorithm and the introduction of semantic search, Google attempts to understand internet users' queries beyond individual words. It tries to determine not only the explicit but also the implicit intent of users. 

It could now ascertain which search results understood and met the searcher's intent. Overall, it sought to better figure out the true intent of searches, which is a hefty goal, especially as people have started to use conversational sentences and questions in the form of queries. This has increased with the advent of voice search.

Once Google can figure out the intent, it has to produce accurate results. This process entails semantic analysis, which determines the meaning and relationships between words. The algorithm can determine how words are related, such as synonyms and substitute terms. 

Google also developed a ‘knowledge graph’ (Google’s database of facts about people, places, and things) to help with this, which is a set of SERP features to help with accurate answers. It has been assumed that the algorithm uses a form of modeling of topics to be able to evaluate semantic meaning. 

Hence, the shift in priority from keywords and backlinks to topical relevance of individual web pages and sites.

Topical relevance in SEO is the way forward 

Topical authority or relevance is fast becoming the new domain authority. The higher domain authority a website has, the more likely it is to rank first for relevant keywords. The same goes for content. 

The more high-quality, relevant, and up-to-date the content on a website is, the stronger its topical authority is. This means that a website with high topical authority or topical relevance will rank better for not just relevant but related keywords as well.

Let’s say you are looking for a website to help write a blog. 

The first site you look at gives you details on how to begin writing a blog. The second website you look at gives you that, as well as offers you other pages on different blog hosting site options, information on the best free or paid options, factors to take into consideration while choosing a site, and maybe even goes ahead to give you information on how to optimize content for SEO. 

This goes into the nuances and details and gives you an overall perspective of everything you need to know to begin writing a blog. 

Which content source would you prefer for your needs? 

Most definitely, the second website, not only because it gives you the information you need but because it can provide a 360-degree perspective and related information. 

This example is what topical authority is about and highlights why it is important. The concept took the global marketing space by storm, and marketers were quick to favor the topical authority model. Here is a piece by Forbes which emphasizes why your marketing strategy needs to include topical authority and why it is important for SEO. 

Matt Diggity, an SEO expert, nicely sums it up with this tweet, 'Topical Authority and Content grow traffic. Backlinks and Link Authority stabilize it.'

Screenshot of a tweet by Matt Diggy

Scalenut understood the need for incorporating topical authority quite early on in anticipation of its importance and launched the Topic Cluster tool as part of its repertoire for smarter and cohesive content planning.

One of the most effective ways to build topical authority is by topic-clustering. A topic cluster strategy is a method of developing a group of content or related pages that are all related to one specific topic. 

The pillar page is the main piece of content that covers a core topic in detail. Then, there are a number of posts on related topics that link back to the pillar page. The internal linking between the pages helps search engines determine whether the page is an authority on the subject matter. This allows the website to rank better for the topic over time. 

A pillar page is specifically designed to rank for a keyword cluster. Keyword clustering is the act of grouping similar and related keywords. This strategy involves restructuring the website so that the page embraces an organized and cleaner architecture. Cluster blogs offer a lot of additional exhaustive content that is relevant to the core topic at hand.

We recognized that the topic clusters model is an important concept in the evolution of content strategy, especially for marketers responsible for SEO strategies, and that manually creating a keyword cluster requires considerable effort. 

Scalenut's Topic Cluster generator enables you to create keyword clusters in a few simple steps.

Benefits of building Topical Authority

There are, as we have seen earlier, many long-term benefits to building topical authority: 

  • When you are seen as an expert in your field, your users are more likely to be drawn to your offerings. Topic clusters help build relevant, good content, a valuable tool that can help buyers trust you.
  • When you or your website become the go-to source for information about your niche, people will rely on you and your site for guidance and advice. People will often return to websites that are the top sources of information for their interests.
  • By addressing users’ doubts and offering different types of content, you are making sure that your audience has everything they need. This way, you ensure that all of the pain points in a user's journey are taken care of. 
  • Being seen as a content authority also helps attract backlinks, as others cite you in their content.

Topical relevance in SEO is a game changer. Thanks to topical relevance, the world of SEO keyword research has changed and evolved into a whole other beast. 

Of course, there are many other factors that have a bearing on keyword research as well. One other factor that should be kept in mind and is worth mentioning is if you’re doing your research from an SEO or PPC perspective.

If you want to read more on keyword research for SEO in today’s world, please refer to the blog ‘How to do keyword research for SEO and PPC.’

How to build topical authority with Scalenut 

Scalenut’s Topic Cluster tool helps you build topical authority through topic-clustering, which in turn increases visibility and boosts organic traffic.

Topical authority is almost synonymous with relevant content architecture, as mentioned earlier. On a very high level, the general steps to build topical architecture will include researching your topic, creating keyword clusters, and ultimately writing high-quality content.

As topical authority relies on topic clustering done well, let's look at the steps involved with the topic-cluster generator on Scalenut:

  • You shall start by entering your relevant keyword as well as the location.
  • Scalenut's tool will generate an AI-powered cluster report that will include multiple target keyword clusters.
  • The next step would entail browsing through the clusters to find primary and secondary keywords. The report provides you with the total cluster search volume, relevant keywords, and the search volume for each of the keywords. You also have the option to sort these clusters by search volume or the number of keywords.
  • You have the option to export to download this report. We should also mention that the topic cluster is also compatible with the Scalenut content tool kit, which means you can go ahead and generate a multiple-keyword SEO Research report for the cluster of your choice.
  • Once done with your research and brief creation, you can start writing through Scalenut’s AI Editor and Cruise Mode.

What is behind this easy-to-use tool? 

Scalenut's tool uses deep learning algorithms powered by BERT to build clusters using related keywords. BERT stands for Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers. It’s a pioneer in Natural Language Processing and bridges the gap between natural language and computers.

With the Scalenut Topic Cluster generator tool, you will be well on your way to creating some high-quality, informational content in line with your topical authority model.

Optimize for topical authority and user intent today!

If you can identify a certain area where you can be an expert or authority and create content for that, you can reap the benefits of topical authority. 

With where we are moving in terms of search and understanding user intent, sites that are the best sources of information will rank well and attract traffic. This has made the internet a better place, in general, filled with more relevant content. All of us stand to gain from this. 

Always remember to keep search intent in mind. Ask yourself if your content is fulfilling the searcher's ultimate aim, which is user intent. Even if you have high topical authority, search engines do monitor users' signals. If they don't find what they want on your page, it will slowly lose traction. 

Google knows when a searcher finds what they are looking for, and websites that end a user's search will be pushed up and rank better. For instance, if the searcher is looking for ‘eco-friendly toilet paper’ and finds your site and doesn't bounce, your page will rank better. 

Look at common search queries related to your topic and try to answer those. Those queries can get their own pages, whereas less common queries can be grouped into other pages on the site. 

At the end of the day, a good SEO article is about enriching users' lives and giving them what they seek. 

About Scalenut 

Scalenut is an AI-powered SEO and content marketing SaaS platform that helps you discover and create relevant content for your customers. Be it brainstorming ideas, creating comprehensive briefs, or creating content, Scalenut has made the process extremely easy. 

Click here to create a free account and explore the many features of this tool.

Suman Samal
Asst. Marketing Manager
ABout the AUTHOR
Suman Samal
Asst. Marketing Manager

Suman Samal is a Asst. Marketing Manager at Scalenut. She is a technology enthusiast with a keen interest in content marketing and SEO. She truly believes that with the right set of tools every organization can improve the ROI of their content marketing campaigns. She spends her time managing content operations at Scalenut and ensuring that everything we publish is of the highest quality.

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