Topical authority or keywords? What is more useful to increase your rating?
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SEO optimization is an essential factor to consider when looking to improve rankings on search engines, but, on its own, it is often insufficient. In the early days of SEO, knowing how to identify and position keywords would guarantee of success. As the amount of resources on the web has increased and search engines have become more sophisticated, other factors have come into play. Among these is topical authority which, when effectively implemented, can help you outperform your competition in the SERP.
What is topical authority and why is it important for SEO?
The concept of authority refers to the dominion and credibility that one has over a subject. In the digital marketing environment, it refers to perceived relevance. Essentially, there are three types of authority:
- Domain authority
- Page authority
- Topical authority
Domain authority (DA) is a metric created by the MOZ tool. It uses a proprietary algorithm to predict how a website will rank in search results. To do this, it analyzes and ranks, among other factors, the keywords and the quantity and quality of links. The index value is scored from 1 to 100 and reflects the overall performance of the site.
Unlike the previous authority type, this type examines the ranking potential of a specific page of the website. The evaluation scale is also from 1 to 100. The corresponding algorithm analyzes dozens of factors. It is frequently updated to ensure that the ranking calculations are adapted to the criteria used by the search engines.
Topical authority focuses on the value of the content. This refers to the contribution of a page according to the interests of a search. It is therefore a metric of page quality for a specific topic or niche. The more knowledge or experience you demonstrate, the more likely you are to rank in the top positions. Keep in mind that topical authority is not established with a single piece of content. It is constructed through the interaction and linking of various fragments.
The relevance of a site is determined by measuring the three types of authority while also considering the other SEO elements.
Why topical authority can be more effective than keyword research
Without a doubt, keyword optimization is an essential element of SEO although it is not the only one. In fact, you can achieve high rankings using keywords and links yet still not achieve the expected results. This may seem like a contradiction, but if you position yourself at the top in the wrong niche, this ranking will be absolutely irrelevant to your business goals.
Both individual keywords and keyword groups help you improve your SEO position. If you also design a comprehensive strategy and build topical authority, your efforts will be better targeted and more effective.
The breadth and depth of the content and the link structure of the page generate topical authority. Instead of positioning only one piece, we work on ranking the website and providing relevant answers to searches. Google values these links, as they add richness to the content and rewards them by giving them a higher ranking. In return, you should be concerned about creating a consistent link structure that will keep visitors on your site.
How topical authority can contribute to improving your ranking
It is difficult to describe the perfect formula for achieving maximum SEO efficiency. Most significantly because it is not a static result. SEO efficiency changes as the algorithms are modified. Despite this, the right combination of keywords, internal links, backlinks and authority can create a winning strategy.
The right target keywords can help you achieve high page authority ratings. On the other hand, when you manage to rank other pages on your site with long tail keywords, you increase your domain authority. You can then add a link structure that facilitates navigation between different pages of your content.
All of these factors contribute to how search engines value your site as a reference resource. As a result, you will rank higher and be able to attract and secure more visitors. In turn, valuable content has the capability to generate more organic backlinks. This completes the virtuous circle of SEO positioning.
A comprehensive strategy prioritizes topical authority over keyword saturation and backlink building. That is, it focuses on improving the quality of the content and providing a broad coverage of the topic. It also designs a coherent and solid link structure. These are not approached as isolated elements but as a set of interrelated factors that add value to the site. Every content marketing project must be governed by a plan that includes objectives and actions previously defined and continuously monitored.
Why should I create topical authority? How do I benefit from it?
Including topical authority in your overall content strategy is a wise decision. Keep in mind that search engines don’t just crawl keywords. Your goal is to answer the user’s questions accurately. Therefore, search engines also consider related elements, which suggest that the ranked page has valuable content.
Topical authority is about how search engines perceive the value of your page. As explained above, this contributes to achieving a higher ranking in searches. Why? Because it represents your expertise in the subject.
Moreover, this, in turn, is also perceived by your audience. By positioning yourself as an authoritative resource, your audience is more likely to take notice of and remember you. Generally, this translates into new visits to your page, both by direct navigation and through a choice of results. Positive user experience is an asset that must be safeguarded in any marketing campaign.
Simultaneously, gaining topical authority helps you obtain more natural backlinks. This will contribute to your level of relevance. This circular effect has a great impact on positioning. In fact, topical authority can override domain authority. That is, it could contribute to achieving a raking higher than your top-ranked competitors.
How to establish topical authority
The construction of topical authority is a multi-step task. These follow a logical order and are iterative. Fortunately, or unfortunately, search engine ranking is an ongoing process.
1. Research keywords
The first step is to research which keywords related to your content topic represent an opportunity. Look for terms that have not been used by your competitors.
Also, pay attention to latent semantic indexing (LSI). This is a function that Google uses to establish meaningful relationships between the chosen keyword and similar terms. To do this, it performs a review of the content of the site, identifying related words. For example, it recognizes variations in gender and number (plural and singular). It also tracks synonyms, nominal and adjective derivations and related topics.
2. Answer search questions
It is necessary to understand what your audience’s common queries are to be able to create text that provides adequate answers. Prepare as comprehensive a list as possible for potential queries and their responses. Consider brainstorming with your collaborators. Also, collect customer questions and visit effective and popular question-and-answers sites such as Quora to research frequent topics of interest.
Think about what questions your audience might have about the topic(s) specific for your business. Look at search intent and create content to answer each particular question. Don’t limit yourself to your keywords. This will enable you to gain relevance in search engines, and your page will be rewarded with a better ranking.
3. Identify content gaps
Analyze your content and that of your competitors. You may find subtopics that have not been covered in your content that nevertheless answer specific questions. By addressing related issues or discussing them from a different perspective, you can gain relevance in your niche. Try to fill these gaps with new and relevant content.
Additionally, remember that to gain topical authority, your website needs to provide sufficient content. It must demonstrate expertise that can solve all the doubts about a subject. Similarly, your website must provide thorough and meaningful information to have an impact on the ranking. Build critical mass with relevant and quality content.
4. Create high-quality long-form content
Creating pillar content is a good strategy for establishing topical authority. This is about generating high-quality pieces that address an issue holistically. As a result, they tend to be long publications which serve as an introduction to the subject. But remember, creating pillar content isn’t about writing a great number of words, it’s about providing comprehensive, high-quality information. Afterwards, make sure to generate content that delves deeper into each of the aspects covered and link them to the long-form content. The content of the pillar allows you to demonstrate your authority on the subject.
5. Link your content internally
To increase your topical authority, it is important for Google to be able to crawl related content. Make this easy by strategically linking your content. For this purpose, a “connection map” is ideal, as it identifies the points of contact between your pieces. Not only will it give you an overview of your content, but it will also allow you to spot gaps.
In addition, it will generate a symbiotic effect, essentially enabling your items to drive each other. It will boost the SEO strength of each of the linked pieces. This will have a positive impact on establishing your topical authority with search engines.
On the other hand, a powerful internal structure will also encourage visitors to stay on your site. Your goal is to be the final destination page for queries. Retain your audience by providing high-quality, comprehensive information that satisfies their search intentions.
6. Apply on-site SEO
Now it’s time to apply your SEO knowledge. Start by evaluating on-site SEO, also known as on-page SEO. Rather than counting keywords, focus on verifying that your content is:
- Robust, i.e., it addresses the topic comprehensively and develops it in depth;
- Easy to understand. In addition to language, pay attention to the organization of your site and the hierarchy of ideas;
- Unique, otherwise your SEO ranking will be affected. Remember that search engines penalize duplicate content;
- Credible and authoritative, or equally, relevant and valuable;
- Set up to correspond to your audience’s search intent.
With regard to formal requirements, it is appropriate that you:
- Optimize the page with metadata. Write meta descriptions or meta titles in a language that matches the language your target audience uses;
- Structure content and include long-tail keywords in HTML tags (H1, H2, H3);
- Create short URLs and include in them the keywords;
- Optimize images as well to speed up search engine recognition;
- Check the loading speed of your page and make sure it is optimized for all browsers.
7. Pay attention to off-site SEO
Off-site SEO is generally associated with link building. In reality, it encompasses all external actions that drive search engine rankings. This includes social media strategies, content marketing and influencer marketing, among others. The implementation of these activities varies considerably by industry. For this reason, this article is limited to explaining how external links work.
When you link your page to other sites that have recognized authority with search engines, you can benefit from their relevance. Google understands that your content is also valuable because it refers to trusted sources.
Obviously, this only works if your external links are of high quality. This aspect is more important than the amount of backlinks on your page. You should seek a balance between the strength of the linked domain and the other linked sites, as you will share the halo of authority with them.
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