Want higher rankings and more traffic? This easy guide explains topical authority, why it matters, and gives you actionable steps to build it.

Do you want your content to rank higher in search results and drive more traffic? You can easily achieve these goals with an SEO concept called topical authority.

With the right content strategy, you can build topical authority. Then reap the benefits of higher rankings and increased visibility. Plus, you can even achieve this without link-building!

This guide explains topical authority, why it matters, and how you build it for your website. Let’s go!

What Is Topical Authority in SEO?

Topical authority is an SEO concept used to establish perceived authority and expertise on one or more topics. When a website’s content has high topical authority, it builds credibility and potentially ranks better for topically related keywords.

You build topical authority by consistently creating and linking high-quality content relevant to a specific subject or niche. The more informative and in-depth you write about a topic, the more search engines and users see you as a subject matter expert.

Topical authority also goes beyond high-volume keywords. Instead, a topic expert covers every possible subtopic and question within a broad subject rather than focusing on single keywords.

For example, say you want to rank articles around the topic “content marketing.” Writing one or two articles targeting “content marketing” may not be enough to compete in this niche.

Why? Because content marketing is a vast topic, no single article can cover everything in-depth.

To build topical authority, you must write several topics related to content marketing. For example, write semantically related articles, such as:

  • What is content marketing?
  • Why is content marketing important?
  • Top content marketing strategies
  • How to create a content marketing strategy?
  • Best content marketing tools
  • Content marketing for local business
  • Content marketing for eCommerce
  • Content marketing for startups
  • What are the types of content marketing?

You probably get the point. The goal is to cover a broad topic as a whole rather than focusing on individual keywords.

Why Is Topical Authority Important for SEO?

Topical authority is important for SEO because it builds a long-term and sustainable content strategy for your website. Establishing topical authority improves a website’s rankings, organic traffic, credibility, conversions, and more.

It’s also essential for a website to build authority to stay competitive and become a reliable source of information. As a result, your brand becomes more closely associated with relevant keywords.

The more authoritative your site is on a topic, the better chance it will rank higher in SERPs for related search queries. With this SEO content strategy, even a new website can rank on the first page of Google.

Moreover, building topical authority demonstrates a Google concept called E-E-A-T: Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness.

Google’s Search Quality Rater Guidelines describe these terms as:

  • Expertise of the content creator.
  • Authoritativeness of the creator, content, and website.
  • Trustworthiness of the creator, content, and website.

E-E-A-T is not a direct ranking factor. However, applying the concept to your website helps improve rankings. If Google views your website as an expert resource on a topic, it’s more likely to rank your content higher.

What Are the Benefits of Topical Authority?

Achieving topical authority is excellent for your SEO. It can also help improve your broader marketing goals. For example, the benefits of high authority content include:

  • More organic traffic to your website
  • More quality backlinks to your website
  • Increased conversions and revenue
  • Increased brand trust, credibility, and reputation
  • Higher rankings for competitive topics and keywords
  • Increased number of social media shares
  • Improved crawlability and better site organization

How to Build Topical Authority (7 Easy Steps)

Topic Cluster Diagram

How do you become a topical expert for your website?

First, you need to know the SEO basics. For example, an understanding of keyword research, internal linking, page structure, etc. With the basics covered, building topical content is relatively easy.

Follow these general steps to build topical authority for your content:

  1. Pick a topic to focus your expertise
  2. Do topic-based keyword research
  3. Select a wide breadth of topics to cover
  4. Use relevant subtopics to build content depth
  5. Write valuable content that meets search intent
  6. Build content clusters with internal linking
  7. Keep your content up to date regularly

Let’s look at these seven steps in more detail:

1. Pick a Topic to Focus Your Expertise

First, choose a topic relevant to your website and audience. To become a subject matter expert, you’ll need to cover this topic in-depth.

Keep your topic somewhat broad, like “electric bikes” instead of “bikes.” Also, avoid going to niche and limiting the number of supporting articles you can write.

For example, “Aventon eBikes” would be harder to build topical authority than “eBikes for heavy riders.”

Also Read: What is Thought Leadership Content Marketing?

2. Do Keyword Research to Find Topics

Keyword research is often the starting point for building topical authority. Topical research will also help you plan your content strategy.

Use a keyword research tool and SERP analysis to identify subtopics, phrases, and questions users are searching around your topic. Aim for informational top-of-funnel (TOFU) topics rather than transactional bottom-of-funnel topics.

Keyword tools also provide helpful metrics and other features to improve your content strategy. However, metrics like search volume and keyword difficulty can steer your content decisions in the wrong direction.

To become a topical expert, you can’t just target high-volume keywords. The goal is to cover everything within the subject, including queries with low or no search volume.

Sidenote: Including low-volume keywords, phrases, and questions can help gain content authority for large-volume keywords.

3. Cover a Wide Breadth of Topics

Topic breadth is the number of semantically related topics you cover in your content strategy. In short, it’s the horizontal topic coverage across your website.

To create authoritative content for a given topic, optimize for content breadth and depth. This approach provides more value and makes it easier for search engines to associate your website with topically relevant keywords.

4. Use Relevant Subtopics to Build Content Depth

Content depth is how comprehensively you cover a specific topic. This means the content sufficiently covers a topic with relevant subtopics, talking points, and helpful information users want to know.

Providing quality topic depth also helps avoid thin content issues. Google defines thin content as “content with little or no added value.” This means low-quality, thin content will be difficult to rank high in SERPs.

Sidenote: Don’t confuse topical depth with content length. Many misleading articles online will tell you to write 2,000 words to rank #1. Long-form content with little value will struggle to rank high in SERPs.

5. Write High-Quality Content That Meets Search Intent

The best way to establish topical authority is by creating in-depth content that provides value and meets search intent. Then internal link those quality content pieces.

For each piece of content, be sure to:

  • Write content that aligns with your topic and the search query.
  • Build content depth by covering as many related subtopics as possible.
  • Match search intent (the reason behind a search query).
  • Share your experience, expertise, and insights.
  • Keep your content factual, helpful, and informative.
  • Optimize readability with short sentences, short paragraphs, and simple terminology.
  • Build a content structure that’s easy to scan, read, and digest.
  • Include supporting images, videos, or infographics.
  • Link to relevant content and trusted sources.

Also Read: How to Create a Content Marketing Calendar

6. Build Content Clusters with Internal Linking

A topic cluster is a group of related pages interlinked around a single topic.

The purpose of topic clusters is to group relevant content, making it easier to find by users and search engine crawlers. As a whole, these pages also offer comprehensive coverage of a specific subject.

Your content cluster should start with a robust pillar page and include internal links to all topically related cluster pages.

For example, a topic cluster consists of three parts:

  1. Pillar page (or hub): The main pillar page generally covers a broad topic and links to multiple topic cluster pages.
  2. Topic cluster pages (or spokes): These supporting pages cover related subtopics more in-depth and link back to the pillar page.
  3. Internal linking to connect and organize all these pages.

7. Update Content Regularly to Maintain Freshness

It’s essential to monitor and update your content continuously to maintain SEO authority.

Why? Content can become outdated or provide inaccurate information over time. Plus, Google rewards fresh, up-to-date content. According to Search Engine Journal, content freshness is a ranking factor.

Ensure you have a process to monitor and refresh old content regularly. Focusing on only new content and ignoring your old content can affect rankings and traffic.

For example, consider running a content audit once or twice a year. Determine what content pieces to keep, update, remove, or consolidate.

How to Measure Topical Authority

Since topical authority is a concept, there are no definitive metrics to measure it – yet!

Yes, higher rankings and more traffic may be a good indication. However, those results could come from other SEO efforts.

All is not lost; Ahrefs’ Traffic share by domains report offers a way to roughly measure topical authority. This report shows the domains that get the most organic traffic based on topically relevant keywords. The higher your traffic share, the better your topical authority. 

Ahrefs Traffic Share Report

Ahrefs Traffic Share Report

5 Topic Research Tools (Free & Paid)

When doing topic research, find topically relevant queries people are searching for on your target topic. Luckily, there are handy online tools to help with that:

1. Keyword Research Tools

Keyword research tools like Ahrefs can help you find topically relevant keywords, phrases, and questions. There are several free and paid keyword research tools available.

Ahrefs Keyword Explorer

Ahrefs Keyword Explorer

2. Google People Also Ask

Google People Also Ask screenshot

Google People Also Ask

People Also Ask (PAA) is a Google SERP feature. It provides additional questions related to a search query and quick answers.

3. Google Related Searches

Google Related Searches screenshot

Google Related Searches

Google’s related searches are the eight search phrases you see at the bottom of the SERP. Google’s algorithm generates these associated terms based on your search.

4. AlsoAsked

AlsoAsked diagram


AlsoAsked is a free keyword research tool. It pulls data from Google’s People Also Ask feature. Enter a query to see questions people are asking about your keyword or phrase. You’ll see People Also Ask results up to three levels deep.

5. Answer the Public

AnswerThePublic Circle Diagram

AnswerThePublic is a free keyword research tool that pulls autocomplete data from Google. Then it delivers useful phrases and questions people are asking about your keyword.

Topical Authority Summary

In a nutshell, create multiple high-quality pieces of content around a broad subject. Then interlink them to increase topical authority.

Building topical authority helps show you’re an expert on the topic and a trusted source. These SEO efforts will boost rankings, traffic, and business growth when done right.

Not convinced? Check out this topical authority case study.


FAQ: What is Topical Authority

Common questions and answers related to topical authority.

What Is Semantic SEO?

Semantic SEO is writing topically related content around topics instead of individual keywords. It’s a content strategy that builds topical authority.

Semantic content builds more meaning and topical depth into a website’s content. It also helps search engines better understand and rank that content.

What Is Topical Relevance?

Topical relevance is the relationship a website’s content has to a particular topic, keyword phrase, or backlink. Content relevance means the page is topically relevant to the search phrase, keyword, or backlink.

Domain Authority vs Topical Authority: What’s the Difference?

Domain authority is a metric created by SEO tool providers to measure the strength of a website’s backlink profile. It helps you predict how likely a website will rank in the SERPs compared to its competitors.

Topical authority is a measure of a website’s perceived authority and expertise in a particular niche or topic. It helps search engines understand that content and rank it better for topically related keywords. It’s a concept or SEO strategy rather than a metric.