How to Build Topical Authority for better Search Engine Optimization(SEO)

Content or topical authority is a critical aspect of SEO that significantly impacts your website’s ranking and visibility on search. It is the most essential aspect of your content strategy. It refers to your content’s perceived expertise, trustworthiness, and reliability within a niche or industry.

Topical authority is a website’s expertise, credibility, and trustworthiness on a specific subject. As you build topical authority, you build trust. You establish topical authority by consistently creating high-quality, informative, and relevant content with topical relevance around a subject close to your business. You will become the resource of choice for people, traditional search and AI alike.

Establishing content authority involves creating in-depth content on relevant topics that effectively address your audience’s needs and queries. Once you build topical authority, You can increase your site’s exposure on the search engine results page (SERP) to attract visitors and potential clients.

Topical authority is distinct from domain authority, which evaluates a website’s general trustworthiness and impact across all topics. Both domain authority and content authority play a role in SEO.

Why Does Topical Authority Matter to SEO for SERPs?

Strong topical authority significantly improves search performance because search engines like Google trust topical relevance and authoritative sources and rank them higher in their organic search results and the unpaid, natural results that appear on SERPs.

Fostering Trust

Topical authority builds confidence in your brand on every level. This trust leads to more returning site visitors and higher SERPs. For example, Joann Fabric, Michaels, and Webs have established a great deal of topical authority in the yarn and knitting e-commerce sector. As a result, Google trusts their information and ranks them prominently for e-commerce-related searches, allowing them to capture the most significant shares of traffic for those terms. Establishing topical relevance is crucial for improving a website’s position on the Google SERP, as it directly influences visibility in search results.

Supporting Natural Link Building for SEO

Topical authority also supports natural link building. Websites are likelier to share content from authoritative sources, driving more traffic and potentially increasing conversions. For instance, many of our LinkedIn articles on building authority might link to content from Semrush or Hubspot because:

      • Semrush and Hubspot provide information that is trusted and reliable.
      • The content supports our article’s narrative and benefits readers.

Semrush and Hubspot have established topical authority in the subject matter. Links from and to reputable sources like Semrush or Google act as votes of confidence to search engines, enhancing the trust and authority of our content. Consequently, pages with numerous backlinks from trusted sources often rank higher in the SERPs.

Reducing Marketing Spend

Building topical authority can be gradual, but its long-term effects make marketing more time and cost-effective. For example, a smaller business with niche topical authority can outrank larger competitors, reducing the need for extensive paid marketing efforts while achieving high visibility and traffic. This organic approach contrasts with paid search, where businesses bid in auctions to have their ads appear on SERP, often requiring continuous investment to maintain visibility.

Take Knit Picks, which ranks ahead of Amazon for “knitting needles”:

Notice the top page has 104 inbound backlinks compared to Amazon’s 51. This is because more sites recognize Knit Picks’ topical authority.

How Does Topical Authority Work?

When organizing results, Google aims to provide the best search experience by prioritizing the most relevant, helpful, and trustworthy pages. Major search engines recognize topical authority as a significant factor when organizing search results, highlighting the importance of content relevance and quality.

You build topical authority by consistently creating original, factual, and insightful content. This content:

      • cleanly incorporates relevant keywords
      • It is written simply and is easy to read
      • and solves problems or meets other needs of searchers

These aspects of topical authority are controllable, and we will focus on them. Backlinks and brand mentions will naturally follow.

Google’s Public Votes for Topical Authority

Many of Google’s algorithm updates have reaffirmed its preference for trustworthy, knowledgeable, and experienced publishers. Google simply favors content with topical authority.

Here’s a condensed timeline of updates pushing topical authority:

            • 2011’s Panda algorithm update: “Reduce rankings for low-quality sites—sites that are low-value adds for users, content rehashed from other websites, or are just not very useful.”
            • We first saw semantic search in Hummingbird (2013’s algorithm rewrite). Google focused more on search queries’ meanings than just links and keywords.
            • In the useful content update from December 2022, Google updated its E-A-T (Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness) criteria to E-E-A-T, adding an extra “E” for “Experience.” The goal was to reward content writers with firsthand knowledge of their topics.

Topical authority is significant for news. Google’s topical authority method prioritizes results from “news teams intimately familiar with the location and topic.”

Topical authority enhances SEO efforts and complements search engine marketing strategies by ensuring content is seen as valuable and authoritative, improving visibility and prominence in organic and paid search results.

How to Build Topical Authority

Here are four simple tips for building topical authority for your brand and website. Being a topical authority is crucial for enhancing your site’s performance in organic search, as it signals that your content is a reliable source of information on specific topics.

Choose Your Niche (and Create Topic Clusters)

Aim to become the most authoritative online source of information on one or two specific themes. It saves time and money compared to focusing on a large, competitive field.

Instead of establishing authority on the broad topic of knitting, you could strive to become a trusted voice on beginner knitting patterns. Focusing on niche topics would make developing genuinely unique, high-quality content easier.

Use AI to improve your chances

Learning more about a given subject is the quickest technique to create groupings of closely related phrases on that topic, also known as keyword clustering. You can read our article about keyphrase research. Meanwhile, let’s discuss how to speed up your process using ChatGPT. If you have followed this instruction set, you should follow the instructions in keyword research to move forward.

ChatGPT is a powerful assistant for keyword research. It saves time and swiftly enhances your understanding of a topic, providing you with a much better means of keyword selection. You can use effective ChatGPT prompts for keyword research, but it should not be a substitute for traditional keyword research tools.  ChatGPT can be a time-saving marvel if prompted correctly, but if not, it can lead to errors and even generate new, impractical keywords.

Best ChatGPT Keyword Research Prompts

      • Generating Keyword Ideas Based On A Topic
          • Ask for popular sub-topics related to your main topic
          • Query sub-topics and request lists of popular keywords and long-tail keywords.
      • Using the Onion Method of Prompting:
          • Combine multiple prompts into one comprehensive query to streamline the process.
      • Generating Keyword Ideas Based On A Question:
          • Ask for questions related to your main topic and generate further questions to avoid duplicates.
      • Using the Alphabet Soup Method:
            • Generate keyword ideas by requesting keywords starting with each letter of the alphabet.
      • Based On User Personas:
            • Generate keywords for different user personas and their specific questions.
      • Based On Searcher Intent and User Personas:
            • Understand the search intent behind keywords and generate keywords for different search intents.

ChatGPT for Keyword Research Admin Tasks

        • Keyword Categorization:
          Filter keywords into categories, target personas, searcher intent, and search volume.
        • Keyword Clustering:
          Group related keywords based on their semantic relationships.
        • Keyword Expansion By Patterns:
          Use question, comparison, brand, and search intent patterns to expand keyword lists.

ChatGPT vs. Traditional Keyword Research Tools

While ChatGPT is helpful, validating its results with the SEO metrics provided by traditional keyword research tools is crucial. This validation process ensures the accuracy of your keyword research, providing you with confidence in your data. One of the better tools you can use is the SEMRush Keyword research tool.

ChatGPT For International SEO Keyword Research

ChatGPT can assist in translating keywords into different languages. However, verifying these translations with a keyword research tool is crucial, as direct translations may only sometimes have search volume.

Plan Your Link Building Strategies

Although you cannot completely control who links to your material or mentions your business, you may use basic tactics to obtain high-quality backlinks.

Below are a few easy link-building techniques to start with. Submitting content to be indexed is a crucial part of link-building strategies, enhancing your site’s visibility and contributing to higher organic rankings.


Outreach entails contacting appropriate websites and requesting links to your website. It is the most straightforward, direct tactic and should be at the top of your content strategy checklist.

Explain what distinguishes your proposed content to make your proposal more compelling. For example, it could be the sole study in your field.

And be specific. People should understand the advantages of linking to you. For example, linking to your study report may improve another site’s ideas, making its material more credible.

Broken Link Building

Broken link building occurs when you discover broken external links on other websites and provide working links from your own as alternatives.

Dead links degrade the user experience; thus, many website owners will gladly replace them. Please make the most of your outreach time by only offering to link when it’s an ideal match.

For example, if you have a new guide on the “best SaaS software for 2024,” hunt for broken links to comparable software lists by searching Google for “choosing SaaS software.” You may come across websites that reference obsolete versions.

Unlinked Brand Mentions

An unlinked brand mention occurs when a website mentions your brand name without providing a link to your website.

Often, it’s simply because the writer still needs to consider adding one.

You may be able to persuade them to change their link by contacting them and explaining the benefits of linking to your site.

Use an app like Semrush’s Media Monitor to get notified when another website mentions your company.

Create Problem-Solving Content

Create a steady stream of authoritative material directly addressing your audience’s needs and interests.

Unique, original understanding is always preferable. The most effective approach to stand out is offering value that your competition cannot match.

Other sorts of authoritative content you might use in your content strategy include:

        • contrary perspectives on your industry’s hot topics
        • Interviewing the experts
        • FAQs that others have not answered
        • Firsthand research

Research their questions using search engines and social media to guarantee that your content resonates with potential clients. 

AlsoAsked is also an excellent tool for getting quick ideas. AlsoAsked offers three free searches per day; use them judiciously or sign up for a premium subscription to receive additional monthly credits.

Enter a question or a key phrase, choose your region, and click “Search.”

You’ll see a tree diagram with questions that Google users who searched for your topic also asked:

Click on any of these to see further follow-up questions, then use the most relevant ones to generate helpful content.

Frequently Asked Questions

      • What is an example of topical authority?
        An example of topical authority is how Joann Fabric, Michaels, and Webs have established themselves as authoritative sources in the yarn and knitting e-commerce sector. Their consistently producing high-quality, informative content on knitting and related topics has earned them a strong reputation. Consequently, Google trusts their information and ranks them prominently for ecommerce-related searches.
      • What are the benefits of topical authority?
        The benefits of topical authority include:

          1. Improved Search Performance: Search engines like Google trust authoritative sources, leading to higher rankings in SERPs.
          2. Enhanced Trust: Both readers and search engines gain confidence in your brand, resulting in more returning visitors and higher SERP rankings.
          3. Natural Link Building: Authoritative material is more likely to be shared and linked to by other websites, which boosts traffic and conversions.
          4. Reduced Marketing Costs: Building topical authority can reduce the need for extensive paid marketing efforts, as high-quality content naturally attracts traffic and visibility over time.
      • Do backlinks produce topical authority?
        Yes, backlinks contribute to building topical authority. When other credible websites link to your material, search engines recognize your site as trustworthy and reliable on a given topic. These backlinks act as votes of confidence, enhancing your site’s credibility and authority. For example, Knit Picks’ ranking for “knitting needles” ahead of Amazon is partly due to having more backlinks from recognized sources, indicating more substantial topical authority.
      • Is topical authority necessary?
        Yes, topical authority is crucial for SEO. It significantly impacts your website’s ranking and visibility on search engines. Establishing topical authority builds trust with search engines and users, leading to higher rankings in SERPs, increased organic traffic, and more potential customers. Major search engines prioritize content from authoritative sources, making topical authority a key factor in SEO success.


To build your topical authority, follow the steps below religiously and you will succeed.

      • Choose Your Niche:
          • Identify specific, manageable topics within your industry to focus on.
          • Create clusters of related content to establish authority in those areas.
      • Use AI for Keyword Research:
          • Utilize ChatGPT and other tools to generate and organize keyword ideas.
          • Implement effective ChatGPT prompts for streamlined keyword research.
      • Develop User Personas:
          • Generate keywords and questions based on user personas to target your audience better.
      • Analyze Searcher Intent:
          • Understand the search intent behind keywords and create content that addresses these intents.
      • Create High-Quality Content:
          • Create original and informative content that addresses your audience’s needs. Provide Value!
          • Incorporate relevant keywords naturally and avoid excessive jargon.
      • Engage in Natural Link Building:
        • Develop relevant content to be shared and linked to by other reputable sites.
        • Reach out to other websites for backlink opportunities through outreach and broken link building.
      • Leverage Unlinked Brand Mentions:
          • Monitor mentions of your brand and request backlinks where they are missing.
      • Plan Problem-Solving Content:
          • Consistently create content that solves problems and answers questions your audience is searching for.
          • Use tools like AlsoAsked to identify relevant questions and topics.
      • Regularly Review and Update Content:
          • Review your content regularly.
          • Update older content with new information and insights to maintain authority.
      • Validate with Traditional Tools:
          • For accuracy and reliability, Cross-check keyword research and content performance using traditional SEO tools like SEMRush.
      • Optimize for International SEO:
          • Translate keywords into different languages using tools and verify their search volume and relevance.
          • Adapt content to suit the linguistic and cultural context of different regions.

These steps will help you build and maintain topical authority, improving your site’s SEO performance and visibility.