Topical authority is the new big trend within SEO. This is why more and more site managers and bloggers focus on topical optimization instead of the classic keyword optimization.
While the rules of topical authority seem to be clear enough, re-optimizing an established site with tons of content that has been optimized according to the old standards can be quite time-consuming, almost impossible. This post will help you do exactly that: easily and efficiently.
Topical Authority’s Pillars
Topical authority is an umbrella term for a number of rules used by search engines to classify and evaluate content based on focus and thoroughness. Unlike keyword optimization and single-post-based evaluation of content, here what’s important is that the whole site focuses on a topic in particular and researches it in depth by publishing multiple posts approaching it from all possible angles.
In order to achieve topical authority a site must live up to a number of requirements:
- Topic: The whole site must focus on a single topic or on a few strongly related topics. Each page should be further optimized for topic-relevant keywords. Different types of content supporting the topic are a big plus.
- Structure: The way you structure your content with the help of menus, categories, and tags is quite important in terms of topical authority. Menus should make your content easy to find and should follow its logic. You should not only consciously choose a small number of categories but you should also make sure they’re all topically relevant. Last but not least, you shouldn’t use more than one category per post or page to avoid duplicated content. Tags should help site visitors find their way around your content so they should be precise and, ideally, supporting your site’s topic.
- Interrelation: Your single posts must be connected via relevant and useful internal links. Relevant internal links prove that your posts are on interrelated topics and provide site visitors the opportunity to research in-depth.
- Topical relevancy: Topical relevancy means that the backlinks your site receives, come from sites from within your own field. Search engines take such topically relevant backlinks as an additional sign of quality in-depth content.
- Domain authority: Domain Authority, a term used by MOZ to replace the outdated Page Rank, is unfortunately also a part of the equation. It’s unfortunate because it doesn’t have anything to do with the quality or depth of your content but is a cumulative ranking method, placing importance on such things as site visits, bounce rate, backlinks, etc., thus favoring established sites at the expense of the new ones on the market.
Blog Revamp: Instant Topical Authority Boost
As an owner of a blog or content-driven site that has been around way before topical authority became relevant, you face issues as single-page-based optimization, topically irrelevant content, too many categories, too many tags, multi-topic blogs, serving multiple target groups, etc.
While your strategy certainly was chosen for a reason, when it comes to topical authority, the rule is simple: one topic, one target group, and one need you address. That’s why you need to perform a cleanup of your site that will result in homogenic in-depth content.
Here’re the steps you need to take in order to boost the topical authority of your established site – step-by-step.
Step 1: Perform Topic Cleanup
If you have a content-driven site focusing on, for example, healthy lifestyle and you write about everything from exercises and food to homeopathic treatments, you probably have a problem with topical authority.
I say “probably” as a lot depends on the way you have structured your content – and SEO is always somewhat relative. If you, in all your posts, focus on achieving healthy lifestyle as a whole, you might convince search engines that your content is focused and in-depth enough.
However, you must be aware of the fact that blogs focusing on narrower fields, such as healthy food, exercise or homeopathy in this case, will have a SEO advantage as they will be considered to have higher topical authority (with everything else equal).
It’s therefore a good idea to try to benefit from narrowing your blog’s topic. Review your existing posts and remove the ones that don’t clearly support your main topic.
If you’re not sure what’s relevant and what’s not, try to write it down as a chart. Identify your main topic and write it at the top. Try to identify all subtopics by reviewing your posts, maybe use categories as a helping tool, and write them down below the main topic. Try to connect them and create as many sublevels as necessary. Place the directly related subtopics on the first sublevel, less relevant subtopics on the second, etc.
Keep your first-level subtopics and either rewrite or discard all further levels – and eventual unrelated topics.
The topic cleanup should also be performed on pages and media files. Remove irrelevant pages and media files or revamp them by focusing on your site’s topic.
You don’t, per say, need to stop posting on some of your subtopics or trash all irrelevant posts but it’s highly recommended that you spread different topics among separate blogs.
You can do that by implementing a subdomain or a subdirectory structure. Ideally, you’ll have your main site where you write about the basics of heathy lifestyle (example.com), while you discuss food, homeopathy, and exercises on separate subdomains (food.example.com; homeopathy.example.com; exercise.example.com).
Be aware, though, that while Google claims that they’re very good at figuring out when subdomains host one site or separate sites, it doesn’t always seem to be the case. Translated in SEO terms, this means that you might have to fight for ranking of each subdomain instead of your domain as a whole entity.
Step 2: Perform Content Structure Cleanup
It’s a general SEO rule to create a small number of categories and only use one category per post – and you probably follow it already. However, in terms of topical authority, you need to go a step further and make sure that all categories are relevant to the core of your site’s topic.
For example, if you write about medications, it’s a good practice to have categories as Painkillers, Blood Pressure Medicine, Sleep Disorder Medicine, etc. It’s, however, not optimal to create a category for each medicine or cross-categorize by marking certain medicine as a painkiller and a sleep disorder medicine in the same time.
In order to achieve maximum topical authority, you have to perform a cleanup of your categories. Remove categories that don’t directly support your site’s topic. Make also sure that all posts are categorized correctly and with only one category per post.
Posts that fall under categories that’ll be removed should either receive a new, more topically relevant category, if possible, or be removed from the site, if they don’t support your site’s topic.
When it comes to tags, keep two things in mind: tags should be topically relevant and, even more importantly, useful to your site’s visitors.
It’s usual for bloggers to come up with one or more new tags every time they post resulting in 100s of tags, most of them used only once. As tags are powerful content organizing tools, you should use them smarter than that.
Limit the choice of tags to topically relevant ones and remove duplicates. If the changes turn out to affect many posts, you should use the time it takes to review each individual post and find new and more relevant tags for it. Removing irrelevant posts found to not fit any of the newly approved categories or tags should be a priority.
Last but not least, when performing a content structure cleanup, you must review your site’s structure and the available navigation options.
You structure your site by using the page attribute Parent (this option might not be available to you depending on your WordPress theme) to the right of the screen in page edit mode.
It’s a good practice to group relevant pages (for example, place Contact, Company Structure, Jobs, etc. under the page About). This doesn’t have direct implications for navigation as you can structure your menus as you like. It has, however, importance for how your site is crawled and read by search engines. Grouping relevant pages can lead to a boost in your topical authority by highlighting the interrelation between your pages.
When it comes to menus, you should focus on user experience. Try to follow the logic of your content and lead site visitors from introduction to in-depth presentation of your topic and, when relevant, to call to action, such as buy, contact us, etc.
This way you maximize your chances for conversions and minimize the risk for bouncing.
Step 3: Boost Interrelation And Topical Relevance
To help site visitors perform in-depth research on your pages and in the same time convince search engines that your content is of high quality and topically relevant, you should place focus on linking, both internal and external.
Internal linking serves as a navigation tool helping site visitors quickly find relevant content of interest – and use even more time on your site. By including appropriate and helpful links you make it easy for people to, for example, find an explanation of a term or learn about a smart way to approach a problem connected to your post’s topic.
Do not overdo it though! Posts with too many links can easily be misread as spam by search engines and become confusing for readers!
External linking in the form of backlinks have long been one of the absolute pillars of SEO. Quality backlinks are indeed the most important part of all search engines’ algorithms.
In terms of topical authority though, it becomes even more important to focus on generating relevant backlinks. This means that you should work to get high quality backlinks from websites from within your field.
This doesn’t automatically mean that you should ask Google to not count any backlinks from irrelevant sites, as they still have value. It’s much more about having the right topically relevant backlinks as the dominant part of your backlink portfolio.
As always, when it comes to backlinks, you should simply concentrate on providing quality content focusing on just one topic. As long as it’s good enough – and marketed properly – the backlinks should come on their own.
You are, of course, in your right to approach webmasters and do your best to get the backlinks you need. Just like with everything else – don’t overdo it and follow the rules!
Domain Authority: Oh, Well… Let’s Jump To Conclusion
Just as with almost everything in life there’s that thing you can’t really do anything about. You cannot magically boost the domain authority of your site. The reason is that the algorithm behind is too inflexible and – unfortunately – sometimes irrelevant to the real world.
No matter how good your site is, if it doesn’t have the age or the backlinks required, you won’t get far.
The good news is that this gives you the opportunity to work on all those things you have control on and one day the domain authority will come on its own.
The other good news is that site visitors don’t care about such things. Provide them quality and they’ll come back or recommend you and this is the true way to beat the system.
If you do a good job with the 3 steps described above, you’ll see results pretty soon.
A word of warning: As you narrow your topic and remove irrelevant content, you’ll experience that some of your followers disappear. This is due to you no longer serving their needs – and it’s normal.
However, you’ll also experience that others become more loyal site users and new ones join them over time. Topical authority is indeed the strongest tool you have to cultivate trust and loyalty.