I recently responded to a post on Facebook about the importance of blogs for a small business. In my response, I indicated that if you were going to blog, that consistency is the most important factor. The reason goes beyond just meeting reader expectations, it has to do with becoming a recognized authority for your topic.
In the ever-evolving world of digital marketing, the term “topical authority” continues to gain traction. But what exactly does it mean, and why should small business owners care about it? This article aims to demystify the concept of topical authority, explain its importance, and provide actionable steps to improve it for your small business website.
What is Topical Authority?
Topical authority refers to the level of expertise and credibility a website or a piece of content has on a specific topic. It’s about being a trusted source of information on a particular subject matter. When a website has topical authority, it means that it consistently provides high-quality, relevant, and comprehensive content about a specific topic.
Google recently added an extra E to its acronym, turning E-A-T into E-E-A-T. That extra E stands for experience. Google E-E-A-T stands for experience, expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness. Here is what is meant by authority or authoritativeness.
Back in 2020, Google made this statement: “For topics where quality information is particularly important—like health, finance, civic information, and crisis situations—we place an even greater emphasis on factors related to expertise and trustworthiness. We’ve learned that sites that demonstrate authoritativeness and expertise on a topic are less likely to publish false or misleading information, so if we can build our systems to identify signals of those characteristics, we can continue to provide reliable information. The design of these systems is our greatest defense against low-quality content, including potential misinformation, and is work that we’ve been investing in for many years.”
Google’s John Mueller explained Website Authority this way: a website can’t just publish 30 articles about a medical condition and be viewed as having the same authority as a doctor. This is the reason why Google values authoritative content as more relevant, and may rank it higher than other content even if the other site has a higher domain rating.
I can attest to this first hand – I created a website for selling health supplements online. We hardly sold anything. But a doctor friend of mine also sold supplements on his website and made sales every single day. It’s not just Google that looks at authority, it is your customers. If you want to gain authority, you must become a true expert in your niche. Get quoted in the press, be a guest on podcasts, make a difference to your customers, and start building a solid online reputation as the best answer on the internet for your topic. To quote the Mandalorian, “This is the way.”
How Does Google Use Topical Authority?
Google’s primary goal is to deliver the most relevant and high-quality search results to its users. To achieve this, Google uses complex algorithms to evaluate and rank websites based on various factors, one of which is topical authority.
In the words of Google, “Our algorithms are designed to surface authoritative, reliable content for our users.” This quote from Google’s blog post titled “How Search Works” clearly indicates the importance of topical authority in Google’s ranking algorithm.
Google’s algorithms analyze the content of a website to understand its subject matter and determine its expertise on the topic. Websites with high topical authority are more likely to rank higher in search results for related queries, as Google considers them reliable sources of information.
Why is Topical Authority Important for Small Business Owners?
As a small business owner, establishing topical authority can have several benefits:
- Improved Search Engine Rankings: As mentioned earlier, Google favors websites with high topical authority. By establishing your website as an authoritative source on a specific topic, you can improve your search engine rankings and visibility.
- Increased Trust and Credibility: When your website consistently provides valuable and accurate information on a specific topic, it builds trust with your audience. This credibility can translate into increased customer loyalty and business growth.
- Higher Website Traffic: Higher search engine rankings and increased trust can lead to more organic traffic to your website. More traffic often translates into more leads and sales for your business.
How Can You Improve Your Website’s Topical Authority?
How does topical authority work? The answer is that no one really knows. What we do know is that you must create authority in the niche you are targeting.
That’s how you will begin ranking for all the ‘short-tail’, high-value keywords and terms. That is the only way. No amount of ‘shiny toys’ is going to help. You will need to sit down and build authority.
So, how does one build authority?
The secret is consistency. Be there day after day, week after week, and month after month; rolling out content. Be there for the long haul. Create a variety of content focused on your topic. Put it everywhere. This is what I was trying to convey in my response to the Facebook post.
This is not an overnight task. It requires consistent effort and a strategic approach. Here are some steps you can take:
- Create High-Quality, In-Depth Content: The first step to establishing topical authority is to create high-quality, comprehensive content on your chosen topic. Your content should provide valuable information and answer common questions related to the topic.
- Update Your Content Regularly: Google favors fresh, updated content. Regularly updating your content with the latest information can help improve your topical authority.
- Build High-Quality Backlinks: Backlinks from other authoritative websites can boost your topical authority. Reach out to relevant websites and blogs in your industry for guest posting opportunities.
Is Topical Authority Still Relevant?
In a word, yes. Topical authority remains a crucial factor in SEO and digital marketing. As Google continues to refine its algorithms to deliver the best search results, the importance of topical authority is likely to increase even further.
In a recent Google Search Central blog post, Google stated, “We’re always working to understand content on the web so we can deliver the most relevant results to our users.” This statement underscores the ongoing relevance of topical authority.
My colleague Neill Patel says that while keywords have a place in your SEO strategy, they now take a backseat compared to other factors, such as creating high-quality content.
In conclusion, topical authority is a critical factor in SEO that small business owners cannot afford to ignore. It’s about being a trusted source of information on a specific topic, which can significantly improve your search engine rankings, build trust with your audience, and drive more traffic to your website.
Improving your website’s topical authority requires a strategic approach, including creating high-quality, in-depth content, updating your content regularly, using relevant keywords, and building high-quality backlinks.
Despite the ever-evolving nature of SEO, topical authority remains a relevant and crucial factor. As Google continues to refine its algorithms, the importance of topical authority is likely to increase even further.
By understanding and leveraging the power of topical authority, small business owners can enhance their digital marketing efforts, reach a wider audience, and ultimately drive business growth. Remember, becoming an authority on a topic doesn’t happen overnight, but with consistent effort and a strategic approach, it’s an achievable goal.