You’ve probably heard the term “authority” when it comes to search engine optimization (SEO).
But what exactly does this mean? If you already know what it is, you might be thinking, how can I add more authoritative content to my site?
Well, first of all, authority refers to the power or influence of a particular piece of content over other information on the internet.
In SEO, the higher the perceived authority of a page, the better the chances of ranking high in organic search.
If you want your content to rank well on Google, you need to create authoritative content. By creating quality content, you build trust with your visitors and with Google.
High-quality content helps your reputation and increases your chances of being discovered on Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs).
This post will dive into everything you need to know about subject authority. So let’s start by breaking down the SEO definition of topic authority.
What is subject authority?
Authority is a measure of credibility or trustworthiness.
For search engines, it describes the level of importance to a particular web page or site. For example, Google uses authority signals to determine the importance of certain pages for user searches.
Topic authority is a measure of the authority you get through quality content. More high-quality, informative articles means more people will trust your site to be the authoritative resource on a particular topic.
For example, a blog post about SEO written by a well-known expert in the industry will carry more weight than a post by a beginner or someone who has not yet established themselves as an authoritative expert on a topic.
On the other hand, posts from a brand new company won’t matter as much because no one knows or trusts them yet.
Topic authority is important because it shows how well you know your audience and what they are looking for on the internet.
Topic authority is also an indicator of ranking websites based on the quality of the information they provide. You can gain topical authority through high-quality content, authoritative links to your website, and social media shares.
When we talk about SEO and authority, two terms must be distinguished: topic authority and domain authority.
While topic authority comes from the quality and uniqueness of the content and its on-page SEO benefits, domain authority supports more technical SEO, such as link building.
Why should content creators care about it?
Well, as we mentioned, topic authority helps with SEO and ranks higher in the top search engines.
Therefore, content creators must add topical authority to their content creation and marketing strategies.
If you care about ranking on top search engines like Google, then you need to care about subject authority.
Suppose you focus on incorporating more subject authority in your work. In this case, they will get more clicks and views from people who are searching for information on those topics.
And the best thing about topical authority is that as long as you know how to do it, you can control it.
So for now, let’s discuss how topic authority works, and then present some strategies you can use to maximize your topic authority on your website.
How does subject authority work?
In 2013, Google’s Hummingbird algorithm brought topical authority to prominence, changing the way Google analyzes content and creating better strategies to help users search for information from their mobile devices.
It has changed the way content is ranked and is now rated based on relevance to user queries.
Additionally, Google can now analyze user content from more thought processes based on conversational searches, and it can do this faster.
Before Hummingbird, Google’s algorithm focused on keywords. Keywords are important because they help Google understand what users want to see when they search.
Google cannot understand or process the context behind a user’s query.For example, if someone searches [how to bake a pie]Google might think they mean a recipe.
but if you ask, [what is the difference between baking and cooking?]you might expect a different answer.
Google relies heavily on inbound links and other factors to determine whether a page should rank higher. These factors include link popularity, the number of pages the content links to, and the age of the domain or website.
Also, links from authoritative domains can affect SEO rankings, so focusing on keyword research is critical.
With subject authority, unique quality and comprehensive content must also be produced through an authentic understanding of the subject discussed in the content.
In addition, topic authority is more inclined to on-site search engine optimization, which effectively and organically builds the brand’s website authority, which helps to increase the click-through rate.
Topic authority affects keyword optimization and many major on-page SEO factors.
If the article has topical authority, the author may intentionally or unintentionally include more keywords related to the topic.
And it will be better readable, as content written by influential writers with a deeper understanding of the subject should enhance readability.
The content will also be targeted. Brands with authority in their field or industry will be able to identify the type of content that will resonate with customers and provide answers to their questions.
Now that we know how topic authority works, let’s talk more about how topic authority is created in content.
4 Strategies for Building Topic Authority
When trying to understand and build topical authority, Julia McCoy from The Content Hacker put it best, “‘Authority’ is a buzzword in SEO and content marketing. Everyone wants it, but not everyone knows how to get it it and keep it.”
So, how do you create and maintain topic authority on your brand’s website?
Well, unfortunately there is no overnight success when it comes to topical authority. Content strategists need to be prepared to undertake a diligent research journey and writing in order to build proper topical authority for a brand’s website.
But luckily, we’ve developed some strategies to help build topical authority.
1. Content Strategy
Creating a strong and detailed content strategy is critical to building topical authority. The strategy should include a consistent, authoritative plan for building a stream of content with keywords and topics you know your readers want to learn about.
Focus on helping you read and share your knowledge. Evaluate what others are talking about in your industry and get involved, sharing your thoughts on topics you feel confident writing about for your website.
Use these initial topics as jumping points for more or further discussions on leading topics in your industry.
You can also research user questions on certain topics and use them as inspiration for content snippets.
Then, plan the best time to post each piece of content so your followers and customers get more content or a point of purchase on your brand’s website.
Finally, think about how you will share this content on your website, listings, and social media.
2. Topic clusters
When choosing a topic, you should focus on a few topics, make them the backbone of your website, and be a leading educator on those topics.
Compiling content for topics helps create the topic clusters needed for SEO.
Topic clusters show search engines valuable content for searchers on a specific topic, and your content is more authoritative than your competitors.
Remember, Google looks for synonyms, subtopics, and answers to industry FAQs, not just keywords.
Topic clusters are groups of content assets on a website centered on the same broad topic. Topic clusters help you answer questions from all of your audience about a topic.
Each topic cluster consists of a pillar page and cluster content. A pillar page is a top-level page that focuses on a broader subject area and targets more general keywords.
Cluster content explores subtopics or FAQs within topic clusters and targets less competitive keywords related to the main topic.
When it comes to topic clusters, focus on the following three components:
- Identify a focus topic.
- Create a pillar page.
- Take advantage of backlinks.
3. User Intent
Many content marketers use relevant topical authority tactics that focus on user intent.
Google and other search engines have smart algorithms focused on user intent.
When users look for information based on keywords or enter information about a topic, search engine algorithms try to find out the user’s intent behind a particular query.
These algorithms hone standard and secondary interpretations of user questions. To better explain this, we can discuss the “do, know, go” theory of how users ask questions on search engines:
- “Do” questions mean they want answers to specific questions that might lead to action. For example, a user wants to buy a product or book a service.
- “Know” questions mean they want to know something about a topic. Users want information, whether it’s a simple or complex problem.
- In the end, the “go to” problem will be a navigation problem, where the user expects to find a specific website or location by searching on the Internet.
4. Website Structure
Another topic authority tactic involves the structure of website metadata, which helps websites rank better.
The site structure should include SEO metrics, such as using keywords that describe your content. It’s important to research which keywords work best with different topic clusters and specific content.
Content marketers should include keywords in the title and meta description of every piece of content on a brand’s website.
Adding relevant links to other pages on your website is another way for brands to build authority.
Finally, for website structure, brands should create a sitemap so that the landing pages and content make sense for the customer journey.
Takeaway: Building Subject Authority
As you can see by now, topic authority is crucial to a website’s ranking. As we discussed, creating a really effective topic authority strategy can take some time.
Remember, this is a marathon, not a sprint. However, link building and unique, well-written content are excellent ways to help build organic website authority.
All in all, I hope this guide was helpful to you.
Topic authority is a powerful tool for ranking any page on Google; knowing when to use it will help you rank higher than your competitors.
To learn more, check out our other resources on building an SEO strategy and creating site authority.
Featured image: oatawa/Shutterstock