Topical Authority in SEO: What You Need To Know
What Is Topical Authority in SEO?
Topical authority in Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) refers to a demonstrated level of expertise and knowledge in a particular field or topic. It is the degree to which search engines such as Google or Bing recognize an Entity (people, music groups, podcasts, companies, authors, etc.) as an expert source of information on a particular topic.
Pro Tip: Brands that earn the confidence and trust from the search engines as authorities on their topics can be rewarded with increased visibility in the search results. This increases trust and credibility with audiences, which leads to more traffic, engagement, and conversions. At Kalicube we use a natural and organic Topical Authority strategy for Brand SERP Optimisation and Knowledge Panel Management.
Koray Gübür (the Godfather of the concept of Topical Authority) says:
“Topical Authority is a semantic SEO methodology to rank higher on search engine result pages by processing connected topics and entailed search queries with accurate, unique, and expert information.”–Importance of Topical Authority for SEO, Koray Tugberk GUBUR
In this article you will learn what Topical Authority means in the context of SEO and how how Kalicube uses a Topical Authority strategy for your Brand SERP Optimisation and Knowledge Panel Management.
Where to start with Topical Authority
To develop and establish Topical Authority for an Entity (generally a Corporation or a Person), you start by providing accurate and trustworthy content that is organised into topical clusters. You can build topical clusters on your website by grouping your content in logical topical sections or categories and ensuring internal linking is relevant and uses helpful anchor texts.
Then you need to demonstrate that your peers and your audience appreciate your content and confirm that your are a respected reference in your industry (topical niche). In this respect, your work building Topical Authority will go hand in hand with building E-E-A-T (Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness).
The Knowledge Graph and Topical Authority
To establish Topical Authority you must fully optimise your Entity Identity. This means establishing your place in Google’s Knowledge Graph.
To fully leverage Topical Authority, Google must explicitly understand your Entity (who you are). If Google completely understands who the Entity is (the Entity Identity), then its algorithms can fully apply any Topical Authority signals you have worked hard to create.
Pro Tip: The ultimate metric for Google explicit understanding is a presence in Google’s Knowledge Vault (we also refer to this as the Main Knowledge Graph).
Without explicit understanding in the shape of a place in Google’s Knowledge Graph, then the algorithms will be guessing at who (or what) the Entity is and therefore be unable to fully apply whatever Topical Authority signals it has identified. In this scenario, you have wasted much of your time, effort and resources attempting to build Topical Authority.
At Kalicube, we have added thousands of entities to Google’s Knowledge Graph.
Why is Topical Authority Important in SEO?
Topical Authority means that you are closely associated as a credible and trustworthy expert on one or more specific topics. You are an expert Google (and Bing) can confidently refer to for reliable information for your specialist topic.
If your website’s content is an authoritative and trustworthy source for a particular topic or subject, then it is a HUGE win for you. The higher the quality and the more informative and relevant your website’s content is, the better Google, Bing and other search engines will rank your website content for that particular topic.
The Search Engines will be significantly more likely to use your content in their results in the form of Blue Links, SERP Features, Knowledge Panels, and Discover.
Topical Authority in SEO lays the foundation for your future proof digital strategy as we enter assistive search, answer engines, Chat GPT, and Google Bard.
Entity Identity, Topical Authority and E-E-A-T
Entity Identity is Google’s understanding of an entity, its place in the world and its role. This is the core of the work we do at Kalicube – educating Google about who you are, what you offer and which audience you serve.
Pro Tip: Without a fully optimised Entity Identity, all your SEO effort will be increasingly ineffective over time. John Mueller from Google simply says “Don’t make Google guess”
In this article about Entity SEO and E-E-A-T, I explain the fundamental importance of ensuring that Google explicitly understands who the content author and publisher is. Explicit understanding of the Entity, represented by its presence in Google’s Knowledge Vault, is the only way its algorithms can reliably assess experience, expertise, authority, and trustworthiness, and therefore fully apply E-E-A-T signals. Without explicit understanding of who or what the entity is, then Google is guessing and any E-E-A-T signals its algorithms apply will be less reliable, and therefore have less impact on rankings.
For Google to evaluate Topical Authority, it needs to explicitly understand the entity it is applying that metric to. Explicit understanding of the Entity Identity, plus Topical Authority and demonstratble E-E-A-T is a HUGELY powerful combination.
Pro Tip: Entity Identity + Topical Authority + E-E-A-T is the future of Search Engine Optimisation, Answer Engine Optimisation and Assistive Engine Optimisation.
How Do You Build and Maintain Topical Authority?
There are several ways you can build and maintain your Topical Authority, which also leads to improving your E-E-A-T (Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness):
- Demonstrate your knowledge and expertise by producing high-quality, informative content on a given topic over time
- Create a solid and detailed content strategy that includes a plan for publishing content consistently, such as writing blog posts, writing books, giving talks or speeches, and actively participating in online communities on the topic
- Maximizing backlinks and social signals from reputable sources
Pro Tip: The Kalicube Process builds Topical Authority because it is a comprehensive strategy that generates a consistent flow of highly relevant content (blog posts, podcast webinars, link building, etc.) that feeds Google’s AI Algorithms and educates Google via its Knowledge Graph in a highly targeted manner.
According to Koray Gübür, to build Topical Authority you should focus on (in order of importance): depth, velocity and breadth.
- Depth – first, cover your hyper-niche in depth before covering related niches
- Velocity – second, make sure the volume of content you publish remains consistent over time
- Breadth – third, cover closely related niches and build outwards step by step
Example of a Topical Authority Strategy: Kalicube
The Kalicube Process implements Koray’s recommended focus naturally and organically. By analysing our Brand SERP and working to improve it, we initially “niched down” on our two core topics (Brand SERPs and Knowledge Panels), then we put in place a process that ensures consistent (quality) content production, and lastly (after 2 years), we are starting now to broaden our niche to related topics like Topical Authority 🙂
Here is an example of Google SERP results showing Kalicube’s Topical Authority for two related topics: Brand SERPs and Knowledge Panels.
Answers from Kalicube dominates and Google cites us extensively.
In a search query about “Google Knowledge Panel cost”, Kalicube’s article about How Much Does a Google Knowledge Panel Cost ranks first in the SERP.
In a search query about “triggering a Knowledge Panel”, Google displays the article entitled The Kalicube Process for Getting and Managing a Google Knowledge Panel for an Author including videos uploaded by different websites but in collaboration with Kalicube and I (The Brand SERP Guy).
Bing’s ChatGPT feature is an interesting extension of this. As you can see, Kalicube is cited extensively here as well – a clear indication of Topical Authority in this field.
What are the Pitfalls and Drawbacks When Building Topical Authority?
Failing to Build Topical Depth
Building authority on a topic requires that you start by hyper-niching. Many companies are tempted by “juicy” search terms that have high search volume. This is the wrong approach. Very specific, hyper-relevant, low volume search queries is where you need to start. Build out from those towards the popular queries in your niche.
Pro Tip: The Kalicube Process generally includes an extensive FAQ section. We have successfully implemented this simple Topical Authority strategy for ourselves and also multiple clients. One client currently ranks alongside T-Mobile and Apple for the high search volume search query “eSIM” in the USA.
Lack of Topical Focus
Trying to cover too many topics too quickly is a huge mistake we see again and again. Many companies spread their bets and try to cover too many topics – often covering topics where they are not truly and authoritative, nor an expert. That leads to a situation where Google no longer understands which audience the company serves, loses confidence in content produced by that company and rankings drop accross the board.
Stick to your core topics and cover them extensively.
Lack of Depth
When covering a niche in depth, a single article on one topic is rarely enough. There are always multiple viewponts, multiple approaches and some micro topics can only be served with dedicated articles.
Be careful of cannibilisation, but don’t be afraid to “dig deep”.
Pro Tip: To help our clients with their Topical Authority strategy, we leverage three hugely powerful tools in the Kalicube Pro SaaS platform: Brand SERP analysis, Knowledge Graph tracking and Entity Equivalent (competition) gap analysis.
How Does Topical Authority Fit into Brand SERP Optimisation and Knowledge Panel Management?
Brand SERP optimisation and Knowledge Panel management are the first steps to building Topical Authority. Without an optimised Entity Identity, where Google (or Bing) accurately and explicitly understands who you are, what you offer and which audience you serve, building Topical Authority will be a near impossible task.
The Brand SERP (including a Knowledge Panel) is the best metric you have for measuring your progress with optimising your Entity Identity. Take a look at your Brand SERP (the search result for your brand name). What do you see?
- Is it 100% accurate?
- Is it helpful to your audience?
- Does it have a Knowledge Panel?
If the answer to any of those questions is “No”, then you need to work on optimising your Entity Identity.
You can only build effective Topical Authority on top of the foundations of an optimised Entity identity.
How does Kalicube Pro figure out how to feed Google’s algorithms for a particular entity?
Pro Tip: Brand SERPs are a window into Google’s “algorithmic mind”. They allow us to clearly see how Google perceives an Entity. And tracking that over time with Kalicube Pro gives us metrics to measure progress in Entity Identity, Topical Authority and E-E-A-T.
Ready to establish your Entity Identity, your Topical Authority and own the search results for your brand query? Book a free call with The Brand SERP Guy, Jason Barnard to discuss the best place to start.