How to Use Topical Authority and Relevance to Boost Your SEO
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WTF Is Topical Relevance and Why Do I Need It?
I’m going to start this one off with a story…
We were running a digital marketing blog that had thousands of referring domains and great authority. It would automagically rank for most keywords we’d write good enough content for.
The site had covered almost all of the profitable keywords in email marketing, monetization, and social media… so we decided to tackle something more lucrative and more competitive.
So we entered the “how to start a blog” space and created one of the best guides on the topic.
Six months went by and we were one of the highest authority sites, had the best on-page optimization, and had done amazing work on the link building, reaching 200+ referring domains to the page.
And we were stuck on the third page, even though by all metrics, we should’ve been at least in the top three at that time…
So what was happening and how did we solve it?
That’s what you’re going to learn today.
Time to learn: 5-10 minutes
Impact (1-10): 7
Tools required: None
Tools suggested: Ahrefs
Now, let’s get to it…
Do You Have Topical Authority and Relevance?
After running a myriad of SEO audits on the site and tweaking the page in every way possible – we just couldn’t get it to move any higher than the third page.
The theory we came up with (this was years ago) was that perhaps Google did not consider our previous content relevant enough to mark us as an authority on blogging.
In our heads, it was all digital marketing – but we’d realized we had almost no content specifically about blogging (it’s tough to remember with 1,000+ posts on the site).
We started pumping out content specifically about blogging to establish topical relevance in the eyes of Google. The goal was to show them that we talk about blogging extensively, are experts on the topic, and intend to keep going in that direction.
Here are just some of the topics we covered in our first month:
- What is blogging
- How to name your blog
- How to write a good blog post
- Best blogging platforms
- X blogging mistakes
- How to monetize your blog
- How to get more blog readers
We’d done extensive keyword research before going ahead with these topics and the goal of it was:
- Identify what Google thinks is most relevant to starting a blog, using things like “People Also Ask” and “Searches related to”
- Target some low-competition keywords to also get blogging related traffic to the site
- Create linkable assets so we could use internal links to boost up the main page
So not only were we getting topical relevance, these articles were all linked back to the main page and thus funneling topically relevant link juice and helping it rank higher.
The results of this?
Without any additional link building to these supporting pages or the main “how to start a blog” page, we finally got unstuck and within five weeks jumped from the third page to number eight.
Fast forward a couple of months, after adding more and more supporting content on the blogging topic, starting our outreach link building to those pages, and continuing marketing the main post – we’d finally hit third position and the traffic started rolling in.
How to Choose Topics for Supporting Pages
While I mentioned that we’d done extensive keyword research for coming up with these topics and tried to get as much organic traffic on blogging as possible – for the majority of sites this is not as important – we were in a super competitive space.
What matters most is establishing that topical relevance. Let me give you another example.
If I wanted to rank Smash Digital for “MailChimp review”, a post about an email marketing tool, I would want to establish relevance on both the industry and the tool.
So I might write a total of four posts, along the lines of:
- How to Build Your Email List (Email marketing)
- 7 Mistakes of Email Marketing (Email marketing)
- How to Use Mailchimp to Send Converting Newsletters (Mailchimp)
- Mailchimp Pricing – Choosing the Right Plan (Mailchimp)
Bonus Tip: Use Supporting Content as Linkable Assets
The primary goal will always be relevance but as mentioned before, your main page will also be benefitting from the internal links on these articles.
This means we might as well make these pages as strong as possible.
So if I wanted to come up with linkable assets in the email marketing space, I would take a massive industry blog, such as ActiveCampaign, and find their most linked pages on Ahrefs.
Analyze the backlinks that these pages are attracting and figure out why they’re linking back to MailChimp’s resource. Then figure out how to have the same element present in your supporting content and try to do it better (really helpful – huh?).
After that, you can reach out to the people who linked to MailChimp’s piece and try to convince them to also add a link to your page.
How Much Supporting Content Do I Need?
There’s no magic number for this unfortunately but in my experience, starting with around five articles is great.
The bigger and more competitive your topic is, the more supporting content you’re going to need.
But on a positive note, you can almost never have too much supporting content for a page – especially if you’re able to create them in a way that also brings in traffic, links, or maybe even sales.
That’s all from me for now
Let’s Smash it!