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This entry is part 13 of 44 in the series Topical Authority

The lead post in this series is Mastering Topical Authority: A Comprehensive Guide to Boost Your SEO.

I wish I could loudly proclaim that we’re a topical authority success story, but we’re still working on it.

And of course everyone knows the big sites that have obtained topical authority.

Sites like HubSpot, Forbes, WebMD. But when you’re starting out, such examples have too large a head start to be meaningful.

Smaller businesses with enviable topical authority

Since you’re probably a smaller business, I’m highlighting small businesses here.


If you’ve read anything about SEO at all, you’ve heard of backlinko.

Backlinko was started in in 2012 by Brian Dean. He had found success with a site about personal finance, and started backlinko to teach others what he learned during that process. Backlinko was acquired by Semrush in 2022.

Not only are his posts deep dives into what he learned, they’re formatted really well, with appropriate screen shots, videos, etc.

The Financial Diet

The site is devoted to discussions about money focused on women.

The site and company were founded in 2014 by Chelsea Fagan. She addresses topics such as spending, saving, and making money.

She publishes content in a diversity of formats: blog posts, newsletter, social media, podcast, and a YouTube channel.

The site makes money through ad sales, affiliate marketing, editorial product sales, licensing, and consulting.

Nomadic Matt

Nomadic Matt is a travel site, started by Matt Kepnes in 2008.

The goal was/is to help people travel better for less, and is lessons learned by Matt after starting on a ten-year travel adventure around the world.

The site is mostly “How to” and “X Best [something] in [somewhere]” which of course is incredibly useful if you’re going to be in one of those places.

Matt makes money through the sales of blogging and writing courses, the TravelCon conference, affiliate marketing, and book sales.


NerdWallet was started in 2009 by Jacob Gibson and Tim Chen.

As the name implies it’s another personal finance site that provides easy access to your credit reports, and advise on banking, borrowing, insurance, investing, taxes, etc.

NerdWallet makes money from financial services companies who pay commissions, and through partnerships with banks, insurance companies, who also pay commissions to NerdWallet.

Minimalist Baker

As the name implies, Minimalist Baker is a recipe site, with a focus on recipes made with fewer than 10 ingredients, 1 bowl, and 30 minutes of less of preparation time.

The site was started in 2012 by Dana Shultz.

The site makes money through the sale of cookbooks, merchandise, and baking mixes. They also sell affiliate products and advertising on their blog.

The Points Guy

This website shows you how to accumulate points and miles via credit cards, and how to not let them expire.

The site was started in 2010 by Brian Kelly.

He was learning about how points work while travelling for his corporate recruiting job, and started publishing what he learned.

As you can guess, the content is both about accumulating points and miles, and then about spending them.

The site makes money through commissions on some card, hotel, cruise, and product referrals, as well as through paid sponsorships with resorts, travel brands, and financial service providers.

Cupcakes and Cashmere

That there is a site that started as both a fashion and food blog tells me no matter what you’re into, or what combination of things, somewhere on the world wide web, you have an audience.

The site was started in 2008 by Emily Schuman, and has since become a lifestyle blog with articles about fashion, food, beauty, travel, decor, and of course, motherhood.

The site makes money through the sale of products through their e-commerce store, sponsored content, partnerships which generate commissions, and ad sales

The College Investor

The site is devoted to investing, with a focus on college students and recent graduates.

As such, they have content about getting out from under student loan debt, investing, side hustles to earn money, and personal finance.

The site was started in 2009 by Robert Farrington and makes money through affiliate marketing, sales of advertisements, and sales of their own products and services.

It’s not magic, but it IS work

These people are no smarter than you or I, and I suspect what separates them from people who try and fail is they persevered until it started working.

In closing

“I’m convinced that about half of what separates the successful entrepreneurs from the non-successful ones is pure perseverance.”.

Steve Jobs
Series Navigation<< Best practices for integrating topical authority into your SEO strategyAnalysis of the impact of topical authority on search rankings >>

Kevin Carney
Kevin Carney

Kevin "fell into" SEO by accident, like many others. The SaaS platform to help writers boost their topical authority came years later after various SEOs said it was something they would like to see.

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