AI generated image of a giraffe giving a lecture on the topic of "Importance of topical authority in search engine rankings" to an audience of other giraffes in an open air "classroom" on the African savannah.
This entry is part 4 of 21 in the series Topical Authority

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

Topical authority has emerged as a critical factor in SEO rankings, not because it is in and of itself a ranking factor, but because these days, high quality topically relevant content is THE minimum acceptable standard.

Topical authority refers to, and perhaps it’s best to say is connected to, the Google concept of EEAT, which stands for experience, expertise, authority, and trust.

Both the concepts of topical authority and EEAT are increasingly important to search engines, most specifically Google, as they continue to update their algorithm and in doing so push us all to publish higher quality content.

Topical authority: Content written for people

Topical authority is not just about publishing more content on a topic (although that is partially true), but involves publishing content is that in depth, comprehensive, appropriately nuanced, and perhaps most importantly written for people, not search engine robots.

The content should be well researched, reference appropriate authoritative attribution sources, and be interesting enough that people with an interest in the topic will read it, share it, and link to it.

Again, it’s content written for PEOPLE, not search engine robots, and which presents ideas clearly and references appropriate supporting sources.

Why you need to think this way

In short, because like it or not, Google makes the rules of search, they’re telling us to go there, and their algorithm updates are pushing us there. How we may feel about that is not really relevant.

Factual, reliable, trustworthy content is now the bear minimum for high search engine rankings.

And websites that provide such content rank higher than websites that don’t. It’s that simple.

Noteable insights from the SEO community

Various notable figures within the SEO community have highlighted the importance of topical authority. A few are discussed below.

MarketBrew

“The importance of topical authority in SEO cannot be overstated. In today’s digital landscape, the vast majority of internet users rely on search engines to find the information they are looking for. As such, the websites that rank highly in search engine results are often seen as the most credible and trustworthy sources on a given topic.”.

SEM Rush

“Strong topical authority improves search performance, as Google trusts authoritative sources and ranks them higher in its search engine results pages (SERPs).”.

SMA Marketing

“Since high topical authority helps websites earn more visibility in the SERPs, that naturally leads to more clicks from search results. Higher traffic leads to increased leads and more sales.”.

Search Engine Journal

“With topical authority, you can increase rankings and improve organic traffic.”.

Boomcycle

“Understanding topical authority is essential for businesses to create an effective SEO strategy and gain higher SERP rankings.”.

Ahrefs

“Imagine if your website (or clients) could rank for every single keyword related to a desired niche.

Enter topical authority.”.

What is the future of topical authority?

For this I have two answers, one felt right prior to the AI revolution suddenly erupting, the other feels right relative to the AI revolution.

Pre AI revolution

While this one may be increasingly irrelevant due to AI query tools, here it is anyway.

Google is simply pushing us all to publish higher quality content that is focused on readers, not search engines. And they push us further in that direction with each algorithm update.

Post AI revolution

AI query tools are now providing direct answers rather than a SERP containing a set of webpages to review.

And the better ones are providing references (links) showing where they obtained the answers.

I suspect that in the future all AI query tools will “show their work” in, as to not do so makes it difficult to check if the AI query tool is being factual or is hallucinating, which they do.

And if YOU ever want your website content to be referenced as a source by an AI query tool answer, you need to create and build topical authority for your website.

In closing

With or without AI query tools possibly replacing search engines in the future, the concepts of topical authority and EEAT are not going away.

Which leaves us all with two broad choices: Accept the reality of this, or be left behind.

Series Navigation<< Definition of topical authorityHow Google uses topical authority to determine expertise >>

Kevin Carney
Kevin Carney

Like many people, Kevin "fell into" SEO by accident, back in 2009. Over time, he developed a keen interest in the concept of a "digital marketing divide" where brands with big budgets have significant advantages over small businesses. This led to the development of a SaaS platform to help "newbies" grow their topical authority, for both writers and websites. https://organicgrowth.biz.

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