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Topical Authority for Beginners
How your content helps your site rank in Google
It’s obvious that lots of new people are having a really hard time grasping the concept of topical authority.
This is a basic article that gives you a conceptual understanding so you can stop destroying your rankings with irrelevant content. If you’re brand new, this article is a must read.
Topical authority defined
The concept of topical authority is simple: you publish so many posts about a specific topic that Google starts to think that you’re a subject matter expert and rewards you with increased rankings.
Topical authority is one of the Big Two ranking factors (links being the other one). Without topical authority you’ll never rank.
Take a look at all of the biggest sites in your niche. What do they all have in common? They completely SATURATE their site with tons of topically-relevant content.
Your goal should be to get your site to the point where a visitor could, theoretically, learn every single thing about your niche without ever leaving your site.
That’s obviously an ambitious goal that no one can ever actually achieve.
But it should be your North Star. If your content is bringing you closer to that goal then you’re on the right track. If it isn’t, then you need to focus and get back to posting content that brings you closer to the goal of complete topical authority.
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How to create topical authority with a brand new site
The game plan is:
Create a site in a broad niche
Break that site up into smaller content silos (sub-niches within the main niche)
Pick one silo to fill with content to start with
Once that silo is ranking on page 1, you can move on and fill up 2-3 silos at a time (keep posting in the original silo as well)
Choosing a broad niche is extremely important. The outdated advice that some gurus still peddle about “niching down” is only going to limit your potential.
If you create a site about a “niched down” topic, let’s say tents, with a domain name like “TentReview.com” (made up example), then tents are the only thing you can ever create content about. It’s impossible for you to ever expand and create reviews or guides about boots, camping stoves, or any other topic.
You’re stuck in the tent niche.
Now imagine you go “one step up” and create a site in a broader niche, let’s say camping with a domain name like “campingauthority.com”. You can break that niche up into smaller silos including tents, camping stoves, clothing, etc.
You should start by only writing about tents (or whichever silo you decide is best) just like you would with the smaller niche domain name, but now you have the option of later expanding to other camping-related topics as your site grows.
You didn’t box yourself in with an extremely niche domain name.
This is how you REALLY grow a site over time to the point where you can sell it for high six figures or even seven figures or more. Smaller niche sites have much less exit potential.
See the following articles for more info:
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Informational content helps boost money posts
The term “money posts” refers to content that directly makes you money via affiliate links. This includes reviews, best-of lists, and product comparisons.
Informational content refers to non-affiliate content that provides information to your reader. This can include how-to guides, “what is x”, etc.
Money posts CAN NOT rank on their own without a solid base of informational content. A good rule of thumb is that each best-of list should have at least three informational articles about the exact same topic that are internally linked to it (more on internal links later).
No matter how much you optimize a money post, it won’t rank without supporting informational content.
Always aim for a minimum 3:1 informational:money content ratio and you’ll start developing enough topical authority to rank. Note that 3:1 is the minimum, so if you’re still not ranking then you can always add more informational articles.
Read the following articles for more details:
How internal linking factors into the equation
Just having the content on your site isn’t good enough.
You have to create internal links that connect topically-relevant posts together.
I highly recommend only linking to other posts within the same content silo. That means that posts about camping tents should only link to other posts about camping tents. If you post an article about camping stoves, there’s no reason why you should try to work in a random internal link pointing to a tent article because the topics aren’t related.
Writing things like “camping stoves are a great addition to your camping tent…” with the words ‘camping tent’ linking to a “Best Camping Tents” article is NOT a good strategy. It’s way too obvious and gives off strong 2010 vibes. You have to be smarter with your internal linking in 2023.
There are some rare cases where the topics are sort-of related where you can internally link them together across silos (see my floating micro silos article), but in general you want to keep the links tightly focused.
Read the following articles for more info:
Topical authority - along with backlinks - is one of the two most important parts of SEO that you need to master if you want to get results.
Google will start rewarding you with traffic once you show that you’re a subject matter expert in your niche. You need to create as much high-quality, topically relevant content as possible.
Start with one content silo and expand out from there once the articles start ranking on page one.
It takes time and tons of hard work, but it’s the only way.