Building topic authority to improve your SEO ranking.
What is ‘topic authority’?
There are three basic stages which correlate to an action that search engines take when determining the quality of your online content.
Search engine bots discover your content by landing on the web page and reading it. Search engine action: crawling.
The bots then decide how relevant your content is to search queries based on signals like keywords. Search engine action: indexing.
Search engine bots will determine whether your content has built up enough credibility through back-links and other factors for search engines to consider your site authoritative enough to rank highly in search results. Search engine action: ranking.
So, authority directly impacts ranking strength. Your content is deemed authoritative when it is talked about a lot, referred to a lot and sites with high domain authority link back to it.
Why is authority important in SEO?
Creating brilliant content isn’t enough to rank highly in searches. It doesn’t matter how great you think your content is. It matters how great other people think it is. Google measures this through links to your website, called backlinks.
Backlinks signal to Google that your page is a valuable resource that people want to reference and share.
This means sites with more high-quality backlinks tend to rank higher in search.
Google says: “In general, webmasters can improve the rank of their sites by increasing the number of high-quality sites that link to their pages”.
The emphasis is always on quality. Quality content and quality backlinks.
If you have 100 backlinks from sites with low domain authority, you might not stand a chance against sites with just 4 backlinks from sites with very high domain authority.
Top tip: You can find a website’s domain authority (DA) by entering the URL into SEO tools like SEMrush, Ahrefs, Ubersuggest and Moz. A domain score (DS) of 0-21 is considered low. A DS of 22-70 is considered medium. A DS of 71-100 is considered high. Most backlink outreach strategies start by targeting sites with medium DS as those with high domain scores are typically very hard to get a backlink from.
5 ways to build SEO authority.
Generating inbound links from sites with high domain authority is difficult, and it’s arguably getting a lot harder. However, with the right long-term strategy and a focus on relationship building, you will bring in plenty of organic traffic and new leads for your business.
1. Build relationships
Manually asking people to build links has always been the go-to method for building backlinks. However, getting other sites to link to yours has become increasingly difficult over time. Now if someone likes your content, they’ll share it on social media, which is why it’s now more important to proactively seek out link partnerships and begin building relationships for the future.
Remember that not all content is linkable. For example, asking a website owner to link to one of your product pages is not seen as advantageous for the site you’re contacting. The person you’re asking for a link from is only going to be interested in your content if it offers their audience direct value; unique insight or original research.
The key to an effective link building strategy is great content and strong relationships.
Blogging is a great way to improve your authority on your core topics if done strategically. First, you must figure out which topics you want to be known for, and publish lots of blogs that answer every query a searcher may have about those topics. Once you have a bank of content, you need to link these blog posts to one another. Read more about how blogging improves your search engine relevance and authority here.
3. Pillar pages
Pillar pages cover all content relating to a topic on one page. They contain detailed topic cluster content; blog posts, webinars, white papers, podcasts, videos etc to help search engines discover your content and rank its relevance and authority.
4. Guest blogging
Guest blogging is the act of writing or publishing an article on someone else’s blog.
It expands your audience, opening your business up to new leads, and increases the referral traffic to your site. It also helps with search engine optimisation; building an inbound link from another site with high DA will improve your search and domain authority.
Creating a guest blogging strategy will help you spread the word about your business, position your company as an industry thought leader, and attract new organic traffic to your site. If the audience is relevant enough, this will generate a stream of new leads over time.
Before you start reaching out to marketers and webmasters asking to write expert blogs for them, consider taking a step back and doing the following:
- Choose a topic you want to improve your ranking for
- Identify a list of websites related to your topic which have high domain authority
- Gather your best educational content around the topic
- Create a pillar page on the key topic you want to rank for and add links to all the related content. Consider adding anchor links to help the user navigate.
- Finally, re-purpose all related content into a detailed resource like a whitepaper and cover every major topic in more depth – make this downloadable.
You can now proudly use this educational pillar page to link back to when guest blogging on other sites. You must make sure the blogs you write for others are related in some way to this pillar page so it makes sense to link back to it.
Optimise your guest blogs for the keywords you want to rank for and include them in headers. Your guest post might rank above your website if the site has higher DA, but that’s what you are working to change.
5. Press request alerts
Press requests are requests that journalists send out for sources of information (like quotes on a topic from an industry expert). Journalists will send out these requests every day and you can sign up to get them sent straight to your inbox. You’ll need to look for the ones directly related to your site/product/services.
If you respond quickly and give the journalist exactly what they’re looking for then you might get a high-quality link from a publication with a large audience.
Each has its own pros and cons. The best part about press requests is how quickly you can respond to them vs making a fresh piece of content and marketing it, or guest blogging for someone else.
You’ll get hundreds of requests every day, and the sheer number you get can be overwhelming. However, if you set up email filters for specific keywords and phrases that are relevant, you will cut out the noise.
Free services: HARO, Source Bottle, NARO PR, or on Twitter: #JournoRequest / #PRrequest
Paid services: Muck Rack, Gorkana
Top tips for working with press requests:
- Only sign up for one press quest alert service to start with
- Scan them without responding for 1-2 weeks to get a feel for what they are/what they’re asking for
- Ask the thought leaders in your organisation to offer quotes on similar topics to those you’ve seen in the requests so far
- Generate a list of around 10 to 20 quotes across different topics so you can edit them/merge them to respond quickly to different requests.
Link building best practises.
Make sure you link to a specific page on your site, not just your home page. A page with multiple links to other related content will rank higher than one with no links
Only link to valuable content. Most sites won’t link to product pages because it doesn’t provide value to their audience.
Include your most valuable inbound link near the top of your page: search engine bots crawl pages like a human, left to right and top to bottom. Links at the top of a page pass more authority to the page they’re linking to. Each link thereafter will have a small reduction in shared authority. If you can be descriptive in your anchor text then do so.
Most sites will only allow one link to your site, so make it your goal to include one high-quality link per post and naturally fit it in at the top.
Establishing a balance to meet your needs.
Make sure you balance your link outreach and content production strategies in a way that meets your current SEO needs.
Healthy SEO balances building relevancy with building authority. Is your company being talked about and linked to often? If yes, focus on publishing more relevant content. If your company creates lots of content but has no links, focus on getting your content out there.
Remember, you don’t build credibility and authority through volume (email blasts asking for links), you build it through high-quality and relevant backlinks.
You can use Moz, SemRush, Ahrefs, Majestic, and Ubersuggest to get a general sense of your current SEO.
How can we help you?
We offer free marketing assessments for B2B companies that want to adopt an inbound marketing strategy or use digital marketing to grow their business. No nonsense, no hard sell, just friendly and professional advice from our team to yours.