The New Ranking Factor: Topical Authority


“Domain Authority is dead, long live Topical Authority” – a bold statement to start with, but you will learn in a minute why I think so.

Just so you know, so far Google hasn’t said anything official about it. But I speak from my experience as a SEO Consultant. Lately, I’ve seen in many client projects that Domain Authority, what we build with link building, isn’t what it used to be. Now, in 2024, just having high Domain Authority isn’t enough anymore and just because you have it you can’t get away with bad content anymore. 

Which are actually great news. At least for smaller websites that were complaining about big sites dominating it all. Now you need Topical Authority, which is a lot easier to built than you might think.

Let’s dive into the details about topical authority.

What is Topical Authority?

Think of it this way: Search engines no longer just look at individual pages on your website. They look at the whole website. This was already important for Domain Authority, which gave your site a value. Now, your site is sort of given a theme, a kind of category.

So, if you write a lot about biking on your website, you show Google that you’re an expert in this topic. Over time, you’ll build your authority in the biking niche.

It’s the same for me. Since this page is mainly about SEO, Google understands that I have a lot of knowledge in this topic and gives me Topical Authority.

Of course, it’s a bit more complex, but this gives you at least an idea of what we’re talking about.

In my post on the MOZ blog, I described the case of my travel blog. It has built Topical Authority around the theme of ‘Interrail Travel’.”

> Link to MOZ Post

Why the change from Domain Authority to Topical Authority?

The reason for this shift in recent years is clear: it’s about the user. We, as searchers, prefer to land on a specific niche site that can answer all our questions on a topic, rather than just on a large site that writes about everything – no matter how many backlinks this big site has built.

There was also a lot of spam in the past with all the backlink building. And high Domain Authority doesn’t always mean much today.

The whole topic around E-E-A-T and Helpful Content has also led to some rethinking at Google. How do you best find out if an author really knows a topic? By writing a lot about it, and not just a single article.

Because of the latest updates from Google and what I see with clients who keep losing rankings because they want to spread themselves too thin, I’m sure this Topical Authority will stay for the next few years and only get stronger.

What does that mean for your website?

Before you panic because there’s yet another new term and value important for search engine optimization, not everything is bad about this change.

I actually find it the opposite, as this gives you the chance to compete against all those big platforms that cover every topic. And it gives you a clear focus for your content.

Instead of spreading yourself too thin, you should thoroughly explore one topic. The deeper you go, the better. Show that you know your niche well and understand what you’re talking about.

Instead of expensive backlink building, which is somewhat in a gray area anyway, you can now focus entirely on showing your expertise.

What do you need to do, to get Topical Authority

As mentioned before, you mainly get Topical Authority by focusing on a few topics and diving deep into them.

The strategy you follow involves building topic clusters or using the Hub & Spoke model. This isn’t exactly a traditional blog strategy, which isn’t really suitable for SEO anyway.

To understand the important SEO tasks, let’s discuss some actions.

1. Choose a topic that fits your business

First, think about your business model and your services – and which informational topics actually fit with them.

It’s pointless to build topical authority in yoga if you’re selling washing machine repair services. This might seem obvious, but sometimes it’s not so clear, believe me.

2. Create an editorial plan using keyword research

Next, you need keyword research for your topic. You can probably break your topic down into more specific subtopics.

For example, if you want to write about pollen allergies, there are many directions you can take. You can cover symptoms, home remedies, and even everyday challenges like traveling with pollen allergies or doing sports with them.

It’s important that you don’t just write one post per topic, but really delve deep. Often, this means going beyond existing keywords. For instance, with traveling and pollen allergies, you should mention each country and list the pollens present during different seasons.

If you need help with such ‘topic cluster’ keyword research, feel free to email me at, and I’ll send you all the information about my services.

3. Writing and Publishing the Posts

Once you have your keyword research, you’ll have your editorial plan. Then it’s time to start writing and expanding your hub, topic clusters, or whatever you call it.

And of course, it’s about publishing, because what’s not online can’t deliver rankings.

4. Be Patient and Enjoy the Exponential Effect

You need to be patient, as probably the first post won’t be enough. But over time, as you publish more, the exponential effect will grow larger.

The great thing is, not only do your informative guides benefit from this, but so do your service pages.

What about Blog Nonsense – shouldn’t I optimize my services first?

If you’re asking this question, you’ve probably been around here for a while and are familiar with my philosophy.

And yes, as always, I recommend not pursuing an elaborate blog SEO strategy if you haven’t gotten your money pages in order first.

So, number one is always optimizing your service pages. But sometimes, you reach a point where these are optimized and still not performing as well as you wish.

And that’s exactly what the Topical Authority strategy is for. We want to give your entire website more authority on your topic. The great thing about this strategy is that all pages related to the topic benefit, including your service pages.

And that’s exactly why I’m a huge fan of this strategy.

Dani Leitner avatar


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