Topical Authority

$100M SEO for Startups Course

Written by Jan-Oliver Seidenfuss

Topical Authority allows you to outrank more authoritative sites.

Sounds too good to be true but it actually works.

In this chapter you'll learn

If you want to rank higher, you'll love this guide.


Topical Authority allows you to outrank more authoritative sites.

Sounds too good to be true but it actually works.

In this chapter you'll learn

If you want to rank higher, you'll love this guide.


Topical Authority allows you to outrank more authoritative sites.

Sounds too good to be true but it actually works.

In this chapter you'll learn

If you want to rank higher, you'll love this guide.


About this Course

Course Chapters
Course Chapters

This is chapter 3 of our $100M SEO For Startups course.

If you aren't following along, don't worry.

I'll include links to previous chapters for context. This way, you can easily catch up on any necessary background information.

Enjoy! ✌️

This is chapter 3 of our $100M SEO For Startups course.

If you aren't following along, don't worry.

I'll include links to previous chapters for context. This way, you can easily catch up on any necessary background information.

Enjoy! ✌️

This is chapter 3 of our $100M SEO For Startups course.

If you aren't following along, don't worry.

I'll include links to previous chapters for context. This way, you can easily catch up on any necessary background information.

Enjoy! ✌️

What is Domain Authority

One known ranking factor is how many backlinks a domain has.

Backlinks are links from other websites to one of your pages. For example, if website A links to one of your websites pages, that link is a backlink for your website.

While backlinks still matter today, back in the days, they were the most important metric.

The idea is simple. The best pages are probably those that are linked to the most.

Think of social media - the famous people are those with the most followers (followers = other profiles linking to their profiles).

Makes sense. But is this a good metric? Can’t it be exploited quite easily by just linking to a page from new domains 100k times?

Yes, it can.

That’s why a few more factors go into it.

For example, it's also essential to check how authoritative the domain is that's linking to your page? If it is not authoritative, the link should count less than if a very trusted source such as Amazon or Apple (Website B) links to you.

Another factor is how many pages a domain is linking to? If they never link to anyone besides you, that means you are something very special and the link should be weighted higher.

An attempt to quantify this is Domain Authority (DA). Also called Domain Rating (DR).

Both are non official metrics that keyword research tools developed to quantify how authoritative a page is.

Listen to what I said here. The score is developed by Keyword Research tools. Google does not use these metrics internally. But the score does correlate with higher rankings in the search results.

So Domain Authority and Domain Rating quantify how authoritative a domain is.

Why do they have different names? Well, they were developed by different companies.

Ahrefs who developed Domain Rating explains their score as follows:

"Domain Rating represents the overall strength of a website’s backlink profile and considers both the size and quality of the links pointing at a website."

One known ranking factor is how many backlinks a domain has.

Backlinks are links from other websites to one of your pages. For example, if website A links to one of your websites pages, that link is a backlink for your website.

While backlinks still matter today, back in the days, they were the most important metric.

The idea is simple. The best pages are probably those that are linked to the most.

Think of social media - the famous people are those with the most followers (followers = other profiles linking to their profiles).

Makes sense. But is this a good metric? Can’t it be exploited quite easily by just linking to a page from new domains 100k times?

Yes, it can.

That’s why a few more factors go into it.

For example, it's also essential to check how authoritative the domain is that's linking to your page? If it is not authoritative, the link should count less than if a very trusted source such as Amazon or Apple (Website B) links to you.

Another factor is how many pages a domain is linking to? If they never link to anyone besides you, that means you are something very special and the link should be weighted higher.

An attempt to quantify this is Domain Authority (DA). Also called Domain Rating (DR).

Both are non official metrics that keyword research tools developed to quantify how authoritative a page is.

Listen to what I said here. The score is developed by Keyword Research tools. Google does not use these metrics internally. But the score does correlate with higher rankings in the search results.

So Domain Authority and Domain Rating quantify how authoritative a domain is.

Why do they have different names? Well, they were developed by different companies.

Ahrefs who developed Domain Rating explains their score as follows:

"Domain Rating represents the overall strength of a website’s backlink profile and considers both the size and quality of the links pointing at a website."

One known ranking factor is how many backlinks a domain has.

Backlinks are links from other websites to one of your pages. For example, if website A links to one of your websites pages, that link is a backlink for your website.

While backlinks still matter today, back in the days, they were the most important metric.

The idea is simple. The best pages are probably those that are linked to the most.

Think of social media - the famous people are those with the most followers (followers = other profiles linking to their profiles).

Makes sense. But is this a good metric? Can’t it be exploited quite easily by just linking to a page from new domains 100k times?

Yes, it can.

That’s why a few more factors go into it.

For example, it's also essential to check how authoritative the domain is that's linking to your page? If it is not authoritative, the link should count less than if a very trusted source such as Amazon or Apple (Website B) links to you.

Another factor is how many pages a domain is linking to? If they never link to anyone besides you, that means you are something very special and the link should be weighted higher.

An attempt to quantify this is Domain Authority (DA). Also called Domain Rating (DR).

Both are non official metrics that keyword research tools developed to quantify how authoritative a page is.

Listen to what I said here. The score is developed by Keyword Research tools. Google does not use these metrics internally. But the score does correlate with higher rankings in the search results.

So Domain Authority and Domain Rating quantify how authoritative a domain is.

Why do they have different names? Well, they were developed by different companies.

Ahrefs who developed Domain Rating explains their score as follows:

"Domain Rating represents the overall strength of a website’s backlink profile and considers both the size and quality of the links pointing at a website."

Why Domain Authority isn't enough

But what’s the result of focusing on backlinks too much? What’s the outcome in the search results?

Well, only the most authoritative pages would rank.

Think about this for a second. Is this something Google really wants? Is this the best possible scenario for a person looking for advice?

Sometimes, not always. Here is an analogy I like.

When you have to go through knee surgery, would you prefer the general doctor or the knee expert?

Same with websites.

Users will find the best information about a certain topic in niche websites that are written by topical experts.

As Google wants to do what is best for the user, just relying on the authoritativeness of a website does not make sense.

Google wants to promote niche pages that are known for very specific topics and rank them even though their overall authority might be comparably low.

So let’s check an example to verify what I am saying is true.

I’m studying Electrical Engineering in my Masters degree and so one niche site I know is gregorygunderson.com.

It is all about advanced topics in linear algebra & probability theory. The page has an authority score of 26 out of 100.

Looking at search terms like “weighted least squares”, we can see that the page outranks sciencedirect.com even though they have an authority of 97 out of 100.

So the ranking clearly does not only depend on the authority.

The question then is, what does the ranking depend on?

That’s where Topical Authority comes in.

But what’s the result of focusing on backlinks too much? What’s the outcome in the search results?

Well, only the most authoritative pages would rank.

Think about this for a second. Is this something Google really wants? Is this the best possible scenario for a person looking for advice?

Sometimes, not always. Here is an analogy I like.

When you have to go through knee surgery, would you prefer the general doctor or the knee expert?

Same with websites.

Users will find the best information about a certain topic in niche websites that are written by topical experts.

As Google wants to do what is best for the user, just relying on the authoritativeness of a website does not make sense.

Google wants to promote niche pages that are known for very specific topics and rank them even though their overall authority might be comparably low.

So let’s check an example to verify what I am saying is true.

I’m studying Electrical Engineering in my Masters degree and so one niche site I know is gregorygunderson.com.

It is all about advanced topics in linear algebra & probability theory. The page has an authority score of 26 out of 100.

Looking at search terms like “weighted least squares”, we can see that the page outranks sciencedirect.com even though they have an authority of 97 out of 100.

So the ranking clearly does not only depend on the authority.

The question then is, what does the ranking depend on?

That’s where Topical Authority comes in.

But what’s the result of focusing on backlinks too much? What’s the outcome in the search results?

Well, only the most authoritative pages would rank.

Think about this for a second. Is this something Google really wants? Is this the best possible scenario for a person looking for advice?

Sometimes, not always. Here is an analogy I like.

When you have to go through knee surgery, would you prefer the general doctor or the knee expert?

Same with websites.

Users will find the best information about a certain topic in niche websites that are written by topical experts.

As Google wants to do what is best for the user, just relying on the authoritativeness of a website does not make sense.

Google wants to promote niche pages that are known for very specific topics and rank them even though their overall authority might be comparably low.

So let’s check an example to verify what I am saying is true.

I’m studying Electrical Engineering in my Masters degree and so one niche site I know is gregorygunderson.com.

It is all about advanced topics in linear algebra & probability theory. The page has an authority score of 26 out of 100.

Looking at search terms like “weighted least squares”, we can see that the page outranks sciencedirect.com even though they have an authority of 97 out of 100.

So the ranking clearly does not only depend on the authority.

The question then is, what does the ranking depend on?

That’s where Topical Authority comes in.

Domain vs. Topical Authority

According to Ethan Smith, Topical Authority is the new page rank.

It’s a paradigm shift away from focusing on backlinks as key metric towards a wider range of authority signal with a topical dependance.

Topical dependance means that our authority is for a set of topics. Let's use Flappie as an example to make this concept clear.

Flappie is known for "cat flaps" and "cat doors". We'll see later how you can figure out what you have Topical Authority for yourself.

But my point is that if Flappie would publish content about ancient dinosaur skeletons, ranking would potentially be very hard or impossible.

At least in theory. In SEO you always have random cases that break the overall pattern. But it's a good mental model to have anyways.

But there's another effect to Topical Authority: Ranking speed.

According to Ethan Smith, Topical Authority is the new page rank.

It’s a paradigm shift away from focusing on backlinks as key metric towards a wider range of authority signal with a topical dependance.

Topical dependance means that our authority is for a set of topics. Let's use Flappie as an example to make this concept clear.

Flappie is known for "cat flaps" and "cat doors". We'll see later how you can figure out what you have Topical Authority for yourself.

But my point is that if Flappie would publish content about ancient dinosaur skeletons, ranking would potentially be very hard or impossible.

At least in theory. In SEO you always have random cases that break the overall pattern. But it's a good mental model to have anyways.

But there's another effect to Topical Authority: Ranking speed.

According to Ethan Smith, Topical Authority is the new page rank.

It’s a paradigm shift away from focusing on backlinks as key metric towards a wider range of authority signal with a topical dependance.

Topical dependance means that our authority is for a set of topics. Let's use Flappie as an example to make this concept clear.

Flappie is known for "cat flaps" and "cat doors". We'll see later how you can figure out what you have Topical Authority for yourself.

But my point is that if Flappie would publish content about ancient dinosaur skeletons, ranking would potentially be very hard or impossible.

At least in theory. In SEO you always have random cases that break the overall pattern. But it's a good mental model to have anyways.

But there's another effect to Topical Authority: Ranking speed.

Effect of Topical Authority

High Topical Authority leads to faster organic search visibility. This is what Graphite found.

Take a look at the slide below from one of Ethan Smiths presentations. The higher your topical authority, the faster your pages start to rank and the faster they get their first clicks.

This is an important thing to know and we'll get back to it when talking about the SEO strategy.

High Topical Authority leads to faster organic search visibility. This is what Graphite found.

Take a look at the slide below from one of Ethan Smiths presentations. The higher your topical authority, the faster your pages start to rank and the faster they get their first clicks.

This is an important thing to know and we'll get back to it when talking about the SEO strategy.

High Topical Authority leads to faster organic search visibility. This is what Graphite found.

Take a look at the slide below from one of Ethan Smiths presentations. The higher your topical authority, the faster your pages start to rank and the faster they get their first clicks.

This is an important thing to know and we'll get back to it when talking about the SEO strategy.

Factors for Topical Authority

There are three main factors that go into Topical Authority.

  • People searching for your brand name directly (Branded Search)

  • Anchor Text in Backlinks

  • Paid Advertisement for specific keywords

The two most important factors are branded search & anchor texts in backlinks.

Let's check them one by one.

Branded Search

When people search for your brand, this is a general authority signal and very valuable. But if they search for “<your-brand> <keyword>”, this gives you topical authority for the specific keyword.

Let’s see an example for Flappie. If people search a lot for “flappie cat flap”, Flappie builds topical authority for cat flap.

Anchor Text of Backlinks

Backlinks still matter but don’t play as important of a role as they used to.

Today, it matters a lot if the Backlink comes from topically related domains and what the anchor text say. The anchor text is the clickable text in a link.

It's used to describe the linked page (your page) to both users and search engines.

For example, in the link <a href="<https://www.flappie.ch>">Flappie, the ai cat flap</a>, "Flappie, the ai cat flap" is the anchor text.

The fact that the term “ai cat flap” was used, gives Flappie Topical Authority for this keyword.

Paid Advertisement for Keywords

If you get traffic from marketing channels other than organic (like direct/paid), this is a general authority signal.

Why? Well, Google understands that people are actually interested in your page & your offerings.

Additionally, focusing paid ads on certain keywords increases your Topical Authority for those.

There are three main factors that go into Topical Authority.

  • People searching for your brand name directly (Branded Search)

  • Anchor Text in Backlinks

  • Paid Advertisement for specific keywords

The two most important factors are branded search & anchor texts in backlinks.

Let's check them one by one.

Branded Search

When people search for your brand, this is a general authority signal and very valuable. But if they search for “<your-brand> <keyword>”, this gives you topical authority for the specific keyword.

Let’s see an example for Flappie. If people search a lot for “flappie cat flap”, Flappie builds topical authority for cat flap.

Anchor Text of Backlinks

Backlinks still matter but don’t play as important of a role as they used to.

Today, it matters a lot if the Backlink comes from topically related domains and what the anchor text say. The anchor text is the clickable text in a link.

It's used to describe the linked page (your page) to both users and search engines.

For example, in the link <a href="<https://www.flappie.ch>">Flappie, the ai cat flap</a>, "Flappie, the ai cat flap" is the anchor text.

The fact that the term “ai cat flap” was used, gives Flappie Topical Authority for this keyword.

Paid Advertisement for Keywords

If you get traffic from marketing channels other than organic (like direct/paid), this is a general authority signal.

Why? Well, Google understands that people are actually interested in your page & your offerings.

Additionally, focusing paid ads on certain keywords increases your Topical Authority for those.

There are three main factors that go into Topical Authority.

  • People searching for your brand name directly (Branded Search)

  • Anchor Text in Backlinks

  • Paid Advertisement for specific keywords

The two most important factors are branded search & anchor texts in backlinks.

Let's check them one by one.

Branded Search

When people search for your brand, this is a general authority signal and very valuable. But if they search for “<your-brand> <keyword>”, this gives you topical authority for the specific keyword.

Let’s see an example for Flappie. If people search a lot for “flappie cat flap”, Flappie builds topical authority for cat flap.

Anchor Text of Backlinks

Backlinks still matter but don’t play as important of a role as they used to.

Today, it matters a lot if the Backlink comes from topically related domains and what the anchor text say. The anchor text is the clickable text in a link.

It's used to describe the linked page (your page) to both users and search engines.

For example, in the link <a href="<https://www.flappie.ch>">Flappie, the ai cat flap</a>, "Flappie, the ai cat flap" is the anchor text.

The fact that the term “ai cat flap” was used, gives Flappie Topical Authority for this keyword.

Paid Advertisement for Keywords

If you get traffic from marketing channels other than organic (like direct/paid), this is a general authority signal.

Why? Well, Google understands that people are actually interested in your page & your offerings.

Additionally, focusing paid ads on certain keywords increases your Topical Authority for those.

Building Topical Authority

Great! Now that we know what goes into Topical Authority, how can we improve it for our own website?

Looking at the factors that drive the most impact, it's obvious that we need to get people to link/search your page with some target keyword.

First of all, ignore that we don't yet know which keyword thad should be. We'll find it when doing Keyword Research & then put everything together in the SEO Strategy chapter.

For now just assume you know it. But still, how are we supposed to get people to backlink or do branded search? I mean we can't really force them, right?

Great question and no easy answer. Generally, this area of SEO is called Offpage SEO. But here are a few ideas I’ve gathered from different sources.

Social Media Marketing

If you have content that goes viral, people are likely to search for it on Google.

Ethan Smith gave an example where a social media post on “jello shots” went viral for Yummly.

I don’t know if Google actually factors in viral posts itself. But I doubt that.

Still, people likely went on Google to find out more about “yummly jello shots” which resulted in lots of branded search.

The outcome? Yummly started to rank really well for “jello shots” and semantically related topics like "vodka" and "whiskey".

General PR

For Flappie this worked really well.

They went to CES & got a lot of attention from newsletters as people had never seen an AI catflap before.

They got featured in different articles which led to people searching for “flappie catflap” online.

Additionally this got them a lot of high authority backlinks.

Brand Marketing

There are also brand campaigns that are specifically designed to get people to do branded search.

Check out this campaigns by Tripadvisor.

A masterpiece.

Free Tools and Assets

Creating free tools/assets and marketing them is a great way to get authority for a certain topic.

How? Let me explain.

Let’s assume we would want to establish topical authority for “page indexer”.

To achieve this, we would release a free tool that helps you index your pages and advertise it on Producthunt, Reddit, X, etc.

The result would be other pages linking to our free tool with “free page indexer” & people searching for “spexia free page indexer”.

And here we go!

Branded Search & Backlinks. Great!

When you talk about your offering, a nice trick for more branded search is not link to your tool directly but use the following:

  • https://www.google.com/search?q=spexia+free+page+indexer

This way, it always opens up Google first & everyone does a branded search. However this only really works if you rank high already. Otherwise people won't find you in the top 10 results.

Also, if you created free assets, you could upload them in places that already get a lot of traffic.

For example, if I'd create a video series about this course, I could upload it to Udemy for free & benefit from the traffic Udemy has.

Paid Ads

Running paid ads also grows your Topical Authority according to Graphite.

You can check the referenced resources if you don’t believe me;)

So running paid ads for your target topics can be a great opportunity.

Especially as it is quite simple to do. But the impact is lower than branded search or backlink anchor texts.

Ranking New Content

Another nice option to grow your Topical Authority over time is to create new content around topics you already have authority for.

If these topics rank you grow Topical Authority for it.

This allows you to step by step broaden your content scope.

This is exactly what Flappie does with their blog.

But it’s not a valid option when you start from zero as the content you put out will not rank well.

This strategy generally only makes sense after you reached a “Domain Authority” of at least 15. We'll cover that in the SEO strategy chapter.

Great! Now that we know what goes into Topical Authority, how can we improve it for our own website?

Looking at the factors that drive the most impact, it's obvious that we need to get people to link/search your page with some target keyword.

First of all, ignore that we don't yet know which keyword thad should be. We'll find it when doing Keyword Research & then put everything together in the SEO Strategy chapter.

For now just assume you know it. But still, how are we supposed to get people to backlink or do branded search? I mean we can't really force them, right?

Great question and no easy answer. Generally, this area of SEO is called Offpage SEO. But here are a few ideas I’ve gathered from different sources.

Social Media Marketing

If you have content that goes viral, people are likely to search for it on Google.

Ethan Smith gave an example where a social media post on “jello shots” went viral for Yummly.

I don’t know if Google actually factors in viral posts itself. But I doubt that.

Still, people likely went on Google to find out more about “yummly jello shots” which resulted in lots of branded search.

The outcome? Yummly started to rank really well for “jello shots” and semantically related topics like "vodka" and "whiskey".

General PR

For Flappie this worked really well.

They went to CES & got a lot of attention from newsletters as people had never seen an AI catflap before.

They got featured in different articles which led to people searching for “flappie catflap” online.

Additionally this got them a lot of high authority backlinks.

Brand Marketing

There are also brand campaigns that are specifically designed to get people to do branded search.

Check out this campaigns by Tripadvisor.

A masterpiece.

Free Tools and Assets

Creating free tools/assets and marketing them is a great way to get authority for a certain topic.

How? Let me explain.

Let’s assume we would want to establish topical authority for “page indexer”.

To achieve this, we would release a free tool that helps you index your pages and advertise it on Producthunt, Reddit, X, etc.

The result would be other pages linking to our free tool with “free page indexer” & people searching for “spexia free page indexer”.

And here we go!

Branded Search & Backlinks. Great!

When you talk about your offering, a nice trick for more branded search is not link to your tool directly but use the following:

  • https://www.google.com/search?q=spexia+free+page+indexer

This way, it always opens up Google first & everyone does a branded search. However this only really works if you rank high already. Otherwise people won't find you in the top 10 results.

Also, if you created free assets, you could upload them in places that already get a lot of traffic.

For example, if I'd create a video series about this course, I could upload it to Udemy for free & benefit from the traffic Udemy has.

Paid Ads

Running paid ads also grows your Topical Authority according to Graphite.

You can check the referenced resources if you don’t believe me;)

So running paid ads for your target topics can be a great opportunity.

Especially as it is quite simple to do. But the impact is lower than branded search or backlink anchor texts.

Ranking New Content

Another nice option to grow your Topical Authority over time is to create new content around topics you already have authority for.

If these topics rank you grow Topical Authority for it.

This allows you to step by step broaden your content scope.

This is exactly what Flappie does with their blog.

But it’s not a valid option when you start from zero as the content you put out will not rank well.

This strategy generally only makes sense after you reached a “Domain Authority” of at least 15. We'll cover that in the SEO strategy chapter.

Great! Now that we know what goes into Topical Authority, how can we improve it for our own website?

Looking at the factors that drive the most impact, it's obvious that we need to get people to link/search your page with some target keyword.

First of all, ignore that we don't yet know which keyword thad should be. We'll find it when doing Keyword Research & then put everything together in the SEO Strategy chapter.

For now just assume you know it. But still, how are we supposed to get people to backlink or do branded search? I mean we can't really force them, right?

Great question and no easy answer. Generally, this area of SEO is called Offpage SEO. But here are a few ideas I’ve gathered from different sources.

Social Media Marketing

If you have content that goes viral, people are likely to search for it on Google.

Ethan Smith gave an example where a social media post on “jello shots” went viral for Yummly.

I don’t know if Google actually factors in viral posts itself. But I doubt that.

Still, people likely went on Google to find out more about “yummly jello shots” which resulted in lots of branded search.

The outcome? Yummly started to rank really well for “jello shots” and semantically related topics like "vodka" and "whiskey".

General PR

For Flappie this worked really well.

They went to CES & got a lot of attention from newsletters as people had never seen an AI catflap before.

They got featured in different articles which led to people searching for “flappie catflap” online.

Additionally this got them a lot of high authority backlinks.

Brand Marketing

There are also brand campaigns that are specifically designed to get people to do branded search.

Check out this campaigns by Tripadvisor.

A masterpiece.

Free Tools and Assets

Creating free tools/assets and marketing them is a great way to get authority for a certain topic.

How? Let me explain.

Let’s assume we would want to establish topical authority for “page indexer”.

To achieve this, we would release a free tool that helps you index your pages and advertise it on Producthunt, Reddit, X, etc.

The result would be other pages linking to our free tool with “free page indexer” & people searching for “spexia free page indexer”.

And here we go!

Branded Search & Backlinks. Great!

When you talk about your offering, a nice trick for more branded search is not link to your tool directly but use the following:

  • https://www.google.com/search?q=spexia+free+page+indexer

This way, it always opens up Google first & everyone does a branded search. However this only really works if you rank high already. Otherwise people won't find you in the top 10 results.

Also, if you created free assets, you could upload them in places that already get a lot of traffic.

For example, if I'd create a video series about this course, I could upload it to Udemy for free & benefit from the traffic Udemy has.

Paid Ads

Running paid ads also grows your Topical Authority according to Graphite.

You can check the referenced resources if you don’t believe me;)

So running paid ads for your target topics can be a great opportunity.

Especially as it is quite simple to do. But the impact is lower than branded search or backlink anchor texts.

Ranking New Content

Another nice option to grow your Topical Authority over time is to create new content around topics you already have authority for.

If these topics rank you grow Topical Authority for it.

This allows you to step by step broaden your content scope.

This is exactly what Flappie does with their blog.

But it’s not a valid option when you start from zero as the content you put out will not rank well.

This strategy generally only makes sense after you reached a “Domain Authority” of at least 15. We'll cover that in the SEO strategy chapter.

Measure Topical Authority

How can we measure our current Topical Authority? How known are we for a certain keyword/topic?

Great questions. Let's answer both separately.

What's my Domain's Topical Authority?

In my opinion the best way to find your current Topical Authority is with Google Search Console.

And I know, I know, we haven't introduced Google Search Console yet. That will be part of next chapter. So for now just skim over the content, then go set up and understand Google Search Console & come back.

Deal? Deal!

So we're trying to find the terms we are topically known for. To do this we'll look at the keywords we already rank for, check for overlap in words & try to find themes.

The keywords your page ranks for can be found using Google Search Console in the Queries tab.

And what I mean by word overlap is generally known as N-Grams.

But don't worry. You don't have to do anything by hand. Graphite prepared a very nice Google Docs that does the heavy lifting.

Check out their Google Docs template and this tutorial which explains how to use it.

The result is an overview like the one you see below for Flappie. A lot of it is in German but let’s focus on the English words in there.

What can you see here?

We see the 1 word-/2 word- & 3 word-patterns for the keywords of our page sorted by occurrence.

What you want to look for are the words with the highest clicks. These are the things that you have high Topical Authority for.

You can see that Flappie has high topical authority for cat door & cat flap. Which makes sense.

Another easier way is to just put your brand name into Google and let autocomplete tell you your topical authority.

This is less granular but a lot quicker. Again we see “cat flap” & “cat door”.

“Katzenklappe” is just the German translation of “cat flap”.

But if your page is new, this will most likely not show anything related to you at all.

What's my Topical Authority for a Keyword?

Now let's imagine you have a selection of 3 topics and you want to decide which one to write about first. Well, would be nice to rank fast, right?

In this case we want to focus on the topics where we have the highest Topical Authority first. But how can we find out?

Let me show you. Here's a neat trick to get a score between 0 and 1 for any search query.

Step 1: Search for site:yourdomain.com

This gives you all sites that are indexed for your domain in your current language.

In case of Flappie this are 57 pages.

Step 2: Search for site:yourdomain.com “topic”

This gives you all sites that are ranking for the specific topic.

For example Flappie has 53 pages ranking for “cat flap”

1 page ranking for “cat food”

0 pages ranking for “dog”

Step 3: Calculate the Topical Authority score

Divide the number of pages that rank for a specific topic by the number of pages that rank in total.

In other words: site:yourdomain.com "topic" / site:yourdomain.com

Doing this results in a Topical Authority score of

  • 0.92 for “cat flap” (very high topical authority)

  • 0.01 for “cat food” (very low authority for cat food)

  • 0 for “dog” (no topical authority)

So we would focus on cat flap first which makes a lot of sense. Not however that this is a made up example. Flappie wouldn't want to write about dogs generally;)

How can we measure our current Topical Authority? How known are we for a certain keyword/topic?

Great questions. Let's answer both separately.

What's my Domain's Topical Authority?

In my opinion the best way to find your current Topical Authority is with Google Search Console.

And I know, I know, we haven't introduced Google Search Console yet. That will be part of next chapter. So for now just skim over the content, then go set up and understand Google Search Console & come back.

Deal? Deal!

So we're trying to find the terms we are topically known for. To do this we'll look at the keywords we already rank for, check for overlap in words & try to find themes.

The keywords your page ranks for can be found using Google Search Console in the Queries tab.

And what I mean by word overlap is generally known as N-Grams.

But don't worry. You don't have to do anything by hand. Graphite prepared a very nice Google Docs that does the heavy lifting.

Check out their Google Docs template and this tutorial which explains how to use it.

The result is an overview like the one you see below for Flappie. A lot of it is in German but let’s focus on the English words in there.

What can you see here?

We see the 1 word-/2 word- & 3 word-patterns for the keywords of our page sorted by occurrence.

What you want to look for are the words with the highest clicks. These are the things that you have high Topical Authority for.

You can see that Flappie has high topical authority for cat door & cat flap. Which makes sense.

Another easier way is to just put your brand name into Google and let autocomplete tell you your topical authority.

This is less granular but a lot quicker. Again we see “cat flap” & “cat door”.

“Katzenklappe” is just the German translation of “cat flap”.

But if your page is new, this will most likely not show anything related to you at all.

What's my Topical Authority for a Keyword?

Now let's imagine you have a selection of 3 topics and you want to decide which one to write about first. Well, would be nice to rank fast, right?

In this case we want to focus on the topics where we have the highest Topical Authority first. But how can we find out?

Let me show you. Here's a neat trick to get a score between 0 and 1 for any search query.

Step 1: Search for site:yourdomain.com

This gives you all sites that are indexed for your domain in your current language.

In case of Flappie this are 57 pages.

Step 2: Search for site:yourdomain.com “topic”

This gives you all sites that are ranking for the specific topic.

For example Flappie has 53 pages ranking for “cat flap”

1 page ranking for “cat food”

0 pages ranking for “dog”

Step 3: Calculate the Topical Authority score

Divide the number of pages that rank for a specific topic by the number of pages that rank in total.

In other words: site:yourdomain.com "topic" / site:yourdomain.com

Doing this results in a Topical Authority score of

  • 0.92 for “cat flap” (very high topical authority)

  • 0.01 for “cat food” (very low authority for cat food)

  • 0 for “dog” (no topical authority)

So we would focus on cat flap first which makes a lot of sense. Not however that this is a made up example. Flappie wouldn't want to write about dogs generally;)

How can we measure our current Topical Authority? How known are we for a certain keyword/topic?

Great questions. Let's answer both separately.

What's my Domain's Topical Authority?

In my opinion the best way to find your current Topical Authority is with Google Search Console.

And I know, I know, we haven't introduced Google Search Console yet. That will be part of next chapter. So for now just skim over the content, then go set up and understand Google Search Console & come back.

Deal? Deal!

So we're trying to find the terms we are topically known for. To do this we'll look at the keywords we already rank for, check for overlap in words & try to find themes.

The keywords your page ranks for can be found using Google Search Console in the Queries tab.

And what I mean by word overlap is generally known as N-Grams.

But don't worry. You don't have to do anything by hand. Graphite prepared a very nice Google Docs that does the heavy lifting.

Check out their Google Docs template and this tutorial which explains how to use it.

The result is an overview like the one you see below for Flappie. A lot of it is in German but let’s focus on the English words in there.

What can you see here?

We see the 1 word-/2 word- & 3 word-patterns for the keywords of our page sorted by occurrence.

What you want to look for are the words with the highest clicks. These are the things that you have high Topical Authority for.

You can see that Flappie has high topical authority for cat door & cat flap. Which makes sense.

Another easier way is to just put your brand name into Google and let autocomplete tell you your topical authority.

This is less granular but a lot quicker. Again we see “cat flap” & “cat door”.

“Katzenklappe” is just the German translation of “cat flap”.

But if your page is new, this will most likely not show anything related to you at all.

What's my Topical Authority for a Keyword?

Now let's imagine you have a selection of 3 topics and you want to decide which one to write about first. Well, would be nice to rank fast, right?

In this case we want to focus on the topics where we have the highest Topical Authority first. But how can we find out?

Let me show you. Here's a neat trick to get a score between 0 and 1 for any search query.

Step 1: Search for site:yourdomain.com

This gives you all sites that are indexed for your domain in your current language.

In case of Flappie this are 57 pages.

Step 2: Search for site:yourdomain.com “topic”

This gives you all sites that are ranking for the specific topic.

For example Flappie has 53 pages ranking for “cat flap”

1 page ranking for “cat food”

0 pages ranking for “dog”

Step 3: Calculate the Topical Authority score

Divide the number of pages that rank for a specific topic by the number of pages that rank in total.

In other words: site:yourdomain.com "topic" / site:yourdomain.com

Doing this results in a Topical Authority score of

  • 0.92 for “cat flap” (very high topical authority)

  • 0.01 for “cat food” (very low authority for cat food)

  • 0 for “dog” (no topical authority)

So we would focus on cat flap first which makes a lot of sense. Not however that this is a made up example. Flappie wouldn't want to write about dogs generally;)

Topic Difficulty

We’ve seen that Topical Authority can allow us to outrank more authoritative pages.

But how can we know beforehand if we have a chance to rank for a topic?

It’s actually a tricky question.

The thing is that nobody can guarantee you any rankings.

But we can in fact know beforehand which topics are (most likely) too difficulty.

Even if we have high Topical Authority for them.

So let’s see how to do that.👇

Topic Difficulty

A topic is nothing else than a set of keywords with the same intent.

To know if a topic is too difficult to rank for, we will need to analyse the individual keywords.

There are two approaches.

Either, you only consider the keyword that is the topic name. And use this as reference for the overall topic.

Or you consider all topic keywords and fuse them in the end.

I prefer variant 1 and only use the topic name as reference. There is no right or wrong.

Nice.

But we are now faced with the same question.

How difficult it is to rank for a keyword (=Keyword Difficulty)?

Keyword Difficulty

To answer this question, Keyword Research tools developed approximate scores.

Here’s how Ahrefs - one prominent Keyword Research tool - puts it.

But the thing is, nobody knows the exact factors Google uses to rank pages.

So in the best case we can get an approximation.

Additionally, all Keyword Research tools developed their own scores.

Thus, even for the same Keywords, the scores are wildly different.

That’s what a study by Backlinko found.

What does this mean?

Well, all of the scores are just approximations.

To make educated decisions, we have to pick one score and understand which input factors are considered.

So let’s have a quick look at how Ahrefs comes up with their metric.

Ahrefs Keyword Difficulty Score

Ahrefs uses a very simple Keyword Difficulty score.

Given a keyword, they check the top 10 ranking pages & see how many other pages link to them. The more links the top ranking pages have, the higher the Keyword Difficulty score.

The simplicity allows us to understand what the score actually means:

  • KD 0-5, the top-ranking pages barely have any backlinks

  • KD ~50, the top-ranking pages have a couple of hundred backlinks

  • KD 90+, the top-ranking pages have thousands of backlinks

Great!

So the Keyword Difficulty tells us something about the amount of Backlinks the top ranking pages have.

But I honestly only use this as a first indication.

Domain Authority

To really figure out the topics that are too hard to rank I’d look at the Domain Authority of the top 10 results.

Here's an example of only the top 3 results.

What we are looking for are domains with lower or similar Domain Authority to our own site.

If there are only very authoritative pages ranking, it means that the topic is too difficult and you’ll have a hard time to compete.

The Verdict

The Keyword Difficulty is a nice metric to quickly get a feel for the competitiveness.

To really check if a topic is too difficult, I compare the Domain Authority of the top 10 results.

As always with SEO, there are a lot of other factors you can look at: Backlink Profile, Optimisation of the content, etc.

But in my opinion these don't matter too much anymore.

What does matter however is how well you meet the intent of the user with your content and UX. More on that in the SEO Strategy chapter.

We’ve seen that Topical Authority can allow us to outrank more authoritative pages.

But how can we know beforehand if we have a chance to rank for a topic?

It’s actually a tricky question.

The thing is that nobody can guarantee you any rankings.

But we can in fact know beforehand which topics are (most likely) too difficulty.

Even if we have high Topical Authority for them.

So let’s see how to do that.👇

Topic Difficulty

A topic is nothing else than a set of keywords with the same intent.

To know if a topic is too difficult to rank for, we will need to analyse the individual keywords.

There are two approaches.

Either, you only consider the keyword that is the topic name. And use this as reference for the overall topic.

Or you consider all topic keywords and fuse them in the end.

I prefer variant 1 and only use the topic name as reference. There is no right or wrong.

Nice.

But we are now faced with the same question.

How difficult it is to rank for a keyword (=Keyword Difficulty)?

Keyword Difficulty

To answer this question, Keyword Research tools developed approximate scores.

Here’s how Ahrefs - one prominent Keyword Research tool - puts it.

But the thing is, nobody knows the exact factors Google uses to rank pages.

So in the best case we can get an approximation.

Additionally, all Keyword Research tools developed their own scores.

Thus, even for the same Keywords, the scores are wildly different.

That’s what a study by Backlinko found.

What does this mean?

Well, all of the scores are just approximations.

To make educated decisions, we have to pick one score and understand which input factors are considered.

So let’s have a quick look at how Ahrefs comes up with their metric.

Ahrefs Keyword Difficulty Score

Ahrefs uses a very simple Keyword Difficulty score.

Given a keyword, they check the top 10 ranking pages & see how many other pages link to them. The more links the top ranking pages have, the higher the Keyword Difficulty score.

The simplicity allows us to understand what the score actually means:

  • KD 0-5, the top-ranking pages barely have any backlinks

  • KD ~50, the top-ranking pages have a couple of hundred backlinks

  • KD 90+, the top-ranking pages have thousands of backlinks

Great!

So the Keyword Difficulty tells us something about the amount of Backlinks the top ranking pages have.

But I honestly only use this as a first indication.

Domain Authority

To really figure out the topics that are too hard to rank I’d look at the Domain Authority of the top 10 results.

Here's an example of only the top 3 results.

What we are looking for are domains with lower or similar Domain Authority to our own site.

If there are only very authoritative pages ranking, it means that the topic is too difficult and you’ll have a hard time to compete.

The Verdict

The Keyword Difficulty is a nice metric to quickly get a feel for the competitiveness.

To really check if a topic is too difficult, I compare the Domain Authority of the top 10 results.

As always with SEO, there are a lot of other factors you can look at: Backlink Profile, Optimisation of the content, etc.

But in my opinion these don't matter too much anymore.

What does matter however is how well you meet the intent of the user with your content and UX. More on that in the SEO Strategy chapter.

We’ve seen that Topical Authority can allow us to outrank more authoritative pages.

But how can we know beforehand if we have a chance to rank for a topic?

It’s actually a tricky question.

The thing is that nobody can guarantee you any rankings.

But we can in fact know beforehand which topics are (most likely) too difficulty.

Even if we have high Topical Authority for them.

So let’s see how to do that.👇

Topic Difficulty

A topic is nothing else than a set of keywords with the same intent.

To know if a topic is too difficult to rank for, we will need to analyse the individual keywords.

There are two approaches.

Either, you only consider the keyword that is the topic name. And use this as reference for the overall topic.

Or you consider all topic keywords and fuse them in the end.

I prefer variant 1 and only use the topic name as reference. There is no right or wrong.

Nice.

But we are now faced with the same question.

How difficult it is to rank for a keyword (=Keyword Difficulty)?

Keyword Difficulty

To answer this question, Keyword Research tools developed approximate scores.

Here’s how Ahrefs - one prominent Keyword Research tool - puts it.

But the thing is, nobody knows the exact factors Google uses to rank pages.

So in the best case we can get an approximation.

Additionally, all Keyword Research tools developed their own scores.

Thus, even for the same Keywords, the scores are wildly different.

That’s what a study by Backlinko found.

What does this mean?

Well, all of the scores are just approximations.

To make educated decisions, we have to pick one score and understand which input factors are considered.

So let’s have a quick look at how Ahrefs comes up with their metric.

Ahrefs Keyword Difficulty Score

Ahrefs uses a very simple Keyword Difficulty score.

Given a keyword, they check the top 10 ranking pages & see how many other pages link to them. The more links the top ranking pages have, the higher the Keyword Difficulty score.

The simplicity allows us to understand what the score actually means:

  • KD 0-5, the top-ranking pages barely have any backlinks

  • KD ~50, the top-ranking pages have a couple of hundred backlinks

  • KD 90+, the top-ranking pages have thousands of backlinks

Great!

So the Keyword Difficulty tells us something about the amount of Backlinks the top ranking pages have.

But I honestly only use this as a first indication.

Domain Authority

To really figure out the topics that are too hard to rank I’d look at the Domain Authority of the top 10 results.

Here's an example of only the top 3 results.

What we are looking for are domains with lower or similar Domain Authority to our own site.

If there are only very authoritative pages ranking, it means that the topic is too difficult and you’ll have a hard time to compete.

The Verdict

The Keyword Difficulty is a nice metric to quickly get a feel for the competitiveness.

To really check if a topic is too difficult, I compare the Domain Authority of the top 10 results.

As always with SEO, there are a lot of other factors you can look at: Backlink Profile, Optimisation of the content, etc.

But in my opinion these don't matter too much anymore.

What does matter however is how well you meet the intent of the user with your content and UX. More on that in the SEO Strategy chapter.

Summary

Great! Let's do a quick recap.

  • Topical Authority is the new page rank. It’s a paradigm shift away from focusing on backlinks as key metric towards a wider range of authority signal with a topical dependance.

  • Topical Authority allows you to outrank more authoritative pages and results in your newly published content getting clicks sooner.

  • The two most important factors that go into Topical Authority are branded search, anchor texts of backlinks.

  • To build Topical Authority, we to get people to backlink/search your page with some target keyword. Options to do this are social media marketing, general pr, brand marketing, free tools or assets, paid ads & publishing new content.

  • To understand your current Topical Authority, look at themes in N-Grams of keywords you get clicks for or check the Google autocompletion for your brand.

Great! Let's do a quick recap.

  • Topical Authority is the new page rank. It’s a paradigm shift away from focusing on backlinks as key metric towards a wider range of authority signal with a topical dependance.

  • Topical Authority allows you to outrank more authoritative pages and results in your newly published content getting clicks sooner.

  • The two most important factors that go into Topical Authority are branded search, anchor texts of backlinks.

  • To build Topical Authority, we to get people to backlink/search your page with some target keyword. Options to do this are social media marketing, general pr, brand marketing, free tools or assets, paid ads & publishing new content.

  • To understand your current Topical Authority, look at themes in N-Grams of keywords you get clicks for or check the Google autocompletion for your brand.

Great! Let's do a quick recap.

  • Topical Authority is the new page rank. It’s a paradigm shift away from focusing on backlinks as key metric towards a wider range of authority signal with a topical dependance.

  • Topical Authority allows you to outrank more authoritative pages and results in your newly published content getting clicks sooner.

  • The two most important factors that go into Topical Authority are branded search, anchor texts of backlinks.

  • To build Topical Authority, we to get people to backlink/search your page with some target keyword. Options to do this are social media marketing, general pr, brand marketing, free tools or assets, paid ads & publishing new content.

  • To understand your current Topical Authority, look at themes in N-Grams of keywords you get clicks for or check the Google autocompletion for your brand.

The SEO Operating System for Startups Founders

Copyright © 2024 Profaile GmbH. All rights reserved.

The SEO Operating System for Startups Founders

Copyright © 2024 Profaile GmbH. All rights reserved.

The SEO Operating System for Startups Founders

Copyright © 2024 Profaile GmbH. All rights reserved.