Is Keyword Optimization Dead? Topical Authority is Growing in Importance

Is Keyword Optimization Dead? Topical Authority is Growing in Importance

Google has grown far from its infant days when the main focus was learning to crawl basic links and keywords. In 2017, baby Google has matured into a highly intelligent adolescent who actually understands topical authority and other advanced concepts.

While it may be painful to acknowledge an adolescent of 18 years rules the fate of billions of websites, it is a reality we all must adapt to. If your small business wants to please the almighty Google and step up your SEO, it’s time to strive for topical authority.

What is topical authority?

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A search engine’s main goal is to rank relevant websites with the highest value first. Having a website with high authority means your website has high quality content with backlinks from other high quality sources (among other factors).

SO, when your website has high topical authority it means that search engines consider you a reliable source for your niche or topic.

Is topical authority a new concept?

While we can’t know the exact inner workings of Google’s ranking algorithm, it’s believed that topical authority’s importance grew following the “Hummingbird” algorithm.

Google’s Hummingbird algorithm was acknowledged by Google in September of 2013 and said to have been rolled out roughly a month prior. Like most of their updates, this one focuses on weeding out spammy websites and ranking the legitimate ones higher.

Instead of simply considering the number of links and presence of keywords, Hummingbird looks at the factors around quality of your content. One indication of quality is that you’ve addressed every possible question within your topic.

Can you grow topical authority?

To grow your website’s #topicalauthority you need to fill in the gaps. You guessed it: that means more content.”


Yes, you can grow topical authority! The foundation of any effective SEO strategy – both in 2017 as well as years before – is high quality content. The only difference is that now we need more of it to grow topical authority.

It’s not good enough anymore to write broad content or just on one aspect of your business.

For example, imagine you own a lighting business. In the past, perhaps you wrote a blog post for each of your lighting fixtures: one for ceiling lights, floor lamps, wall lights, table lamps, and so on.

To grow topical authority, your business needs to look at each of your products/services individually and branch out.

Start with ceiling lights. Instead of one post for ceiling lights, let’s look at all of the different topics within ceiling lights: pendant lights, ceiling fans, chandeliers, recessed lighting, contemporary ceiling lights, industrial ceiling lights, flush mount ceiling fixtures, and so on.

By targeting each topic within the topic your small business is trying to rank for, you can establish yourself as a field expert to both consumers and Google.

Is keyword optimization dead?

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No, keyword optimization is not dead.

Topical authority is indeed growing in importance, but it’s not here to replace traditional SEO and keyword optimization. To effectively rank in unique search queries you should always start by routinely conducting keyword research.

5 steps for effective keyword optimization and topical authority:

To improve topical authority and consequently your rank, create content in the following steps.

  1. If you haven’t already, define each of your buyer personas. Knowing your target market will allow you to consider keyword user-intent, avoid targeting the wrong keywords, and attract the right qualified traffic (users who are likely to convert).
  2. Conduct keyword research for each of your services/product types. After you’ve narrowed in on the best keywords for each of those, find subcategory keywords.
  3. Target specific buyer personas in each blog post and use keywords that align with each topic. Remember to always write with the reader in mind first, search engine second.
  4. Publish content with proper header tags, title tags, meta descriptions, alt tags, internal links, external links, and blog topic categorization.
  5. Promote on social media to increase brand exposure, website traffic, and backlinks.

With Google already a genius in its adolescent years, as webmasters, marketers, and small business owners we have to work double-time to keep up. Growing topical authority and improving SEO may take effort, but the ROI most certainly pays off.

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