Sofiann McKerrell
16th May, 2022

These days, one of the best ways in which to rank for highly competitive keywords and drastically increase organic search traffic is to improve your Topical Expertise. Even without acquiring any backlinks!

As a side note, I prefer talking about Topical Expertise than Topical Authority, even though topical authority seems to be the most-used terminology in our Industry.

I prefer using “Topical Expertise” because this concept is directly connected to the E in E-A-T (Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness) which is the framework used in SEO nowadays to get better results.

If we follow this E-A-T framework, the A, which stands for Authoritativeness or Authority, relies much more on external factors such as backlinks.

So how do you become an expert? Well, you need to show Google that you know a lot about the topic you want to rank for.

For our human brains, a topic could be defined as a subject.  It could be, for example, the subject of a research study. It is almost like a tool we use to categorise ideas, thoughts or products. It is a way for us to focus on one or a combination of elements.

If I had to ask a friend or a colleague to give me three topic ideas that I could write about, the answer would probably be something like:
– The importance of Topical Expertise in SEO
– What is E-A-T and why should you care?
– What is the ideal length of a page title?

Our genuine comprehension of the word topic is probably a bit too restricted in comparison to what it can be for a search engine.

Search engines belong to the semantic world. A topic for a search engine like Google can actually be anything. Any word, any phrase, any sentence is a topic by essence (stop words excluded).

A search engine will probably never be able to tell what’s great vs a bad topic for an essay. A search engine is only interested in figuring out the meaning behind words and topics, to be able to connect them together.

“Best exercises for bodybuilding when you’re a 35yo male” is a topic
“Best exercises for bodybuilding” is a topic
“35 yo male” is a topic
“Bodybuilding” is a topic
“Best exercise” is a topic
“exercise” is a topic
Even the word “best” is a topic

The more content I publish on a website about the “Best exercises for bodybuilding when you’re a 35yo male” topic, the higher my chances will be to rank at the top of the Google SERPs for all the worlds that belong to this topic.

The more content I publish on a website about the”Best exercises for bodybuilding” topic, the higher my chances will be to rank at the top of the Google SERPs for all the worlds that belong to this topic.

The same principle can be applied to virtually any topic. Except for words or topics like “best” that do not mean much for a search engine, semantically speaking. If you google ‘Best, you will see that Google tries to guess what you are looking for and is listing different types of results that may or may not answer your query.

How to leverage the concept of Topical Expertise in SEO content strategies?

If I were in the fitness industry and wanted my website to rank high for a keyword like “best bodybuilding exercise for a 35yo male”, I now know that I would need to cover as much as possible under this exact same topic “best bodybuilding exercise for a 35yo male”.

The problem is that once I have written the most comprehensive article answering the query, there is not much I can do to improve my topic expertise. And my goal is to get the highest amount of traffic possible, in the shortest period of time possible, so how should I approach my content strategy? Well, I have several options:

Option 1

I can try to search for other keywords that belong to the initial topic. It could go for keywords like “best legs bodybuilding exercise for a 35yo male”, “best chest bodybuilding exercise for a 35yo male” or “best bodybuilding exercise for a mesomorph 35yo male”. Anything more specific than the initial topic keywords will work.

Option 2

I can expand my coverage of one of the closest “parent topics” like “bodybuilding exercise for a 35yo male”. This would lead me to write about “The worse bodybuilding exercises for a 35yo male”, “The 10 most difficult bodybuilding exercises for a 35yo male”, “22 uncommon bodybuilding exercises for a 35yo male”.

Option 3

I could try to expand my content strategy to cover slightly broader topics like “exercises for a 35yo male” or “bodybuilding for a 35yo male” and in this case, my content would look like “Fitness exercises for a 35yo male” or “Bodybuilding risk for a 35yo male” if I decide to go with the second option.

Option 4

Even broader, my targeted topics could be “bodybuilding exercises” or it could be “35 yo male”. In the first case, I would need to write about “bodybuilding exercises for women” “bodybuilding exercises for teenagers”, and “bodybuilding exercises at home”… In the second case I would need to write about “35yo male blood pressure”, “35yo male heart rate”, or “35yo male testosterone”.

Option 5

The fifth option would be, instead of relying on the exact wording of each topic, to go for the closest related terms and topics. This means that if our starting point is still “best bodybuilding exercise for a 35yo male” we would need to write about “Most efficient workout for 35yo male to gain muscle”, “Why do you need a specific training when you are a 35yo male”, “How can you increase your testosterone when you are a 35yo male”. Any combination of entities that answers the same general question the Google user is trying to find answers for.

All the approaches mentioned above are not equally efficient. The best approach to take will depend on three main elements:

1 – The level of competition

If my website is brand new, I’ll have no choice but to go with options 1 & 2. My level of authority and trustworthiness won’t allow me to rank for keywords that other established websites are ranking for.

2 – The level of search volume

If my website has been online for a while, is already getting organic search traffic, and is ranking at the top of Google’s SERPs, I may skip options 1 & 2 and jump straight to options 3, 4 or 5. The broader you go, the higher the search volume is.

3 – The website’s current topical expertise

If my website is already considered an expert for some specific topics I may want to publish as much content as possible within these topics, as there is no faster way to get great rankings and traffic.

Why is it much more efficient to use the Topical Expertise Tactic to build content?

Google is not capable of fully understanding the content we publish on our websites. It can’t tell for sure if what we talk about is true or not. However, Google can clearly see if your website is talking about all the topics it believes are closely related.

And Google is much keener to list websites at the top of the SERPs that its users can go to, find the answer they were looking for and eventually enjoy additional information closely related to the initial query.

If you had to pick a great bottle of fine wine for an important dinner, would you go to the closest supermarket? Or would you go to the wine cellar with the largest range of fine wine? Google is simply applying the same principle to its SERPs.

How can you find keywords that belong to the same topic?

As mentioned above, there are two types of approaches. You can search for queries that include the exact same words, or at least some of these words, and sometimes even in the same order.

Or you can search for keywords that are semantically close to the same topic.

In the first case, you can use tools like Ahrefs and generate a list of keywords that will include the words you searched for.

The second case is a bit more difficult, meaning you will need to conduct more in-depth research. You can rely on the “People also asked” questions that Google suggests on SERPs. You can also search for synonyms.

In general, you need to search for keywords that provide additional information related to the meaning of the topic you are targeting.

Key takeaways:

– You should know what topics you have a good level of expertise in (according to Google).
– You should not approach a new topic before you are sure that you’ve covered all the keywords that belong to the topics you have a good level of expertise in.
– You should not publish content that is not closely related to your existing content.