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7 minute read

7 minute read

Topical Authority: The Key to Driving Sales and Traffic

According to the Edelman Trust Barometer, 81% of consumers say that trust in a brand is a deciding factor in their purchase decisions. The Edelman Trust Barometer is an annual survey that measures public trust in institutions, including businesses, by examining factors like ethics, competence, and transparency. And if trust is such an important factor in purchase decisions, the next question becomes: how can you build trust as a business? This is precisely where topical authority comes into play.

Creating a topical map is arguably the best way to establish topical authority as a business with an online presence. A topical map involves organizing your content into a structured hierarchy that comprehensively covers all aspects of a given topic. This approach aligns your content with Google’s Knowledge Graph, enhancing your website’s visibility and credibility. By establishing a clear hierarchy and covering all relevant subtopics, you can attain topical authority and position yourself as a trusted information source. 

In this article, we will explore the concept of topical maps, their benefits, and a step-by-step process for implementing them successfully, so you can gain authority and stand out in your niche.

Key Takeaways

  • A topical map is a strategic visual representation that organizes all SEO content in a topic/subtopic hierarchy, aligning content with Google’s Knowledge Graph for semantic search.
  • Achieving topical authority helps establish your website as a trusted source, improving user engagement, preventing content cannibalization, and enhancing search engine visibility.
  • Create a topical map by selecting a broad topic, conducting keyword research, and arranging subtopics in a logical, interconnected structure to cover all relevant aspects.
  • Develop high-quality content for each subtopic while using internal linking and schema markup to reinforce relationships between pages and provide clear context to search engines.
  • Maintaining and optimizing your topical map involves regular review, refreshing old content, and analyzing performance data to refine your strategy continuously.
  • At Optimum7, our SEO team helps clients build topical maps, achieve topical authority, and boost search visibility as part of our comprehensive SEO strategies.


What Are Topical Maps?

A topical map is a strategic, visual representation that outlines all the content required to comprehensively cover a given topic. Rather than optimizing isolated pages, it organizes the content into a structured hierarchy of main topics and subtopics, much like a family tree. This structure aligns with Google’s Knowledge Graph, which seeks to understand topics as interconnected entities rather than isolated keywords. The topical map ensures that every subtopic is covered in a logical sequence.

Moreover, topical maps allow businesses to identify gaps and opportunities within their existing content while aligning new content plans with the overall strategy. This strategic approach encourages search engines to associate your site with a specific topic and helps ensure higher visibility for related queries. With semantic search gaining prominence, creating a topical map is an essential step toward achieving greater topical authority.

Importance of Topical Maps

Topical Authority

Achieving topical authority is about becoming a trusted source of information in your niche. When a site has developed comprehensive content across a given topic, Google recognizes it as an authority in that area, thus improving the site’s visibility for relevant queries. Instead of simply chasing high-volume keywords, a topical map establishes credibility by addressing subtopics comprehensively and demonstrating expertise. This makes the website the go-to resource for that subject, which, in turn, can increase traffic and improve the site’s trustworthiness.

Google’s algorithms favor content structures that thoroughly address user intent. By clustering various subtopics through a well-organized topical map, your site can achieve higher rankings, enhanced user engagement, and increased recognition from search engines.


  • Improved User Engagement and Higher Search Engine Visibility: Comprehensive coverage of all subtopics improves user satisfaction and keeps them engaged, which can lead to lower bounce rates and higher rankings.
  • Prevents Content Cannibalization: Clearly defining your content areas with a topical map prevents multiple pages from competing for the same keywords, ensuring that each page ranks for its intended query.
  • Provides Strategic Internal Linking: Internal linking between subtopics and pillar pages helps search engines understand the hierarchical relationship between different pieces of content, guiding users and bots through the site effectively.


Steps to Create a Topical Map

Select a Broad Topic

The first step in building a topical map is selecting a broad topic that serves as the central focus. This main topic should have ample scope to include multiple subtopics and user queries while still maintaining a cohesive theme. For example, if your primary topic is “digital marketing,” you could branch out to subtopics like “social media marketing,” “content marketing,” and “email marketing.” Each of these subtopics should have enough depth to explore them further through targeted content.

When choosing your main topic, ensure it’s relevant to your business or website, and that it provides opportunities for exploration. Additionally, consider its competitive landscape and how well your team can cover the entire scope of the topic.


Keyword Research & Topic Discovery

Effective keyword research and topic discovery are crucial for understanding what users are searching for and identifying relevant subtopics. Here are some key tools and strategies:

  • People Also Ask: Google’s “People Also Ask” feature offers a treasure trove of related questions to explore. Incorporating these into your topical map helps align your content with actual search queries.

  • Ahrefs & SEMrush: SEO tools like Ahrefs and SEMrush provide insights into high-traffic keywords and related queries. They can also help identify which subtopics competitors are covering and reveal gaps in your content.
  • InLinks: InLinks offers a deep dive into topical mapping by analyzing related entities that align with Google’s Knowledge Graph. Analyzing search engine result page (SERP) features and clustering-related queries will reveal the natural associations between subtopics, guiding you in creating an organized content plan.


Build a Topic/Subtopic Hierarchy

Once you’ve identified your main topic and related subtopics, arrange them in a hierarchical structure. Group subtopics logically under their primary topic, and further categorize them into smaller branches as needed. Think of this process as developing a “family tree” of content, where each node leads to another layer of related information.

This structure not only organizes your content but also mirrors how Google’s Knowledge Graph identifies and connects related entities. The hierarchy will guide your writing, ensuring you address subtopics thoroughly and establish the necessary relationships between pages.


Develop Quality Content

Creating high-quality content for each subtopic is essential to achieving topical authority. Here’s how to approach this:

  • Fact-Based & Comprehensive: Take a holistic view of the topic and consider how each subtopic interrelates, creating cohesive coverage that provides maximum value. Write comprehensive content that is rooted in factual information. Cover each subtopic thoroughly, ensuring you meet user intent and answer potential follow-up questions.
  • Avoid Personal Opinions: While personal perspectives can add value, focus on factual accuracy and supporting references to establish credibility.
  • Volume and Consistency: You won’t reach high topical authority status with 5 articles. You need to publish dozens of articles to get there. So be ready to write and post articles weekly if not daily. 


Internal Linking and URL Structuring

Effective internal linking and URL structuring will help reinforce your topical map’s hierarchical relationships. Here’s what to consider:

  • Internal Linking: Connect subtopics to pillar pages using contextual internal links. These links should make sense within the flow of the content and guide readers to further exploration.
  • Optimized Anchor Text: Use optimized anchor texts that accurately describe the destination page, helping users and search engines understand the relationship.
  • Logical URL Structures: Create logical URLs that reflect the topical map, maintaining a clear and consistent taxonomy across the entire content hierarchy.


Maintain & Optimize Your Topical Map

Regular Review

Maintaining a topical map requires continuous review to ensure your content remains relevant and comprehensive. Regularly assess whether any new subtopics have emerged in your field or if existing subtopics need updates. As Google’s algorithms evolve and user behavior shifts, new gaps in your coverage of a topic may emerge. To fill those gaps, you’ll need to come up with fresh content or reorganize existing content pieces. 

  • Content Audit: Conduct a periodic audit to identify outdated information and optimize underperforming pages for improved rankings.
  • Competitive Analysis: Monitor competitors to identify new subtopics they’ve covered, helping you stay ahead in the topical landscape.


Content Refresh

Refreshing old content is essential for maintaining its relevance and authority. As search engines prioritize fresh information, updating articles with new statistics, examples, or additional subtopics can help sustain high rankings.

  • Add New Data: Incorporate new data, trends, or case studies to keep articles current.
  • Expand Coverage: Add new sections or related FAQs to expand the content’s breadth and align with evolving user intent.
  • Optimize Existing Content: Review current subtopics for opportunities to enhance readability, refine internal links, and optimize keywords.


Performance Analysis

Tracking the performance of your topical map is vital for measuring progress and identifying areas for improvement. Use analytics and SEO tools to monitor how well your content is performing.

  • Traffic Trends: Observe traffic trends for key pages to determine which subtopics resonate most with your audience.
  • Keyword Rankings: Track the rankings of specific keywords to see which subtopics are underperforming and adjust your strategy accordingly.
  • User Engagement Metrics: Monitor metrics like bounce rate, time on page, and click-through rates to gauge user satisfaction.

This data-driven approach will help you refine your topical map over time, ensuring it remains aligned with both user needs and search engine priorities.

Optimum7 Has Helped 100s of Businesses Gain Topical Authority 

Topical maps provide a comprehensive approach to building topical authority, helping businesses align their content strategies with evolving user needs and Google’s Knowledge Graph. By organizing content in a structured hierarchy and ensuring comprehensive coverage across relevant subtopics, they help you increase visibility, prevent content cannibalization, and encourage deeper user engagement.

Now, it’s time to apply this strategy to your own website. Take a moment to consider which topics could benefit from a more cohesive content structure and how you can leverage topical maps to establish authority in your industry. By focusing on clear value for your audience and staying up-to-date with search intent, you can transform your SEO strategy and stand out among competitors.

If you need assistance creating a topical map or optimizing your current SEO approach, don’t hesitate to reach out. Our SEO team at Optimum7 has helped countless businesses refine their content strategies, increase traffic, and gain authority in their industry. Let’s talk about how we can help you achieve these results too.


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A digital marketing strategy is the path to profitability. Optimum7 can help you set the right goals, offer and implement creative and technical strategies, and use data and analytics to review and improve your business’s performance.

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