An Example of Topical Authority in Practice
In a previous article, we saw how Google’s algorithm updates (Hummingbird and Rank Brain) had changed the SEO game from a focus on keywords to topical authority. We also considered the benefits of topical authority and how fintech companies can grow with topical authority.
Many companies are already using topical authority to grow their businesses online. However, it’s hard to find fintech companies exploring this opportunity. I found one financial blog that did this with retirement planning – Nerd Wallet – and I want to highlight what they did to exemplify how topical authority works.
Nerd Wallet and Retirement Planning
Nerd Wallet is a financial education blog that covers various personal finance topics. One of the topics of interest is retirement and retirement planning.
When it comes to retirement planning, searchers use many queries that include:
- When can I retire?
- How can I save for retirement?
- What’s the best retirement plan?
- How do I invest for retirement?
So Nerd Wallet created a pillar page – Retirement Planning: An Introduction – on the topic of retirement planning.
In this article, they link to five different articles (topic clusters) on their websites covering various retirement planning sub-topics.
There are three ways to structure a pillar page:
- A 10X page: A 10X page is a pillar page that covers a topic exhaustively with the business’s resources (owned media). In other words, the same company that created the pillar page also created all the topic clusters that a 10X page links to. Some 10X pages are in the form of blogs, while others are downloadable resources (e-books, informative guides, etc.)
- A resource pillar page: A resource pillar page is more like a directory or reference page that points people to relevant links and topic clusters on a given topic, whether created by the company (internal links) or not (external links).
- A product/service page: A product or service page focuses on a product/service rather than a topic. A product/service page covers everything your target audience needs to know about the product, including links to pages covering every sub-topic in greater details.
Nerd Wallet used a combination of a 10X page and a resource pillar page.
Normally, when you read a 10X page, you should have a good deal of information on the topic – enough to make reading the topic clusters optional. However, Nerd Wallet chose to describe the information in every chapter rather than cover it in some details, generate interest, and then send people to the main article covering the sub-topic. In that sense, it is similar to a resource pillar page (except that they own all the resources they linked to).
Nevertheless, there is an element of a 10X page that follows. Nerd Wallet dedicates a section to seven questions that people seeking information on retirement ask. They answer the questions in some details and then provide links to the chapters (topic clusters) that cover the sub-topic in much more details.
It’s a smart combination of elements of a traditional 10X page and resource pillar page, which makes it more interesting.
The use of question keywords is excellent. We already noted (in the previous article) that Google’s algorithms now favour conversational and natural keywords, especially with the increased popularity of voice search.
The benefits of topical authority
One of the benefits of topical authority is that your website ranks for a broader set of keywords.
The primary keyword of this pillar page is retirement planning. So when you search for “retirement planning,” Nerd Wallet’s pillar page appears on the first page.
But the pillar page does not just rank for the primary keyword; it ranks for other related keywords – keywords that different people searching for information on retirement planning will use.
The same pillar page is ranking for “when should I start planning for retirement.” While this keyword is not the pillar page’s primary focus, it is one of the sub-topics.
Again, the same pillar page ranks for the keyword “How do I invest for retirement?” The page ranks for this keyword because it is one of the sub-topics.
The page ranks for 129 keywords with 1100 monthly traffic. More important is that the page is ranking for question keywords that are natural and conversational.
Topical authority will help you rank for a broad set of keywords – a recipe for more traffic and backlinks, etc.
If you don’t know what the pillar page/topic clusters system looks like, Nerd Wallet’s is a good example. Other websites outside the finance industry are also crushing topical authority and reaping the benefits.
Study these examples, then go out there and create your own topical authority. SEO has advanced beyond keywords, and you should follow suit.
Rank for a broader set of keywords. Get more traffic. Get more backlinks. And much more.
If you need help building topical authority with the pillar page/topic clusters system, don’t hesitate to reach out to me.