Have you seen a small blog or niche site outrank a huge brand or site? Well, if you have ever wondered how that is possible, well, let me introduce you to topical relevance!
What is Topical Relevance?
Topical relevance is a process that search engines like Google use to determine how relevant your blog or niche site is to a keyword.
For instance, if you have a blog in the gardening niche, you want to build up topical relevance so that when people are entering keyphrases relevant to gardening, you want your pages to pull up in the top spots of Google and other search engines.
How Do You Build Topical Relevance?
Topical Relevance starts from your domain name, includes your categories, and then at the content level. A domain name or site that doesn’t indicate a tight niche will have a harder time with building topical relevance initially due to all the categories that need to be covered with content.
Compare that to a site that is the sub-niche of a niche. Every article you write about will be about that main topic so theoretically, it will be much easier to fill out any categories with content and build up topical relevance overall.
Let’s take two examples into consideration to illustrate the point of building topical relevance and which types of sites can build it faster.
Suppose these three sites exist:
- moonlovesdrinks.com – a site about all types of drinks: various types of coffees, teas, kava, etc.
- moonlovestea.com – a site about all types of tea only
- ilovegreentea.com – a site about green tea only
For moonlovesdrinks.com, you’re covering a minimum of three types of categories and within those categories, you would have to cover each type of that drink thoroughly: questions, in-depth articles, etc.
Regarding moonlovestea.com, there are all types of teas covered: green tea, black tea, chamomile tea, oolong tea, white tea, and more. We have different categories under one main topic but it’s specific to teas. It may take a while to write about each one of these categories and fill them out, but we can definitely build topical relevance with this site faster than moonlovesdrinks.com.
Now, let’s observe ilovegreentea.com. As the domain indicates, the site is all about green tea! Every article we write will be about green tea: answering questions people have, in-depth articles about ONLY… GREEN TEA! With each piece of published content, we’d be building topical relevance even faster because of how we chose the sub-niche of a niche!
Personal Testing of Super Sub-Niche Sites
I (Moon) launched quite a few super niche sites (similar to ilovegreentea.com) with only 5 pages for testing purposes. I chose competitive keywords for some sites and non-competitive ones for others.
Not all sites responded this way, but a few did within first 3 months and then when I added five more articles, some of them really “took” off to pages 1 and 2 for their keywords.
If you don’t niche down and setup a site that is more “general”, it will take a while to see good results, as you have more work to do, more topical clusters to fulfill. The more you “niche down”, the quicker you build up topical relevance, the quicker you see results.
For that reason, I’m a fan of super niche and niche sites, not general sites.
Site-wide Topical Relevance
Sitewide topical relevance refers to how well you cover the topic as a whole on your site. For instance, using the moonlovesdrinks.com example, you’d have to cover each type of coffee a few times targeting different keywords for it to rank for coffee terms. If you’ve written 45 articles on teas and then publish a couple of articles on coffee, they will not rank well. So, if your next goal is to rank for Brazilian coffee related terms, then my advice would be “publish at least 10 articles covering Brazilian coffee related terms”.
Because now you’re covering a nice cluster of topics/keywords regarding Brazilian coffee. The more you talk about a topic, the better you’ll do.
When you publish a few articles that fall under one topic, it’s known as a topical cluster. When you create topical clusters, Google sees you covering this topic in great detail in quite a few different articles, and starts rewarding you for it by ranking you for relevant keywords to that topic.
On-Page Topical Relevance
For every piece of article you create, you need to make sure you not only cover on-page search engine optimization factors, but also you need to use words (entities) that Google associates that topic with.
For instance, when writing an article on “benefits of green tea”, Google may have these entities connected to it:
- healthy diet
- blood lipid
- high-density lipoproteins
- tea leaves
- green tea extract
- vitamin c
- heart disease
- staphylococcus aureus
For this reason, it is important to write in-depth articles or to hire a writer that will do proper research so they cover the topic thoroughly and naturally cover a lot of entities.
Free Method to Create Site-wide Relevance
Pull up a couple of blogs similar to yours. Do a search on the main topic or keyword you want to rank for on both sites. For example, you could type in “green tea benefits” if that’s a keyword you want to rank for. Take note of how many articles each blog contains on green tea, take an average of both, and use that as a start to create a topical cluster and get to work.
Tools to Help Establish On-Page and Site-wide Relevance
For site-wide and on-page topical relevance, I recommend covering different keywords of an overall topic over a few articles.
SEMRush is a blogger and SEO’s dream come true. You can use SEMRush to come up with keyword ideas by putting in your seed topic and exploring the list of keywords. Take at least 10 and start creating articles to establish a topical cluster on your site.
On-Page.ai is an awesome tool that I have used on my client’s content pages as well. It does a great job of giving you a list of entities that you are missing on your page that the top ranking competitors have on theirs.
For free or cheaper tools, check out this article.
Now that you are armed with understanding what topical relevance is, how you can establish it site-wide and on-page, as well as how quickly you can do so, you are well on your way to rank your blog.