law firm content marketing

SEO for Law Firms: How to Build Topical Authority

by Julie Lorson • January 22nd, 2024 • Content Marketing, SEO | Blog

Topical authority is important for legal marketers to understand if they hope to have a substantial web presence. As so much of the marketing for law firms revolves around thought leadership and sharing expertise, topical authority is key for being viewed as an expert – by not only your potential clients but by search engines as well. Here’s what you need to know about topical authority and why it matters. 

What is Topical Authority? 

Topical authority refers to the level of expertise and credibility a website or content has on a specific topic or subject. It is an important aspect of search engine optimization (SEO) because search engines aim to provide the most relevant and reliable information to users. When a website demonstrates topical authority, it signals to search engines that it is a reliable source of information on a particular topic.

How Does Topical Authority Affect SEO? 

Topical authority impacts SEO in several ways. First of all, websites with high topical authority are more likely to rank higher in search engine results pages (SERPs) for relevant queries. Search engines consider the expertise, trustworthiness, and quality of content when determining rankings. Websites that consistently produce high-quality, informative, and relevant content on a specific topic are more likely to be seen as authoritative by search engines.

Secondly, topical authority helps websites attract more organic traffic. When a website is recognized as an authority on a particular topic, it tends to attract more visitors who are interested in that topic. This can result in higher organic search rankings, increased visibility, and ultimately, more website traffic.

Additionally, topical authority can contribute to building a strong online reputation. When users find valuable and reliable information on a website, they are more likely to trust and engage with the content. This can lead to increased user engagement metrics such as longer time on site, lower bounce rates, and higher conversion rates, all of which are positive signals for search engines.

To establish topical authority, it is essential to create high-quality, comprehensive, and well-researched content that is relevant to the target audience. Building a strong backlink profile, engaging in social media discussions, and collaborating with other authoritative websites in the same niche can also help enhance topical authority and improve SEO performance.

How Does Topical Authority Work? 

All search engines strive to deliver the best possible search experiences for users. To do so, they prioritize content that is relevant, helpful, and trustworthy. Pages that demonstrate those traits have higher topical authority. Firms can build topical authority by consistently creating authentic, factual, and truly insightful content. The characteristics that are present in sites that have high topical authority are: 

  • Rich with relevant keywords
  • Easily readable without a lot of jargon
  • Helpful to readers, such as educational or problem-solving

These are the factors that publishers control. There are other elements involved that are more likely to follow naturally if you focus on these areas, such as backlinks and brand mentions. Furthermore, many of Google’s algorithm updates have reaffirmed the preference for trustworthy, informative, and experienced publishers. Essentially, search engines favor content creators who display topical authority. 

Tips for Building Topical Authority

As you can see, topical authority is important in the SEO game and in general if you want to be viewed as an expert. But how does a site establish topical authority? Here are a few tips to start: 

  1. Focus on your niche – You can’t become the number one source of information on all topics. Zero in on the areas where you actually have the most subject matter expertise. This makes it easier to create original, high-value content. The fastest way to create such content is by using a method called topic clustering, where you choose a cluster that covers your main topic in a general way, and then add several more specific pages that link back to the pillar. 
  2. Research broader, topic-based keywords – You’ll need a lot of research and data-backed content to build authority. Only by knowing your true niche and the topic clusters you’ve established can you find the keywords that are most relevant. It’s a good idea to use a third-party tool like SEMrush’s Keyword Magic Tool to find the most effective keyword selections. In general, you want to look for keywords that have significant search volumes but lower-than-average keyword difficulty ratings. 
  3. Develop link-building strategies – You can’t fully control who links to your site, but it’s a smart idea to attract quality backlinks using some simple strategies. You can conduct outreach to relevant websites and request links, or offer to replace broken links that you find on other sites with your own. For more comprehensive instructions, check out our past post on link building. 
  4. Publish problem-solving content – A consistent stream of authoritative content is the most important component to creating topical authority. Make sure that you publish content regularly, and that it is unique, original, and helpful. You want to look for real questions that your clients have and provide answers, and you want to focus on areas that your competitors have not covered comprehensively. Some other types of authoritative content could be: 
  • An unpopular or contrary opinion on industry events or new regulations
  • First-hand interviews or perspectives from subject matter experts
  • Frequently asked question sections, especially ones that are not usually included in your niche
  • First-hand research, data, or reporting


Topical authority is key for getting eyes on your website. It enhances SEO and encourages search engines to rank your content higher, which makes it much more discoverable. To build topical authority, you should focus on in-depth keyword research, content covering niche topics, and providing genuinely useful information. If you need assistance creating the type of content that displays these features and helps with topical authority, reach out to our expert content creators.


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