In an effort to “share more about how ranking works,” Google published an article outlining how their “Topic Authority” ranking system works.
While this may sound unfamiliar, Topic Authority has always been part of Google’s comprehensive collection of ranking systems, which you’ll find in this document.
Someone pointed out that Topic Authority isn’t there yet, but Google promises they’ll update the document to include more details.
In a nutshell, Topic Authority helps users find more reliable, expert content when it comes to more specialized topics, such as:
Among other things, Google looks at these most prominent three ranking signals to identify a publisher’s expertise and areas of interest:
You may be asking why Google is doing this when ranking news content. After all, you can just get news from any publication. It turns out they want to increase the visibility of local news outlets when someone searches for a more localized news query.
According to Google, “Topic authority has been an important signal to better serve local news queries — giving readers around the world more helpful local and regional content in both Top Stories and other news features.”
For example, suppose there was a flood in Nashville, and you want to know more about it. If you Google Nashville flood, your SERPs will prioritize news from local outlets, even if they’re not the freshest articles out there. This is because Google identified them as “trusted voices in the community,” despite having larger national outlets also covering the flood.
Does this change anything moving forward? Probably not. As Google pointed out, this is not a new ranking system. In fact, they’ve already been implementing Topic Authority for several years. This is also consistent with their ongoing effort to provide high-quality, helpful content for users.
If you’ve been a local publisher for years now, just keep doing what you’re doing: “provide great coverage about the areas and topics [you] know well,” said Google.
This means keep providing original articles, reporting and expertise on topics you’re intimately familiar with. While Google may not reward you for it immediately, they will eventually figure out what sort of content you should rank highly in search engine results pages (SERPs).
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