What confers the authority of a web page?

For a long while, the rule of thumb used to be that the more backlinks a page had from popular websites, the more authoritative it was in Google searches. But with the changes in the past few years, that rule no longer applies. 

Nowadays, some backlinks may even be detrimental. Besides, lots of new factors unrelated to backlinks have been added, making the algorithm more complex than ever. It is therefore legitimate to ask: what does it really mean for a landing page to have authority?

In contrast with other SEO tools, which still hang on to measuring page authority based on backlinks, SEOmonitor strongly believes that Google is the ultimate criterion.

Thus, a landing page has topical authority when it ranks well for more keywords within a certain topic. The more monthly impressions* it gets on the topic, the higher its topical authority. Thus our belief is that each landing page has a topical authority, based on how well it ranks on the keywords within a certain topic.

From our research, the higher the topical authority, the easier it is to rank for new keywords within the topic. And this is why it represents one of the factors taken into account in our Difficulty formula. When you hover over the Difficulty of a keyword, you will see a comparison between your landing page and the top 10 results in terms of topical authority, as well as how many other more authoritative pages stand between your current position and top 10:

In the SEO Campaign module, on each keyword's page you can see the estimated topical authority of every result in top 20.

In the example above, there is a clear outlier in top 10. Firstly, this shows an obvious opportunity, a slot on the first page significantly easier to target. Secondly, since their topical authority is significantly lower than all the others', their ranking on the first page must be due to very well targeted content. A website still struggling with its topical authority on the keyword might draw some inspiration from this outlier in regards to how proper content and on-site SEO can make up for a lack of authority.

In conclusion, by measuring the topical authority not by the number of links, but by the impressions generated in Google searches, SEOmonitor provides a timeless formula, which does not depend on any future changes in ranking algorithms.

Here's a video to guide you through the main available metrics in your SEO Campaign:


*Note that, as in the calculation of the Visibility Score, we define the impression as someone actually scrolling to see the result in the SERP, and not just when the SERP is loaded.

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