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Content Optimization – Finding the Best Pages for Topic Authority

5 min read

In this post we examine topic authority –  finding pages on your site that score well on this metric and what to do with those pages once you find them.

What if I told you that:

  • You don’t need to start from scratch every time you create content.
  • Your site possesses an unfair content advantage that you should capitalize on.
  • I can show you how to do this.


Let’s move on.

Why You Should Care

Have you ever heard of the halo effect, also known as honor by association? It’s a cognitive bias where people are influenced by how they’ve previously judged someone’s performance. It’s why fellow Canadian actor Ryan Reynolds also happens to be spokesperson for Aviation American Gin, Mint Mobile, Alfa Romeo and others. It’s not that he’s an expert on gin, finance apps, and cars. He just happens to be a well known actor.

In a weird way, you can take advantage of the halo effect when it comes to ranking SEO content on Google. Now, I’m not saying that Google’s algorithms suffer from the halo effect, not at all.


In general, you’ll find it easier to rank new content about topics that are closely related to other topics for which you currently rank well. So, if your site is about Czech beer, you’ll find it easier to rank content written around that subject than transient global amnesia, for example.

Of course you’re not going to do something like that, are you? In which case that example is too general to be of any use.

Here’s the thing…

Pages With High Topic Authority Have Big Potential

The key is to find those pages with high topic authority, create additional content around those topics, and you’ll stand a good chance of performing well – certainly far better than just picking topics that are top-of-mind.

In his post on Topical Authority, Kevin Indig’s view is that “by covering all aspects and subtopics of a topic, you simply create more content around the same topic. As you link more between these articles, you simply send more signals to search engines from and to relevant pages.” For him, it’s the “only recommendation of ‘building more Topical Authority’ that makes sense.”

But where do you start?

How to Find Pages With High Topic Authority

Let’s first clarify what Topic Authority is before we get into the details on how to find these types of pages.

Topic Authority considers the content on your site. Specifically, it examines the amount coverage of a topic and how well your pages about that topic perform, both now and historically. A site that publishes a great deal of high-performing expert-level content around a specific topic will have higher authority on that topic, relative to the competition.

Likewise, a site that publishes no content, or a small amount of poorly-performing content can have negative authority. It’s not a penalty, it’s just a way of indicating your authority is lagging behind the competition.

Every topic for which your site ranks is assigned a MarketMuse Topic Authority value. So, all the topics for which a page ranks have a Topic Authority value. At the page level we calculate the average Topic Authority for all the topics associated with that page.

So, when a page has a high Avg. topic Authority:

  • It’s not because a page has lots of backlinks.
  • It’s not because it’s been around a long time.

It’s because that page is very comprehensive in its coverage of a subject and ranks well for the related topics.

Think of topic authority as your competitive advantage. It’s why you have an easier time ranking for something whereas other sites do not.

MarketMuse calculates a number of personal metrics, including Topic Authority, for each ranking topic and all the pages on your site. These are updated on a regular basis, typically once a month, depending on your plan.

You can sort the list of pages by Topic Authority to quickly find the highest (or lowest) ones and use that information to put together a content plan to create additional content.

If you find yourself using this workflow a lot, you can set up your own view with exactly the data points you need. Our knowledge base article Top Pages – Topic Authority goes into more detail on how to set up this specific view in under 5 minutes.

MarketMuse Page Inventory showing list of URLS with the following metrics: top valued topic, avg. topic authority, page authority, organic traffic estimate, potential traffic, and topic volume.
Click to zoom.

Since one page can rank for multiple topics, at the page level you’ll get the Average Topic Authority. But you can drill down to see the individual ranking topics for a page and their corresponding Topic Authority.

Using This Insight

Once you know which pages have a high Avg. Topic Authority, what do you do with that knowledge? Work through each page in the shortlist, examine each ranking topic, and decide whether to create new content or update the existing page. Put together a plan to do exactly that. Just remember to link your new content together.


Building topical authority requires going deep on a topic, covering all the important subtopics, and linking together the many pages of content created for that cluster. Doing this sends a lot of favorable signals to search engines. Your audience will appreciate this as well. If you’re not sure where to start, look at your pages with the highest Average Topic Authority, drill down to see the individual topics those pages rank for and build out from there. Sometimes you’ll need to update the existing page while other times will require creating brand new pages.

What you should do now

When you’re ready… here are 3 ways we can help you publish better content, faster:

  1. Book time with MarketMuse Schedule a live demo with one of our strategists to see how MarketMuse can help your team reach their content goals.
  2. If you’d like to learn how to create better content faster, visit our blog. It’s full of resources to help scale content.
  3. If you know another marketer who’d enjoy reading this page, share it with them via email, LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook.

Stephen leads the content strategy blog for MarketMuse, an AI-powered Content Intelligence and Strategy Platform. You can connect with him on social or his personal blog.