Topical Keyword Research: Methods & Strategy

Topical Keyword Research

People trust authority figures. This is a common practice that spans every facet of living life. You trust your family, your friends, coworkers, and so on. When it comes to learning, you may trust teachers, professors, mentors, and as a focus of today’s topic, authoritative websites (topical authority), and how topical keyword research can provide your business with a content-rich and focused vertical.

Topical authority, in reference to SEO, is when you create a library of content, good content within a specific vertical. The goal is to create content around everything a user could have a question about regarding the topic you are writing about.

For example, a smaller website that offers powder spray paint services will most likely rank higher for “powder spray paint cleaning” than much stronger domains (an automaker website). This is because the first site focuses on powder spray paint, and it will be considered an authority on the topic. The larger site is too general. This is why topical keyword research is so important as it provides a foundation of talking points within a specific vertical.

Topical Keyword Research Methodology

There are a few methods for performing a deep dive keyword research project on a particular vertical. What you will want to do is use the same tools you are already using for keyword research and apply them in a little bit of a different way.

  • Select a term with enough volume so that there are sub-topics that you can define and write.
  • Take larger sub-topics and see if you can break those down further into even more sub-topics
  • Leverage Google’s related search feature at the bottom of the SERP page for each target keyword. Identify new terms and write to those topics as well.

Finding the Root Keyword

Finding the right root keyword is the root of your research’s success. It’s the main keyword you will try to build your topical authority around. So the bulk of your content will be addressing that root keyword one way or another. Nailing down that keyword might be a bit more difficult than you might think. This is where generalization and awareness regarding your product or service, and the search intent comes into play.

Your root keyword shouldn’t be so general that you are overlapping with hundreds of websites. Every vertical is different but try to find a term that has:

  • Over 1000 Monthly search volume
  • Several subcategories with 300+ monthly search volume
  • Many specific question-based searches every month that you can answer

Keyword Intent

Then, there is user intent. If you manage to find the right keyword but don’t gauge the right user intent, you might get pushed down in ranking. You have to understand what users want when they type in that specific keyword. Do they want how-to articles/videos, eCommerce, educational content, informative articles, or commercial information?
Search for the term on Google, imagine yourself in first place, should you be there, be honest.

Topical Keyword Research Strategy

Your task doesn’t stop once you find your root keyword(s). You have to keep researching, in, and around your root keyword and find its variations and long-tail versions. Some of these will become the backbone of your keyword strategy. Think of your root keyword as actual roots (and the trunk) of a tree. But you can’t grow a full tree without its branches.
The variations and long-tail keywords that stem from, or are closely associated with the root keyword, will allow you to develop content that helps you assert your topical authority. Be sure to prune your list of associated keywords. If you choose too many, you might dilute your content’s potency.

A good idea would be a tier system. You can build topics around a select few top tier keywords – Those closest to the root word. And when you are writing content for those topics, you can branch out further, use keywords that are loosely associated with your root keyword. You can search for your website’s top organic competitors. Some of them will have a wealth of associated keywords that you can choose from.

Own The Topic

You own the root keyword by owning the topic and most related topics. That’s how you establish your topical authority. Your topical keywords can only be as influential in helping you rank as an authority as your content around the topic is.

To create compelling content, you need to address several topics around your root keyword. That’s topics with an s. Using your keyword strategy, you need to come up with several topics around the root keyword. Consider these the helping resources, to one huge answer. Connected together, your content can be considered one comprehensive resource that can rank much higher then any of the underlying articles would have.

Internal Linking

Internal linking is an easy way to connect a lot of relevant resources. That means many pages, posts, and articles addressing the topic directly or an associated question. Linking them all together might seem mundane to you, but for crawlers and algorithms going through your website, it’s like a fully made puzzle, with all the pieces accounted for.
The more comprehensive a website is about a topic, the higher your chances of ranking will be.


Specialized websites, where the bulk of the content is created around on the topic, will rank higher(all other factors being equal), only on the virtue of topical authority. It all starts with topical keyword research to ensure you:

  • Stay on point
  • Own the topic
  • Have enough depth search-demand within the topic to write about
Join Our Email List
Original Content on Content Marketing:

Recent Posts