Contra Agency
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Contra Agency

Establishing relevance to boost your SEO.

What is topical relevance & why is it important?

10 years ago, users would enter queries based on keywords, like “long-distance running shoes”. Now, users are comfortable in searching for “what are the best shoes for long-distance running with arch support?”. When users’ queries evolved in complexity, so did search engine algorithms. They’ve long moved past keyword-based information retrieval and now use machine learning-led technologies to understand the relationship between words and phrases to pull up the most relevant information. They understand the topical context behind the text and can link it to similar searches they have encountered in the past to bring back relevant results.

Building topical relevance means creating content across topics, not just keywords. Therefore, the way companies approach SEO has changed, but many organisations we speak to still focus on keywords rather than building topic relevance.

Keywords are single words or a key phrase that someone uses to describe what they need from a search.

Topics are groups of keywords someone uses in an online search, and what you should build your content strategy around.

How do you establish topical relevance?

  1. Work out which topics you want to be known for
  2. Publish lots of blog content that answer every question about those topics
  3. Link the blog posts to one another

1. Figure out which topics you want to be known for.

To come up with ideas write a list of the core services you provide. Try to keep it at around 3–5 core topics, to begin with. Then, under each topic, write down all of the possible queries someone might enter into Google when looking for your services. To help, use or create buyer personas. Collect FAQs from your sales team, think about the shared challenges your customers face, and use SEO tools like Ubersuggest, SEMrush and Moz to find out what’s being frequently searched for.

2. Publish lots of related blog content.

The ‘sub-topic’ content you create helps you to rank for the overarching core topic.

We use Hubspot’s SEO planning tool to help you build out a search engine optimised content strategy based around topics (see below).

By publishing high-quality educational content linked to your core topic and improving your search authority in tandem, you will rise up the search rankings.

3. Hyperlink your sub-topic blogs to one another.

Linking related posts to each other will help Google’s bots to understand the content and the underlying relationship, demonstrating your content’s topical relevance. It also helps boost your authority on the topic and rank higher in search engines for related search queries.

When do pillar pages come into play?

Once you have collated enough original content around one core topic, you can build your pillar page to house all the content around a topic. This page will have lots of SEO juice and will be favoured by search engines, ranking highly and demonstrating your relevance and authority on a topic.

The next step: building authority

To learn more about building search authority read our blog post on how to build SEO topical authority.

How can we help you?

Originally published at on February 27, 2020.



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Matthew Johnson

Matt Johnson is Head of Marketing at Contra, a Digital Design and Digital Marketing Agency is Greenwich, London. He has also set up and sold two companies.