- A content hub is a centralized online destination that contains curated content around a specific topic.
- There are significant SEO benefits to creating a content hub, including more backlinks, search traffic, and leads, along with increased authority and a stronger brand.
- There are different types of content hubs, and the one you choose should reflect the amount of topics and subtopics you address.
If you oversee digital marketing for your brand, your top priority right now should be creating unforgettable digital experiences for your customers.
Google sends billions of visitors to websites each day through organic search. If you want a slice of that pie, you’ve got to think bigger than product pages and longform content. Instead, present immersive, interactive digital experiences that delight customers and keep them coming back for more. How?
Introducing the content hub.
A content hub is much more diverse than a blog. It’s a well organized framework that satisfies and thrills your audience throughout the customer journey. Even better, it can be an SEO powerhouse that expands your market share and drives massive traffic and conversions.
So, whether your goal is to grow your customer base through subscribers or improve brand awareness by creating new touchpoints, then a content hub is the answer.
WHAT IS A CONTENT HUB?
Marketers often struggle to define content hubs because there’s so much variation from one example to the next. But, here’s our take: A content hub is a centralized online destination that contains curated content around a specific topic.
For example, say you provide credit cards. You could have a content hub for information related to:
- Credit scores
- Rewards programs
- Debt management
- Balance transfer management
- Balance payoff calculations
- How to determine the best type of credit card for you
It’s important to note that a blog is not the same thing as a content hub. Blogs are organized in a linear fashion in roughly the same format with posts appearing in chronological order. They’re also incredibly broad.
A content hub, in comparison, is more diverse in the range of content types included. It could contain everything from blog posts to videos, webinars, podcasts, social content, research, presentations, data visualizations, infographics, courses, tools, downloadable templates, etc. What matters is not the format, but rather that all the content is organized around a central topic. And that it’s truly great content!
TYPES OF CONTENT HUBS
There are several different types of content hubs you can use to organize everything within your content marketing strategy. The version you use depends on your industry and how your audience prefers to consume information.
Hub and spoke (also called topic clusters)
The hub and spoke model typically involves a single parent page dedicated to a topic and multiple static subpages that explore subtopics. A topic cluster takes the shape of the hub and spoke model, with the pillar page linking to all of the subpages and vice versa.
The hub and spoke content hub tends to work best if the parent and subpages are relatively evergreen. If you plan on constantly adding new subtopics and content, it can get tricky to make sure all the pages are updated and properly linked to each other.
The content library model features an index page that shows all the topics and links to those respective subtopic index pages. Each individual topic index page then links to its own subpages (articles, whitepapers, videos, etc.).
Let’s say that you sell ecommerce software. The subtopics in your content library might include:
- Inventory Management
- Customer Experience
Each of these would have its own index, with many different underlying pieces of content.
This type of content hub is valuable if you cover many different topics and need a user-friendly way to organize everything. Since each landing page can be accessed within a few clicks, it also benefits your search engine optimization.
A topic gateway is somewhat similar to a Wikipedia page. Usually, every topic gets a dedicated page that features:
- A summary/overview of the topic
- Links to resources
- Dynamic links to new content on the subject
This format is especially useful if you have a significant amount of content on a specific subject. Those new to the subject can easily explore the evergreen resources you highlight, while those with more knowledge can quickly navigate to more recent content you’ve published.
A content database is an excellent way to curate vast amounts of information that is easily sorted or filtered by multiple topics, factors, or characteristics. This type of page allows users to focus on what they care about most.
For example, if you’re the CMO of a large brand, you may want everyone in your department to have access to all of your brand assets in one place. Whether your VP of Digital needs customer persona data, or a strategist needs a logo, they could easily access it in a database like a digital asset management system (DAM).
This content hub format makes it easy for users to filter through a huge amount of content and quickly find precisely what they want.
WHY YOU NEED A CONTENT HUB
Is it really worth all the effort to build a content hub? The quick answer is, “YES”. And here’s why…
Increased organic website traffic
A well-organized content hub allows you to drive more website traffic from search engines. There are several reasons for this.
First, a well organized hub makes it easier for Google to understand your site’s purpose as well as the topical themes that you cover due to its organizational structure.
Also, content hubs make it easier to rank for broad, high volume, competitive keywords. As subtopic pages start to rank for narrower, long tail keywords, they pass their page authority up to the linked parent pages. And as the parent page increases in authority, it passes it down to the subtopic pages.
Additionally, Google is in the business of giving searchers the most relevant, authoritative content for their particular query. A content hub allows you to cover topics and subtopics thoroughly, demonstrating to Google your expertise, authority, and trustworthiness.
Finally, a content hub increases off-page SEO factors such as backlinks, brand mentions, and social signals. More off-page signals from credible sources translates into higher rankings, all things being equal.
Be sure to read my post about the 5x value of organic search as well.
Branding and relationship building
A marketing content hub is a great place to show off aspects of your brand, such as differentiation, tone, personality, values, etc. Compare this to marketing efforts like advertising or sponsorship, which don’t provide nearly as much space and opportunity for highlighting your brand.
The same goes for building relationships with those in your target audience. Many marketing strategies are a one-and-done proposition — they’re either interested or they’re not. A content hub, on the other hand, is designed to help people solve problems, answer questions, achieve more, etc. This keeps people coming back and allows you to develop relationships over a longer period.
Also, a content hub helps you build trust. When you build trust, you strengthen the relationship and make it more likely they’ll buy from you when the time is right.
Having a deep content hub allows you to demonstrate your expertise and thought leadership in your space. When visitors see your best content front and center, they realize that you clearly have a significant amount of knowledge and are a trusted resource. This, in turn, keeps them coming back again and again because they know that they’ll always benefit from your content.
Audiences enjoy identifying with thought leaders. Think of Sara Blakely, Elon Musk, Barbara Corcoran, Jeff Bezos, Mary Barra, and Marc Benioff. Although they are all business leaders, they are also thought leaders with large followings. As humans, we are naturally attracted to other people and often prefer communications from individuals rather than corporations. A content hub is an opportunity to let your company’s leaders shine. It’s the chance to build a brand personality and to translate that into a personable brand.
All of this leads to more backlinks, more brand mentions, more social shares, more traffic, and more clicks.
Audience engagement is helpful if you want to rank for relevant keywords. If Google sees visitors clicking through to a variety of pages and engaging with those pages, it tells them that your content is highly relevant and matches the search intent.
A content hub increases engagement by presenting content as a related collection. Visitors are more inclined to click through to related pages when there are so many “next step” options right in front of them.
For example, if someone lands on the content hub home page, they are likely to click on one of the topics presented. If they land, on the other hand, on a subtopic index page, they will likely click through to a corresponding subpage.
A content hub enables you to generate more leads. Having a hub allows you to provide relevant, high-value content at each stage of the funnel. With a content hub, you can more effectively and thoroughly nurture prospects from the first time they visit your site until they’re ready to buy from you.
As prospects see the value you provide and the expertise you offer, trust is built over time. They are then much more likely to reach out or to make a purchase.
16 Best B2B Lead Generation Strategies to Win in 2021
Well-done content hubs often generate a significant number of backlinks, which in turn strengthen your organic performance. The key is to captivate your audience with high-quality content on topics they are passionate about.
For example, All Things Hair is a content hub by Unilever. It’s also a complete link magnet. The site features literally hundreds of in-depth articles, inspiration galleries, and step-by-step tutorials from hair care brands such as Dove, TRESemmé, Toni&Guy, and VO5.
From watermelon ombre strands to glow-in-the-dark locks, hair bun donuts, and disco buns, All Things Hair is a source of hair news, styles, and trends. (They claim to be “your ultimate source for #hairspiration”.)
The content strategy appears to be working. In spades.
As of this writing, the site generates organic traffic from more than 970,000 keywords. The sheer number of ranking keywords is partly due to 2,200+ websites pointing links at the site.
Online shares and expanded reach
Content hubs are epicenters of engagement. They’re the centerpiece of your marketing efforts, pulling together your best content. And since they’re built around long-form content rather than product or service pages, they get a lot of attention.
Think about it. Are you more likely to share a product page, a 500-word listicle that skims the surface of a subject, or a 5,000-word guide that hits a subject from every angle and answers all your questions?
Definitely the guide!
In one SEMrush study, it was found that long-form content generates 4X the online shares and 3.5X the number of backlinks as short-form content.
Positive user experience
User experience (UX) matters a lot to Google. They want to return search results that are helpful, relevant, and enjoyable. That’s exactly what a content experience hub delivers.
Because the content is thorough and well-organized, users can find everything they need relatively quickly. As the structure is hierarchical and interconnected, the experience naturally leads to multi-page visits.
When users love your site, that’s good for your organic search rankings.
Wine Folly’s “WINE 101: Beginners Guide To Wine” is a great example of a content hub that is both aesthetically appealing and easy to navigate. All the content is easily understandable and there are plenty of internal links out to other relevant pages.
HOW TO CREATE A CONTENT HUB
Next, I’ll cover some content hub best practices so you can create one yourself.
1. Brainstorm topics for content hub pages
Start by brainstorming the different topics that will be included in the hub. The key here is for each topic to be wide enough to include multiple subtopics but not so wide that a person has to click through numerous pages to find what they’re looking for. The goal is to create a structure where every page can be easily found with just a few clicks.
Your content hub strategy should also align with your products or services. However, don’t be too sales-y! L’Oreal’s Makeup.com content hub is all about educational content to help audience members put on their makeup. Lowe’s DIY Projects & Ideas hub contains many different types of useful home improvement content.
2. Categorize relevant subtopics
After identifying the different topics you’ll cover, you need to map out the various subtopics.
Some simple ways to do this include:
- Entering a topic into a keyword research tool like Ahrefs and then looking at related keywords and topics
- Typing a topic into Google and then looking at related searches and questions
- Entering a topic into Answer The Public and then analyzing the related data it returns
- Exploring customer survey data
- Checking with your sales and support teams to understand the topics that customers often bring up
As you research your subtopics, pay attention to the search volume for each one. If the volume isn’t sufficiently high, you can combine it with other subtopics. On the other hand, if the volume and difficulty are too high then it should probably be its own topic rather than a subtopic.
3. Structure and design the hub for superior user experience
As we noted, user experience is key when it comes to a content hub website. In order to really benefit your site visitors, your hub needs to be both designed and structured so that it’s easy to understand, easy to navigate, and easy for people to find exactly what they’re looking for in just a few clicks.
It may help to use mind mapping software to visualize how all the pages will be related to each other.
4. Select your content marketing technology stack
There are many different moving parts involved in producing, publishing, and promoting your digital content hub. Thankfully, there are various technology platforms that can make each step easier to manage.
Grammarly helps make your writing clear and grammatically on point. It identifies and captures typos, sentence structure problems, and more. Hemmingway App helps make your writing clear, highlighting lengthy, complex sentences, and common errors.
What is Content Marketing? Delivering Massive Business Value
5. Determine your content types
The next step is to determine the different types of content you might include within a global content hub.
Consider which formats your customers will find valuable at each stage of the buying journey and for each search term. Do they prefer long-form articles, interactive tools, or visual content?
- Blog posts
- Comparison guides
- Explainer videos
- Case studies
6. Implement internal linking
As you create each piece of content, make sure that it includes relevant internal links to other content. At a minimum, each topic page should link to each subtopic page, and vice versa. Beyond that, look for other places to link internally, particularly to other related subtopics.
Just make sure that every internal link is actually relevant so that it’s not perceived as spammy.
Internal Linking for SEO: A Strategic Guide of Best Practices
7. Add conversion events and CTAs
Each piece of content should have a conversion event or CTA that is appropriate given where that content sits in the customer journey.
For example, content at the beginning of the journey may have a CTA to opt-in to your email list. A piece in the middle of the journey might contain an invitation to sign up for a webinar. And a bottom of the funnel piece might ask a person to book a demo, use an ROI calculator, or schedule a sales call.
8. Conduct strategic outreach
Once you’ve built your content hub, your job is not over. Beyond continually populating the hub with additional high-quality content pieces, you should promote it through strategic outreach. Oftentimes, brands ignore or do a very weak job at content promotion. Instead, make it a critical step in the process and give it the time and resources it deserves.
Strategic outreach can take different forms, including:
- Promoting across your own social media profiles
- Partnering with influencers to promote the content
- Co-marketing with corporate partners
- Getting employees to share the content from their own social accounts
- Conducting paid media or remarketing campaigns
- Email marketing
- Forums like Quora, Reddit, and relevant Facebook Groups
As you promote your content, think both short term and long term. Strategies like paid advertising can be an effective way to quickly get your content hub in front of a lot of eyeballs and generate social shares. Slower, long term strategies like link building help increase organic search traffic over the long run.
9. Measure results and optimize content hub performance
The final step in the process is to measure your results and then optimize the hub for better performance.
Some SEO metrics you want to track include:
- New referring domains pointing at your content hub pieces
- Impressions (via Google Search Console)
- CTR (via Google Search Console)
- Keyword rankings
- Organic traffic
- Video views
- Organic conversions
- Pages per organic visit
Take appropriate action based on the data to optimize your hub for better performance. For example, if the CTR for a page is low, try to improve the title and meta description so that it’s more clickable.
3 STELLAR CONTENT HUB EXAMPLES
Red Bull content hub
One of the best content hub examples comes from Red Bull. Why is it so unique? Because their main website is the content hub!
As soon as you land on their homepage, you’re presented with events, stories, videos, charity-driven initiatives, and more. The Red Bulletin magazine content is also mixed in with all the rest.
And beyond these content formats, everything can be filtered by topic. If you’re into skateboarding, there’s a filter for that. Skateboarding not your thing? Then how about Cycling, Motocross, Music, Wakeboarding, or other adrenaline-inducing activities? It’s all there.
According to SimilarWeb, the site attracts more than 7 million visitors monthly. And helping to boost Red Bull’s organic search performance, more than 78,100 websites point links at Red Bull’s content. This has translated into organic traffic from more than 3 million keywords.
Lowe’s DIY Projects and Ideas
Another exceptional content hub example is Lowe’s DIY Projects & Ideas. It’s filled with how-to articles, buying guides, inspirational content pieces, and a library of calculators, videos, and tools for just about any weekend warrior.
Looking to redo your kitchen? Lowe’s has you covered. Their content hub offers 51 relevant “how-to” articles, 22 buying guides, 23 pages of ideas and inspiration, and a range of calculators. And that’s just for the kitchen. The content is equally robust in 41 topic areas ranging from bathrooms to insulation to roofing.
Helping to boost Lowe’s organic search performance, the content hub has resulted in 22,700+ backlinks from more than 3,600 websites.
Software and Technology Brands
The software and technology space offers even more examples of great content hubs. There’s plenty of variety and differentiation, but they all tend to diversify their content formats well beyond mere posts and articles.
For example, the Magento Resource Library contains a whopping 21 topics! They also provide tons of formats, including analyst reports, articles, ebooks, guides, infosheets, infographics, videos, and webinars. As a result, Magento’s library has generated traffic from more than 9,000 keywords and has attracted backlinks from 1,300+ third-party websites.
Another example is the database builder, Airtable. Their unique approach makes extreme use of templates as part of the site’s main navigation.
Airtable Templates boasts 22 topic categories containing more than 200 templates. Complementary to this, Airtable Universe provides an easy on-ramp to database utilization with community-built templates. For example, click into the Health and Self-improvement sub-section, and find 177 database templates.
The two template libraries drive organic traffic from more than 30,000 keywords and have netted the brand links from more than 1,400 websites.
Augmenting Airtable’s content war chest, the Support Center offers guides, webinars, articles, FAQs, apps, automations, scripts, and more, acting as an additional content hub for the brand. This has resulted in more than one thousand incremental websites pointing links at Airtable.
Talk about SEO horsepower!
The Content Hub Advantage
Whether you choose to launch a hub-and-spoke content model or you decide to transform your main website into a content portal like Red Bull, or you go with any other form of knowledge hub, you can expect to better satisfy both your site visitors and Google with a well organized content hub.
A content hub helps you to share your expertise with prospects and customers, strengthening your brand and building a deeper relationship with your audience.
From an SEO perspective, a content hub helps you deliver your content in a highly structured way for Google to ascertain your areas of expertise and authority more easily. It also enables Google to clearly see the topic areas you cover, along with the relationship of all supporting content. In addition, due to its nature, a content hub naturally attracts backlinks, helping boost your organic search results.
If you’re ready for your content to dominate your product or service area in Google, consider going “all in” on a content hub.