Content hubs are all the rage among the SEO community these days. But there’s a lot of confusion out there about what it actually means to build a content marketing hub.
- What is a content hub?
- How do you actually create a content hub?
- What are content hub best practices?
- What are some examples of content hubs?
As anyone who has dabbled in SEO knows, it’s important to logically organize content on-site so that both search engines and users have an understanding of how the information connects.
Always ask how a piece of content fits into a larger narrative before optimizing it for search.
The information architecture of a content marketing hub should impact everything from URL optimization to internal linking strategy to sitemap structure.
Content strategy built on cross-channel, audience-driven data is the foundation for growing organic visibility and driving qualified traffic. Strategic content organization allows both Google and people to better find, engage, and convert on that content. Search engines care about getting quality, authoritative, and relevant results in front of searchers who are seeking answers.
According to Google in August 2019:
We suggest focusing on offering the best content you can. That’s what our algorithms seek to reward.
Content hubs are a great way to build trust with your audience while growing SEO-optimized content on your site.
The definition of a “content hub” can vary depending on who you are talking to, but generally, it goes something like this:
Content Hub: A series of web pages that address the needs of the target audience at each step of their journey. It’s usually focused on one central topic, guiding users through relevant and organized information with a clearly defined structure.
Digital content hubs are a win-win for both people and search bots. Would you rather browse a website with scattered information that is difficult to find or one with a clear path from topic to topic?
It’s the difference between this:
That’s why we recommend taking the extra time to be strategic in organizing your digital content.
Step 1: Identify a Topic
When it comes to creating a content hub, we recommend choosing a topic that is fairly high-level, but not largely covered by the existing content on your site.
This topic should be somewhat related to your brand so that you can add a call-to-action (CTA) for top-of-funnel traffic to move down the conversion funnel. This topic should have enough search demand (monthly search volume, paid conversions) to ensure that people searching for variations and sub-topics. It’s hard to organize content if there’s not much content, to begin with.
Ex. Cheese (MSV 201,000) (150 paid conversions)
Now that you have your topic, it’s time to take a deep dive into keyword research. We recommend using keyword tools such as SEMRush, AHRefs, and AnswerthePublic to pull broad keyword lists for your given topic.
Take a look at the existing keywords your site is ranking for, as well as keywords that competitors rank for within this topic. If your site is running PPC, review your Search Query Report to see what search terms within your topic have converted in the past year.
Ex. How to Make Cheese (MSV 9,900) (80 paid conversions)
Cheddar Cheese (MSV 33,100) (140 paid conversions)
How to Assemble a Cheese Board (MSV 390) (10 paid conversions)
Step 3: Categorize Keywords by Intent
Once you have exhausted your keyword research skills, it’s time to bring all of that data together to look at the landscape as a whole. That’s where the fun comes in – analyzing the keyword landscape to understand what (and how) people are commonly searching for answers and results.
Start by bucketing similar intent keywords into groups (looking to learn more vs. looking to convert) and then grouping relevant terms together where it makes sense. Identify umbrella pages, that could contain multiple sub-topics within that category.
Ex. How to Make Cheese
How to Make Cheese at Home From Milk
How to Make Cheese at Home for Pizza
Step 4: Understand the SERP Landscape
When creating a content hub, it’s important to not only understand what people are searching for but how do they want to receive that information? Is it in a video, blog post, or long-form article? Which SERP features are dominating the first page?
These are important insights that will craft the content that we build. We don’t want to invest resources in building article content when Google indicates that users prefer video results for a given query.
Step 5: Evaluate Topic Authority
Before committing to a certain hierarchy for a digital content hub, it’s important to understand how various sub-topics rank in authority. While this can come from a thorough understanding of your topic, we recommend looking at how competitors are structuring the hierarchy. Even sites like Wikipedia and Wikihow can help you to understand the basic structure of sub-topics.
Step 6: Optimize URL Structures
Now that you have an idea of how the various sub-topics fit together, it’s time to strategically optimize the site URL structure. We recommend nesting URLs within the sub-folder where your content hub lives and following a consistent pattern throughout each page level. It’s also best practice to naturally weave in priority keywords into the URL, as needed.
We always want to put ourselves in the metaphorical shoes of the user and content hubs are no exception. For each page that you create, stop and think – what value does this provide users?
We want to satisfy the need that caused someone to type that query into Google but also give them a next step once that need is satisfied. Depending on the stage in the funnel, that next step could be “check out this related piece of content” or “buy this product.” The key is to understand the searcher’s intent for landing on that given page.
Intent: Learn about cheese
Intent: Find instructions for making cheese
Intent: Buy tools and ingredients to make cheese
Once you publish the hub, the fun isn’t over! We recommend continuing to optimize the content based on changes in search algorithms and keyword research for new topics.
While your content hub is building authority from organic traffic, we recommend promoting this content through other channels, such as Paid Media, Social, and Email to understand what users are interested in.
Cross-channel engagement can be an early indicator of what sub-topics to further invest in to build a stronger authority in that space.
Ex. Invest in building more content that your audience engages with across channels.
Every content hub is a little bit different, but generally, we recommend keeping these tips and tricks in mind:
We recommend linking to the content hub homepage from the main navigation, to indicate the authority of the collection of pages to Google. It’s best practice to avoid burying the content hub within multiple sub-folders, as we want to maintain the page authority by keeping the URL close to the homepage.
Thoughtful Internal Linking:
Strategic internal linking can help users from other related site sections find the content hub. We also recommend linking to the content hub homepage from other authoritative pages on the site, such as the main homepage and other high visibility landing pages.
Optimize Hub Homepage:
We want to make sure that the content hub homepage is actually helpful for users, not just a link farm sending users into deeper hub pages. Think of the hub homepage like a menu; here’s what this content hub is all about – some information about what you can expect from each page, if you think are interested in X, then you should read more about Y, etc.
Make Long-Form Content Skimmable:
In this day and age, we can’t expect people to read every single word in a super long piece of content. We recommend breaking up long-form content with interactive elements like jump links and expandable tabs. Optimized H2s and bullet lists can make dense content easier to skim, helping users find information faster.
Understand Your Audience:
Google is continually updating the algorithm to serve content that people find helpful. So why don’t you get ahead of the algorithm updates and turn directly to your customers to find out what content they are looking for?
We recommend getting to know your target audience: their content preferences, where they hang out online, their pain points, etc. The better you understand your target audience, the better you can create content that meets their needs.
Not convinced? Download our case study to see how we used this approach with a client and generated +869% more traffic to their blog!
Enough of the theoretical, time to show off two examples of strategic content hubs.
Content Hub Example #1: Think with Google
This content hub is a great example of how to incorporate a variety of topics within one central location. Google covers everything from Programmatic Advertising to YouTube to Data Measurement within three distinct sub-folders – Consumer Insights, Marketing Resources, and Advertising Channels.
Think with Google is designed to be a simplistic, but effective content hub. The clean grid layout keeps users focused on finding the applicable content, breaking down relevant sub-sections when needed.
Google groups relevant topics together under the umbrella category “Data Analytics & Measurement” which includes various page types, such as “Collection”, “Perspective”, and “Case Study.”
Google understands that users don’t have long attention spans, so they break up long blog articles with text call-outs and embedded videos to make it more digestible for users.
Content Hub Example #2: Moz
As ironic as it might be, Moz’s SEO Content Hub is another great example of well-organized content. The content structure mirrors the learning process, connecting videos to guides to online workshops to push users to become SEO experts.
Moz uses the hub homepage to give an overview of each of the sub-topics, providing value to the users while still linking to the deeper hub pages. This gives users additional guidance about where to find the information that they are looking for and provides some helpful copy real-estate for keyword placement.
Moz features several different content mediums within the “Keywords and Keyword Research” sub hub page, including articles, videos, and online workshops. They also give users some guidance on how to consume the content, by labeling pages as “beginner, intermediate, advanced.”
Feel free to contact us to learn more about Seer’s approach to SEO content strategy and how we can partner with your team to make well-organized, customer-centric content.