There is no better way for a business to build topical authority in their niche than by creating a content hub. A company may be just starting to develop content or increase the value of their existing content. They should always have a broader long-term strategy on how individual pieces will tie into the rest of the content ecosystem. Both users and search engines prefer well-organised content interlinked into a hub-like structure to create hierarchy and improve wayfinding.
A content hub is essentially an internal linking strategy that involves linking several pages back to a central hub page, where the aggregated content is focused on a specific topic. By concentrating internal linking onto one page, the content hubs drive link authority and topical relevance from the supporting pages, including blog articles, whitepapers, webinars, podcasts, images, social media platforms or even user-generated content.
How does a content hub radically boost the content marketing efforts of a business?
By establishing authority
When companies consistently publish unique content on a specific topic, they naturally start to position themselves as a thought leader in their field. When good content is housed under a specific hub, both users and search engines find it easier to access related content highlighting the company’s expertise. When other businesses recognise a company’s content as something worth linking to, the high-quality backlinks further demonstrate the brand's authority, strengthening the domain rating and capturing more leads.
Engaging and converting audience
While curating topics, content marketers must understand that each reader category is important. Some articles are designed to attract new readers, whereas others lead prospects further down the sales funnel. When a diverse audience visits to learn about a topic, one article may not be enough to answer all their questions. But they will continue to dig deeper and keep coming back if they find themselves in a hub of content. This will increase the average dwell time on the site and improve the quality and quantity of inbound leads by automating a key part of the discovery process.
Increasing visibility and traffic
Every time Google announces a new algorithm, many SEO strategists begin to panic. Thankfully, the content hub remains a solution that checks all the boxes when it comes to SEO advantages. The centralised online destination ranks higher on the search engine due to the high volume of relevant content, which also offers an opportunity to rank for identified keywords. In addition, efficient interlinks, backlinks and relevant CTAs further attract and retain the target audience.
Here is a summary of the six common types of content hub models
1. Main Hub
The first is the hub-and-spoke model that typically involves a single parent page that acts as a home or library to organise related content.This framework works best when most of the content is evergreen in nature and the subpages are fairly static. A topic cluster takes the shape of the hub-and-spoke model, with the pillar page linking to multiple static subpages that explore subtopics.
A good example of the hub-and-spoke model is Zapier’s guides that detail various digital marketing subjects. This page acts as the pillar page, while other guides are like spokes, packed with information and broken into various chapters that link to their published articles. The entire content of each guide is also available to download as a PDF. By bringing together 25,000 search optimised blogs under a few static pages and a single parent page, Zapier generates 7.3 million visitors per month.
2. Content Library
The content library model features a parent page that shows all the topics with links to related content in each group. The content library model is ideal when the content covers multiple topics, so organising topics in a user-friendly way is challenging.
One of the best examples is Red Bull, whose main website functions as a content library. As soon as visitors land on their homepage, they are presented with events, stories, videos, athletes and products filtered by topic. As a result, their site attracts more than 7 million monthly visitors, translating into organic traffic from more than 3 million keywords and helping boost their organic search performance - more than 78,100 websites point links at Red Bull’s content.
3. Topic Gateway
A topic gateway tends to have content to describe the topic, links to related content and usually ends with dynamic links to recent content published for that topic. Gateways tend to be a better fit for a user looking to dive deep into a specific subject. This hub may always be updated with fresh links to add more value to existing content.
Wikipedia is the most relevant example of this kind of hub. Every Wikipedia page has solid information broken down into sections offering standalone value to readers while also doing a good job of driving traffic to other relevant pages. So it is no surprise that English Wikipedia boasts the highest amount of daily traffic with over 6,327,725 articles.
4. Content Database
A content database is an excellent way to curate multiple topics and types of content by including content filters for the user to discover. This type of page allows users to focus on the most relevant content. Oftentimes, this will show up as a directory to search through or in structured formats like glossaries that define a set of topics.
Lowe’s DIY projects & ideas is an exceptional example of a content database. Their website is filled with how-to articles, buying guides, inspirational content pieces and tools with options to filter and choose between topics. Assembling all their articles in a hub boosted Lowe’s organic search performance, resulting in 22,700+ backlinks from more than 3,600 websites.
5. Topic Matrix
Topic matrix is a type of hub that organises various subpages with extensive sets of parent pages within the same template and layout. The topic matrix concept often shows up in the form of a complete site architecture that makes the UX way better than a generic blog post.
Mayo Clinic is a good example of a topic matrix model where every disease or condition is indexed alphabetically. Each parent page leads to a subsequent set of subpages like symptoms, diagnosis, treatments, doctors, departments and finally, “Care At Mayo Clinic”. They use educational content to establish their domain authority and drive site users towards care pages listing their service offerings.
How to create an effective content hub?
1. Determining the goals
Results for a content hub come after consistent content creation. One should determine how the content hub will impact brand awareness and perception, to establish the business as an expert. Since a content hub is a long-term investment, one should understand how it will support conversions and sales metrics in short-term and long-term growth. One should also identify potential areas of concern early on so they may be addressed sooner. Establishing the right goals and setting expectations from the outset will ensure that the content team plans achievable and measurable goals.
2. Reviewing existing content
Rather than creating a content hub from scratch, one may organise and utilise the existing content first. A straightforward approach is to create category tags for different types of content. But a more profound method is to evaluate the content in quality and quantity to capture insights in their entirety. The qualitative review may include text, imagery, responsiveness for devices, alignment, user intent, customer journey and CTA. The quantitative review may comprise site traffic, conversions, keyword rankings, inbound links, backlinks and subscriptions. This approach helps identify content topics that should be pursued, reuse the content and any gaps.
3. Choosing a topic based on the expertise
Businesses must select new topics that competently repurpose old content and are wide enough to include multiple subtopics. One should consider the questions the content may answer, the problems the business solves and the most-searched keywords. After identifying the topics, one should map out the various subtopics using manual search engine queries, keyword research tools and analytics data. At this stage, one should also consider the formats that customers will find valuable at each stage of the buying journey. It may be blog posts, whitepapers, guides, explainer videos, webinars, case studies, podcasts, tools and courses.
4. Defining the architecture
Superior user experience is one of the core purposes of creating a content hub. The hub needs to be designed and structured to make it easy for both readers and Google to find content with logical breadcrumbs, tables of contents, tags and tabs. It is crucial to strategically place CTAs in each piece of content to increase conversions along the customer journey. A good practice is to create layouts and mock-ups to test the easiest way to navigate from one topic to the next.
5. Creating a content roadmap and management systems
To handle a massive database of evolving content, businesses need to define a content roadmap or editorial calendar. Using an editorial calendar that includes the content topic, responsible creators, categories, customer journey phases, promotional plans and timelines will make it easier to track the progress. Using a consistent methodology will help make the revisions feasible and add or reduce topics as the business evolves. The content team may want to leverage a content creation database or project management system to monitor progress, set up permissions, workflows, versioning guidelines and report on activities to streamline the process.
When executed correctly, creating content hubs is the most potent organic strategy in the content arsenal. Launching content hubs isn’t for the faint of heart as it requires careful planning, understanding audiences and their intent, designing a scalable and smart structure, and creating quality content. When the result is valuable, it takes longer to win, but it provides long-term opportunities to engage, generate traffic, increase rankings and convert.