Have you ever started reading about a specific topic and ended up three hours down the rabbit hole with a whole new set of in-depth knowledge all around it?
This might be more common nowadays with binge-watching a show on Netflix or endlessly scrolling on TikTok, but it’s also perfect as a content strategy.
When creating topical content, it’s going to be difficult to fit all of the relevant information on one page.
This is where implementing a hub-and-spoke content marketing model can help.
You may have heard of (or already be using) similar models, such as the content pillars model where you use supplementary content to promote one larger asset, or using keyword clusters to plan content targeting searchers of similar types of intent.
The hub-and-spoke model is unique in that it’s a way of generating content in a focused way around a broad topic. It’s a great way to not only become more relevant around that topic but can also help you increase keyword rankings, traffic, and downstream metrics like conversions, leads, and sales.
Applying the hub-and-spoke content strategy for a client recently drove:
- 328% increase in keywords on Page 1.
- 741% increase in keywords on Page 2.
- Ranking #1 for our targeted keyword on the hub page.
In this column, you’ll learn what it is, how it works, and a 4-step process for producing your own hub and spoke content.
What is a hub-and-spoke model for content marketing?
Think of a wheel and all of the spokes pointing outward from the center.
The hub is the main topic we want to create more authority around and rank better on.
The spokes are all the supporting content that is related to our main topic, that will help boost our authority in Google’s eyes.
From a keyword research perspective, we can think of it as:
- Hub: High-volume targeted keywords (usually transactional in nature). For example, search engine optimization (SEO) services.
- Spoke: Lower volume and longer tail/supporting keywords (usually informational in nature). For example, content explaining what SEO is and how it can be beneficial to you.
The main goal of the hub-and-spoke model is to not only increase your keyword rankings overall around the topic but also to increase your ranking around the main hub topic, ideally in the first position.
Why is the hub-and-spoke model important for SEO and content marketing?
Three of the main ways that the hub-and-spoke model is important for content marketing and SEO are:
- It creates authority around a topic via more relevant content.
- It increases the overall keywords we rank for.
- It generates more organic traffic and leads.
The best way to become more authoritative around a single topic is to show Google you know what you’re talking about and that you are the go-to resource around it.
The hub page is likely going to be one of our main services/business units. It’s important we carefully think through what our spoke content will be to make sure it’s the most relevant.
The hub-and-spoke model in content marketing takes a lot of resources and time to make sure we are getting it right. I hope to cut some of the learning curve for you here.
How does the hub-and-spoke model work?
The hub-and-spoke model works by creating more content around one of our business lines or services.
The more relevant content we have on our site, the more Google and the user will associate us with this.
Most of the hub-and-spoke content we will be writing will be focused on evergreen content that is informational or comparative in nature.
This is beneficial because even if the customer is not ready to convert yet, when they learn about a topic they will definitely remember where they read about it. This will make them more likely to come back to our website and convert later on.
Let’s learn more about the different steps we can take to get this off the ground.
4 step hub-and-spoke content process
1. Keyword research to understand the search demand landscape
I’m a firm believer in keyword research.
It’s the table bread and butter at a restaurant. It’s absolutely needed before you start the meal – or in this case, creating a landing page or piece of content.
Without doing keyword research, we can’t understand what the customer is searching for around our topic.
The hub-and-spoke model can only work if there is customer demand around the topic and we’ve yet to address it on our site. Since we can’t create demand, we need to do this research to match our customer’s voice.
By doing keyword research, we begin to see the content gaps and opportunities in what is already out there.
Additionally, one of the best ways to get more buy-in around content resources is to show executives what our competitors are writing content around and how much visibility we are missing out on.
After completing your keyword research, the fun can begin.
2. Decide what spoke topics you want to write
There are different ways to prioritize content based on the keywords we did research around.
Business need/service line
Ask yourself “Do we offer this service/product?” If you don’t, it might not be relevant to start off writing content around.
Ask, is this the most important service we offer to our main audience?
If you have a lot of different services, start writing content around the audience your business cares the most about.
High search volume (MSV) keywords
Are there keywords with high search volume that we are missing content around? This is one of the easiest ways to prioritize content as you can see clearly how much visibility (search volume) you’re missing out on.
This is the easiest way to show executives the amount of traffic you could potentially be receiving if you ranked better for these keywords/topics.
Competitive content gaps
Are there keywords our competitors are significantly outranking us for?
How much content do they have around the topic?
This is a clear way to prioritize which topics you might want to write as if your direct competitors are ranking for keywords, it’s probably necessary to create content around that topic as well.
Note: When doing this keyword research, you will likely discover new emerging and organic competitors. Do not ignore them!
This is a great way to figure out what content you might want to write because even if they are not your direct competitors, users might end up clicking on them instead of you.
At the end of the day, you are the expert at the company around what services/products you sell and what you can be relevant around.
If we’re in the plumbing industry, we probably shouldn’t be writing content around how to make charcuterie boards.
Make sure you are selecting relevant content for your audience but are not too limiting, because the goal of the hub-and-spoke model is to create a lot of content around the topic.
3. Work with other internal stakeholders to write, design, and approve content
It takes a village to raise a child. The same can be said when writing spoke content related to our main hub page.
We need to make sure we are communicating what we are planning to do with all the other stakeholders that may be involved.
It’s important to make sure all these internal members understand how important SEO is across the organization and why we need to plan this with all of the different departments.
In my experience, it’s best to do this as early as possible because you never know what red tape you may run into.
When we’re writing new content, we might need to involve:
These are the writers who will be writing the evergreen spoke content.
We need to make sure they are kept in the loop during the keyword research phase so they understand what relevant keywords we are trying to target on each page and why.
We want to make sure we have targeted and unique keywords on each page so this content is optimized properly and not targeting the same keywords on every page.
Product or design strategist/dev teams
When new content is going live on our site, we need to make sure all the technical and design aspects are being considered.
This is important because we want to make sure the development and product team has time to understand the goal of this content and how the page should be formatted.
Since internal linking/site navigation is important to the hub-and-spoke model, we need to make sure this is set up in a way where Google and the user easily understand the relationship of the content.
We need to make sure we know what language we can and cannot say around the topics.
This is crucial prior to publishing and writing the content, as we want to make sure we don’t get delayed in pushing this content live if legal has questions around it.
4. Monitor the results: share your wins and re-optimize
After all this hard work, you’re going to want to make sure you are monitoring what is happening with the new content.
Make sure you have reporting set up prior to the content being launched with your target keywords and supporting keywords.
By using an enterprise platform and categorizing your new content/keywords, you can easily understand how they are performing.
It can be helpful to share your wins with other team members and executives to prove how the hub-and-spoke model works when it’s done right.
Also, we use our reporting for potential learnings and can keep a pulse on any keywords/content that are not performing well. This will allow us to re-optimize the content, consolidate it, or analyze why it’s not performing and test out other targeted keywords.
Don’t forget to share your wins. When you start ranking for more keywords or your targeted keywords or when more conversions come in from your spoke content, make sure people know.
Start sending email blasts, hit the office gong, scream it from the mountain top! It’s important to show everyone that this hard work pays off to make sure we can repeat this process in the future and so people have trust in the organic marketing channel.
One of the best ways to demonstrate relevance around a topic is to show Google that you are the source of truth for all things about it.
That’s why I really do believe that the hub-and-spoke model in content marketing is one of the best and most natural ways to increase our organic visibility.
Google has never cared about SEO or optimizing our content; they care that we are providing unique, high-quality, and relevant content to help solve searcher queries.
As a business, we need to continue to put the customer first and write content that we would find valuable if we were looking for our services.
And don’t be upset if it doesn’t work right away – SEO is a long-term game and we need to make sure we are putting in the time and energy to get it right. By focusing
By using the hub-and-spoke model, you will be able to prove to your company how beneficial it is to use the customer’s voice prior to creating content and how it can increase your overall authority around a topic. on the customer’s needs and answering their questions, you will eventually reap the rewards.
This article was originally published by Search Engine Journal on 8/5/2021.