You know that creating content is an important way to attract visitors to your website. SaaS businesses find content especially useful for drawing traffic and collecting leads and turning them into sales.
The data is undeniable: Traffic growth is 7.8x higher for content sites, content costs 62% less than other kinds of marketing, and 71% of B2B companies state that they read a blog article at some point during their buying journey.
Whether you’re crafting the content yourself or outsourcing it to an agency, your content probably looks the same as everyone else’s: A standard, run-of-the-mill, plain ol’ blog, where each topic is isolated from the others. There’s no structure or cohesion. You don’t give your readers much reason to explore more of your content.
That can all change with the hub and spoke strategy, a powerful way to organize the relationship between pieces of content, thereby adding more value to your readers’ lives than traditional blog posts ever could and signaling to Google that you are an authoritative source.
In this article, we break down the hub and spoke content marketing strategy. We explain why it’s valuable and how to build your own. Then we explain how Audience Ops can manage it all for you, if you need help.
What is the Hub & Spoke Content Model?
The hub and spoke strategy is a way to organize the relationship between pieces of content. It adds weight to your content by teaching the reader the entirety of a particular topic and helps Google understand what your content is really about.
The hub and spoke strategy consists of two types of content: a hub article and spoke articles.
The hub is a comprehensive resource center that addresses a broad topic. It targets a short-tail, competitive keyword and links to a series of spoke articles.
Spoke articles are sub-topics of the hub. Each spoke targets a long-tail, less competitive keyword that relates to the hub’s keyword and dives deep into that sub-topic. These are the “meat” of your content library.
The hub and spoke articles are all part of the same “system,” so there’s lots of interlinking between articles. The hub should link to each spoke article and each spoke should link back to the hub.
Examples of the hub & spoke model
To help you understand how the hub and spoke content marketing strategy works, let’s look at a few popular examples.
Moz’s big guide on SEO basics offers nine major chapters, each with their own page. The hub page includes some introductory copy and summarizes each chapter. Additionally, each spoke article functions as its own sub-hub by linking to dozens of other Moz articles.
Podia, a digital course builder, offers a complete guide on building and growing online courses. As you can imagine, this is a massive topic that deserves multiple pages. The hub page summarizes the guide and offers links to its spoke articles.
Zapier’s remote working guide is a great example of hub and spoke content that was organized after the content was created. Zapier took all of their existing content on remote work and created a hub page that links to it all.
Why You Should Use the Hub & Spoke Strategy
The main goal of the hub and spoke strategy is to pack more value into your content than a traditional blogging strategy provides. By making your content more useful than other websites, you’ll capture more traffic, more backlinks, and you’ll create a bigger social buzz. There are significant benefits for your readers and for your search ranking.
How the hub and spoke strategy serves the reader
The hub and spoke content strategy puts all of the information about a particular topic in one place so the reader doesn’t have to hunt for more answers. Instead of just answering their current question, you also address the next question they might search for.
The hub and spoke model is also easy to browse and reference, so readers are inclined to bookmark it. This unique arrangement adds more value to your readers’ lives than one-off blog posts ever could.
This kind of content cements you as an authority on the hub’s topic. The reader thinks, “Wow, they know everything about this.” That’s exactly what you want a potential customer to think about you.
How the hub and spoke strategy improves SEO
Essentially, Google prefers “conventional site architecture,” where general subjects flow downward to more specific subtopics. When you think about it, this is how people tend to look for information: from big topics down to small topics.
The alternative is “flat site structure” where everything is one click away from the home page. This kind of structure makes it hard for Google’s algorithm to properly understand the nature of your content.
Furthermore, the hub and spoke strategy tends to improve some key metrics that Google evaluates. It boosts your dwell time (how long users stay on a page), reduces your bounce rate (the rate users are to abandon your site after viewing one page), and reduces your exit rate (the rate users leave a particular page of your site). If your dwell time is high and your bounce and exit rates are low, Google assumes people like your content so it must be good.
Building content takes time and effort. The hub and spoke content model is no exception. Skip all of this work and let Audience Ops manage it for you. Request a free demo and consultation.
How to Implement the Hub-and-Spoke Model
Now that you understand the hub and spoke content marketing strategy, let’s teach you how to implement it. Fortunately, this strategy fits neatly into most blogging workflows and can easily be outsourced to a content agency like Audience Ops. The major difference is the planning stage, where your main topic is broken into manageable sub-topics.
Step 1: Choose a short-tail keyword for the hub
Anytime you create content for the web, it’s important to focus on keywords. Most of your readers will find your content based on the keywords they input into a search engine. You want to use those keywords in the correct places in your articles so search engines (and we’re really just talking about Google) categorize and display your pages properly.
Performing keyword research for the hub and spoke strategy is slightly different from typical keyword research because you do it all at once. You’ll need access to a keyword research tool like Ahrefs, SEMRush, or SerpStat. As an Audience Ops client, we handle the keyword research for you.
The hub article should target a short-tail keyword. This is a simple and broad phrase with only one or two words. It typically has healthy competition.
The “short” in “short-tail” doesn’t refer to the size of the phrase, however. It refers to the shape of the curve on a graph that plots the distribution of search volume and conversion rate. For example, in the following image, the red section represents short tail keywords.
Your short-tail keyword should relate closely to your customers’ problems that your product or service addresses. What do they complain about most? What do you find yourself teaching or explaining most often? If you have answers to these questions, much of the hub and spoke planning should happen quickly.
If you don’t immediately know what problems to solve with content, do some research. Interview your ideal customers and create buyer personas that represent their needs and problems. If you work with us to create content, your customers’ problems are the major topics of our first discussion. We spend a significant amount of time aligning your content with your customers needs so that it’s targeted and impactful.
Resources to help you with this step:
- The Beginner’s Guide to Integrating SEO with Content Strategy
- 5 Steps to Identify Your Ideal Customer
Step 2: Choose long-tail keywords for spokes
Your hub and spoke strategy should have at least eight spoke articles. Since these are individual pieces of a comprehensive topic (your hub), they should be planned before you start writing. These articles are similar to standard blog posts—educational pieces of content designed to teach a single component of your topic.
Identify some long-tail versions of your short-tail keyword. Remember, these are sub-topics of your hub. If your hub is “The Texas Tenant Eviction Guide,” your spokes might target keywords like “texas eviction laws,” “eviction process in texas,” and “how to evict a tenant.”
Furthermore, in order to capture potential customers, your spoke articles should be optimized to capture demand. Each article should end with a call to action that encourages readers to express interest in learning more from your company (email newsletter or a high-quality content upgrade) or signing up for a sales engagement / free trial.
Resources to help you with this step:
- Anatomy of an Effective Blog Post
- Content Upgrades: What Are They and Why Use Them?
- Where Content Upgrades Fit in Your Marketing Funnel
Step 3: Create your spoke articles
Now that you’ve chosen topics and keywords or your hub and spoke, the next step is to begin creating the spoke articles. Since your hub is the piece that connects everything together, you’ll leave that until later.
Create your spoke articles one-by-one. Each article should have a clear idea, a compelling and descriptive title, and an easy-to-understand writing style. The best received blog posts are at least 1,500 words with multiple images. Make sure to use your keyword generously throughout.
What’s powerful about the hub and spoke strategy is that it’s easy to outsource to a full service content marketing agency. You just need a content provider that’s capable of thinking long-term and organizing content in bulk.
At Audience Ops, our content production workflow is designed to support the hub and spoke strategy. We build content in batches, giving you a higher view of your total content library. We can plan batches in any size that fits your needs, whether you need a small hub of five pages or a large hub of 20 pages. Our content production workflow ensures your content is always top-notch.
Resources to help you with this step:
- How to Create the Ultimate Business Blog Layout
- How to Successfully Outsource Your Content Marketing
- A Complete Guide to Content Marketing CTAs
Step 4: Create your hub page
Once some or all of your spoke articles are published, the next step is to create the hub. Your hub brings everything together, giving the group depth and gravity that you don’t find in ordinary blogging. It’s the piece that makes the group more valuable than the sum of its parts.
The hub page should be laid out with a pleasing, easy-to-use design that facilitates browsing. Think of this page like a resource center. Your readers should want to bookmark the page so they can reference it over and over in the future. Don’t be afraid to devote more time to it than you normally would.
Take a look at Instareading’s Tiny House Guide. This is an excellent example of a hub page. There’s a bit of introduction and then categories for each of the components of building a tiny house.
Not only should this page contain links to your spoke articles, but also outside sources and tools that support the topic. Your goal is to provide maximum value for the reader by packaging all the information they could ever need, even if you don’t supply it. (However, if you find yourself using too many outside sources, you might want to create your own content inspired by those topics.)
Step 5: Organize the link structure
Remember: The value of the hub & spoke content strategy is the relationship between content units. You have to signal to readers and search engines that this group of content is related. On the web, we do this with internal linking.
When you create the hub, make sure it links to each spoke article. Then, go through your spoke articles and make sure they link back to the hub. When you’re finished posting all of your spoke articles, go through each and build lots of links to other spoke articles in the same hub & spoke model.
Feel free to link to other content throughout your website, as well, even other hub and spoke systems. Google loves lots of roads to more content.
Step 6: Promote your hub & spoke content
You can let your readers find your website through search engines, but often it’s smarter to take a more active approach to content promotion. You can do this by approaching influential people that work in the same industry or field. When they share your content with their followers, you benefit by being associated with their trusted brand.
You can take content promotion a step further by reaching out to influencers before you create your content. This gives the influencer an opportunity to contribute in some way (perhaps a quote). The influencer is far more likely to share the content if it promotes them as well. Plus, the content is more valuable because it includes the contribution of an expert.
Furthermore, it’s important to take advantage of the usual content promotion tactics: Email marketing, social media marketing, and community outreach (forums, Quora, social media groups, etc.).
Resources to help you with this step:
- Why Outreach Should be a Big Part of Your Content Strategy
- 3 Ways to Use Social Media in Your Content Marketing Sales Funnel
Step 7: Monitor the results
Your final step is to keep tabs on your hub and spoke strategy. Google Analytics is the proverbial web analytics service because it’s comprehensive and free, but there are others.
What kinds of results can you expect? First, you’ll rank higher with search engineers and your traffic will increase. Other key metrics like dwell time, bounce rate, and exit rate will improve as well.
You may see low dwell time on the hub page, but that’s because many people will only use it as a reference once they’ve read it the first time. The easy-to-reference nature of the hub page will attract more backlinks than other pages of your site, which also causes higher unique traffic.
Expect to see more email signups on your hub page and spoke pages. Users who are exploring these pages are hungry for information, so they’re more likely to subscribe to receive your content. Plus, you’ve supplied them with an impressive level of value they just can’t find on other websites.
Step 8: Work your hub and spoke strategy into your marketing funnel
Your hub and spoke content can only take you so far. It’s a great method to attract website traffic and convert them to leads, but you need the rest of a marketing funnel in place to qualify those leads and turn them into paying customers.
Your hub and spoke content is the top of your funnel. As visitors consume your content, they learn who you are and what problem you solve, and either subscribe to your list or follow you on social media. For those who give you their email addresses, you need smart automation and deft use of an email marketing tool (or customer relationship management tool) to identify and approach the leads that are most likely to buy your product.
Your hub and spoke content can also be used to nurture your leads over time and position yourself as a valuable authority on that particular topic. This is a great way to turn warm leads into hot leads.
Resources to help you with this step:
- How to Map Content to Different Stages of the Marketing Sales Funnel
- A Basic Content Marketing Sales Funnel
- Building Your Advanced Content Marketing Sales Funnel
- 10 Elements of an Effective Lead Scoring Model
- Your Blog Can Convert More Readers to Subscribers – Here’s How
Step 9: Repurpose your hub & spoke content
Once you’ve created all of the pieces of your hub and spoke content, there are still ways to squeeze more value out of your work. The content you’ve already created can be neatly packaged into an eBook. It can be quickly turned into a series of social media posts. It can be linked to customers who need those solutions. It’s a prime target for paid ads. It can also serve as the foundation for a video course.
The key is to find ways to use your hub and spoke content beyond the usual means. Unlike typical blog posts, you don’t want to create it and forget it. At Audience Ops, we’re great at helping you repurpose your existing content.
Resources to help you with this step:
Let Audience Ops Build Your Hub-and-Spoke Content
Your business needs high quality, relevant content to connect with your customers and sell your products. But writing content yourself isn’t sustainable. You can’t be the chief content creator and grow your business at the same time.
Our proven system, streamlined process, and expert team handle the entire process: strategy, topic planning, content creation, publishing, and distribution. Everything we produce is tailored to your voice and woven with your insights. We don’t write generic content. We write content for your customers.
Can we implement the hub and spoke strategy for you? Absolutely! We interview you (or a representative from your team) to uncover your customers’ needs and problems. Then we perform keyword research and generate topics in batches. Once the content is created, our publishing team posts everything to your website, optimizes each article for SEO, and builds the appropriate links to bring your hub and spoke package together.
Have a lot of content already? We can even re-structure your existing content into hub-and-spoke content with a bit of editing and interlinking.
Grow your audience, your email list, and customer-base with done-for-you content by Audience Ops. Schedule a free consultation.
Frequently Asked Questions About the Hub and Spoke Content Model
Here are some common questions content creators ask about the hub and spoke content strategy.
How is hub & spoke different from pillar content?
In the hub & spoke strategy, the hub is a “launch pad” to other articles. Users explore the hub, visit a spoke article, then return to the hub. On the other hand, pillar content is when the entire topic is contained within a single article. On pillar articles, there’s usually a table of contents to jump around the page.
What is spoke content?
Spoke content refers to the individual articles that make up the hub and spoke content marketing strategy. Each spoke article targets a long-tail keyword and a sub-topic of the hub, like chapters in a book. This system makes your content comprehensive and gives your readers a logical way to consume it.
What is the hub-and-spoke approach?
The hub and spoke approach is a content marketing strategy that organizes content into comprehensive resources. The hub is like a table of contents that addresses a broad topic. This spokes are supplementary articles that address sub-topics, similar to chapters in a book.
What is hub content?
Hub content refers to a comprehensive resource that examines a broad topic. The hub links to other pages that address subtopics that relate to the main topic. Users are expected to use the hub as a jumping off point to explore more content on the same site.
What does hub strategy mean?
The hub strategy refers to the practice of creating comprehensive resources of content to create a valuable reader experience and please Google’s search algorithm. The hub is a page that’s similar to a table of contents. It links to additional pages that address subtopics of the main topic.
How do you build a content hub?
- Choose a short-tail keyword for the hub page.
- Choose long-tail keywords for the spoke pages.
- Create the individual spoke articles.
- Create the hub and link to each spoke article.
- Add links from each spoke article back to the hub.
- Add strong CTAs to the hub and spoke pages.
- Promote your content as you normally would.
- Monitor your results.
Once you’ve finished your hub and spoke set, don’t forget about it. Feel free to use those spokes as spokes of your next hub if the topics are relevant. Interlink between hubs generously to create strong SEO signals and a fluid user experience.
Remember: Your goal is to attract and convert visitors. The only way to do that is by providing exceptional value. Create excellent content and you’ll be rewarded with fans.