Well-written, helpful web pages dominate search engine results, but quality isn’t the only consideration for ranking well. How you build this content into your site architecture also impacts search engine optimization (SEO).
As competition for online visibility increases, it’s worth looking at how a hub and spoke content model can impact website authority, keyword rankings, and organic traffic. In this article, I’ll explain how a hub and spoke approach to content aligns perfectly with Google’s search engine ranking factors and helps propel your site higher in the SERPs.
What Is the Hub and Spoke Content Model?
The hub and spoke content model is a set of interlinked pages on a single topic. It uses the metaphor of a wheel: A main page acts as a focal point (the hub) and links to additional pages of related supporting content (the spokes). The hub and spokes work together efficiently and are stronger as a whole. Your website may have numerous hubs and spokes depending on the interests of your audience and your offerings.
- Hub: The hub provides a broad overview of a topic and channels readers to more detailed spoke pages. You can structure it as an article or index page with a short introduction. This page targets short-tail or fat-head keywords with high search volume, bringing in audiences at the top of the marketing funnel.
- Spokes: A hub connects to multiple spokes. Each spoke focuses on a subtopic, targeting middle or long-tail keywords. The more subtopics you address, the more comprehensive your content. Spoke keywords typically have lower search volumes than the hub keyword and capture users further in the marketing funnel.
I’ll give you some examples so you can see what hub and spoke marketing looks like in action.
- A business that sells beauty products online can target customers searching for the short-tail keyword “healthy hair care.” The hub page provides an overview of hair types and links to spoke pages focused on “damaged hair repair” and “controlling frizzy hair.”
- A consultant trying to reach entrepreneurs can build a hub page about starting a business. The hub links to spoke pages on related topics: business structures, financing, licenses, and business planning. Because the spoke pages target those further in the funnel, they include a call to action to contact the consultant for advice.
Hub and Spoke Strategy vs. Content Pillars
Similar to a content pillar strategy, the hub and spoke model helps build authority in a particular subject area. While a hub page is an introduction to the topic, directing users to spoke pages, a pillar page is a long-form piece of content that addresses the topic in-depth and then points to related content.
For example, the consultant mentioned above could build a single pillar page called “5 Steps to Starting a Business” and cover the spoke topics in a single, authoritative guide.
Benefits of the Hub and Spoke Strategy
Hub and spoke marketing supports two key elements of an effective SEO strategy: helping Google understand and index a site and improving user experience. Below, I’ll explain how a hub and spoke approach can lead to better rankings, traffic, and engagement.
Demonstrates Topical Authority
Before displaying content prominently in the SERPs, Google needs confidence that a web page is a trusted source. It uses numerous signals to determine the reliability of content, including topical authority.
Having one or two pages on a topic doesn’t establish your expertise, especially if those articles appear randomly scattered on your blog. However, a clearly defined group of articles on a topic, all interlinked, shows Google the breadth of your knowledge.
A hub and spoke content marketing strategy covers a subject in depth and acts as a comprehensive resource. Each spoke article explores a new aspect of the topic, providing more keyword ranking opportunities and signaling your authority in the niche. By being comprehensive and informative, this approach establishes your expertise and boosts your online presence.
Upgrades Internal Linking Strategy
A hub and spoke content strategy takes a systematic approach to linking, ensuring each spoke is connected to the hub and other spokes. This creates a solid framework for your website, enabling seamless navigation for users while allowing search engines to effectively crawl and gather information about your site’s structure.
Without a well-defined internal linking strategy, your website is a random collection of pages. You can miss out on linking opportunities to drive traffic between relevant pages or link ineffectively and not give search engines adequate context about your site. Ineffectively linking pages may lead to the addition of irrelevant links that don’t pique readers’ interest. Even worse, there may be no links at all, leaving a page orphaned. Craft a cohesive and purposeful internal linking strategy to enhance user experience and optimize your website’s potential.
Enhances the Customer Journey
By using short and long-tail keywords, a hub and spoke SEO strategy pulls in customers at different stages of the buyer journey. Regardless of which page they land on, users can easily navigate between valuable content, effortlessly transitioning from the hub to different spokes. This seamless experience not only improves user engagement but also encourages thorough exploration of available content. The outcome? Reduced bounce rates and enhanced on-site metrics, such as increased time spent on the site.
With strong calls to action on the spoke pages, you can motivate customers to convert, whether they’re downloading an ebook, signing up for a free trial, joining a mailing list, booking a consultation, or making a purchase. Even if they don’t take action immediately, they still benefit from the expertise you’re sharing, which builds loyalty and brand awareness and lays the foundation for a future relationship.
Organizes Site Architecture
Implementing a hub and spoke model for your website establishes a hierarchical structure. Hub pages showcase core topics and offer well-placed links to connected spokes. This design allows information to flow smoothly from the general to the precise, ensuring a cohesive user experience. When you publish content without a formal strategy, individual pages are left to fend for themselves. Let’s revisit our fictional consultant, who’s targeting business entrepreneurs. If the consultant’s blog is a collection of random articles, a standalone piece about creating a business plan will eventually get buried in the archives. Search engines have no context as to why it’s there. There’s also no structure in place to direct readers to other relevant content about starting their business. Visitors who want to learn more must navigate the archives or look for answers elsewhere.
Improves PageRank Distribution
An effective SEO campaign includes a link-building strategy that sends referral traffic to your pages. The number and quality of unique domains linking to your page — known as PageRank — signal the quality and trustworthiness of the page.
As a hub and spoke page gains authority and rises in the rankings, it shares this authority with other linked pages, boosting the overall credibility of the group of articles. This link value flows easily in an interlinked hub and spoke content model, creating a powerful, authoritative set of articles on your website. This unique content structure allows for a holistic and comprehensive approach, ensuring that your readers can explore related topics in depth while also establishing your website as a trustworthy and go-to resource in your industry.
How To Implement a Hub and Spoke Content Strategy
If your website isn’t hitting your traffic and conversion goals, you may need to revisit your website architecture as part of your SEO checklist. If you decide a hub and spoke model can boost your online visibility, follow the steps below to put this strategy to work.
Step 1: Choose Your Hub Page
Spend time brainstorming topics for your hubs and spokes and identify keywords relevant to your business and audience. Look at your customers’ needs and pain points, as well as the keywords your competitors are targeting.
Even if you think you know the core subjects you want to build content around, perform keyword research to make sure there’s interest in the topic and your customers are using those keywords. Narrow down the keywords by evaluating search volume and competitiveness. The hub page should target short-tail keywords, but ensure there are enough related long-tail keywords to create a healthy number of spokes.
Step 2: Choose Your Spoke Pages
Next, find relevant middle and long-tail keywords for the spoke pages. Use keyword research tools to find terms related to your hub keywords. To further enhance your keyword research, consider entering short-tail keywords into Google and examining the suggestions within the “People Also Ask” and related searches sections of the SERPs. This will provide valuable insights and expand your understanding of relevant queries.
The more relevant spokes you create, the more authority you can establish, but you don’t have to start from scratch. Look at the content you’ve already published to see which pieces you can refresh to fit into your spokes. Then, plan an editorial calendar to systematically create new articles as needed.
Step 3: Write Content
Follow SEO best practices for content. Make sure your articles are original, well-researched, and meet Google’s guidelines for helpful content. Your readers should feel you’ve thoroughly answered their query.
Write in an inviting style that encourages visitors to continue reading and aims to provide a superior user experience. Organize the article into sections that flow logically and use descriptive but concise titles and headers that clearly outline the content. Readers appreciate an easy-to-read layout and images or charts that summarize dense information. Finally, edit and proofread copy to ensure the piece is polished with proper spelling and grammar.
Step 4: Strategically Link Your Pages
Find ways to connect your hub and spoke pages so readers flow effortlessly between the content pieces. Make sure to link:
- The central hub page to each supporting spoke page.
- Each spoke page to the hub.
- Spoke pages with other spoke pages.
There are a few ways to add links to your pages. You can place them within the body text to direct readers to an article elaborating on a point. You can also recommend related posts in a sidebar or suggest an article to read next.
Remember to use anchor text that clearly describes the content of the destination page to give search engines context. To boost conversions, include strong calls to action in the spoke pages with links to the appropriate landing page or sign up form.
Step 5: Promote Content
When you’re ready to share your content with the world, find opportunities to drive traffic to your pages. Try some of these digital PR strategies to generate interest in your content:
- Highlight articles in social media posts.
- Promote articles in email newsletters.
- Use paid ads on search engines or social media platforms.
- Create backlinks through a link-building strategy, including guest blogs.
- Collaborate with influencers.
- Comment on discussions in online forums, but only if your link is useful and relevant.
Step 6: Monitor Your Results
Choose metrics that align with your business goals and gauge the performance of your hub and spoke SEO. Track metrics such as keyword rankings, organic traffic, page views, backlinks, bounce rate, time spent on page, and SEO conversions.
Use this data to improve the content. If pages are ranking well, but you’re not receiving clicks, consider adding structured data or optimizing the meta title and description to help them attract more attention. A poor user experience may be an issue if visitors aren’t staying on your pages. Optimizing your hub and spoke content may take a few tweaks, but keep working at them to help them gain traction.
Easily Publish Optimized Content With an SEO Partner
The hub and spoke model is a powerful organizational strategy to improve your content marketing efforts and establish your place as a thought leader in your field. Working with an SEO content writing service can help you maximize your publication calendar and score big ranking wins to support your most important pages. Schedule a free SEO consultation to learn more.