Taking the “hub and spoke” approach to content marketing

Content marketing hub and spoke

Content marketing is remains a critical component of today’s marketing strategies, but it’s resource-intensive and expensive to outsource.

One way to mitigate the overhead is by using the “hub and spoke” approach to content creation; that is, when you’re developing content to support your marketing strategy, start with a meaty topic and create a killer, high-value piece of content about it (the hub) and then create multiple smaller, lighter content assets that support it (the spokes). (Tip of the hat to my former colleague Jordan Stevens, the first person I heard use the term.)

Here are a few thoughts on why I like the hub and spoke approach:

The hub and spoke approach is efficient

I started believing in this approach mainly as a time saver. If you’re going to create multiple content pieces around a topic, it makes sense to create an outline, conduct the research, and write the largest, most valuable piece first; you’ve gathered all of your sources and data points, you understand the subject and you’ve no doubt come across multiple ideas for supporting assets along the way. You can build a repository of subject information, enough for several assets, before writing one, if you’re focused on the largest one first.  It just doesn’t work the same way in reverse; if a busy writer only needs enough data to write a 250-word blog post, he or she isn’t going to gather much more than that (especially if his or her time is dictated by hours in a scope or proposal).

It creates a better customer experience

Although efficiency was the gateway here, I’ve found that starting with the hub-and-spoke approach ultimately makes for a better user experience as well as a creation experience, because (assuming you understand the buyer and the buyer journey, and are creating content with the two in mind—and if you’re not, back up and start there!) if you’re doing the bulk of the research and creating the most valuable content first, your understanding of what the reader wants to know should only increase. And that should make your supporting assets, across the buyer journey, that much stronger.

Strategy-wise, the hub-and-spoke approach makes logical sense

The high-value piece of content is the one that should drive the most conversions for you; your lighter assets should be driving visitors to that high-value piece of content. Therefore it only makes sense to start with the high value one as your centerpiece, and fill in your other pieces around it in a way that makes sense to drive traffic back to your key conversion point.

It’s easily scalable

This approach works well if you’re creating a webinar and two supporting blogs, and it works equally well if you’re creating a white paper, an eBook, four blog posts, an infographic, a checklist and an explainer video.

It’s SEO-friendly

This is a new one, and I’m glad it’s here. We’ve been talking a lot about SEO lately on the content team at Brainrider; we all have backgrounds in journalism and communications, so SEO isn’t naturally top of mind for us when we write, even though it’s an important part of helping ensure the content we develop is meeting the needs of our clients (especially early-funnel stage content). The good news is of course, that more and more, Google is focusing on promoting well-written content as opposed to keyword optimized content. But more importantly, I recently read this piece from Hubspot, about how search algorithms are changing even further, to favor topic-based content, because people are searching using increasingly complex questions, to which they expect specific results. Which in turn means that a content publishing approach that starts with a page for a broad topic and links to sub-pages for sub-topics within in a logical manner should all rank well. Sounds familiar right?

Hubspot calls it a “topic pillar and cluster” model, and I’ll let them explain:

SEO is now shifting to a topic cluster model, where a single “pillar” page acts as the main hub of content for a overarching topic and multiple content pages that are related to that same topic link back to the pillar page and to each other.

It’s the same thing I described above for content production. Only now it has the dual benefit of being both efficient, and SEO-friendly. Win-win!

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If you have any thoughts on this approach—or an approach of your own that works—I’d love to hear them! Reach out any time and let’s talk content marketing.

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