What is a content hub (and should my brand have one)?

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The speed of content creation is not slowing down. In 2019 an average of 4.4m blog posts were published each day. Creating memorable content should be your primary objective, as the average US adult spends 12 hours and 9 minutes consuming content every day.Site usability has a significant knock-on effect to your user engagement and your search engine rankings.

If you've ever set out to create content, very quickly it can feel like an insurmountable task. Successful content marketing execution requires planning, organisation and persistence. Getting the basics right by identifying your audience personas, documenting your strategy and establishing a content calendar provides great blueprints for development. Still, sooner or later you are going to want to find a plot of land and get building.This is exactly what a content hub is. It's your dream home, where you can invite all of your audience members over to consume the best content you create.But it is more than that. This is the showroom of your house, where everything is expertly designed, perfectly crafted and all of your best assets are on display.

What is a content hub?

Neil Patel defines a content hub as “a destination where website visitors can find branded, curated, social media, user-generated, or any type of content related to a topic”.Ahrefs notes that successful content hubs consist of three main components:

  • Hub or pillar page. This is the foundation page for your topic from which all pieces of content can be linked. These are otherwise known as content pillars.
  • Subpages or cluster content. Think of these as chapters in a book - they all link and advance the main story, but in their own way, deliver unique information. These are otherwise known as content topics.
  • Hyperlinks. These are the main roads that link your content pillars and your content topics. Your content pillar should link to all of your content topics, and in return, your content topics should link back to your content pillar.

The content hub is the place that you want your customers to visit in order to leave a lasting impression. Content hubs are curated regularly to feature the very best your brand has to offer to audiences. While your content hub should have multiple objectives, the most important one is organising your content so it can be found easily through search. When the average consumer engages with 11.4 pieces of content prior to purchase, you need to put your best foot forward at all times and make it easy for your audience to discover.

I have a blog, isn't that my content hub?

While elements of your blog might be featured, your blog is not your content hub. Primarily, this has to do with how a blog is published - chronologically. This means that while a user will visit for a topical story in your blog, they are less likely to trawl through the entries to find multiple pieces of content.This way of delivering information is not an ideal user experience and leaves the burden of discovery in the hands of the user. When making any decision today, the amount of information that a customer is faced with can be described as overwhelming and the easiest way to stay top of mind is to make things simple. Research by the CEB found that the single biggest driver of brand stickiness was “decision simplicity”— the ease with which consumers can gather trustworthy information about a product and confidently and efficiently weigh their purchase options. The moral of this story is that if you aren't making things easier for your customers, you are likely making it easier for your competitors to convert them instead.

What type of content should be published on my content hub?

Your content hub should be considered ‘reader first', which means that if it does not add value to your audience, it should not be published there. Each piece of content you publish on your content hub should build your authority and credibility in the eyes of your readers. This means it is not the home for press releases and sales collateral.Your hub should centralise your ‘best in show' content and may consist of different mediums of content - from text, to image, to video and audio. All pieces of content, however, should be aligned to a singular goal, have a particular tone and align to a singular editorial mission.

There are several content sources available to brands that can contribute to your content hub.As seen in the visualisation above, there are five key areas you can source content from when developing your content hub. Your mission at all times should be to produce the highest quality content that your budget can afford. Unfortunately, audiences remember both great and poor content, while mediocre content is forgotten immediately. Don't run the risk of publishing content that could be perceived as lousy content as it will have a negative effect on your brand.A survey by Global Lingo found that 74% of consumers paid attention to the quality of grammar and spelling in content from brands. Of the 1,029 adults that were surveyed, 59% said that they couldn't trust a company that had obvious spelling mistakes and poorly written content.Your content hub should feature the absolute best that your brand can offer. Look to experts for help. You work so hard to recruit people to view your destination, you don't want to fall at the last hurdle due to poorly created content.

Should I use expert creators, or rely on talent within my business?

Getting the division of content labour right at the start can be the difference between a thriving content hub and a content graveyard. Most times we set out with the best intentions, but often these projects become too unwieldy to be managed alone. This is before you consider the extra effort and time creating content will add to your workload. Developing engaging content that is well structured takes time. The other risk that you face is that you are either too close to your own business to be objective or alternatively, to see the potential. This has the offset risk of producing content that is too technical for your audience, or content that isn't engaging enough to maintain their attention.There are many benefits of engaging a skilled storyteller for your content creation. The most obvious is the amount of time that you save.

Source: Orbit Media. The time it takes to write a single blog post has increased significantly every year since 2014.Research completed by Orbit Media found that in 2019 the average blog post took 3 hours and 57 minutes to write. The average time spent per post had increased by 29 minutes since 2018 and was up 65% since 2014. This increase in time makes sense, as content marketing becomes more complex (from a technical writing perspective) and as audience expectations grow. With the amount of effort it takes to produce quality content, it's not hard to see why these jobs end up at the bottom of your to-do list.Professional creators are experts in their chosen disciplines and are used to researching topics in detail to deliver compelling content. Experts are always on, staying abreast of trends while looking for the right statistics and proof points that allows them to publish authoritative content. This process could include many different data points such as user stories or surveys, search trend data or sales team feedback. Finding the diamond in the rough that piques your audience's attention is essential as 55% of people read an article for less than 15 seconds. This means you need to hit your audience with the best possible content you can deliver every time they interact with your brand.

Great UX amplifies great content

It's not good enough to just produce great content. The way your content is presented is as important as the content you present. Your content needs to be displayed in a format that is easily digestible and that is appealing to the eyes.Adobe found that 38% of readers lose interest in content when the site layout is unattractive. In the same study, 66% of readers indicated that they seek out content that is beautifully designed.You can improve your audience's content experience by focusing on four key UX elements:

An excellent content hub should incorporate elements of quality content, quality design and quality user experience.

How does a content hub help SEO rankings?

Content hubs, by design, feature concentrated information around one or two topics. This means content hubs increase your chances of boosting SEO within search engines. A properly designed content hub is a marketer's secret weapon in improving rankings.Built from the ground up to enhance credibility, content hubs help to strengthen trust in the eyes of both your audience and search engines. But why do content hubs help deliver better search engine rankings? As Neil Patel explains, Google prefers it when you have a website where your links make sense and are clear as to what they contain. The more internal links your content hub has, the higher placement it will have within search engines.This is known as topical authority. Put simply, your topical authority is determined by whether you are deemed to have expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness in your chosen topic. This is also referred to as your E-A-T.Traditionally hubs increase the engagement with your content (your time spent) and the average number of articles consumed, which the Google algorithm also appears to favour. Here are two practical metrics you can use to diagnose your audience engagement:

  • Dwell time. How long someone consumes the content on your page after landing. The higher your dwell time, the better your content is judged by search engines.
  • Bounce rate. This is a percentage of people who only consume one page before clicking away from your website. The lower your bounce rate, the better, as Google will determine this as your content delivering against the user's goal.

The first step towards building content that ranks is researching the search queries that your customers are searching for and build content that answers their questions.With that being said, a content hub is not a silver bullet to all of your marketing problems. Creating content that converts requires planning, structure and diligence. Getting it right, however, can make material impacts to your business and your bottom line.

In summary

You reap what you sow with a content hub. Content hubs are like children in a lot of ways. You need patience and you are required to invest significant time and effort into their development. It can take some time before you start to see the fruits of your labour but know that if you create content that is increasingly relevant to your audience, you will not only see content that ranks but content that converts.Here are three tips that you can follow to get started on your own content hub:

  1. Publish your showcase content. Your content hub should feature the absolute best content that your brand can publish. Engage an expert storyteller to help produce content that grabs an audience's attention. The Google algorithm will reward the best content with higher search rankings.
  2. Structure, layout and design. Make sure that you organise your content in a format that makes sense for the user and is appealing to consume. Establish a content pillar and hyperlink all of your content topics from this one section.
  3. Content optics matter. Identify the search queries that you would like to be known for and establish a plan to develop authoritative content that delivers against user demands.

For more insights and content creation tips for your brand, check out the Fabulate insights hub.If you'd like assistance in helping develop your own content hub, drop us a note.