What is The Hub & Spoke Model
The Hub and Spoke Model originated as a visualization for the transportation industry. Hubs acted as central airports that planes would route their flights through, whereas spokes were the different flight paths planes followed to other airports.
Over time, other industries have adopted the Hub and Spoke Model to fit their own needs, but the premise remains the same: hubs act as centralized areas of importance, whereas spokes link hubs to less important sections or to other hubs of equal significance.
As the Hub and Spoke Model is used in many different industries, it can also be applied to SEO optimization. In marketing, “Hubs” are your heavy-hitting content pieces; pages that are drawing in traffic and keep visitors engaged. The “Spokes” are strategically placed internal links that take the reader to other areas of the site (which may themselves be other hubs, or simply supportive pieces you’re looking to boost).
If you’re more of a visual learner, here’s a picture to help:
In this blog post, we will cover how to use the Hub and Spoke model in blog and website optimization to shape internal linking structure – in order to maximize the organic traffic visiting the hub – and share:
- The best way to create a new hub or find an existing hub
- How to create or find supportive pages
- Key tips for internal linking
Using The Hub & Spoke Model In Blog Optimization
The Hub and Spoke Model in content marketing and blog optimization rely on a tightly knit internal linking structure which connects similar content together and back toward the hub. These supportive pieces can be used to elaborate further on topics presented in the hub, or may merely be related through more general means (such as a callout box).
The most important aspect of this model, when applied to marketing, is the hub. If used properly, the Hub and Spoke Model will translate the success the hub piece is receiving into views and improved Click Through Rates (CTR) for other pieces on your site. As audiences are brought to your site through the hub, the internal links you place will invite them to continue visiting, taking them elsewhere to find more content that is interesting to them. If the hub isn’t drawing in visitors, the Hub & Spoke Model won’t be effective, so it’s important to choose the hub piece carefully.
But how do you determine what to use as your hub?
Creating a New Hub Piece
The foundation of creating a new hub piece begins in the same place all SEO friendly content begins: keyword research.
Using your favorite tool for keyword research (Ubersuggest, ahrefs, and Keyword Planner are all good options), begin with preliminary terms related to the topic of your website. As you find keywords with good volume, try typing them into google to begin narrowing your search to more specific phrases and long tail keywords. A good rule of thumb is to strive to find FAQ keywords, as these provide great starting points for creating content that will answer questions your readers are looking for.
For example, let’s say you’re looking to create content for your website that sells furniture. You might want to use the Keyword Planner tool from Google to search “outdoor furniture,” and might see that “sturdy outdoor furniture” has decent volume, without being as generic as the original term, which is a similar keyword you might want to target as well.
Searching for “sturdy outdoor furniture” on Google itself leads to some excellent questions that would serve as great starting points for hub pieces.
This research process is the time to be creative. How can you create the best piece of content possible? Going back to the outdoor furniture example, If you decided to go with “what is the best material for outdoor furniture” as the starting point of your hub, what other related questions could your piece answer? Perhaps there are questions around furniture durability in the winter months or material that won’t fade with sunlight in the summer that would be worth looking into for keyword volume and including into the piece.
It’s also important to look at competing websites and content pieces ranking for similar keywords as the ones you’re targeting. Ask yourself:
- Is there enough volume around these keywords to make them worthwhile targets?
- Are a high authority, well-known sites ranking for these terms?
- Are the pieces ranking on the first page thorough? Do they completely cover the topic or answer the questions being asked?
- You should be asking yourself if you can create content that can compete with or overcome the top performers for the term
Choosing a Hub Piece From Existing Content
If you’re looking to maximize the SEO benefit from blog posts you’ve already written, then you may already have an idea of where you want to begin. The hub should be one of the blog posts on your site that is performing well, so it’s likely you’re aware of your top performers and which might be a good candidate to serve as a hub. However, taking the time to do some research can pay out in unexpected benefits – you may find an excellent candidate for a hub piece that you hadn’t previously considered.
Researching Potential Hub Pieces
A great place to look for high performing pieces is Google Search Console, as it allows you to see relevant page metrics at-a-glance. After logging in, click on the “Performance” box to open a detailed report of all the pages indexed on your site. Clicking on “Average CTR” and “Average Position” boxes will display more useful data.
From the top of the page, you’ll be able to select a time frame of data as well as filters for specific pages you’re looking for (if you only want to look at pages that have /blog/ in the URL, for instance).
After selecting the data and filters you want, click on the “Pages” button, beneath the graph.
For a great Hub piece, you’ll want to choose a page that has a high average position (ranking on the first page), as well as good Impressions and Click Through Rate. Keep in mind that you can sort the pages by any of these parameters by clicking on the appropriate button
The better a page is performing, the more potential it has to bring traffic to other pages on your site. (Of course, you may want to take this opportunity to look at some pages that could use some care and attention as well.)
Creating New Supportive Pieces
If you’ve already done your keyword research, you’ll have some ideas for what supportive pieces you’ll need to create to support your hub. When creating new pieces, think about topics that will naturally link together and with your hub. Perhaps you’ll want to take one of the main topics in your hub and use the supportive content to cover the topic more in-depth to provide the reader with additional information they may find valuable.
This is also a great opportunity to create content that will rank for related keywords you found during your research but were a little bit of a stretch to naturally work into your hub piece. Ask yourself what a person reading your hub piece might naturally have more questions about, or where the hub would lead them into wanting to go next. Having an understanding of your customer personas or target audience goes a long way here. You can tailor the Hub and Spoke Model to fit different personas that use your site, providing relevant content to each type of visitor.
Finding Supportive Pieces From Existing Content
Choosing supportive pieces from existing content follows the same process as choosing a hub piece from existing content, although you can be a little more lenient in terms of picking pieces, since they do not need to be top-tier performers. Look for keywords with decent volume. A volume between 100-3,000 is a good sweet spot, as anything higher than that might be difficult to rank for, and anything lower won’t have the potential to bring in decent audiences. Keywords you find should also fit under the same thematic umbrella as your hub.
For example, if your hub piece is something like “The Top 50 Movies Of All Time” perhaps you have previously written content around “5 Great Underrated Sci-Fi Films” or “Great Movies To Watch on a Sick Day” that are related to the hub, but go off in slightly different directions. Of course, you would need to see how these pieces are performing in Search Console, and if there’s good keyword potential for these pieces – but thinking with this idea of related topics is a good starting point.
Once you have your keywords selected, search through your archives to find matching content. Unfortunately, you may not always have content that matches your keywords or topic – in some cases you could try repurposing your content, but if your content doesn’t match up, you’ll need to create some new supportive pieces. Ultimately, if you find good opportunities during your keyword research phase, you should always consider creating new content anyway – as growing domains are a positive signal to Google and help to improve rankings.
Key Tips For Great Internal Linking Structure
Now that you’ve determined which pieces you’ll be using for your Hub and Spoke Model, the next key element comes into play – how to strategically use internal linking. After all, without internal links there wouldn’t be any spokes in your model, and your readers would have nowhere to go after landing on your hub piece.
If you wrote your pieces new, did you include sentences and paragraphs where internal links could naturally be placed? Remember, you should always include your internal link on anchor text that makes sense and serves as a keyword for the piece you are linking to. For example, if your hub piece is on outdoor gardening and you have a supportive piece on gardening tools, you would want to place the internal link on a sentence like: “knowing what gardening tools to use can be a big help in getting started,” and include the link on the phrase “what gardening tools to use.” Avoid using anchor text phrases like “click here” or “check out this piece,” because they are vague and less effective at inviting readers to actually click.
If you don’t want to tailor your words to fit in internal links, you could always make use of call-out boxes that include a Call-To-Action (CTA) for the reader to check out additional pages. Make sure you put the boxes in places that make sense. Include a CTA to check out a page after a paragraph or section that has mentioned the theme of the page in passing, rather than just trying to place a link.
Ultimately, your hub piece should include an internal link to each one of the supportive pieces, and the supportive pieces should (whenever possible) include 3 internal links:
- One link back to the hub
- A second link to another related supportive piece
- A third link another supportive piece, if possible
Once your internal links are in place, you’ll be able to travel from the hub to every single supportive piece and back again. Make sure you didn’t leave any of your content out accidentally.
After you’ve gone through all these steps, you’ll have completed a Hub and Spoke Model that will help your content rank higher and reap greater SEO benefits. From here, you can continue to employ this method as much as you want, eventually linking related hubs to each other and creating a singular branch throughout your entire site.
Interested in taking your content marketing strategies to the next level? Contact Big Leap and learn how we can implement Hub and Spoke Models into your content marketing strategy.