Lessons Learned From a Content Hub Strategy


We recently put together a case study on the organic search results of a content hub we helped our client create. This massive content hub spanned 135 articles and took 1.5 years from conception to publishing.

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In this blog post, I’ll discuss a few reasons when and whether to consider a content hub as part of your content strategy, a summary of the case study, and the takeaways we had after completing this project.

Are Content Hubs Right for Your Content Strategy?

Content hubs are indeed popular within SEO and Content Strategy. You often hear about the success stories of how content hubs can help businesses achieve their organic traffic goals, but you never hear about the effort required to execute a hub strategy correctly. Before you’re ready to commit to developing content hubs, consider whether content hubs are, in fact, the right thing for your content strategy.

Ensure Existing Content Is of the Highest Quality

Before content hubs should even be considered, ensure the content you already have is of the highest quality. Only then should you move on to tackling breadth. When onboarding a new client for Content Strategy services, we first prioritize evaluating existing content and its performance and making plans for that content. As Jimmy Daly from Animalz put it, “The best content strategy is the one that prioritizes quality and depth, not volume and breadth.”

Resources Needed for Content Hubs

Content hubs involve creating several, if not dozens, of pieces of content. Content hubs shouldn’t be part of your content strategy if you lack the resources or time to produce high-quality content. You’ll need resources to:

  • Conduct keyword research, identify content gaps, consider internal linking, etc.
  • Build an editorial calendar and organize the content hub(s)
  • Write and edit the content
  • Design and build landing page(s)
  • The list goes on, but you get the point.

Resource needs will also depend on the type of hub. There are various content hubs, and they don’t all serve the same purpose. Consider what your strategy and KPIs are and review our recommendations on how to choose a content hub.

Content Hub Case Study

The Challenge: The Client Wanted to Be the Leading Authority in Its Field

We worked with a leading reference client who wanted to improve keyword rankings for existing content to drive additional organic traffic. They also wanted to be recognized as an expert in the area they specialized in—one way of doing that was to show up at the top of SERPs.

The Strategy: We Created Content Hubs to Fill Gaps & Drive Traffic

Using Portent’s content hub strategy framework, we conducted keyword research, analyzed search results & competitors, and evaluated existing content to understand the breadth of content and identify any gaps. We created an editorial calendar to summarize key information and used it to organize content briefs.

We prioritized updating existing content first due to the smaller efforts required from our client’s editorial teams and the potential results of refreshing old content. When creating content to fill gaps, we relied on metrics like search volume and keyword difficulty to prioritize the most impactful content first.

We helped our client generate 135 articles—27% content updates and 73% new content.

The Results: Content Hubs Filled Content Gaps & Drove 3.3 Million Additional Organic Traffic

For a more detailed breakdown of the results and data visuals, see the Results section of our case study.

  • The content hubs accounted for 44% of the total pages in the subfolder and nearly 62% of its organic traffic.
  • Keyword rankings for positions 1-3, 4-10, 11-20, and 21-100 grew by 4x, 4x, 2.5x, and 2x, respectively.
  • Between January 2021 and August 2022, the content hubs drove 3.3 million additional organic sessions to the site.
  • As of August 2022, the content hubs continue to bring incremental organic traffic to the site.

Takeaways

Our content hubs proved to be successful in achieving our client’s goals and KPIs. This was one of the largest content hubs our team has worked on, and we certainly learned a lot. Here are some of the takeaways.

It May Take 2+ Months to Start Seeing Results

Graph of organic traffic monthly rising since January 2021

Our client published articles in batches. It took two months since the first batch of articles was published before we started to see results. It’s no secret that results from organic search take time, so this timeline was aligned with our expectations. In our experience, we’ve seen that it can take even longer than two months before a client starts to see the results of their work—sometimes as many as four months.

Despite the delay in results, we saw sustained traffic.

This is the true value of organic search efforts—sustained efforts without having to pay for them continuously.

Breadth & Depth of Content

Organic traffic was only one part of the goal for our client—the other part was to be recognized as an authority in their field. Our client chose to publish content with low organic traffic opportunities to demonstrate their expertise, especially for topics that were important in their field (but less commonly talked about).

When organic traffic is the goal of a hub strategy, each piece of content should drive incremental traffic—you don’t need to write about every topic just for the sake of writing it. But if the goal is to be an expert, you should consider content that covers both depth and breadth.

Author Bylines & Bio Pages

One of our key learnings on this project is the value of author bylines and bio pages. Our client’s content included author information within the Schema. However, this information was not displayed on the page. Additionally, they didn’t have a template or design for author pages, so creating them would’ve required development resources.

Author bylines within articles establish writers’ expertise and credibility and help build readers’ trust—a fundamental component of Google’s E-A-T. An informative author byline should include the writer’s name, job title, and/or experience.

To take it a step further, author bio pages can elaborate on the author’s expertise. A bio page should include everything in the byline in addition to the author’s years of experience, previous experience, formal education, other published work, and any other relevant information.

Main Content Hub to House Content

The client’s existing main hub page to house all the content was simple—paginated pages containing cards that linked to each article. Potential improvements to the layout and organization of the main hub page would help users landing on the page find relevant content more efficiently; this includes organizing content into sections by topic or allowing users to filter by topic.

Conclusion

When a content hub makes sense for your content strategy, and with the right resources and planning, content hubs can deliver impactful and sustained results. If that sounds like it might be right for you, please get in touch with us by using our contact form.





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