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How To Use A Content Hub For Your Online Marketing


One of the challenges of content marketing is the management of your branded content, especially when it lives on various platforms and reaches your audience through distinct channels. A content hub solves this challenge: it provides a home base and a platform for your content and makes it accessible for users, enabling them to discover content related to a topic that is relevant to them and their needs. As a curated compilation of branded content, such a platform can be external-facing, targeting your audience, but a content hub can also serve internal use only, facilitating and improving your marketing processes. In the following, we’ll explain both types, look at the differences between a content hub and a regular blog, and introduce the benefits of content hubs. After some examples, we’ll talk about how to create your content hub with templates.

Templates For Content Hubs

Branded Content Hub Creation Step By Step

  1. Identify your target audience: You should already have a good understanding about whom you’re trying to reach with your content marketing, but it won’t hurt to again focus on your target audience. Better yet, define specific personas for your readers or users and see what they want and need. Your UX research department is the collaborative partner at this step, but for smaller companies, analysis of existing data and user surveys will be equally informative.
  2. Research your keywords: Similar to user research, this shouldn’t be the first time you concern yourself with search keywords, but looking at your SEO keywords through the focus of a content hub is a good approach. The basic SEO strategy for keyword targeting through a content hub is to use the topics for short tail and the individual pages (or spokes, if you will), for more specific long tail keywords. Join their forces through internal linking and build search engine authority. The hub topic keywords you choose will be more general and therefore more competitive, but by exploring related keyword phrases for your spokes, the individual pages, you’ll be able to cover the topic comprehensively and therefore have a chance at ranking for a search term even at higher competition. 
  3. Curate your existing content: When you compile all the content to include in your hub, you’ll have to consider not only what individual posts you want to use, but also what formats. Create an overview of where and what you’ve been publishing so far to gain clarity over the different types of content. Then identify your evergreen content and your high-ranking posts which serve a lot of inbound traffic. Look at your existing categories and taxonomy, if any, and think about how to possibly group or re-group content in a way that it facilitates discovery and relates to what your readers need and search for. For more detail, see our paragraph on content curation below!
  4. Make sense of content interfaces: Now that you know your different publishing formats, it’s time to make sense of how to create the best interfaces. Will you embed your videos? Are you hosting user-generated content? Are you engaging followers on social media without bringing them to your website? Consider your existing sharing practices: instead of posting a video on social media, will you share a hub page or spoke instead in the future?
  5. Design the user experience: For the user experience, it’s time to involve departments such as UX and design, as well as web developers to come up with a fitting concept for your content hub. The user experience needs to guide visitors through the interconnected content to answer their questions and deliver on their expectations. Again: the facilitation of discovery is key. Apart from content presentation, there are navigation, embedded content, calls-to-action and guiding links to related content to consider. For more detail, we’ve included five types of content hub templates below!
  6. Structure and interlink your content: The interlinking of your content in a hub is equally important for both navigation and SEO. Links signal a logical “flow” to the user and a topical relation to search engines. Other structural things to take into account have to do with the organization of content on individual pages: headings and subsections targeting long tail keywords; mentioning and linking topics; section summaries; offering value to “offline” readers such as a PDFs; where to include calls-to-action that end the content discovery and send readers into the funnel or another step on the customer journey.
  7. Publish and keep creating: Your content hub is like any other content marketing project you launch - it doesn’t have to go live all at once, you can stage the roll-out and employ a publishing calendar, just like you would with a campaign or similar project. Put those project management skills to use and get the big rocks out of the way first, then start paving the way towards a regular publication and creation schedule. You’ll switch your regular publication timeline over to your hub, only instead of blog posts or the content you used to publish before, you now work on individual spokes of your hub This includes sharing on social media and all your other distribution and marketing channels to create attention for your content. Taking care of your content hub means inserting new links and regularly checking the performance.
The matrix approach to a content hub works best when you have a good understanding of your subtopics in advance and then only grow in one direction, that is the total number of parent pages. But with the right site architecture, there is no limit to depth as well and you can keep adding subcategories even later. The seeming reliance on architecture for the organization of content doesn't mean you cannot weave in conversion pages or landing pages into your informative content, you just have to find out the best insertion point among the user journey.
What purpose does a content hub serve, and why should you create one? Let’s look at the differences between internal and external content hubs and compare the model to a regular corporate blog for the purpose of online marketing.

What Is A Content Hub?

Content Hub vs Blog

Imagine a more or less static corporate website with information about the company and its products, paired with a blog. News, updates, and sometimes topical information or engaging content belongs on the blog, a stream of content with a presentation in chronological order. The same goes for an e-commerce website or online shop: the products and their categories, the shopping cart and check-out system make up the functional part of the website. The blog is a publication of news and branded content related to the products and the company. These blogs might have features such as a search bar, post categories and other taxonomy functions, as well as tags and “related content” functions to guide readers to other articles, but they’re generally not ideal for content discovery. At best, individual articles rank highly for certain questions, phrases or keywords and therefore attract search traffic, hopefully providing useful answers.
A content hub can have all the benefits of bringing search traffic as well, but is designed to perform much better at content discovery than a simple blog (unless that blog is designed and structured to serve as a content hub). Visitors can engage more freely with the content in a hub and are not forced to browse the publication in chronological order. Instead, they can find valuable information in a way and form according to their preference. This can mean a grouping by topic, by type, or by relevance, as well as making useful suggestions which evergreen content might interest readers. A content hub provides value. It is not a place to talk about the company in the style of an “About” page, serve landing pages, announcements, or press releases. Think back to the online shop: a page titled “These are our top-selling products” or “Customers also bought” should be part of the shop itself, not a content hub. However, “Stories of how our customers use our products creatively in the wild” is interesting, relevant content worthy of a place on the hub.

Pro Tip
Only content immediately relevant to visitors belongs in the hub.

The Benefits Of Content Hubs

A content hub is a concentration of high quality content, which sends a strong signal to search engines that will bring you visibility and quality traffic. Curating your content marketing efforts in a hub is a search engine optimization tactic that will pay off with long-term benefits such as improved rankings, increased traffic, and higher site engagement and time on site by visitors. If you’re hosting your hub on the same domain as your corporate website or on a subdomain, you’ll also harness all the positive effects of building links, both internal links and backlinks.   

SEO: Visibility, traffic, link building

Grow Your Engagement

A content hub fosters an interactive dialog between viewers, the brand and its content. A great hub not only generates traffic, it inspires engagement: your audience will read, discuss, share, sign up, try, buy, attend, and generate user content. That’s so much more than sales pages or social media can achieve - it’s active community building.

Maximize User Retention

A content hub enables you to increase the quantity and quality of your leads and conversions - it’s the logical extension of successful attraction and retention. The valuable information you offer leads to more time on site and therefore more opportunities to feed your funnel through profiling, lead capture and list growing, and contextual calls-to-action.

Gain Marketing insights

Since you’re in complete control of your content hub, you can gather a wealth of data to compile detailed analytics reports. These metrics further feed your content creation, because you’ll know exactly what performs how well with your target audience. The marketing insight you gain will make you a more effective publisher with growing authority.

Increased Authority

High quality content in a hub will not only lend you authority with search engines, but with your audience as well. If visitors know you consistently publish trustworthy and high value material, you will rise to the rank of thought leadership and establish your brand as a credible source of information regarding your topics. A position as a specialist enables you to distance yourself from the competition and make a clear distinction not only as content leader, but in the market as well.

Branding Opportunity

You don’t need to brand every individual piece of content you publish on a hub in order to reap the benefits of this branding opportunity. Your visitors will begin to associate the entire publication with your brand, and you can focus your efforts more on creating and curating content rather than identifying additional branding opportunities. The compilation of previously published material (that is still relevant!) increases the lifespan and return-on-investment for these pieces.

Complete Control

A social media or adwords campaign might give you many options for fine-tuning according to your needs, but only a content hub can give you complete control over distribution and user experience. You set your own objectives and KPIs and optimize accordingly. Through dynamic content, you can make individual pieces of information accessible in many different ways. If you want to redesign the entire content experience in the future, you can do so, knowing that you won’t be limited by a third party publishing platform or channel.
In online and content marketing, you can always learn from others. We've selected five exemplary content hubs from different sectors which demonstrate the potential and marketing reach of content hubs.

Great Content Hub Examples

Airbnb is offering a lot in terms of content discovery, but could present a more unified content hub.

Airbnb Neighborhoods

Vacation rentals and a play to stay are only one aspect of travel, and Airbnb realized they can offer customers more than that through their content marketing. In their Neighborhoods content hub, they compile the basics about a destination, inspire further research, fulfill personal needs, and provide the option to personalize your travel through experiences. Yet with only a handful of destinations (yet), this content hub has a lot of (unrealized) potential.
The Hubspot blog is actually a full-fledged content hub that works well for discovering content.

Hubspot Blog

The Hubspot blog is "just" a blog in name only as this content hub allows readers quick access to most popular articles and editor's picks. Thanks to the possibility of exploring topics, content discovery works well. It helps that Hubspot have split up their blogs into the four categories Marketing, Sales, Service, and Website. Parallel to that, you can subscribe to specifically targeted newsletters.
Adobe CMO is a leading content marketing hub.
Online marketers think about Google anyway, so Google wants them to Think With Google.

Think With Google

A majority of online marketing efforts happen with Google in mind, and Google wouldn’t be Google if they didn’t specifically target B2B and B2C marketers thinking about them. The result, Think With Google, is a comprehensive and accessible resource for nearly all conceivable marketing topics: insights and statistics, marketing tools, trends and data, and analysis of campaigns, industries, platforms, and audiences. Best of all, you can receive a tailored stream of content fitting your personal needs.
Microsoft Story Labs is part of Microsoft News, which in itself is a content hub beyond a blog.

Microsoft Story Labs

Microsoft Stories is branded storytelling at its finest. It lives as a category on the Microsoft News subdomain, which in itself is already a highly accessible dynamic content hub, letting readers discover content not in chronological order, but by different categories pertaining to the company itself, its products, development blogs, and press releases. Within that hub, Microsoft Stories are excellent highlights featuring people, trends, experiences, or products which connect Microsoft to a wide range of topics.
Curating content for a hub doesn’t mean you’re just recycling old content (source).
Fully realized, live content hubs are great and visual examples, but what about an empty template to understand the differences between various types of content hubs? We'll introduce you to five different ways of realizing a content hub suitable for smaller and larger projects and publications.

Content Hub With Spokes

The library approach to the content hub concept still uses subpages for topics, which will link to various individual pages, but it puts a (dynamic) library page in front of the subpages for easy sorting and discovery of the subtopics. If you have a lot of different subtopics which could be sorted various ways, the library is probably the content hub of choice for you.
  • CATEGORY 1
    • Subtopic 1
      • Individual page / article / content piece
      • Individual page / article / content piece
      • Individual page / article / content piece
    • Subtopic 2
      • Individual page / article / content piece
      • Individual page / article / content piece
      • Individual page / article / content piece
    • Subtopic 3
      • Individual page / article / content piece
      • Individual page / article / content piece
      • Individual page / article / content piece
  • CATEGORY 2
    • Subtopic 1
      • Individual page / article / content piece
      • Individual page / article / content piece
      • Individual page / article / content piece
    • Subtopic 2
      • Individual page / article / content piece
      • Individual page / article / content piece
      • Individual page / article / content piece
  • CATEGORY 3
    • etc.
A library page should actually be the default homepage for many blogs, instead of a page showing the latest posts in chronological order. Some blogs do a mix of both. Depending on the blog content management system, you can actually realize a library content hub with a blog, if there is a comprehensive enough way of defining taxonomy through categories, tags etc.
This is a "classic" content hub which consists of a hub or hubs from which spokes are branching out. As you can see, this model is what gave the whole idea of a content hub its name. A head page or parent page will lead the reader to various subpages. The parent page can be a broader topic and keywords, whereas the subpages go more into specifics.
    • Subpage: one aspect of the topic
    • Subpage: another aspect of the topic
    • Subpage: yet another aspect of the topic
    • Subpage: Customer story related to the topic
    • Etc.
This approach works well for making evergreen and fairly static content easily accessible. In theory, each parent page could have an infinite number of subpages, of course, but for any archive larger than twenty to thirty subpages, you might want to consider a different model due to navigation and interlinking issues.

Content Hub As A Library

Content Hub as A Topic Matrix

If you already have a rather large archive of content of individual pieces or child pages, user exploration and discovery is probably best serviced through filters. A parent or discovery page can dynamically pull up popular and relevant content based on the reader's filter choices, allowing for the sorting by various taxonomies.
  • PARENT PAGE
    • Filter options
      • Dynamic display of child pages based on taxonomy
      • Child page
      • Child page
      • etc.
Examples are a huge directory (of clients, businesses, assets), a product database, or a complex glossary. You can of course still build further discovery methods into this content hub, like a custom search, or topic gateway pages for the most important child pages and subtopics. But for a large part, the content discovery for a database hub will stand and fall with the functionality and quality of the filter options.

Content Hub As A Database

A matrix content hub is a good fit for an index of many parent pages, which you fit with consistent subpages of identical topics. It provides a very clear structure (down to the URL, if you choose to go that way) and lets visitors know in advance what they can expect for each parent page. The matrix is flexible in the way that you can go wide with literally thousands of parent pages, or deep, with loads of subpages, or both, actually. For an example, consider a travel-related content hub were each destination is a parent page for which the hub provides consistent subpages:
DESTINATION 1
DESTINATION 2
DESTINATION 3
Top 10 Must See
Top 10 Must See
Top 10 Must See
How to get there
How to get there
How to get there
When to go
When to go
When to go
Where to stay
Where to stay
Where to stay
Weather
Weather
Weather
Sample itinerary
Sample itinerary
Sample itinerary
The topic gateway content hub is similar to the library, except that it's better suited for hubs with less categories. It then introduces each topic with a dedicated page, providing an introduction or overview, static content resources such as evergreen articles, and then dynamic links to other published content pieces, such as videos or other multimedia assets. A topic gateway content hub looks more like a wiki than a regular blog. It serves readers well who are looking to deep dive into a single topic.
  • TOPIC GATEWAY PAGE
    • Short (or long) introduction
    • Sidebar with brief facts (optional) (Wiki style)
    • Overview and links to popular resources, individual pages
    • Dynamic links to more related content
  • TOPIC GATEWAY PAGE
  • TOPIC GATEWAY PAGE
  • etc.
You can also combine the topic gateway and the library: you can create a library page as a homepage for your hub, then format or design subpages for categories with the gateway approach. You can even create very long topic gateway pages in the style of an "ultimate guide" to various highly important topics.

Content Hub As A Gateway To Topics

Internal Content Hubs

An internal content hub is an accessible, easy-to-use platform for your employees to store, manage, and find information and assets they need to do their jobs. Think of it as a one-stop-shop for internal content. It enables mastering the organizational challenges of:
  • Free flow of information, preventing information silos and isolated, walled-off knowledge
  • Effective and efficient communication
  • Quick development and deployment
  • Internal collaboration and interpersonal connection
  • Employee engagement and motivation thanks to clear documentation and straightforward workflows
An internal content hub can include these components:
  • Digital Asset Management: From pictures, videos, and audio to reports, analyses and raw data, a content hub can offer safe storage and management of digital assets. This can include search, tagging of resources with metadata, and permission management.
  • Product Content Management: If you have a lot of customer-facing product information, such as details of stock-keeping units, an internal content hub allows you to view and manage all that from one platform. Access for the marketing team ensures that they’ll always have up-to-date product information available.
  • Marketing Resource Management: These features are specifically geared towards online marketers, including marketing calendars and timelines, workflow integration for creatives, approval management, performance dashboards and KPI tools.
While the content of such an internal hub is of course a custom knowledge base built over time and relevant to your specific company and the needs of your employees, the actual solution is rarely custom-built. Depending on the complexity of your development and production, you’ll want something that integrates well with your established workflow and processes.

Pro Tip
An internal content hub is a one-stop-shop for internal knowledge to help you master organizational challenges.
Avoid a content management nightmare with a hub (source).

External Content Hubs

In the context of online marketing, a content hub is an audience-facing portal to your branded and curated content related to topics relevant to readers. In other words, although you’re serving content to your audience, what you really provide are highly informative answers to their questions and solutions to their problems or needs.
  • On such a content hub, the brand is the owner and publisher.
  • Regular publication of content relevant to the audience.
  • The content covers a broad variety of topics.
  • The hub enables visitors to find the information they seek in their preferred form.
  • A combination of authors and mix of formats is possible and beneficial.
  • The content is rarely promotional (only), but can be branded, curated, user-generated, or come from social media and other channels.
  • A content hub can be integrated into your regular website or exist separately, on another domain, or microsite.
Some or all of these points might sound similar to your existing efforts or even identify your current content marketing exactly. Which brings us to the questions: Isn’t a content hub “just” a blog, or website, or microsite? And what are the benefits of a content hub?

Pro Tip
There are many different ways in which you can create and structure an external content hub.

There is no fixed way in which you can or have to realize a content hub. Yes, it can live as part of your corporate website on the same domain, or it can exist on another domain as a microsite. With enough content management functionality, a blog can be a content hub. But let’s compare the two to get more insight.
Let’s face it: chronological blogs aren’t great content discovery platforms!
You don’t have to choose: A content hub IS good SEO!

Adobe CMO

The name of this content hub is a tell-all: Adobe CMO targets CMOs, CIOs,CDOs, and anyone else involved in customer experience to “lead their brand in a digital world.” Adobe builds on the brand’s authority as a content marketing leader with insight and inspiration for marketing professionals. This digital publication offers a wide range of curated content; interviews and advice from industry leaders, guidance in the form of how-tos and tutorials, hand-picked marketing news, research data, and expertise in the form of user-generated content.
Imagine you target different user personas with your content strategy, and publish accordingly with regularity. Over time, you’ll build up a sizable archive. On a traditional blog, this will be organized in reverse chronological order, with maybe some categories and post tags to somewhat facilitate browsing. But in terms of discovery, your content is mainly a stream that leaves it up to visitors to figure out what’s relevant to them. To recap the benefits of a content hub, let’s compare the difference in user experience:
  • A content hub presents information as a curate, focused, and highly accessible or browsable collection. Consumption and discovery are intuitive and user-friendly, even for larger amounts of posts or content pieces.
  • Viewers get pulled in, but don’t get “lost” in the stream. The time on site increases, but so does the quality of the experience: users spend less time searching and more time building trust and learning about your authority as a thought leader.
  • Your content hub becomes the go-to place for readers who’S background and needs differ. You can match your content to different journeys instead of presenting just a chronological order.
  • Satisfied readers, search traffic, and building links means a content hub can please both visitors as well as search engines.
So let’s look at how you can build your content hub strategically to reap those benefits.

Pro Tip
A content hub works best if it’s integrated well into your content marketing strategy.

How To Create A Content Hub

Content Hub Creation Best Practises

  • Feed the knowledge about your target audience into the creation and design of your content hub.
  • Use keyword research for determining topics and spokes for your hub.
  • Think about how to curate your content.
  • Involve relevant departments such as UX research and design, as well as web development when designing the content hub and user experience.
  • Your future content creation will become easier the more planning and thinking goes into the development of your content hub.
  • Rely on organized project management to keep up your publication schedule and maintenance of your content hub, including following your interlinking strategy.

Successful Curation For A Content Hub

As a rule of thumb, we’re going to repeat what we’ve stated before: anything of no direct value to the visitor doesn’t belong in a content hub. On a deeper level, here are possible ways for how to organize the content curation in a hub:
  • Persona: This organization is logical when you already have established user personas and your past targeting has been effective. In your hub, you will then group individual pieces of content together according to the needs and interests of the individual personas.
  • Intent: Here you as the question, what is the reader or visitor trying to accomplish? These intents can relate to various steps on the customer journey, but don’t necessarily have to.
  • Topical: You’ll have one or more hub pages which relate to a topic (and most likely a keyword), with individual spokes reaching out to cover various aspects of that topic. For example: if online marketing is a hub, individual spokes could be tools, strategy, resources, etc.
  • Level or stage: Similarly to personas, you can divide your audience into beginners, intermediates, and advanced users. Or you can group content around the various stages of a process. For example, when you’re targeting video production, you could group content by video recording, video editing, and video publishing.
Pro Tip
The way you curate your content should correspond with your keyword strategy. Organizing target keywords by topic or level / stage is simple and requires less research. But the approach by persona or intent can well make the extra research worth your while since it will increase your relevance.

How To Use An Internal Content Hub

A content hub serves different types and formats of content in one central location in an easy-to-use way which facilitates discovery: the content can be grouped thematically, for example, so that users can quickly find what they need when they need it. In that way, a company can use a hub as an internal tool to deliver value for its employees. You might say: my company is already doing that, everything is simply in the cloud. That might well be the case and any content hub will most likely live in the cloud for ease of access for everyone. But in the following, we’ll briefly look at what actual features and benefits an internal content hub can realize.
  • Efficiency: As a centralized platform for access to data assets and content, your employees will always know to turn to your content hub for their needs, saving time and effort thanks to classification, segments, and categories.
  • Collaboration and participation: A content hub facilitates collaborative efforts on individual contributions; depending on the platform the creation can happen right there on the portal, so the distribution of outdated versions is out of the way. All stakeholders can participate in an easy and user-friendly way. Same as on your intranet, rights management is possible to limit access if needed.
  • Knowledge sharing: The investment into a content hub for boosting communication and sharing knowledge is guaranteed to pay back. Too often companies rely solely or too heavily on top-down knowledge dissemination, but a hub puts the knowledge management on the demand side. When all employees and departments are sharing their expertise, employees can actively look for what they need instead of waiting to be handed information.
  • Alignment eliminates silos: Differences in management, perceived and actual distance, collaboration failure and communication breakdown as well as inadequate workflows or outdated technology and processes, security concerns and many more reasons can quickly lead to silos of knowledge and information. The result is not only a decline in quality of work, but also revenue. A central content hub aligns teams through unification: the hub unifies the content, but just as importantly, also the communication and engagement around those assets. 
  • Content management: With today’s technology at your fingertips, there is no reason to manage content manually. Use your content hub to automate version control, feedback processes, approval, and publishing and to integrate your various channels complete with tracking and localization.
  • Marketing Resource Management: This system helps your marketing department with the realization and tracking of all marketing efforts through content calendars, reviews, approval process management, performance dashboards and planning features. Integrating it with your content hub means all necessary digital assets are always at hand.
  • Content Marketing Platform: This is an enhancement of marketing resources for planning and realizing the most complex campaigns. Plan and assign cross-departmental collaboration and orchestrate the development of content marketing assets all within the hub.
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