Editor’s note: Updated June 2020.
Content management can be like herding cats. As soon as you improve engagement metrics for one piece of content, two others begin to lag behind the competition. To generate leads and grow traffic, you need two things: quality content and somewhere for it to live.
The environment in which your B2B content lives needs to be able to show readers content that is most relevant to their search intent. Putting all of your content in chronological order won’t cut it, because valuable pieces will get buried quickly. A content hub solves these challenges by introducing responsive design and logical structure to your branded content.
What is a content hub?
If you’re a business stakeholder who has struggled with generating inbound leads, the phrase “content hub” might send a chill down your spine. First you had to build individual pieces of content to fill your blog and social media pages … and now you have to create an entire hub of relevant content? What does that even look like?
Let’s take a second to understand what we’re talking about here. A content hub is a curated collection of branded content related to a topic. That’s it! Not so scary now, huh?
But that definition is a little vague, so let’s see if we can get more specific. A hub is focused on distinct subject matter like a blog but presents information in a more user-friendly manner.
A blog is a stream of content presented in chronological order. Readers arriving at a blog page aren’t likely to dig into the archives unless they’re looking for something extremely specific. That format is ideal for brands that want to share the latest news and trends with readers.
A hub gives readers more freedom to find the content that is most valuable to them, in the form that they most prefer. This format gives more exposure to evergreen content and helps users find what they’re looking for faster. Additionally, hubs make it easier to provide value to readers at every stage of the buying journey. More on that later.
To further differentiate a hub from a website, it helps to understand what types of pages you won’t find on one. A hub is not a place for an “About Us” page, e-commerce, product or service landing pages, event announcements or press releases. If the content is not immediately relevant to readers, it doesn’t belong in the hub.
How a content hub supports SEO strategy
An effective hub demonstrates that your brand understands the needs and interests of your target audience. Like a magazine, a hub takes a narrow topic and explores every nook and cranny within it, helping readers glean new insights, discover the latest trends and conduct research in a meaningful way.
From an SEO perspective, a content hub lends authority to its brand. When a user arrives at a hub, they can instantly see the topics and themes for which your brand is a thought leader. Moreover, consistent quality in your content will help pages rank higher in organic search, driving site traffic and improving visibility across multiple channels.
If the content is not immediately relevant to readers, it doesn’t belong in the hub.
Capturing valuable readers
These days, brands generate enormous amounts of digital assets. Some pieces are designed to attract new readers, others to engage buyers who are further down the sales funnel. Content marketers understand that each category of reader is important, but each has a distinct intention for visiting a website.
Research from Demand Gen Report found that 47 percent of B2B buyers read three to five pieces of content before communicating with a sales representative. A hub gives them the option to dive into pieces on a specific theme, challenge or trend to build a base knowledge before interacting with the sales department. This can improve the quality and quantity of inbound leads by automating a key part of the discovery process.
Fostering a community
Social media can be a great place to build a community of readers and buyers. However, brands have very little control over social media platforms. You can create an excellent page and fill it with engaging content, but a single algorithm change could make it difficult for users to find your posts. A hub puts you in control, giving you the ability to grow a dedicated readership.
DGR’s research also revealed that 96 percent of B2B buyers would like to see more content from industry leaders. A hub allows you to put your brand’s internal champions at the forefront. These are the people who make your brand special, and their insights demonstrate authority, expertise and passion. These characteristics are essential for developing a readership that trusts in the content your brand produces.
Optimizing content experience
These days, competition for readers is substantial. Brands across the globe develop tailored content at an almost unbelievable rate. Per minute, internet users generate 500 hours of YouTube content, 1,440 WordPress posts, 448,800 tweets, 65,972 Instagram posts and 3.3 million Facebook posts, according to SmartInsights. In other words, it’s no longer enough to simply write an amazing article or record an engaging video. The broader context in which your content lives is much more important than it was even a few years ago.
To stand out among the billions of gigabytes of data published online each day, brands have to give users a content experience that is not only useful but also enjoyable. Research from Adobe found that 38 percent of readers become disengaged when site layout is unattractive. Brands cannot get away with cutting corners.
According to Überflip, content experience can be defined as: “The environment in which your content lives, how it’s structured, and how it compels your prospects and customers to engage with your company.”
Content experience is a lot like a dining experience. You’d likely rather enjoy a meal on a rooftop patio than in the back alley by the trash cans. Content quality is vital, and so is the quality of the environment in which readers engage with it.
A great hub places your quality content in an environment that is visually pleasing, well-organized and expertly curated.
Content hub examples: 3 brands that nail the strategy
Sometimes it’s easier to understand a concept when you see it in action. Here are three brands that have created beautiful examples of the form:
Unsurprisingly, Google has one of the best hubs around. The site provides B2B and B2C marketers with the latest insights and trends. From SEO tips to in-depth reports, Think With Google has content on just about every marketing topic imaginable. Users can subscribe to a free newsletter to receive a personalized stream of content that aligns with their unique interests.
The OPEN forum hub from American Express was one of the first of its kind. The program has been around for over a decade now and has become a respected source of information for small-business owners. OPEN forum curates expert advice, trend reports, research papers and case studies on a number of relevant topics. Importantly, the platform allows business owners to connect with one another, fostering a highly supportive community.
Intel’s content hub features articles, videos and social media content on a number of tech-related topics. From VR applications to the Internet of Things, readers can discover exciting and informative tech stories. The hub features a robust categorization option that gives users the ability to specify what type of content they’re interested in browsing. This makes it easy for readers to find relevant content quickly.
A hub can take your brand to a whole new level. It combines a refined content experience with thought leadership, SEO best practices and marketing automation. Readers can find content that’s relevant to their interests, share it with the community and engage with your brand meaningfully.