A “hub and spoke” SEO content strategy

It’s common knowledge that the “long tail” is where the bulk of searches lie. However, connecting with users searching across the incredibly diverse web of search phrases can be a challenge. Solutions exist in the form of user generated content, content management systems and more. This post discusses an approach that I have used with some success.

A hub and spoke approach to content creation

When writing new content for your website it helps to use a structured approach. I call this a “hub and spoke” approach to content creation, which expands a simple root term into increasingly targeted variations. If your target keyword is “car insurance”, first order keyword variations could include “car insurancecompanies” and “car insurance comparison” for instance. In turn, you could expand each of these into second order variations, such as “car insurance companies in Sydney” or “car insurance companies in Melbourne” if relevant.

Dos

  • Create unique pages with bespoke content for each of your target keywords. Build your target key phrase, and variations around this phrase into your content – these could include singular / plural variations, as well as past / present or future tenses. Your pages can’t be all things to all people. Hub and spoke keyword research provides a blueprint for site architecture.
  • Build links to your pages from relevant hub pages and back. You could also consider building internal links between each of the spokes to support their rankings. A content management system could help automate the creation of internal links. Turn to your SEO consultant for external links and help with your internal link profile.
  • Tailor your link anchor text to help search engines understand the theme of your of your destination pages. It also is a good idea to vary your anchor text to keep your link profile natural.

Don’ts

  • Keyword stuffing. Creating keyword-targeted content isn’t about keyword density – a popular misconception within the SEO community. Instead, use meta tags and HTML tags to help search engines understand the theme of your page. For instance, H1, H2 and H3 tags can be used to prioritize keywords on any given page.
  • Thin content. It can be a challenge to find the right balance between too little and too much copy. Write too little and you page could capture too few variations around your target keyword. Write too much and you could dilute the focus of your page. I have found that copy between 300 and 400 words works well.
  • Duplicate content. You could be tempted to scrape content, replicating others content substantively or in full. When Google detects two or more pages on a site with duplicate content, it will choose one of them to list. Furthermore, your site could attract indexing and ranking penalties if Google believes that duplicate content is shown with the intent to manipulate rankings. Search engines aside, duplicate content creates a poor user experience which is unlikely to drive ad revenue or conversions.

How long before results come through?

This will ultimately depend on the competitive landscape and the strength of your domain. If your site is authoritative, crawled on a regular basis, your keyword-targeted page could make it onto the first page of Google within days.  If your web page is ranking too low in your opinion, this may be an indication that your key phrase requires additional support in the form of external link building, and perhaps better optimised internal linking.