SEO copywriting’s secret weapon: Hub pages
Ian Lurie Dec 4 2009
Link related content together and it’s 10x more powerful as an SEO tool.
So why doesn’t anyone ever do it?
It’s easy. Here’s how you create a ‘hub’ page and use it to boost your rankings, improve your site for readers and get that warm tingly feeling inside:
You’ve got nuthin’
Say you run a golfing news site, and some guy who didn’t learn from Bill Clinton wrecks his SUV, destroys his public image and generally shows he’s a bit of a goober. And this guy happens to be a golfer.
Right now, you’ve got four articles on your site that mention this unnamed person, and talk about golf or other things related to his tale of woe. But those pages aren’t linked to each other, so your visitors, and Google, take each individual page at face value. They don’t see that you’re an authority on the whole story:
Not good. You want to get more traffic related to the whole story – it’s current, it’s trending hot and it’s what folks are looking for. You can sell more ads and gloat to your competitors at the next golfing conference. But only if you can pull it together.
Create a hub page
That’s where the hub page comes in.
Create a single page or article. Write a bit about the developing story/soap opera and then link from the existing articles to that page. And, of course, link from that page back to those articles.
Ah. Now Google sits up and takes notice:
Why? Because you’re driving authority from the existing articles to a single, central resource. You’ve got a clump of relevant content that all links together. When Google crawls any one of those pages, it sees the other pages in close proximity and accords them all more relevance for their common themes.
You’re not done! You have to keep building the hub’s authority by adding more content. Ideally, this stuff should be new, relevant, high-value information that deals directly with the trending story, whatever that is:
If you don’t, any ranking and traffic gains you get will be temporary. Google – and your readers – will quickly lose interest:
Whatever you do, don’t publish 20 pages and then stop. Velocity matters as much as quantity.
Get some links, while you’re at it
It doesn’t hurt to get some external links pointing at your new hub page, either. Go for the easy stuff first: Bloggers you know, press releases and the like.
Link growth is another indicator of relevance and authority. Steady link growth will stabilize your rankings and therefore your traffic:
Don’t get lots of links and then stop! Again, velocity matters as much as quantity.
Works on all surfaces!
Hub pages work everywhere – they’re the Simple Green of SEO copywriting.
- Link related products and blog entries on your e-commerce site.
- Write a series of blog posts, and use the first post as the hub.
- Cross-link service pages on your B2B site, remixing them into different packages.
You get the idea.
A quick case study
A couple months ago I wrote a series about canonicalization.
24 hours after the 1st article went live, nothing happened.
24 hours after the 2nd article went live (and linked to the 1st), I showed up on page 3 in Google for ‘canonicalization’.
24 hours after that, I published the 3rd article, and linked all 3 together. Voila! A page 1 ranking for ‘canonicalization’.
Alas. Then I decided that things like sleep and food were more important. Without consistent content growth, I slipped back to page two, where I now languish, unseen.
No hub, no rankings. New hub, page 1. Stale hub, page 2. There you have it.
Remember your readers
This isn’t just about search. When you create hub pages, you add value for readers. If you sell denim clothing, I might want to see all of your black denim, regardless of type, size or style. So a hub page for all black items is a great move, regardless of its effect on rankings.
Do hub pages when they make sense for search and for your visitors.
Now get out there and get hubbing!
If you have examples where hub pages have worked (or failed), let me know – leave a comment below.
Ian Lurie is CEO and founder of Portent Inc. He's recorded training for Lynda.com, writes regularly for the Portent Blog and has been published on AllThingsD, Forbes.com and TechCrunch. Ian speaks at conferences around the world, including SearchLove, MozCon, SIC and ad:Tech. Follow him on Twitter at portentint. He also just published a book about strategy for services businesses: One Trick Ponies Get Shot, available on Kindle. Read More