Start with the top three core problems of your buyer persona. Or, survey your audience.
The purpose is to group the problems and map relevant short-tail keywords to them. Make sure that the short-tail keywords have sufficient volume and that you can write more than 20 articles on each one.
You'll then write a comprehensive post on this short-tail keyword and cover the subject broadly (think of it as the table of contents).
This is your hub page.
Leslie Ye took on the task of updating HubSpot's content into clusters and overhauled hub pages. Here’s the question she recommends asking for choosing your hubs:
“Would this page answer every question the reader who searched X keyword had, and is it broad enough to be an umbrella for 20-30 posts?”
If you’re still not sure if your keyword is a viable hub, explore the Nightwatch guide on SEO segmentation. They've done a great job of explaining the different types of keywords you could use to dominate niche markets.
2. Research Longtail Keywords to Find Sub-topics (Your Spokes)
Once you’re settled with your main topic (the hub), you then need to come up with the sub-topics (or the spokes) for your central hub.
These can be longtail keywords that cover various specific angles on the broad topic.
Start your research with keyword research tools. Suppose you want to create a hub page on “content marketing.” So, you could use something like AnswerThePublic to get the top questions around the subject.
You can also use the related search suggestions at the bottom of the search results for a few sneaky longtail keywords.
If you were a travel company that sold travel packages to Japan, then you could make use of a few keywords like these, aye?
Also, you can reverse-engineer the top competitors for your keyword.
For instance, say you went all adventurous and targeted beginner bloggers (good luck with choosing such a competitive niche!).
You also find that Ryan isn’t following the hub and spoke SEO model. But he has broken down his massive guide (with over 30,000 words including comments) into 10 steps.
The table of contents at the top of the article is superb for thinking about spokes. They can serve as the guiding light in your spoke keyword research.
Just think—couldn’t you write long-form content pieces on each of the following sub-headings in this table of contents?
Remember the idea is to cover all the problems of your customer around the broad subject and give them an end-to-end resource.
Once you have a list of longtail keywords, choose the top 15-20 keywords based on their business value.
For example, if you're running an e-commerce store, you could find spokes from your customers' most frequently asked questions about your best-selling products, and then map them to keywords with decent search volume.
If you’re a visual thinker, these mind map templates by Venngage will help in establishing a clear topic and keyword hierarchy.
3. Practice Proper URL Structure and Internal Linking
For proper technical SEO, you need a robust site architecture. Doing this will lead all of your spoke pages and the hub page to fare better in search results.
Use internal links to help search engines index your content and understand the depth with which you’ve covered a topic. Interlinking also helps search bots establish that there’s a semantic relationship between the content on the pages.
And of course, remember to link internally from the spokes to the hub to emphasize it.
The ideal URL structure you should follow is:
In his SEO marketing hub, Brian Dean has even explicitly used the word "hub" in its URL structure. And the spokes are further branched out under it.
Here are a few URLs from his hub:
He uses breadcrumb links and a navigation link in the left sidebar for moving around the hub.
If you’re practicing historical content optimization, then it’s more difficult to establish a hierarchy without changing the URLs of existing blog posts.
In such cases, you can simply create a hub page that covers the subject broadly, and link to the related posts (the spokes) from the hub page content organically.
His URL structure is somewhat random and here are a few examples:
jamesclear.com/creativity (hub page)
On the hub page, James tries to link to his spoke articles while writing about creativity organically.
However, the ones that couldn’t fit in still found a place at the bottom of the page under “All Creativity Articles.”
James also links back to the creativity hub page at the top of every spoke article.
If you’re familiar with WordPress, that’s the place where the category of your posts appears.
Even without following the URL structure, this hub page still ranks on Google's first page for the keyword “creativity.” Great job, James!
4. Promote Your Hub and Spokes
To do this, you can either promote all your spoke articles first and then later the hub, or you can promote all of them together.
The way you approach this step is dependent on your editorial calendar and dependent on you.
If you already have spoke articles, then you could update them and do a content relaunch. Also try acquiring more backlinks to your hub page and build its authority. The hub and spoke internal linking structure will help ensure the link juice is distributed across your site.
Pat Flynn launched his fully-prepared affiliate marketing hub with a single email. He waited for six months for his team to create all the content together. Then, he sent an email to his audience to announce it.
The page had previously existed on his site with less than 1,000 words, but he upgraded it to follow the hub and spoke SEO framework. Here’s the tweet he sent out to promote it once it was live.
An alternative method is to promote each article as you publish it, as per your editorial calendar.
For instance, James Clear used to send emails of his new articles twice a week, for more than a couple of years.
Later, you can then create your hub page that contains all your spoke articles. This method gives you a fair bit of flexibility as well.
It's also worthwhile repurposing your content into an email course or pdf, and offering it to your prospects. It can be a great way to land new subscribers. This is what Pat did for his affiliate marketing hub, by repurposing it into a downloadable guide.
5. Measure Your Performance
In the long term, your hub and spoke articles should start raking in evergreen traffic rather than flatlining.
As search engines discover and establish you as the authority on your covered subject, they'll start boosting your rankings and sending more visitors. And once a new visitor lands on your site, they'll happily consume as much information as they like—as well as share it with their friends!
Hub and spoke SEO is a terrific way to organize your content creation efforts, exemplify the user experience of your site, and land in the good books of search engines.
Follow these five steps to create your first hub and spokes!