The Power of Topic Hubs to Drive SEO & Build Topic Authority

How Topic Hubs Can Boost Your Online Visibility

As a CMO or entrepreneur, it is important to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to online marketing and search engine optimization (SEO).  One strategy that can greatly improve your SEO, increase organic traffic to your website and increase the visibility of your organization is through the creation of Topic Hubs.  In this article, we’ll explore the essence of Topic Hubs, their significance, and the steps required to create them on your site.

Too often when I work with nonprofits and startups, their media strategy is a bit “all over the place”.  When they have time to create any content at all, they tend to address whatever is the “hot” topic at the time.  As a result, their content offering moves from one topic to the next with little attempt to link topics together.  In aggregate, their content offerings lack the keyword density and focus necessary to rank high in organic search.  The result is missed business opportunities and slower growth.

YouTube’s Hero – Hub – Help strategy shows us the way!

To help its major advertisers increase profits, YouTube extensively tested an innovative digital marketing strategy called Hero – Hub – and Help.  They extensively tested and then recommended digital marketers focus their media spend to achieve three goals.

  • Hero Content – Done 2 to 4 times each year, Hero content is “outside-the-box” content designed to significantly grow your market share and better position your brands. In my Northwestern classes, I describe a hero event as something your target market will think is AWESOME!  A great contest, seminar, gathering, webinar, live panel discussion are just a few examples.  If they are awesome in the eyes of your target audience, they will likely tell others and your event will grow through WOM – Word of Mouth!  The best form of advertising.  [I cover Hero content and the best hero strategies in the second course.]
  • Hub Content – This is content you publish twice a month. It could all be blogs and webpages but could also be podcasts, videos, webinars and other media.  The goal of hub content is to identify 2 – 4 topic categories of high value and high interest to your best target audiences.  For each category, you identify topics of interest to develop.  You can then use AI tools like ChatGPT to help you develop the hubs.  The goal of Hub Content is to allow you to maintain regular, predictive and relevant contact to develop your prospects into new customers and to build stronger relationships with your current customer base.
  • Help Content – Help content serves your customers to enhance their satisfaction with your products and services. It includes unboxing videos, tips and tricks, FAQ pages, chatbots, and a host of other options.  The goal of Help content is to grow satisfied customers.

In this paper and in my first online course, we will focus on creating great hub content.  I also have more information and an online course on how to use ChatGPT to build highly effective Hero and Help content.  I also have a white paper on Hero – Hub – and Help if you want more details on this highly effective strategy.  It is the base for 2 courses I teach at Northwestern University.

Google’s Double E-A-T is Why We Create Topic Hubs

Ever wonder why your website ranking is so low?  It is because Google’s algorithm is ranking you low.  Why?  It is because you are likely missing key elements in Double E-A-T.  This term is used by Google to build its algorithm and rank every website.  So, the better you understand the elements, the better you can build your website to rank higher…and a great way to do that is with a set of Topic Hubs.

What exactly is Double E-A-T?

When Google’s algorithm is scanning your website, it is looking for 4 attributes.  These are:

  1. Experience – They want your website to contain pages where they show you have hands-on, real experiences in the topics you are discussing. They rank pages that show expertise higher than those that don’t.  For your content development efforts, I recommend you add personal experiences and use storytelling to incorporate experiences into all your content.  Demonstrate your ability to help your target audience succeed.
  2. Expertise – Google looks for knowledgeable content that is speaking to a specific audience. Google looks for expertise in two ways.  As it scans your webpages, it looks for terminology and phrases which indicate your expertise.  It also examines each page for links to other pages of information.  That shows you are addressing related topics of interest to your target audiences.  A second way is Google looking for backlinks to experts and expert content outside your organization.  It shows you are networking with experts who enhance your content and your website.
  3. Authority – For authority, Google explores the reputation and authority of the content creators, your website, and your brand. It is important you have effective bios on your internal authors on the website and include their names, your brand, and your company in the keywords defining each content item you create.  Google is looking for keyword density and bios to develop your authority.  Backlinks to experts also help.
  4. Trustworthiness – Google examines customer reviews, your website security [SSL certificates, etc] and your transparency providing accurate information to establish your trustworthiness as an organization.

Double E-A-T is the system Google uses to determine your organization’s SEO ranking for key search terms and where you are going to rank.  Obviously, ranking on page one [ideally position one] is the goal.  To do that you need 1] topic categories and specific topic content highly desired by your target audience, 2] keyword density for the keywords that will attract searchers to your site, and 3] links and backlinks which show your authority on the topics you develop.  Each of these is addressed when you develop effective, targeted topic hubs.

If you want more information on Double E-A-T, I have a more detailed paper on it.  Also, this is a link to the actual Google training system used to teach their employees how to evaluate a website as their algorithm does.  Take a look at section 3.0 for more insights on the importance of Double E-A-T.

What are Topic Hubs?

Topic Hubs Drive SEO
 Topics Hubs Establish Your Topic Authority

Topic Hubs are focused content centers that concentrate on a specific theme or topic. They act as a go-to source of information on a particular subject and serve as a hub for all related content. These collections of high-quality, relevant content cater to your target audience and communicate your company’s proficiency and authority on a particular subject.

In teaching Topic Hubs using ChatGPT, I have my students first identify the markets for their products and services and then ask ChatGPT the topic categories they find interesting.  Next, I have ChatGPT identify the topics related to their company.  We then search for the topic categories where the desires of the market intersect with the skills and expertise of the company.  Those are the important topics on which to build your topic hub.

For example, one company I use in my online course on ChatGPT is an energy drink company and they would love to talk about hydration energy drinks all day long.  The problem…their audience doesn’t care.  The company’s audience is athletes, exercise professionals and active adults.  They don’t want to talk hydration but they are extremely interested in topics like

  • How does hydration impact my workout?
  • What role does hydration play in my pre-workout routine?
  • What are the best ways to monitor my hydration levels while working out or working in the yard?
  • How does hydration speed up my recovery?
  • And a host of other questions.

The goal is to develop several Topic Hubs around topics of interest to your target market and, perhaps, one which is more brand focused.

Why are Topic Hubs crucial for SEO?

Topic Hubs can make a significant impact on your SEO in several ways. First, they give direction to your content marketing efforts, enabling you to produce targeted, relevant, and high-quality content. This enhances your website’s visibility in search engine results, as search engines reward sites that provide valuable and relevant content.

Second, Topic Hubs help establish your brand as an industry expert. By creating a comprehensive source of information on a particular subject, you showcase your expertise and authority to both your target audience and search engines, thereby boosting your website’s credibility. This leads to increased traffic, leads, and conversions.

Third, each Topic Hub and each one of the topic content articles, videos and podcasts around it will contain four types of keywords.  First, there will be keywords associated with the company and key staff.  Second, there will be generic terms associated with the topic hub.  In the prior example, words like hydration, energy, drink, etc will be used.  Third, there will be several keywords associated with the target market like athlete, fitness expert, exercise, etc.  Finally, there will be 10+ keywords describing the article itself.

Lastly, Topic Hubs provide an organized structure for your content, making it easier for users to find what they’re looking for. This increases user engagement and reduces bounce rates, both of which are crucial factors in determining your website’s ranking in search engine results.

What is the difference between topic hubs, pillar pages, and cluster content?

Topic hubs, pillar pages, and cluster content are all terms often used to describe a content strategy focused on improving search engine optimization (SEO) for a website.

Topic hubs refer to a central page or group of pages on a website that serves as an authoritative resource on a specific topic or set of related topics. The idea behind a topic hub is to create comprehensive, in-depth content that covers all aspects of a particular subject, and then to link related pages or blog posts to that central hub.

Pillar pages are like topic hubs, but instead of focusing on a single topic, they focus on a broader theme or category that encompasses multiple related topics. The idea behind a pillar page is to provide a comprehensive overview of a broader subject, and to use related topic hubs as supporting content.

Cluster content refers to a group of related pages or blog posts that are all centered around a specific topic or theme. The idea behind cluster content is to create multiple pieces of content that all support a central theme or topic, with the main pillar page or topic hub serving as the central hub for all the related content.

These are all terms used to describe a content strategy that focuses on creating high-quality, comprehensive content that is optimized for search engines and designed to attract and engage a targeted audience.

Steps to Creating Topic Hubs on Your Website

  1. Identify Your Target Audience and Their Needs: Before you begin creating a Topic Hub, it’s crucial to understand your target audience and their needs. Consider their interests, goals, and challenges, and use this information to determine the most relevant and valuable topics and themes.
  2. Choose a Focused Topic Category: Once you have a clear understanding of your target audience and their needs, choose a focused topic to create your Topic Hub around. This topic should be relevant to your target audience and align with your company’s expertise and goals.
  3. Conduct Keyword Research: Before you begin creating content for your topic hub, it is important to conduct keyword research to understand what terms and phrases your target audience is using to find information on your chosen topic. Use keyword research tools such as Google Keyword Planner to identify the most relevant and high-volume keywords, and use these keywords in your content to help improve your search engine ranking. ChatGPT and other AI systems can help identify keywords, topic categories and specific topics to consider.
  4. Create a Content Strategy: Once you have identified your keywords, it is time to create a content strategy for your topic hub. Consider the types of content you will create (e.g. blog posts, videos, infographics, etc.), the frequency with which you will publish, and the overall structure of your topic hub. Ensure that your content strategy is aligned with your target audience’s needs, and that it effectively communicates your expertise and authority on your chosen topic. Your goal is to create, publish and then market two content items each month.
  5. Create High-Quality, Relevant Content: Once you have created your content strategy, it is time to start creating content for your topic hub. Ensure that your content is high-quality, relevant, and valuable to your target audience. Your content should provide a comprehensive and authoritative source of information on your chosen topic, and should be optimized for search engines using your target market. I like to create 8 – 10 content articles using ChatGPT, publish a couple in the topic hub and place the rest in “inventory” as drafts.  I then simply publish one of the draft articles each month to maintain content with my customers and prospects.
  6. Link it to the Hub: When you publish an article or video, you want to create some sales copy to place on the Hub. I generally use ChatGPT to read my article and then write sales copy for the Hub.  I place the sales copy on the hub with links to the article.  I then link the article back to the hub.  These links all raise your authority scores with Google and other search engines.  Be sure with each publication you have the right keywords and great titles to engage your audience.
  7. Market Your New Content: Finally, I use ChatGPT to generate marketing content to inform my target markets that I just published new content. First, I have ChatGPT generate 20 Tweets for Twitter [no X] and some short form sales copy for LinkedIn and Facebook.  I also have it generate some interesting PPC ads for Facebook and Google.  The key is to really market your content to create audience awareness.  I generally like to have 10 messages PER SOCIAL SITE to really know my messages are getting through.  I also email my house list to inform them of my new content offering.  The more you market, the more you can penetrate your audience to keep them aware of you and your brand.

In conclusion, topic hubs can greatly improve your SEO and increase the visibility of your website by providing a comprehensive and authoritative source of information on a specific topic. By focusing on your target audience and their needs, conducting keyword research, creating a content strategy, and producing high-quality, relevant content, you can establish your brand as an expert in your industry, improve user engagement, and ultimately drive more traffic, leads, and conversions.