Why I switched to the hub and spoke blogging model

Imagine a bike wheel to describe the hub and spoke blogging model

Back in 2019, I decided to restructure my blog to what’s known as the “hub and spoke” or “pillar” model. I thought it might be helpful to share my reasons for doing this, especially as I now have a few years’ data to reflect on. 

If you’re considering launching a blog for your training company or you want to boost the traffic to your existing blog, this is definitely a model you should consider. 

Here’s why.


What is the hub and spoke blogging/content model?

A good way to visualise the hub and spoke blogging model is to think about a bicycle wheel. You have the hub in the centre and multiple spokes extending off of it to the surrounding wheel rim.

With this model, each hub represents a broad topic that matters to your clients and is central to your business. This should ideally be a piece of “evergreen” content (i.e. content that won’t quickly go out of date) that you want people to see because it showcases your knowledge and/or drives enquiries.

The spokes are all sub-topics that relate to the hub. A diagram might help to explain what I mean!

Hub and spoke blogging model

Above, you can see that one of the things that people want to know about when they’re running a training business is how to find, keep and even fire clients. This is something I cover a lot within different aspects of The Trainers Training Company’s offering.

So, one of the hub topics on my blog is “Client relationships” and the spokes cover specific sub-topics of this broad subject. On my blog, you’ll find client relationship articles about how to find clients, how to work with them, how to pitch to them, how to break up with them and much more.

The key thing with the hub and spoke model is to make sure that there are links to all of the spokes from within the main hub article and to ensure that each spoke article links back to the hub.

As the purple arrows show on the diagram below, you might also want to include internal links from one spoke article to another as this ties related content together even more closely.

Hub and spoke blogging model showing extra linking opportunities

You can have multiple hubs on your blog. I think five or six is a good number (this is just a hunch rather than being backed by data) but I’ve pushed things a bit on my own blog by having 10 hubs!


Why linking matters in the hub and spoke blogging model

Before I switched to hub and spoke blogging, I had countless articles on my website but no real way for visitors or search engines to understand how all of the content was connected. People might land on an article about one aspect of nurturing client relationships, for example, and not realise that there were tens of other articles that could deepen their knowledge, give them new ideas or even more accurately address their reason for visiting my site.

Hub and spoke blogging ties everything together.

It’s like stepping into a library (remember when we did that?!) and finding an aisle of shelves about client relationships but then discovering individual books about marketing techniques to bring in new clients, tapping into your network for referrals, simple things you can do to thank a client, how to pitch, and so on.

The hub is the aisle, the spokes are the books. The aisle gives an overview of all the different sub-topics you might find within a category and the books (i.e. the spokes) help you get to the more detailed information you need.

You can even have much more specific articles stemming from your spokes (like chapters in a book or, if we stick with the original wheel analogy, those Spokey Dokey things children used to put on their spokes to jazz them up!)

Spokey dokey

Personally, I think this makes for a great user experience.

People land on a blog on my site and can instantly navigate through to connected articles, getting loads more value in the process. 


Links from an SEO perspective

Internal links are important from an SEO perspective too. They’re a bit like street signs, helping Google to understand what it’s navigating and how everything connects.

By having plenty of content about client relationships linked together, for example, it tells Google that this is something I know a lot about and that visitors who want to build better client relationships will be able to find relevant information on my site.

There are other reasons hub and spoke blogging is great for SEO.

You may have heard the term “link juice”. This refers to the number of positive ranking factors that a link passes from one page to another. These positive ranking factors all contribute to the page authority of each page on your website and the overall domain authority.

Both page authority and domain authority are essentially a score out of 100 that reflects how trustworthy and authoritative Google deems your web pages and site to be.

Generally speaking, large sites with loads of internal and external links will have the highest domain authority (think websites like Wikipedia, Apple, YouTube, Blogger, LinkedIn, Microsoft, etc.). Smaller websites with fewer links will have lower authority.

However, linking your content together can gradually increase both page and domain authority, helping your site to appear higher in search results and compete with bigger sites.


Sharing the link juice

The great thing about hub and spoke blogging is that when a spoke article receives more link juice, that juice freely flows via the links into the hub and out to the other spokes. Equally, if the link juice starts at the hub, it extends to all the spokes too. This serves to potentially improve the rankings of all of the articles in a hub. (I visualise the links as tubes trickling link juice wherever they’re connected!)

This is different to more traditional blogging models where the link juice is confined to the page that originally receives it.

Most SEO experts agree that the best way to improve domain authority is to have link juice spread evenly across a website rather than concentrated in one or two places. Hub and spoke blogging makes this possible.


Other ranking signals

When you tie related content together on a website, it encourages people to follow the links and read several pages. This is a really important SEO signal because it tells search engines that visitors are engaging with your content and they want to stay on your site.

Google is ultimately a business so it wants to send visitors to the websites that will best answer their search queries. 


Things to consider when setting up a hub and spoke blog

  • Your hub topics

The starting point for any hub and spoke blog is to define the broad topics for each hub. As I said above, I have 10 hubs on my blog. When I performed a content audit back in 2019, I felt these were the most logical topics to divide it into.

You can see the themes of my hubs on my main blog page here: https://thetrainerstrainingcompany.co.uk/blog/ – there are topics such as Social media and Blogging, Fees and Finance, and Productivity and Mindset.

  • The pillar/hub content

If you’ve been blogging for a while, have a look at your Google Analytics and Google Search Console data. Which are your most popular blog articles? The chances are that these already have good page authority (you can check this with a free tool like the MozBar extension for Chrome) and bring a fair bit of link juice into your site. You might decide to use these popular articles as hub content (you can always update them if they need a bit of a refresh).

Alternatively, you could do what I did and write a new article for each hub. If you look at the hub article for social media and blogging (which is the hub the blog you’re reading right now will sit in), you’ll see that it really is an overview of social media marketing and blogging for business. Someone would be able to read it, get an introduction to things they might want to consider and then follow through to individual topics for more in-depth information.

  • Remembering to add new links to your hub articles

Ideally, each time you publish a new piece of content, you should add an internal link to it to the main hub article, as well as linking to the hub article from the new spoke content. I’ll hold my hand up, I don’t always remember to do this, so make sure it’s on your action points for each time you publish a blog.

  • You can add more than blog articles to a hub

You can extend the hub and spoke model to all of your content marketing and organise your videos, infographics, white papers, tutorials, etc. within this framework. For each new piece of content, you should also share it widely on social media as this will encourage external links back to your site (a super important source of link juice!).

  • Focus on one hub at a time

My advice is that you focus on creating one hub at a time. By this, I mean that you should identify or write a hub article for the topic that’s most relevant to your business, followed by several new spoke articles for that hub.

If you have existing content, make sure that you identify which hubs you want it to sit in and then include links to that content in your hub article.

Repeat this process for each hub. As well as creating new content, it’s worth looking at what content you already have. What needs updating? Are there any articles that you should delete or combine?


How hub and spoke blogging has worked for me

I’ve been looking at my web traffic data in Google Analytics. Unfortunately, six months’ worth of data is missing from 2020 but it still makes for interesting reading. Here are the highlights:

  • Within the first 12 months of restructuring my blog, the bounce rate (i.e. the percentage of people leaving the site after only looking at one page) fell by 23.81%
  • The number of pages viewed per session increased by 32.23%
  • Page views increased by 12.21% overall
  • By 2020, the pages viewed per session were up by another 21.59%
  • The bounce rate had fallen by 33.22%
  • By 2021, after continuing with the hub and spoke structure and reviewing the meta data on every blog (using the Yoast plugin), my website traffic was up by 108%
  • New users increased by 111%
  • The number of visits was up by 88.07%
  • Page views increased by 63.34%

Back in May 2021, I popped into Google Search Console to compare how my web pages had performed in searches since implementing the hub and spoke model two years before.

Google search console data example

As you can see, the number of times web pages from The Trainers Training Company website appeared in searches (impressions) quadrupled from 300,000 to 1.17 million per year. Clickthroughs to my site also quadrupled.

These figures remained consistent in 2021 too, meaning that over a million people per year see my business in Google searches.

I believe that this increase was partly down to the hub and spoke blogging model, as well as updating the SEO for all of my blogs. Of course, other factors such as email marketing, social media marketing, launching new courses and my podcast will contribute too.

It’s worth noting that, according to the Content Marketing Institute, blogs are still the most effective form of content for creating interest in a business in the early stages of the customer journey. With this in mind, it certainly makes sense for a blog to be as helpful to potential clients as possible. I think hub and spoke blogging delivers this in spades.

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