A content marketing hub is a dedicated, owned space for your brand’s original and licensed content; without one, your thought leadership, collateral, posts, and bylines will be scattered throughout your company website or (gasp) across various inboxes and landing pages with no cohesive measurement or conversion strategy. Think of a content hub as both the home for your content marketing efforts and a powerful tool for supporting the customer journey — as informational search continues to lead as an early step in many customer journeys, blog content is often a pivotal first impression at the top of the funnel.
As a Technical Consultant at NewsCred, I work closely to make sure our content marketing platform (CMP) technology is truly supporting client content marketing programs. Sometimes this involves working alongside our in-house CMS team to design and build a brand new hub; sometimes my focus is on optimizing existing hubs and programs. It always means making sure our analytics are capturing the actions and conversion points built into customer content hubs, so we’re able to report on true ROI.
Here are some of the most commonly asked questions I hear from clients about building a content marketing hub.
Where should the content hub be hosted?
There are two places where you can host your hub: your corporate website or a stand-alone site. And if you decide to build the hub on your corporate site, you’ll also need to determine whether it’s on a subdomain or a subfolder.
Opting to build a content marketing hub on your corporate site can have a lot of benefits to traffic and SEO authority. Your new hub will benefit from the established domain authority of your corporate site, and it will benefit from easy navigation between product pages and content pages. SEO pros used to agree that there was an advantage to a subfolder setup, but this has been debunked by Google in recent years. It’s now widely accepted that the search engine treats subdomains and subfolders the same.
Our NewsCred Insights hub is an example of a subdomain setup:
Hosting on a stand-alone site can be best when you want to avoid the politics or bureaucracy of a corporate site; we are all probably familiar with the modern marketing vs. IT struggle for resources. If building on a corporate directory is going to layer in months of additional approvals and revisions, it might be better to get your program up-and-running on its own top-level domain. Stand alone (or even unbranded) sites can also be beneficial if your strategy is to provide unbiased content or reach a brand new audience for your brand. Even a standalone site can see an SEO benefit, as back-linking to an unknown domain from a corporate hub will start to create authority.
Ultimately, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer to this question; it will depend on your company and the strategy and objectives of your hub.
How often should we publish content to our hub?
When creating your content hub, it’s easy to get stuck in the notion “the more content we put out, the better.” And while you do want a comprehensive hub of content across topics, formats, and journey stages, the most important thing is to create high-quality, differentiated content that supports your strategy and mission.
NewsCred’s POV is that all calendar planning starts with a documented content marketing strategy, and a good place to from there is to building out a brief against core SEO topics. Invest in understanding your target audience’s search intent and customer journey so that you can create a content series that supports it.
There’s been a lot of research around the optimal number of blog posts for brands, but it’s important to maintain quality along the way, which is ultimately dependent on your resources. Small pilots and tests can build the business case for more investment and optimization. We’ve also interviewed marketing leaders on their optimal publishing cadence, if you want a deeper dive.
Remember that your team doesn’t need to do all the heavy lifting of getting a content hub populated. Partner with influencers in your industry or even internally who can produce strong bylines. You should also leverage licensed content to support a regular cadence and build third-party authority for a new hub.
How do I start a metadata strategy for my content hub?
Taxonomy and metadata strategy are not the most exciting part of designing a content hub, but they are essential to future success. They will impact both on-site experience and organic discovery of your site. This is where bringing in technical SEO support (either from in-house or in partnership with a group like NewsCred) can be really beneficial.
A taxonomy is a classification method that makes order out of chaos. Metadata (the labels and tagging part of a taxonomy) helps support customizations and recommendations. Not only does this make it easier for your audience to find the content they’re looking for, but these tags will also help in generating suggested content based on the articles they’ve visited. This personalizes the user experience and will keep readers on your site. After all, 47 percent of B2B buyers read three to five pieces of content before communicating with a sales representative.
The benefits of a metadata strategy don’t stop there. Tagging and labeling each piece of content within a platform like our CMP allows you to easily analyze which topics and content types perform best with your audience. This will help to determine the type of content that you should focus on creating. That brings me to my next FAQ…
What do I prioritize for a mobile-friendly content hub?
Mobile-first is a phrase used so often nowadays that it’s almost a buzzword. So let’s break down some of the core factors to consider for a mobile-first content hub.
As recently as a few years ago, designers would create a desktop version of a site with beautiful and interactive features and then translate everything into a mobile version. In reality, the mobile version was a slimed-down afterthought. Today, across both B-to-B and B-to-C audiences, you want to build an exceptional mobile experience. Just think about how often you check work emails and read industry information on your phone.
Thinking mobile-first today involves not just UX design but also technical SEO best practices. Across both categories, speed and load times are important. According to Google, 53 percent of site visits are abandoned if it takes more than three seconds to load. Creating a memorable experience for the user while achieving fast load times is not easy but you can take certain steps such as compressing images, minifying HTML, JS, and CSS and using a reliable hosting solution.
Another way to decrease load times is by implementing Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP); these can lead to an average of a 2X increase in time spent on a page according to Google-sponsored research. Google also notes that AMP pages can improve marketing results, as conversions fall by 12 percent for every extra second a webpage takes to load.
What technology should be behind my branded content hub?
Your content hub should have thoughtful, modern UX. It needs to be fast and capable of the customizations your program needs, such as gated content forms, email subscription pop ups, personalized recommendations. Ideally, your technology stack allows you to lay out, publish, and distribute all your content without the support of a separate production or IT team.
There’s often a little confusion about a CMP versus a CMS; your marketing program is going to need both. They are not a replacement for each other. A CMS like WordPress is really focused only on adding, editing, or deleting content that is to be published on a website or hub, it is not specific to helping marketers easily strategize, plan, collaborate, analyze etc.
You should also consider your measurement framework when building a hub; what is the customer journey you want to measure, and how can you integrate those technologies into the hub? This is where your CMP and marketing automation tech play a big role. Your CMP should offer integrations to marketing automation tools (i.e. Marketo and Eloqua), your CMS, and your CRM. These capabilities will help to measure your success and build the business case for continued investment.
Adeel Abbas is a Technical Consultant at NewsCred.
Originally published on Jan 30, 2019 3:57 PM