Today’s column comes from a question submitted by Search Engine Journal reader Melvin, from Vlaardingen.
“Could you please explain what is the best content silo/interconnection structure if you have a lot of informational content?
I guess you can’t link to 30 different articles from one page.
Plus, it’s almost impossible to find so many different anchor texts. Advices ? »
This is a great question, one I’ve come across often over the past few years with clients – especially as topic groups and semantics have started to become a mainstream trend in SEO.
What is a content hub?
First of all, this type of strategy goes by many names including content hubs, content hub and spoke, content silos, content moats, topic clusters, learning hubs, semantic clusters …
Basically, they are all the same premises and follow a structure not too different from the one below:
You can read more about how to develop the idea and set up the necessary keyword research for a star content hub in this article.
Internal hub/silo link structures
Back to Melvin’s question.
The best internal linking strategy for content hubs that I have found covers three key objectives of the content silos themselves, namely:
- To support and to bring domain authority for the main commercial search terms targeted by other pages.
- For to bring relevance to the search terms TOFU (top of the funnel) and MOFU (middle of the funnel) regarding your product service.
- Act as continuing education resources for users, reinforcing the need for your solution.
For this reason, these hubs need a variety of linking structures and internal links to other pieces of content on the website (business, blog, support) that have the right context and perspective (making the useful link).
This is also where categorization can play a big role.
When creating large, informative content hubs, I take to the idea of treating them like their own microsite and following their own set of guidelines (and, in some cases, even templates).
Another point raised by Melvin is the total number of internal links on the page, which Google advised against.
In John Mueller’s statement, he addresses the problem of excessive internal linking on a single page:
…makes it harder for search engines to understand the context of individual pages on your website…
This means that the search engine has reduced context and signals to discern a page hierarchy and content architecture.
But there are techniques that make sense from both a user and search engine perspective to ensure that all of your content is linked effectively.
This bonding strategy starts at the planning stage, because you want to make sure your “spokes” work for each other, as well as for the hub.
An example of this in action is the Cloudflare Learning Centers, the first of which we helped set up in late 2017 and which covers the topic of DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service).
These feature internal template-level links, secondary navigation, custom footer, and placed internal body links.
Internal Content Links: Commercial
One of the things I emphasize when brands build great content hubs is not to mix intentions or perspectives.
Since these content areas often target informational intent queries or TOFU/MOFU queries, it is unnatural to shoehorn sales pitches, CTAs, and brand references and it devalues content from the user’s perspective.
That’s why I advise that hub and shelf links to business pages be:
- Not too much brandor major visual calls to action.
- Arrive at appropriate moments in contentwhere it might make sense to nudge a user further down the funnel based on the query(s) answered by that section of content.
- Hub anchor text and spoken to business pages matches queries that have a transactional or commercial intent, and are not general information requests.
Adhering to these guidelines helps link the spokes in a natural way, as well as begin to convey any value gained by the hubs through perceived expertise, backlinks, and contextual relevance to business/focused pages. conversion.
Using the model for your internal hub and spoke is a fantastic way to add user value and create natural linking hubs to avoid excessive unnatural internal linking causing problems for Google.
Cloudflare Learning Center templates are adapted from other page templates to include:
- A secondary navigation menu located in the learning center.
- A “related content” sidebar section.
- Internal links of the body.
- Localized HTML footer.
Let’s first look at the secondary navigation menu:
It’s easy to do and integrate into a page template.
If you’re on WordPress, it can even be coded as a new menu location and edited in the CMS.
It is both a user-friendly and natural internal linking “hub” that Google and other search engines can follow.
For more contextual links to help Google better understand the hierarchy, there’s a “related content” section in the sidebar.
Again, this is useful for users, but also allows specific documents to be interconnected in the hub without lists of unwanted links.
The last custom template element is the HTML footer.
This is different from the rest of the website and is localized in each of the hubs.
These footer sections also act as HTML pseudo-sitemaps, and HTML sitemaps are always a fantastic asset to help crawl and discover your content.
Eli Schwartz does a great job of explaining it in his article here.
There are a number of different ways to link your hub and spoke content, and since hubs are of your own design, you can use the tactics above and adapt them to your needs.
I also wouldn’t be afraid to link outside of the hub and spoke model, especially if it’s other resources (such as the blog) that add value to the user, and also help to give Google additional context between your hub/spoke content and the wider website.
Hope that answers your question, Melvin!
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