How Should We Internally Link Hub & Spoke Content For SEO?
Today’s column comes from a question submitted by search engine magazine reader Melvin, from Vlaardingen.
Could you please elaborate on the best content silo/binding structure if you have a lot of informational content?
I suppose you can’t link 30 different articles to one page.
In addition, it is almost impossible to come up with a lot of different anchor scripts. Any tips? “
This is a great question, and I’ve come across it a lot in recent years with clients – even more so since topic and semantic combinations have started to become mainstream in SEO.
What is the content center?
First, this type of strategy goes by many names, including content hubs, content pivot and talk, content silos, content moats, topic clusters, learning hubs, semantic clusters…
At their core, they are all the same premise and follow a structure not too different from the following:
You can read more about how to develop the idea and compile the necessary keyword research for the hub and speak the center of the content in this article.
The internal linking structures of the axle/silo
Back to Melvin’s question.
The best internal linking strategy for content centers that I’ve found covers three main goals of the content silos themselves, which are:
- to support and supply domain authority For key business search terms targeted by other pages.
- to me supply Relevance of the search terms TOFU (top funnel) and MOFU (mid funnel) related to your product service.
- To serve as additional educational resources For users, which enhances the need for your solution.
For this reason, these hubs need a variety of linking structures, linking internally to other pieces of content on the website (commercial, blog, support) that have the right context and perspective (which makes the link useful).
This is where rating can play a huge role.
When creating large media content hubs, I think of treating them as their own little site, and having them follow their own set of guidelines (and even templates in some cases).
Another point Melvin made was the total number of internal links on a page, something Google has advised against.
In John Mueller’s statement, he addresses the issue of excessive internal linking in one page:
… makes it difficult for search engines to understand the context of individual pages within your website …
That is, the search engine has reduced context and signals to distinguish page hierarchy and content structure.
But there are techniques that make sense from a user and search engine perspective to ensure that all of your content is linked effectively.
This splicing strategy starts at the planning stage, where you want to make sure the two “spokes” work with each other, as well as the hub.
An example of this in action is the Cloudflare Learning Centers, which we helped deploy at the end of 2017 and cover the topic of DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service).
These feature internal links at the template level, secondary navigation, custom footer, and placed internal body links.
Internal Content Links: Commercial
One of the points I stress when brands create large content hubs is not to mix intents or viewpoints.
Because these content domains often target Media Intent, or TOFU/MOFU queries, shoe-gagging on sales pitches, CTAs, and branded references is not natural and devalues the content from a user’s perspective.
This is why I advise that links from hub and talk(s) to trade pages are:
- Don’t overdo the brandsor key visual CTAs.
- Come up with the appropriate turns in the contentwhere it may make sense to encourage the user to continue the funnel based on the search query(s) answered by that section of content.
- The anchor text from the hub speaks to the merchant pages that match the queries that have a transactional or commercial intent, and are not general informational queries.
Following these guidelines helps connect the speaker in a natural way, as well as start passing on any value the interviewer gains through perceived experience, backlinks, and contextual relevance toward commercial/conversion-focused pages.
Using the template for your own hub and talking about internal linking is a great way to add user value and create natural link hubs to prevent excessive unnatural internal linking causing problems for Google.
Cloudflare Learning Center templates have been adapted from other page templates to include:
- Secondary navigation menu localized to the Learning Center.
- Sidebar section “Related Content”.
- internal body bonds.
- Translated HTML footer.
First, let’s look at the secondary navigation menu:
It’s easy to do and integrate into the page template.
If you are using WordPress, it can even be coded as a new menu site and modified in the CMS.
This is an easy-to-use, natural internal linking “hub” for Google and other search engines to follow.
For more contextual links to help Google understand the hierarchy further, there is a Related Content section on the sidebar.
Again, this is good for users but it also helps to link to specific documents in the center without spammy link menus.
The final custom template element is the HTML footer.
This differs from the rest of the site and is translated for each of the hubs.
These footer sections also act as pseudo-HTML sitemaps, and HTML sitemaps are still a great asset in helping the crawlability and discoverability of your content.
Eli Schwartz does a great job of explaining this in his article here.
There are a number of different ways you can connect your hub and talk content, and because hubs are your own design, you can take advantage of the above tactics and adapt them to your needs.
I’m also not afraid of off-hub linking and speech form, especially if it relates to other resources (like a blog) that add value to the user, and also help give Google more context between the hub/spokes content and the broader site.
Hope this answers your question, Melvin!
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- Content with a Purpose: How to set goals for each piece of content you create
- Content Marketing KPIs: Your Guide to Choosing the Right Content KPIs
Editor’s note: Ask an SEO is a weekly SEO advice column written by some of the industry’s top SEO experts, hand-selected by Search Engine Journal. Do you have a question about search engine optimization? Fill out our form. You may see your answer in the next #AskanSEO post!
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