Getting your site architecture right is among the harder parts of building a site, whether you’ re dealing with millions of pages or hundreds.
In particular, probably the most common confusing situations all of us encounter in content marketing is how to handle things like “ topic clusters”, “ content material hubs”, and “ pillar pages” (the list of titles just adds to the confusion). We get this question all the time in house from team members, and from clients, and it’ t one of the most common questions I realize on Twitter and in SEO communities like Traffic Believe Tank.
But – I’ ve never ever seen someone publish a good list of content hub illustrations, nor have I noticed anyone document the different varieties of content hubs.
So I’ ve made a decision to finally sit down and document my own mental framework for different types of topic clusters, and share my private list of articles hub examples, too.
Think you’ ve got a great articles hub example that deserves to be on this list?
If you’ ve noticed or built a great content hub and think it deserves to be on this checklist, leave a comment beneath or ping me on Twitter. I’ ll release all the comments that aren’ t spammy, and if it’ s a really exceptional example I’ ll add this to the article.
1 – Classic Centre & Spoke
Format: Parent page in addition 5-20 static subpages.
One mind page, 5-20 static subpages. That’ s the classic Hub & Spoke type of content hubs.
Most content is evergreen, and the subpages don’ to tend to change much. The content is published and updated occasionally but is generally pretty static.
It’ s tried and true and it works great for many topics, and sometimes you don’ big t need to reinvent the steering wheel (I swear I’ m not trying to make a scam about ‘ spokes’ here).
This construction works best when your content won’ t change much. If you plan to be constantly adding brand new content about the topic, you might want a more dynamic page design template, like the Topic Gateways described below.
Classic Hub & Talked Examples:
- Podia’ t How To Create & Sell A Profitable Online Program (see section listings towards bottom of page)
- Zapier’ s Learn Manuals , eg The Ultimate Guide To Remote Function
- Insteading’ s Tiny House Guide
- Big Fish Game’ s Texas Hold ‘ Em Guide
- Airbnb’ t Neighborhoods Guide – I will say it is a favorite content example of my own, I’ ve written about it before , and it is woefully underinvested and has so much more potential than the current form.
- SecurityNerd’ s Residence Security Guides – I think this page could benefit from more static content in order to give the parent page a better shot at rank for “ house security ” keywords, but if you’ re not sure where to start on adding pillar pages to your website and you curently have some strong spoke web pages to include, this is a great and simple starting point: just list each guide with a paragraph description and a featured image, plus add the parent page into your site navigation. These spoke pages are great examples of valuable affiliate review pages, too, so this is a center page that can drive conversions.
- Plurilock’ s Behavioral Biometrics Guideline – this is pretty niche stuff so I won’ t pretend to understand it all, but that’ h OK – I’ m not the audience! I really like sharing examples that go into really niche topics because it’ s likely that will Plurilock can accurately claims to be the world’ s best resource on this subject right after producing a guide like this. That’ s the entire goal of content marketing in most B2B settings.
- Clique Studio’ s What Is Web Design Guides – This is a good set of 101/introduction level posts about web design that help Clique build relevance with Google and earn some links over time, and help attract customers to topics deeper in the funnel, such as website footer design examples , which is likely a post their team can share with clients when seeking to actually go through their style process.
2 – The Content Library
Structure: Parent page listing person content by category or subgroup, plus links to the people sub-category pages.
The Library strategy is the way Blog homepages should be constructed by default .
Tons of content sorted into categories, highlighting both evergreen popular content as well as new content that was just published.
This is usually the best way to approach blog taxonomy rather than a ‘ newest content first ‘ default that most weblog CMSs default to. The Animalz team has done an excellent job of explaining this in their post, Your Blog Is Not A Syndication .
The Library is the right method of use when you have a lot of articles about a variety of different subtopics, and there isn’ capital t one clear way to type all of them. When you have a lot of articles about a more specific topic, you should utilize a Topic Gateway, which we’ ll discuss next.
Content Library Illustrations:
- LiquidWeb’ s WooCommerce Hub
- HelpScout’ s Resources & Guides
- Corporate Finance Institute’ s Resources section
3) The Topic Gateway
Format: Dedicated page with topic overview plus links to evergreen resources, and usually ending with dynamic links to latest content published for that subject.
Subject Gateways are like blog type pages on steroids.
Instead of your classic weblog category page which listings a bunch of posts in the type, you build a decent page of static content providing an overview of the topic, then link to subcategories of content material.
Imagine someone searches a head term like “ model trains” or “ keto guide” but they’ re not really sure where to start, and your site has wayyy more content than would fit on a normal hub and talked type of content hub. That’ s a great scenario to create out a Topic Gateway that gives brief overviews of key aspects of the topic, and then points the user towards further assets they should start with.
Honestly, many Wikipedia web pages are good examples of this, by providing large overviews of a topic with tons of internal hyperlinks for a user to browse more depending on what they want to learn more about.
How is a Topic Gateway different than the Content Library format?
Well, library formats tend to be large and encompass more topics, eg a library of content about Human Resources. Gateways tend to be a better fit for a user looking to deep dive in a single topic group, eg Employee Onboarding.
As a result, Gateway & Library platforms play well together – try formatting sub-category web pages inside of a content collection using the Gateway approach. To place this another way – use the Library approach to redesign your website homepage, and use the Gateway approach to redesign your class pages.
How is a Topic Gateway different than an “ Ultimate Guide” format?
Honestly, the overlap can be huge here. Lots of illustrations below are category pages with static content, but there are also lots of long-form guides with tons of internal links. The difference is kind of moot – whether you publish a remarkable long-form Post or Web page or Category page design template doesn’ t matter when you interlink the page nicely with the rest of your website, plus use the page to drive visitors and traffic deeper into the site and your conversion funnel.
Topic Gateway Examples:
- CompareCard’ s Blog Category Pages, eg Balance Transfers .
- DietDoctor’ s Keto for Beginners Tutorial – not really literally a category web page, this is a static landing page that is filled with every nook plus cranny someone might want to explore when they are researching a ketogenic diet.
- Drift’ s Facts Chatbot Technology – this is a great example of a really custom page design and layout that doesn’ t feel like it was cobbled together. The page offers solid chapters of standalone value to readers, but additionally does a good job of driving traffic to mid-funnel education pages (“ Still curious? Click here to find out How does a chatbot work? “ ) as well as bottom-of-funnel conversion pages (“ Still curious? Click here to understand about the benefits of chatbots. “ ).
- Insteading’ s Chickens Hub Page – This is a publishing site that we own. We’ ve built these to function since advanced category pages, pushing evergreen content like creating chicken coops, raising chickens, and information on specific chicken breeds to the top of the web page. Then we’ ve listed other miscellaneous chicken articles show up in the most recent content section at the bottom.
- VetStreet’ s Finish Guide To Caring For Dogs
- Traeger Grills’ Thanksgiving Guide
- Tofugo’ s Learn Japanese: A Ridiculously Detailed Guide
- WineFolly’ s Wine Basics: A Beginner’ s Guide To Consuming Wine
- PainScience’ s Varieties of Body Pain
And here’ s a few good examples of sites or pages which could benefit from * getting * more of a gateway page to other articles, if they went through and additional more static content to the particular pages.
- Techcrunch’ s Tag & Entity pages, eg techcrunch. com/tag/tesla/ – imagine what a strong page this could be if it acquired static and evergreen content material for top Tesla topics together with ‘ recent stories’.
- Model Railroader Magazine’ s Beginners Guide web page has some of the essential content for people looking to get into model trains, plus they’ ve made a good choice by adding it to their navigation with a Getting Started link. This is a classic blogger technique, to build a Start Here page into the navigation that has the site’ s manifesto and “ greatest hits’ content on it, but it’ s rare to see larger publishers do it and position for phrases like “ model trains beginners guide”. But the page could and really should be developed further just like the Keto Beginner’ s guide mentioned above.
4 – The information Database
Format: Hundreds or thousands of kid pages, sortable and filterable by taxonomies.
The Content Database model is perfect situations where you have tons of potential child webpages, you want to let users browse and explore, and you intend to potentially add more content material in the future.
Quite often these will show up since variations like a Directory (such as a directory of businesses), a set of examples of something that searching through, or in organized formats like Glossaries define a set of topics.
Use these when you have a large amount of one content type meant for users to explore, and when users will want to filter their own custom made lists for inspiration in order to find a needle in your articles haystack.
Content Database Examples:
- AdEspresso’ s Facebook Ad Database – awesome for browsing Facebook ad examples. (Note, it appears this got turned into a normal blog post by their team, possibly due to shift in search intent. See the version on archive. org )
- Content Harmony’ h Content Marketing Examples Data source – our own humble content database showing off content marketing examples that individuals love.
- Muscle& Strength’ s Exercise Database – visual database, not dynamically filterable, but with buttons to help keep exploring by gender and workout type.
- Bigger Pocket’ s i9000 Hard Money Lenders Listing – discover real estate lenders by geographic location.
- GreenRoof. com’ s Green Roof Project Database – find examples of green roof projects simply by location.
- Sole Collector’ s Collectible Sneakers Database – browse through a database of collectible shoes by brand and product line.
- The Kaplan Group’ s Alternative Financing Directory – sort through a list of alternative B2B funding lenders.
- Audubon’ s Guide to North American Birds – sort birds by their as well as region, click to hear their own audio file quickly, or even click for a full web page of information on that types. Their species pages are content examples, too, check out this page for your Barn Owl .
- LemList’ t Cold Email Templates Center – Good list of posts describing frosty email outreach templates which were successful and why. That one isn’ t a huge data source but could grow over time, and even with a small number of entries compared to some examples above, it can a great job of sketching you into each particular post because there are strong information in each one.
5 – The Topic Matrix
Format: Consistent subpages throughout an index of tens, hundreds, or thousands of parent pages.
The magic element of a Topic Catalog is really the set of constant subpage types. By building big volumes of consistent content material you can spend more time investing in innovative page formats that will make your UX way better than a competitor’ s generic blog post.
The Topic Matrix concept often shows up by means of a complete site architecture – think of these types of examples:
- Yelp divided upward by location and shop
- Redfin or Zillow divided up by towns, neighborhoods, and types of houses.
But , while it’ s usually used for key conversion content material and landing page systems, it’ s also possible to build Topic Indexes for more informational types of content — at least blend more informational content material into your landing page system.
Topic matrixes could be deep – with lots of subpage types – or broad – with extensive pieces of parent pages.
Medical sites really are a good example of this – you might have a series of lots of illness and conditions pages that will show up as hubs, plus subpages under each center that are consistent for all medication types.
Can you show me an example?
Let’ h look at MayoClinic’ s Diseases & Conditions hub for instance of this (I’ ve modified URLs slightly for example purposes):
- /acl-injury/ ( primary problem page )
- /symptoms-causes/syc-20350738 ( repeated subpage type )
- /diagnosis-treatment/drc-20350744 ( repeated subpage type )
- /doctors-departments/ddc-20350745 ( repeated subpage type )
- etc . for thousands of other conditions
See how each disease or situation has a Symptoms & Leads to page that acts as the main page for that condition, then a set of optional subpages like Diagnosis & Treatments , Doctors & Departments , and finally Care At Mayo Clinic if it’ h a condition they’ re seeking to drive patients towards?
Many will look at this and say “ that’ s just good web site structure” and they’ lso are totally right, but , how you build this into your site’ s URL and routing structure is a pattern that could be reused in many types of content.
I don’ t want you to skip the conversion part We mentioned there, either, because that’ s a huge component of how Topic Indexes could be successful:
Mayo Clinic is a good example of using educational content and flexing their domain authority and trust to drive site customers towards care pages such as https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/alcohol-use-disorder/care-at-mayo-clinic/mac-20369256 that can educate individuals on services that they provide.
Subject Matrix Examples:
- Mayo Clinic’ s Disease & Conditions hub , Tests & Processes hub , and others for Drugs and Symptoms.
- TheCultureTrip’ s site structures split up by Travel Location ( Puerto Rico shown as an example in the list below, but they have many more articles and destinations on every hub page) :
- theculturetrip. com/north-america/caribbean/
- /caribbean/puerto-rico/ (interestingly this subfolder route used in the articles below redirects to the /north-america/ 1 shown above)
Have questions about the best way to build the hub you’ re planning?
Got a great content material hub example to share?
Leave the comment – we’ ll answer all of your questions, plus promote the best examples a person share to the list over.
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