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Why Hub, Hero and Hygiene Content are a Must for Your Content Strategy

Lucy Hemingway 3 years ago

BrightonSEO is one of the largest SEO conferences taking place in the UK's marketing calendar, with a whole host of speakers and sessions on offer for everyone - from the seasoned SEO expert to the beginner.

Our Senior Content Editor Jade Tolley held a talk at this year’s September event, around Hub, Hygiene and Hero content and why these content types are a must for your content strategy.

Below you'll find the Slideshare and downloadable version of the presentation as well as the transcript to accompany (we are just THAT nice!):


“Hi everyone and thank you for taking time out of your day to hear me talk about hub, hero and hygiene and why these three content types should be part of your content strategy.

I’ll start with a little background first. I am a Senior Content Editor at Zazzle Media, which means I write on and off page content for a wide variety of brands. But I actually started my career in publishing, after leaving university in 2011 with the dream of becoming a big boss editor like Meryl Streep in the Devil Wears Prada.

But instead, I was chasing advertising for a trade magazine and while this might sound dull, it was a great insight into more traditional forms of marketing and advertising and gave me a real idea of how brands work.

So they say, there’s no school like the old school

But I actually disagree

This was because while working at Zazzle I was introduced to the Brand as Publisher mantra, coined by our very own MD Simon Penson. This basically means writing your content as if you were a print publication, putting together flat plans and editorial and creating a ‘content flow’, which means everything works together fluidly and represents your brand as a whole.

I think it was a real lightbulb moment for digital marketing. It allows brands to span across a variety of styles and niches to draw readers in and keep them engaged. But we now have access to a wide variety of platforms that also allow us to get our content out there immediately, unlike a print publication.

Print advertising is expected to have lost £1billion of its revenue between 2011 and 2019. That’s a pretty scary figure and proof that it’s important we find new ways of getting our brand message out there via digital means.

So what should brands be doing now then? Well you’re all here because you work in digital marketing and you no doubt have a good grasp of how content plans work and the type of content you should be putting together but today I’m going to talk to you about three types of content that work perfectly within the brand as publisher concept. These are



And hero. So they sound nice but what do they involve content wise?

Well hygiene is the evergreen stuff that shouldn’t change. It’s the longform guides that are easy to read and that tap into keywords.

Hub is everything from your basic blog post calendar to ‘how to’ posts to in depth portals that give readers a whole host of information about an event or topic. It’s worth noting that hub and hygiene can intertwine and that’s okay.

And hero is the content that us agencies love to sink our teeth into and shout about once it’s live. It’s the big videos and interactive pieces that get shared on Facebook, not just by your Mum but that people actively engage with and take something away from.

But why create these content types?

Hygiene is purely technical and all about being present where your customers are looking. It’s the money maker content that squeezes in keywords and steals answer boxes from competitors.

Hub is there to represent the brand - it should keep people coming back for more. It’s where you put your brand forward as an active member of the community for the industry it resides in. It’s also a good place to target long tail search opportunity.

Hero is another brand awareness content type. It’s the fun stuff, the project work that gets you in front of a wider audience and remembered.

So how do you get these content types into your plan?

Well I’m going to use a fictional brand with a really clever name today - not sure where they got that picture of me from - to show you some hub, hygiene and hero examples that it could create. But before we do anything we need to know who we’re writing for…

Which means it’s time to play who’s that demographic!

You no doubt have some personas in place, but it’s always worth having another look and pulling in some more data from sites such as YouGov and Storybase to get an idea of what they want content wise. So we now have three lovely individuals for Jade’s Gym, to write for. First there’s Chloe who wants to be stronger and fitter, likes to read informative content and posts workout pics to social media.

Then there’s Dave, who is a bouncer at a gym, he wants to bulk up his arms and learn more about making those gains.

And finally John, who is an accountant, he travels a lot so isn’t committed to a gym yet but is looking for skimmable content and sees exercise as a productive use of his time.

We’ll also want to understand these guys micro moments. These are really helpful when it comes to planning content because they ensure we are always putting together ideas that we know those personas want. So the micro moments for those three involve -

I want to know - should they commit and join a gym
I want to buy - a cheap membership
I want to do - they want to lose weight and get abs

You’ll also need some keyword research of course. This is a snapshot of what Jade’s Gym could work from.

So Jade’s Gym wants to get people in the funnel and to eventually sign up for a gym membership, which means it needs to target keywords that those just dipping their toe into the world of exercise will be typing in.

It’s also worth noting that as well as those basic keywords for weight loss and workouts there’s also opportunity around getting abs and ab related terms. Something we can jump on later.

I’d say that blog posts are the basis for your content calendar and potentially the most important thing to nail first. According to Hubspot, businesses that blog have 97% more inbound links. This is further proof of how important your content is and why we need to take that keyword research and take a look at some hub pieces Jade’s Gym can put together.

Think of your hub like a magazine. It will sit on the blog section of your website but forget about the news updates and product pushing, make it an opportunity to truly convey your brand, to nail tone of voice and keep people coming back.

First it’s worth noting that longer form content is having a big moment. Google loves it and it also gives you the change to include lots of long tail keywords and write naturally around a subject.

But while long content is important, your hub needs a little more. So don’t neglect to include images, video, interviews and guest posts. Many brands are afraid to include more than basic text, but your hub is the perfect opportunity to test the water and see what people are receptive to.

You want to be seen as the go to place for content. Remember the print publication concept, people want variety. You wouldn’t just get pages and pages of text in a magazine, it’s broken up with imagery, advertorials and shorter pieces.

A great example of hub content is the ASOS website. They put together pieces that sit on their fashion and news feed that keep readers updated on new trends, events and even feature interviews with influencers in the world of fashion.

They also share it on social media, which is so important - but we’ll come to that later.

I’d recommend when adopting hub content that you take another look at your blog post calendar. Blogs are great for dotting throughout your content calendar amongst wider pieces. If you target long tail search opportunities you’re also giving yourself the opportunity to create content that stretches further and engages with more people. Here are some long tail examples Jade’s Gym could attempt to target.

So how to lose weight at the gym
Gym workouts to lose weight
What to do at the gym to lose weight

Then we’d put some blog post titles together to feature these long tail opportunities

Super quick gym workouts to lose weight
What to do at the gym to lose weight and make friends - bit of weird one but stretches out the content.
How to lose weight at the gym: the five step guide - this could be a fun piece, not too technical but to entertain the reader.

Now that those blog posts are wrapped up, we can move onto some other hub pieces including portals.

Like this one I made earlier. Portals are great for creating a space on your site separate from your blog, where you can focus on long tail search and key events that can be updated regularly over a period of time.

Jade’s Gym would create this piece because we noted there was opportunity around ab related search earlier.

As well as that ‘I want to do’ micro moment. Keep referring back to these throughout your content creation process.

So this portal would effectively offer everything people need to know about working on their core. It could feature workout videos to try at home, as well as posts about ab muscles and exercises. Influencers could also get involved to provide some high quality back links. Jade’s Gym should be aiming for this portal to feature everything the reader wants, so they don’t go elsewhere and that puts the brand forward as an active member of the community.

So when should you be writing hub content?

I’d recommend at least once a week with a blog post

That’s you planning in your content

You should also be looking at news and industry events as well as focusing on key search peaks and making content seasonal. Jade’s Gym, for example, will be pretty busy around New Year when everyone is looking for workout tips and weight loss ideas.

What do you do with hub content once it’s written?

Share it. Please please please share it. Get it on your social media, get your Nan to tell her hairdresser, have it guest posted on another site. Whatever you do don’t let it sit and gather dust on your blog, this is a mistake many brands make. They create amazing hub content then they don’t let it go any further.

Your hub is fodder for your social media and offers a two way conversation between your brand and customers. Don’t ever underestimate the opportunity amazing content on your site can bring about.

So now that Jade’s Gym has hub content sorted, time to move onto hygiene.

But where does hygiene sit? Well, it doesn’t go on the blog. Instead hygiene pieces should be given their own separate pages to focus on search and use meta and URLs to your advantage.

It’s worth noting that 47% of consumers view 3-5 pieces of content created by a company before buying. And so Hygiene is all about answering your potential customers questions, providing content they need and putting your brand forward as the only choice for answers. Hygiene long form guides are the best way of capitalising on this. Use your hygiene as an opportunity to put your brand forward as the true expert.

Your readers want quick, easy to digest content and for you to point them in the right direction to move further down the funnel. Your hygiene content should put you forward as a trustworthy choice as well.

Targeting search, grabbing answer boxes and putting your brand forward as the expert is the aim of the game.

Before we put together some hygiene content ideas, I wanted to mention these websites that are worth noting. They offer you a little more than keywords can when it comes to putting together a content calendar. For example, Answerthepublic allows you to input a keyword, then it presents you with what questions people are asking around it.

You’ll also need to look at the content you need to beat. This search term is one Jade’s Gym would definitely be looking to jump on. It targets those I want to buy micro moments that its demographic are searching for

Like this guy

So we can see that Straight Health are hogging the answer box for this term. It looks like a good article, clear bullet points and imagery are something Google really likes as it wants to ensure people are presented with the most relevant content for their search.

Looking on SERPs we can also see the other contenders for the top spot. Time to oust them with some amazing hygiene content.

Still looking at this search term, Jade’s Gym could create a hygiene guide that offers everything the reader would want to know about how to join a gym.

It can also use the URL and meta to its advantage.

And even branch out to include some further search terms.

H2s and H3s are the best places for these, meaning we can reach even more people.

The piece will effectively serve as a breakdown piece of content, attempting to answer every question people could have about joining a gym and Jade’s Gym would then put itself forward as the service people want at the end of it all.

As well as that main search term we can also use those websites such as Answerthepublic to take a look at what questions people are asking that we can answer to strengthen our hygiene content. We noted there was opportunity around abs earlier and so I used Bloomberry to find out what people were asking about ab machines.

They basically don’t really know what they do. So Jade’s Gym should definitely create some content to answer these questions.

Which is how this content idea came about. The gym machine breakdown allows us to answer those questions but it can also branch out to become a longer form piece offering lots of in depth information about gym machines as a whole.

Of course, Jade’s Gym would talk about the machines it actually offers, their benefits and could even get technical with imagery and diagrams about which muscle groups they target, allowing those who like skimmable content something easier to digest. It puts the gym forward as a thought leader and expert when it comes to all things gym machine as well as subtly pushing product.

And so that’s hygiene done. We’re whizzing through this.

Finally, we have hero. Surprise and delight is the aim of the game here.

Hero is much harder to execute but when it goes well you’ll see a huge spike in engagement. It’s worth noting that you’ll need a team that’s fully on board for hero to go well as well as the resources required. You can use your hub platform too, to tie back in and increase reach.

So first, let’s take a look at some real life hero content. The bank first direct set up a fast food van in the middle of a train station without staff.

But those attempting to place an order discovered that an automated machine isn’t very good at taking orders - when in fact it was a bloke hiding inside getting things wrong on purpose. But it attempted to prove direct customer service is better than anything else.

People got a bit annoyed that they couldn’t order a burger. Not gonna lie, I would be too.

Then out pops a lovely team of First Direct people who get things right first time and just make people feel warm and fuzzy.

It’s a pretty big piece of hero content, with lots of things to put together - the burger van, videography, food, staff etc. - but it’s one that I remembered, so it obviously did its job. I’ll pop a link on my Twitter after so you can watch the whole thing, it’s about 2 minutes long.

So what could Jade’s Gym put together?

Well I’d suggest ‘the Superhero challenge’. Superheroes are big news at the moment and we can tie it all back to working out and the gym to make it relevant.

The superhero challenge would essentially be a video, featuring four weeks of edited footage of people undertaking the workout regimes and diet plans of celebrities such as Gal Gadot and Chris Pratt preparing for their film roles.

For this piece I’d suggest using influencers instead of real people to take on the challenge, not only are they great for engagement but they also have the equipment to film themselves. We could also tie the whole thing into the Avengers film release in April which gives us plenty of time to plan and execute the idea.

As well as that video you’re going to need some supporting content too and a survey is a great idea - asking people questions like what they do at the gym, how often they go etc.

Journalists love original stats and data to support engaging content so it’s well worth doing a survey.

You can also use your hub to tie back into the main hero piece and increase reach.

Once the main hero piece is done, you’ll need to think about getting it out there. Which means putting together supporting pieces like a blogpost to target search

A feature to sit on a high profile site.

I’ve used the Daily Mail as an example because even though the comments section is brutal the metrics are worth it. Laura Hampton is going to touch on how to get journalists to take your content afterwards, so please stick around.

You’ll also need press releases to pass to any journalists who don’t want ready made copy.

And finally shorter edits of any video to sit on social media to tease people into watching the full thing.

And that’s pretty much everything, wrapped up! I’ve probably gone way over on time but thank you for listening and feel free to grab me for any questions you may have.”

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