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        1. Your blog is boring. Upgrade to a content hub

          Content Hub

          Let me start with a disclaimer. If you haven’t started blogging, get a plan together and start. Don’t write just for the sake of writing, but create a strategy around what you’ll write about and then actually do it. Publishing content on a regular basis benefits search engine visibility and audience building.

          If you are already consistently publishing content but haven’t made any changes to your blog’s structure in the last few years, I’ve got a painful truth to share:

          Your blog is boring.

          It’s not the content I’m talking about – it’s the layout. It’s the way that I can’t find what I want before you push the latest five posts on me. It’s that it isn’t fun anymore.

          The formula for setting up a blog is simple. How many times have you seen this layout?


          The problem here is that the format doesn’t encourage interaction. The setup is almost exclusively one way – you telling the customer – and it doesn’t help users find the answers to their questions.

          Now this isn’t to say that anything is fundamentally wrong with blogging this way. Heck, as of this moment this is the baseline format that we use at Portent. Creating fresh and relevant content helps customers find you.

          But lots of times, those same visitors come to your site looking for answers to questions. And that’s where your business has the opportunity to shine.

          Once you’ve published a certain volume of content and established a diverse set of audiences, it’s an ideal time to change the organization of your blog to focus on the answers your visitors seek. If you’ve established a blog structure that looks like the one above, let’s take it to the next level.

          Why is a hub better than a blog?

          Content hubs focus on the customers’ needs and interests. That’s what it’s all about: making the content and answers your customers need easy to find, visually appealing, and entertaining.

          Here’s a potential content hub. I say potential because hubs should be very customer centric and change depending on your audience.


          Simply put, this is more fun. It’s interactive and gives you the flexibility to present lots of different types of content to your users. It’s modular, letting you plug various components into the layout for a cleaner aesthetic and better usability, giving the users more relevant choices instead of asking them to scroll.

          With the intense amount of content being produced every day, anything that isn’t relevant is just noise to be quickly ignored or forgotten. We all see this. The millions of blog posts and videos uploaded daily are overwhelming.

          Don’t contribute to information overload. Instead, help your users navigate your content. Whatever you put in front of your visitors needs to have immediate, obvious value or else it gets ignored.

          There’s a reason Google doesn’t simply include the very latest news articles or blog posts on their home page. Users coming to their site have a question. Google doesn’t presume to know that answer before you ask it. (At least not until you type the first word, and it starts contextually guessing questions for you).

          Some content hub examples

          To give you a better model, these companies are doing it right. In fact, this article took me longer to write because I kept getting distracted diving deeper into these hubs.

          Home Depot

          Home Depot DIY Advice

          Any DIY fan can use this resource. Whatever your project is, you can quick search for topics and tips from the pros to make your renovation shine. What I love about this content hub is the giant search box guaranteeing you will get an answer. It doesn’t assume the visitor’s interests.

          And from a research standpoint, think about all the data you can capture in this search box. You will get useful insights into what people look for when they come to your site that you can turn into an endless stream of content topics and ideas.


          Porch Advice

          The Porch layout is really, really ridiculously good looking. Like Derek Zoolander good looking.

          It also has just about everything that someone would want in a content hub, and then some. My favorite part about this content hub is how modular it is. There are blocks of content that each serve a different purpose and can be swapped in and out based on context, user queries, CRM data, etc. Testing content blocks to the extreme is possible with this layout.


          REI Content Blog

          With images that actually make you stop and appreciate the scrolling header, the REI content hub does not disappoint. It includes a few suggested blog topics on the left-hand side, but what I enjoy most is the clean design. It keeps the user focused on the emotional, visual story in the pictures, but also on the search bar at the top where you can get your questions answered.

          GE Reports

          GE Content Reports

          I never thought I could be so interested in a B2B content page, but I find myself clicking-through page after page on the General Electric hub. One item that I find unique, but fun, is their use of GIFs as featured images. The page feels alive with the moving pictures and makes me stop to read more.

          How to start building a content hub

          • Step 1: Take an inventory of your current blog posts.
          • Step 2: Find our what your audience is searching for through search logs.
          • Step 3: Determine what content pieces your audience is reading from analytics.
          • Step 4: Talk to your customers to gain more insight into their questions.
          • Step 5: Identify strengths and gaps within your current knowledge base.
          • Step 6: Create a content strategy.

          No surprise: reworking your blog into a content hub takes some initial research and planning.

          When done right, a content strategy surfaces content that is the most relevant, most useful, and most engaging to your customers. That’s what I love about it: getting the right content in front of the right audience in an engaging and fun way.

          A content hub isn’t replacing your blog with a glorified search bar. It is about creating the best possible user-experience, specific to your audience. Remember, always begin with a content strategy, and the humility to ask your users what content is most valuable at that moment. Eventually, you’ll place the most relevant content at the front, and build a repository that will grow and support your users.

          Pssst: Check out this content hub page explainer. It tells you how to use the three kinds of hubs to group and rank your content.

          Start call to action

          See how Portent can help you own your piece of the web.

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          1. Hi Chris
            Nice article, the strategy is one part i find most people missing, i produce a magazine for a customer who has 40k monthly subscribers, and our biggest challenge is finding great content, most people just regurgitate everything, there are very few original articles online, i know about 10 real article content sources and the rest follow them. Would love to hear more on the content as a discussion from you,
            Thanks David

            1. I’ve been planning something similar and had all but given up on WordPress due to the complexity of integrating it. I’ve been considering Grav.
              For WordPress I think the answer is to use custom category templates that present various post types (video, link, blog, quote) differently on the category pages and then use an index (blog page) that pulls one or more from each of these categories and presents it in a similar way to above.
              I don’t think it’s as simple as a plugin – it needs custom templates from my point of view – but I think it’s worth doing to actually stand out from an increasingly crowded market place.

            2. Thanks David! I actually don’t know of any plugins that accomplish this. In most cases, I suggest staying away from WordPress plugins. They can slow down your site and are not always easy to adapt. Instead, work with a designer, developer, and a content strategist to create a unique layout and structure for the best user experience.

            3. It would be done more so by the theme you choose. Look for a theme that looks more like what they are talking about … or you can tweak the theme you have now to incorporate these elements. He is right though, it is always better to work with a designer to develop your own look but of course that is not always possible due to budget constraints.

          2. I just came out of a meeting discussing hubs and the need to give users clear direction as to what you want them to do. Our “Next Steps” from the meeting included presenting a plan that included a component-based wireframe just like the one in your article. So I shall be using that and this article to pull my deck together. You will of course be credited ??

            1. Hey Ralph, check out the comment I just left on this article. I think it may solve what you’re looking for quite easily.

          3. What a coincidence, the lay out of my wordpress blog is exactly as illustrated above. That means my blog is boring. I need to shop for a new wordpress theme.

          4. I wish it was easy to just switch to a hub from a current theme. Hopefully WP themes will start using this as a standard so we can just get a new theme like this.
            I totally agree with it being better.

          5. Hey, great article!
            I admit, my site looks almost exactly like the basic blog hub you mentioned at the top. I like it because it puts everything out there and gives people a selection, but after seeing your suggested hub/template, my eyes widened and I realized that that’s very much like what I’m looking for for a new site that I’m putting together.
            I continue to look online for free WordPress templates. Would you (or anybody else reading this) happen to know where I could get one that looks like that? Your help is highly appreciated!

          6. What a great idea Chris! I can see some mileage with this approach for a couple of future projects.
            Just to comment on David’s question whether there is a WP plugin for this – I haven’t seen one but isn’t that one of the reasons why this idea is so great? It’s something fresh on the eyes and that alone could be enough to buy you an extra few seconds of user attention.

          7. Perfect timing! Just came from meeting a friend and was talking about this very need! Like others, I too have the dreaded layout and have been looking for a WP plugin that Chris described. I will eagerly await someone’s gracious direction ??

          8. If I may make a suggestion, instead of manipulating a wordpress theme or hiring a team of developers, use a platform like Uberflip. You can import your content and create a Hub in an hour or two. Uberflip also connects to marketing automation tools like HubSpot and MailChimp to easily generate leads. That way, you don’t need to make a square peg fit into a round hole.
            Have a look at: uberflip.com

          9. I can certainly see the benefit in creating a hub for your organisation. Unfortunately it requires so much content and management most small to medium businesses would struggle to keep things fresh. I wonder how setting up a communal hub for allied businesses might work?

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