Content hub host with the most

Where should your hub live: on- or off-domain?

BY Kim Caviness
EVP, Chief Content Officer, Imagination

At Imagination, we've written a lot about content hubs in the past year. We've covered their benefits, their design rules, their ROI and more.

But where should they live?

Should a content hub live on your brand domain? Or should it sit in a subdomain with its own prominent landing page? Then there’s the third option: Should your hub be housed on an altogether different URL, to offer a stand-alone and subtly identified (if at all) brand connection?

What’s the most strategic way to host a content hub?

It depends. Factors such as your business goals, marketing goals, content strategy and most of all your audience’s needs from your brand and what they will—and will not—accept from you all lead to the right answer.

As a general rule, though: The more you want to offer a journalistic, medialike, church-state-differentiated experience, the more independent from your branded domain your hub should be.

If you want your hub to be closely associated with your brand’s halo, products and services, it should be more connected to the primary domain.

Let’s break down the pros and cons of where to host your content hub.

Domain (brand.com/ContentHub)

Good for:

  • Brands seeking content benefit from brand halo
  • Brands prioritizing lead gen
  • Brands prioritizing SEO

Not good for:

  • Brands uninterested in overt brand alignment
  • Brands prioritizing awareness over lead gen
  • Brands unwilling to invest in editorial strategy and regular cadence

Example: Redbull.com is the content hub. Energydrink-us.redbull.com is the U.S. brand product site.

Note: Red Bull is an extreme example because the content hub gets the brand URL, and the product site gets the subdomain. That’s how much Red Bull has aligned itself at the highest brand level with its content.

Our Data Pros Say: Domain is great for content hub SEO. You pass all the value from that main domain onto new pages that you’re creating on the content hub.

Subdomain (ContentHub.brand.com)

Good for:

  • Brands seeking the benefits of content marketing without the high-profile pressure of domain presence
  • Brands not ready to commit or invest in a media-like publishing program’s resources and cadence

Not good for:

  • Brands that prioritize lead gen and SEO
  • Brands lacking editorial resources to implement linking back and adding CTAs to domain

Example: Grow.acorns.com is Acorns' financial services content hub. Acorns.com is the brand/product site.

Our Data Pros Say: The subdomain has different value to Google, so you have to work harder to support your SEO strategy with cross-linking.

Unique URL (newContentHub.com)

Good for:

  • Brands that seek a church-and-state experience, separate from brand marketing goals and brand restrictions

Not good for:

  • Brands prioritizing brand connection for their content investment
  • Brands seeking SEO benefits for their parent website
  • Brands seeking lead gen
  • Brands not ready for the substantial content creation and marketing investment required to launch an entirely separate site

Example: Tablespoon.com is General Mills’ recipe content hub. GeneralMills.com is General Mills’ brand/product site.

Our Data Pros Say: When the content hub lives on a separate, lightly or nonbranded URL, it’s not about saying, “This message is provided by so-and-so.” It’s less about disruption and more about adding value.

published: May 07, 2019

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