Rule 2: ID Your Purpose and Pathways
Next, chart your two P’s: purpose and pathways. Define and declare on your hub why you exist, where you want visitors to go and what you want them to do next once they arrive at your content hub.
Let’s start with purpose: There has to be purpose coursing through your hub’s design, navigation and every content experience on it. Does your content hub exist to purposely answer questions your desired audience (not the one you might be accidentally attracting) is already asking? If you didn’t promote your hub with paid efforts, would visitors come anyway?
“We can check [the power of your] purpose by tracking organic search and organic traffic to you,” says Olson. Success is when “people are finding you naturally. They’re searching for keywords that exist on your website and are associated with your website from a Google standpoint, and they’re finding your content as the solution to that search query.”
Pro tip: Make sure you state your purpose prominently on your content hub, either right at the top of your global header on every page or home page as well as in your About section. It’s good for search as well as UX.
On to pathways. How will your content hub guide visitors from experience to experience in the right way for them—and for you? “Pathways on your hub need to exist for people … if you want continued conversations,” says Olson. You want to be able to “tie, at the right time, products to ideas and to needs.”
“If you have a hub that either exists on your domain or off your domain, providing connectors from your brand properties back to it is really important. I don’t think companies do that enough with content hubs. They see it as a thing that lives over here, but they aren’t connecting those conversations from other brand sites.”
Pro tip: “UX comes into play here,” Olson says, “heat mapping, understanding where they’re clicking, how they’re clicking as an individual user, as a persona. Those are really important for content hub success.”
Rule 3: Set benchmarks
We’re almost ready to set KPIs, I promise. But before we do that, we need to pause for Rule 3: Set benchmarks, tailored to your two P’s. Otherwise, the numbers mean little and can’t confidently inform the way forward.
“If you aren’t measuring against something, you’re just sort of afloat in the ocean, allowing the waves to take you, allowing the visitors to dictate success, versus saying, ‘I have a hypothesis about how many leads I’m going to get from content,’” says Olson.
Start by looking at your aspirational competitive set or your own relevant previous efforts to inform your targets. “Use the environment of the industry, of previous websites or previous parts of your website that are content driven to understand benchmarks,” he says.
Pro tip: “There are tools, like SEMRush, SimilarWeb and Alexa, that can help you see how your traffic trends stack up to your competitors,” Olson says. Once you have a handle on that, you can “use your own data on top of that to understand benchmarks and goals.”