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As a healthcare marketer, you’re probably all too aware of the importance of your website and getting found by search engines when it comes to attracting new patients. You also know that Google is constantly updating its search algorithms. Keywords are no longer the focus of search engine optimization. Searcher intent is — that means SEO is looking at the questions people are asking to get a deeper understanding of their needs.

What’s the next evolution of search? Content hubs.


Content hubs are a way to simplify your life, increase consumer engagement, and improve search results. They can help optimize your website to rank higher in search results, while meeting the information needs of potential patients.

Continue reading our comprehensive guide to content hubs below or jump to the section that interests you most:


What is a content hub?

Content hubs provide in-depth information about a single topic, such as hip replacement surgery or choosing an assisted living facility. The foundation of a good content hub is to address consumer questions about the topic (not what you think they should know, but what they actually want to know and can’t find elsewhere).


The heart of a content hub is a comprehensive pillar page that definitively outlines the topic. (Hint: What you’re reading now is a pillar page and it is the heart of our content hub on, well, content hubs!)

Read more about pillar pages in this Hubspot blog post.

All related content -- subtopic pages, blog posts, videos, patient eguides and so on —are interlinked on the pillar page. This tells search engines there is a relationship between the content. Because you are addressing many aspects of a topic (and using many related keywords and synonyms), this gives your website “authority” and improves your SEO. 

Read more about the changes in SEO that drive the need for a content hub strategy in our blog. 


Not only do content hubs aid your SEO, but they also organize content for your consumers and make it easy to find everything that is related. And, as a bonus, content hubs make it easy for marketers to know exactly where to put an ever-growing library of content.


By focusing your site around content hubs, you can:

  • Focus content creation on topics that support your marketing priorities

  • Develop new content based on customer interest measured with website analytics

  • Reorganize existing content or use it to supplement new content as part of a hub

  • Improve the user experience, so potential patients can easily find what they’re looking for


Why use content hubs?

Healthcare marketers are moving to content hubs for five primary reasons. The top five reasons for building content hubs are to:

  1. Respond to new SEO rules. Keywords are no longer the only important factor in search. Search engines continue to grow more sophisticated and are interpreting user intent rather than just the words they enter into a search bar. They are rewarding sites that provide in-depth, interlinked content that uses not just specific keywords but related keywords, key phrases, and synonyms of keywords. This change is so important that ReachLocal lists the development of topic pages as its number one tip for 2018.

  2. Solve patient problems. As a marketer, ranking high in search is a goal. But ultimately, your website needs to attract and convert visitors to patients. Content hubs identify and answer consumers’ questions — all in an easy to navigate fashion.

  3. Support marketing strategy. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the amount of content you need to create—particularly if you represent a general hospital with dozens of service lines and hundreds of treatments. By choosing content hubs that align with your overall marketing objectives, you can build a plan that helps you maintain your focus.

  4. Organize website content. How many times have you developed a great piece of health content and posted it on one or two pages only to realize it really needs to go on 10 or 12? But there’s either no place to put that content or it’s too much work to place it on multiple pages—and too difficult to find again if you need to pull it down. By organizing content in hubs, you will know where to post all content and know where to look if something needs to be pulled.

  5. Invest in creating the right content. Hopefully, as a seasoned healthcare marketer, you’re already using website analytics to monitor what your customers are viewing and growing content in those areas. But using these statistics can be overwhelming, particularly if you have hundreds of pages of content. Analyzing statistics around content hubs focuses your attention on your priority service lines and the precise information within those topics that most appeal to consumers.


Building a customer-centric content hub

Just as serving the needs of your patients or residents is at the heart of your healthcare organization and your marketing efforts, it also is the foundation of a content hub. Sounds intuitive, right?


Creating healthcare content that meets consumer needs is so basic that it often gets overlooked in the process of content creation. Sure, everyone says that they build patient personas and create content to serve the patient. In reality, there are three major issues stopping healthcare marketers from creating effective healthcare content:

  1. Service Line Marketing: Most every hospital marketer builds marketing plans to align with business objectives, which measure volume by service line. The problem is that consumers—your potential patients—don’t think in terms of service lines. Let’s take orthopedics. When was the last time a consumer searched on “How long will it take to recover from orthopedic surgery?” Probably not often because they would tend to get information that is useless. The answer to that question is most likely “hours to months, depending on the surgery.” Instead, consumers conduct healthcare searches based on their specific symptoms, diagnosis, or treatment. The orthopedic patient above is more likely to search: “How long will it take to recover from ACL surgery

  2. Resources: Continuing our orthopedic example, most healthcare marketers understand that consumers don’t search on information based on service lines. But when you have limited staffing, time, and budget, how do you justify building content hubs for every orthopedic condition and procedure? You can’t and that’s why building content hubs requires a whole lot of courage and resilience. Not every doctor, service line clinical manager, or administrator is going to agree with your decision to focus on priority conditions and procedures, but this is the same discussion being had around the finance table as well. The fact is that you can’t do it all but focusing your content strategy on the conditions and treatments that you are supporting in your overall marketing plan makes good business sense and will return much better results.

  3. Body of Knowledge: The last reason content is often not created based on consumer interest is because many healthcare marketers and their clinical teams think they know what consumers need to know. And, indeed, they usually do but what we tend to find is that it is the same information that can be found on most medical or hospital websites. By understanding your potential patient (or resident), their care path, and where you fit in, you can identify the information they need from you specifically. This allows you to create unique and engaging content. 


Before you jump into developing a content hub strategy, identify key conditions and procedures being targeted in your organization’s business plan. Then build support for focusing your marketing plan on those priority areas.

10 steps to creating a content hub

Follow these steps to create your first content hub.


  1. Determine specific topics for your content hubs and develop patient profiles. For help developing patient personas, download our free 5-Step Patient Profile Workbook, which provides an easy-to-follow framework. As you conduct research and develop your patient profiles, key elements to look for include:

  2. Identify consumer questions. Start by interviewing members of your organization who deal most often with patient calls and ask them what questions are routinely asked, then interview the clinical teams for the same information. You also can use online patient surveys, online patient forums, software tools like Quora, and keyword research to determine the highest priority content.

  3. Apply SEO research to consumer interests to determine needed content and potential subtopic content clusters. Once you know what information consumers need during the various phases of the patient path, you should conduct keyword research. Doing keyword research after developing the patient persona and identifying consumer interests ensures that you are not poisoning the well, so to speak. In other words, you’re not selecting keywords without consumer insights. Keyword research at this point also can inform you on whether a topic is worthy of a blog or a full-scale subtopic page. 

  4. Outline your content hub to determine what information will be included on your pillar page as well as the subtopics you’ll cover in more detail on subtopic pages, blogs, videos, eguides or other formats. Prioritize what content you need at launch and what can be added later. Consider holding off on subsequent pieces of costly content to measure consumer interest based on use of existing content.

  5. Audit existing onsite and offsite content, looking for information that fulfills patient interests. Remember that this content can come from outside the marketing department. For instance, potential spine surgery patients are interested in knowing what is normal during recovery. That information very likely is provided in a handout or patient notebook by the surgeon, your spine unit, or discharge.

  6. Write pillar pages, subtopics, and resources. Start researching, conducting interviews, and writing content. Build out subtopic content and blogs in priority order. Be sure to identify one-three keywords per page and use those keywords in page titles, H1 headings, alt text, meta data and naturally within copy. Remember that there no longer is a need to keyword stuff and that search engines recognize and reward a variety of related keywords as well as synonyms.

  7. Set up the hub on your website with a linked table of contents, a drive to your main resource near the top of the page, and make sure to link your subtopics or blogs to the pillar page using the same anchor text to form a cluster or hub around your pillar page so that a search engine knows it’s part of a topic cluster.

  8. Promote your content. As part of your content hub planning, build a promotional plan to help generate volume. Read more on promotional ideas below.

  9. Measure onsite engagement to evaluate your content hub’s effectiveness and determine new content based on consumer interest. Pay close attention to entry and exit pages, how long consumers spend on those pages and whether they click through to resources or additional pages. Consumer paths through your content help identify topics of interest. Likewise, quick exits can signal content that is missing. Be sure to pull baseline website metrics such as website traffic and leads before you deploy your pillar page. Then monitor the position of your content hub in search engines as you add new subtopics and blogs.

  10. Identify and develop additional content and refine existing content as needed. After launch, set up a schedule to review and update existing content, add new subtopics and blogs, and promote your content.


Blogging for Content Hubs

Subtopic pages for your content hub can be website pages or blogs. One advantage of blogs is that they can be created over time, and they are a good way to add fresh content to your website to keep it current for search engines.


According to Hubspot, blogs have the following benefits:

  • Drive traffic to your website

  • Add new indexed pages to your site, which helps your site to show up in search engines and drives traffic from organic search

  • Provide content you can share on social media and which others can share via social sharing icons on your site

  • Calls-to-action on blogs convert site traffic to leads

  • Help establish authority for your site


Many blog posts show an upward trend in views over time. These blogs are called compounding posts. Some blogs are evergreen posts, which can be updated and repurposed over time by adding new information or data as it becomes available, and continue to generate traffic over several years.


Creating a Content Hub In-house vs. Outsourcing

The decision to create a content hub in-house or outsource it depends on you and how much time and resources you have to create your hub.

Creating a Content Hub in-house:


  • Out of pocket cost is low – the only cost is staff time

  • No briefing or coordination with an outside agency required



  • Requires a good deal of staff time to research, plan, develop, and implement

  • May take a long time to develop and implement if staff is juggling multiple priorities

  • Requires expertise in research, planning, development, and coordination by internal staff

  • Requires excellent content creation skills, including writing, design, photography, and videography, that may not be available inhouse or may not be of high enough quality

  • May not get done, given everything you have on your plate


Outsourcing a Content Hub to a healthcare content marketing agency:


  • Hub can be researched, planned, developed and implemented fairly quickly

  • Agencies have staff and expertise to coordinate and manage projects of this scope

  • Agencies have a sense of what works based on other clients and the work they’ve done in this area



  • Cost – if executed properly, hubs can seem expensive. However, if you go this route, our advice is to not skimp on the research portion of content hub development.

  • Some internal staff time will be required to brief the agency, determine project scope, provide internal subject matter experts for interviews, and provide copy approvals

Content Hub Promotion

Content promotion is the often-forgotten piece of content marketing. But, before you even create your content hub, you should be thinking about how you will promote it to generate website traffic and convert website visitors to patients. Some easy ways you can promote your content hub include:

  • Organic search. If you’ve developed a content hub that addresses the pain points and answers the questions of your target audience, uses keywords effectively, and sets up internal links, your content hub will improve your search rankings and attract additional volume.

  • Social media. Promote your content hub on your social media accounts. One easy way to do this is by sharing interesting tidbits and factoids from your hub. You also can boost your posts to reach a new audience. Don’t forget to share out resources from other sources you have included in your content hub.

  • Email. Alert your email database to your content hub, particularly the downloadable resources, videos and new blog posts.

  • Influencer marketing. If your content hub offers unique and useful information, make sure that influencers such as local health association, health websites, and specialty blogs are alerted. Consider asking for guest blogs on particular subtopics where they have expertise.

  • Online advertising campaign. Your pillar page and subtopic pages can be great landing pages for a pay-per-click campaign. Rather than using generic text ads (Offering award-winning care by the region’s leading pediatric specialists…), try text ads that specifically address the consumer interests you have turned up in your research (Learn the five warning signs of RSV…).

  • Paid content promotion. Depending on the topic of your health content hub, you can promote your pillar page, subtopics, or blogs as articles on paid content promotion services such as Outbrain or Taboola.

What is a content hub?
Why use content hubs?
Customer-centric Hub
Creating a content hub
Blogging for content hubs
Outsourcing content creation
Conten hub promotion
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