Well planned out and executed content hubs are one of the highest value items you can invest your law firm’s marketing budget in. Acquisition through SEO is the only channel that returns compounding results over time. Paid advertising scales linearly (if not worse), email marketing requires constant effort and maintenance, but organic SEO can become the machine of perpetual lead generation once it gets going.
What is a Content Hub?
Ranking on Google as a personal injury lawyer is not as simple as just throwing up a website and a few pages that let people know what kinds of cases you take on. Highly-sought after keywords like car accident lawyer and truck accident lawyer typically require more than one page or post to rank. The level of difficulty tends to increase in direct proportion to the population density that you’re practicing in.
The pages that rank at the top of Google are often the best of the best—the ones that have a good mixture of satisfying the searcher’s intent and a lot of topical authority on the subject matter.
Content hubs are like sections in a bookstore where everything in that section is classified along some common theme. For personal injury lawyers, this could be groups of content about motor vehicle accidents, slip and falls, dog bites, work-related injuries, etc.
Benefits of Content Hubs for Lawyers
Building out content hubs on your website is a way to leverage your site structure to develop topical authority with Google. In a nutshell, when Google evaluates your website and sees how well-structured things are, it makes it easier for their algorithms to understand what your site is about and help you rank for keywords that would otherwise be too difficult.
And as a general rule of thumb, the easier you can make things on Google, the better.
When you haphazardly publish a bunch of content across several different topics, Google gets confused. It’s like being in college and changing your major half a dozen times before your junior year—no one has any idea what you’re doing.
But when each piece of your content flows naturally from one to the next, it makes it easier for Google to traverse it and understand what you’re all about.
Your blog is not a place to just publish anything and everything. That’s what news publishers do and your goal isn’t to be seen as a place for news, it should be seen as a place to turn to for expert-level trustworthy information and resources.
How to Plan Perfect Content Hubs
Knowing what content hubs are is the first part of the battle. Now we have to actually plan them. To do so, you’ll need to:
- Identify your core topics
- Conduct keyword research
- Group keywords into main topic and subtopic hierarchies
- Map out your main topics into hubs
- Plan your hubs around your site architecture
Don’t skip these steps and go straight to creating content. Let’s dive into each below.
1. Identify Your Core Topics
Start by listing out the core topics that relate to personal injury. These are very broad (and often very short) terms like:
- personal injury
- brain injury
- car accident
- truck accident
- motorcycle accident
- injury lawyer
- injury attorney
- workers compensation
This list can be as long as you want. When we find terms that begin to overlap with one another (e.g. motorcycle accident & motorcycle accident lawyer), we only need the one that comprises the other. There’s a balancing act here that we have to constantly be mindful of, however. If we go too broad we’ll end up with a lot of noise in our data and make it more difficult to focus on what’s relevant.
For example, we could simplify car accident and truck accident down to just accident, but that’d be too broad when we go to conduct keyword research in the next step.
2. Exhaustively Collecting Keyword Research Data
There are a lot of different ways to do keyword research. A lot of people throw a keyword into Ahrefs, see what comes out, pick a handful of terms they think are interesting, and call it a day.
Google processes over 3.5 billion searches per day, and 15% of those are brand new queries that Google has never seen before. We exhaustively collect as much data as we can because it helps us make more informed decisions than our client’s competitors.
To collect as much keyword data as possible we take our seed terms and input them into a tool called Ahrefs.
This will often produce millions of keyword possibilities for us to consider. For example, for just two of our seed keywords like
car accident and car accidents we get back nearly half a million keywords.
Now, some of these won’t be super relevant. We have tools that enable us to filter out the noise but if you’re trying to do this on your own you have two choices:
- Sift through them manually.
- Get more narrow in your original seed terms list.
Just be aware, the more narrow you go with your seed terms, the more likely you are to miss out on lucrative opportunities. For example, if you narrow it down to something like car accident lawyer you’ll miss out on great opportunities like what to do after a car accident.
We repeat this process for all of our seed terms until we have a massive repository of every possible term under the sun the data can give us.
3. Choosing Main Topics
The whole point of doing this is to plan out content hubs—to understand exactly how we should structure the content on our websites. All the data in the world won’t help if we can make sense of it.
To do that, we have to cluster our topics together into sensible groups.
Most people take a very manual approach to this. They look at keywords and begin tagging them or shuffling them around inside a spreadsheet, creating groups they think make sense.
The primary problem with this approach isn’t how long it takes, it’s the pure subjectivity of it. Ask 5 different people to cluster keywords together for you like this and you’ll end up with 5 different ways to group them together. That’s not okay with us.
For example, consider the following keywords:
- injury from car accident
- car accident injury claim
Each of them relates to being injured in a car accident, so it makes sense to group these together, right?
Rather than relying on our instincts, we’re better off turning to Google and letting it be our primary source of truth. You can let Google guide you by comparing the similarity of the search results across the set of keywords.
If we go to Google and search for each, we’ll find that the pages ranking for each are drastically different.
As a general rule of thumb, you want to group keywords together that share at least 3 exact URLs in common. You’ll also want to keep up with which keywords share the great number of URLs in common across its entire set— called degree in graph theory (a field of mathematics and computer science)—those will become your main keywords.
Most people don’t take this approach because of the sheer amount of time it takes. This isn’t something we have to worry about—we have exclusive access to a tool not available on the market that uses machine learning to do this for us more accurately than a human ever could and in a fraction of the time. Something our clients get to benefit from that no one can offer.
For example, the following keywords all share the common vertex of car accident injury:
- injury from car accident
- common car accident injuries
- what injuries can a car accident cause
- how many injuries are caused by car accidents
Similarly, the following keywords all share the common vertex of car accident injury claim:
- how to claim injury in car accident
- how to claim personal injury from a car accident
- how to file a personal injury claim after a car accident
- how to file a medical claim after a car accident
Because of that, we’d create two separate pages for each group, addressing the questions and information people are looking for when they search for each.
This is the most accurate approach to grouping keywords together and while it’s time-consuming, it’s not too bad whenever you’re working with a small number of keywords.
But we’re not. We’re pulling in half a million or more keywords when we do this for clients. The time this would take to do manually is impractical for humans to do but not for the tools we have at our disposal.
Once all of the main keywords are mapped out, we’re able to plan and begin creating content for Google to crawl and rank. As we go produce each new piece of content within a particular hub we’ll internally link them to one another. This not only makes it easier for Google to crawl your website but also weaves a semantic web together that Google will perceive as topical authority.
And that’s the goal. If Google recognizes you as a topical authority on a subject, you’ll rank higher. It’s that simple.
With a personal injury law firm, what you’ll want to do is define your primary service page as the hub and link every article addressing a main keyword back to it in some way, while also internally linking them together.
Links between hubs are okay so long as it’s relevant to the content. For example, you wouldn’t add a link from an article over workers’ compensation to a car accident injury page—unless the specific topic addressed in the workers’ comp article was something to do with being injured while driving a commercial vehicle or something.
You can establish a hierarchy by leveraging either virtual silos or physical silos. There are varying opinions about which is best but we recommend most firms use physical silos. Physical silos create hierarchy by using subfolders on the site. The structure would look something like this:
A real scenario for a personal injury firm would be:
A spoke page gets created for each keyword that our clustering methodology showed warranted its own unique focus. They are generally longer versions of the primary keyword or a more focused question related to the primary keyword.
Again, every spoke page points readers back to the hub to help the hub page rank but they should also have the ability to rank on their own as well. In combining them together, this hub and spoke approach creates a hierarchy that makes sense to readers and search engines (it also makes it much easier to analyze and segment within Google Analytics as well).
All of the reference points from the spoke pages back to the hub page emphasize to Google that the hub page is a very important page on your site and that it should pay more attention to it. Inversely, since the hub page will also link out to the various spoke pages, it acts as a sort of table of contents that the reader can start from and travel deeper through your site to get their specific questions answered.
Conversion rates will also increase anytime you can address a visitor’s need quickly and more specifically. People skim sites, they don’t digest them in full. Make it easy on them and you’ll see a lift to your case volume as a result.
Quality > Quantity
If you define what your hubs will be in advance and map the various topics underneath them using the methodology we outlined, you’ll be able to plan an editorial calendar for months to come. As the content gets published in a sensible order, you’ll build Google’s confidence that your website is a trustworthy source of information on the web about all things related to personal injury.
And that is something worth striving for because if Google trusts you, Google ranks you.
Whatever you do, don’t treat your blog like a news publication. You want to focus on quality over quantity if you want to maximize the number of leads your website’s content generates for you over time.
Yes, it will take a while to plan out, but it’s often better to measure twice and cut once. If you go about it the wrong way, you stand to leave a lot of value on the table that one of your competitors can easily snatch up.
And for people who don’t want to wait, who want to ensure they stay ahead of the competition, that’s where we come in. We’re experts at this and have the results to back it up.