WordPress SEO Tip: Implementing Theming and Siloing

Our lead developer and resident WordPress Expert John Lamansky is back to share a powerful siloing technique for WordPress to maximize the impact of theming data and categories to have a greater impact in search engines.
WordPress SEO Tip: Implementing the Power of Theming and Siloing, By John Lamansky

This is one of many other WordPress SEO Tips and is a follow up to
20 Practical SEO Tips to Super-Charge Your WordPress Blog!, another great resource for WordPress users looking to unleash the power of such a pliable CMS platform.

Let’s face it: Search engines really want to know what your blog is about in order to give relevant results to searchers.

Siloing is the technique of theming your site’s directories to increase search engine relevance in a natural and logical way. It is great for sites, such as blogs, that have quality, topical content for which high search engine rankings are desired.

This step-by-step guide will help you implement the powerful siloing technique on your WordPress blog through a combination of plugins, settings, and strategies.

Step 1: The Preliminary Status Check

Does your blog as a whole have a clear, distinguishable theme? Do your categories logically break your blog topic into subtopics?

I’ll use my blog as an example: The WordPress Expert is, of course, focused on the WordPress niche. Since my content is focused on one topic, the search engines should have a clear idea of what search queries my site is relevant for. My categories (SEO, Social Media, Tutorials, etc.) break the content down into logical subtopics, which further aids the engines in understanding and cataloging the content.

If your blog lacks organization and clarity, consider niche-hunting and/or restructuring your blog’s categories.

This is the critical, foundational step for an effective siloing implementation, so don’t skip past it!

Step 2: Setup Category-Based Permalinks

Go to your WordPress administration panel, then go to Options > Permalinks. Select the “Custom” option and type in:


Tip: If you’re using a WordPress version prior to 2.3, install the Permalink Redirect plugin to make sure your old permalinks redirect to the new ones.

Step 3: Install the Top Level Categories plugin

By default, WordPress will setup your category archive pages like this:


In this example, we’d rather have the SEO category show up at this URL:


Achieving this is very simple: just install the Top Level Categories plugin, and voila!

Since we just set up category-based permalinks in the previous step, then posts in the category “SEO” will appear as subdirectories of the category’s URL. This is perfect for siloing purposes.

Step 4: Install the sCategory Permalink plugin

An annoyance with WordPress’s category-based permalinks system: When a post has more than one category, the category with the lowest ID will be used in the permalink URL.

Fix: Install the sCategory Permalink plugin, which will let you choose which category (silo) each post should go in.

Step 5: Show Excerpts in Your Category Archives

We want the category archive pages to be linking to the posts in the silo, not outputting the full posts themselves.

Whether or not your category pages display the post excerpts or the full content is up to the theme you have installed. Here’s how to check: In your WordPress admin, go to Presentation > Theme Editor > Category Template. See if the code has the text the_content and if so, replace it with the_excerpt

Step 6: Interlink Within Silos

Your silo-ed categories are now set up! Now you need to reinforce your silos by linking your posts to other posts in the same silo.

For example, if your silos (categories) are “SEO” and “WordPress,” then the goal is to have your SEO posts interlinking with each other and your WordPress posts interlinking with each other.

Here are some strategies:

  • Deep-link to other posts in the same silo.
  • Try to minimize links that don’t lead elsewhere in the same silo. For example, try adding rel=”nofollow” to external sidebar and/or footer links.
  • Install the Similar Posts plugin, which inserts a list of related posts you’ve written to the bottom of each of your blog posts.

For an added silo boost, go to your WordPress admin, go to Options > Similar Posts, and then set “Limit matches to same category” to “Yes.”


Siloing is a powerful tool for your WordPress SEO toolkit. It’s easy to implement thanks to the flexibility and extensibility of WordPress!

For more WordPress SEO tips, check out my 20 Practical SEO Tips to Super-Charge Your WordPress Blog or download our latest WordPress SEO Themes.

John Lamansky is an up-and-coming web developer who has building websites for 7 years and has been working with WordPress for almost 3 of its 5 years of existence. He is experienced with XHTML, CSS, PHP, WordPress, and much more, and looks forward to providing WordPress tips, services, and resources to the blogging community.

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  1. A Samuel
    Posted February 7, 2008 at 5:26 pm | Permalink

    Nice post, but what happens if you have a lot to lose and you have been blogging for a few years. Changing categories etc could be a major problem.

  2. John Lamansky
    Posted February 12, 2008 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

    There could be a short-run rankings dip, but 301 redirects should take care of the problem in the long-run.

    WordPress 2.3 should take care of a permalink change automatically. And as I mentioned in the post:

    If you’re using a WordPress version prior to 2.3, install the Permalink Redirect plugin to make sure your old permalinks redirect to the new ones.

  3. ilo
    Posted March 18, 2008 at 6:21 am | Permalink

    is there another fix for the category ID problem. the sCategory Permalink doesn’t seem to work whatsoever with 2.3.3 :( !

  4. John Lamansky
    Posted March 18, 2008 at 7:23 am | Permalink

    @ilo: There isn’t an alternative to sCategory Permalink as far as I know. I’ll add that to my plugin development ideas list though. :-)

    Thanks for the heads-up.

  5. SEO Updates
    Posted April 2, 2008 at 4:28 pm | Permalink

    Wooh,another great post, does this plugins require much technical expertise to implement?

  6. DR
    Posted June 19, 2008 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

    Great post, and I’m working to restructure about 350 posts on my site. My question is whether it is best to implement siloing with posts, pages, or both. I’ve read many articles (some linked to here) that highly recommend using static pages for key articles and posts to expand and link to the pages. Thoughts? Also, if you use both, do you run into SEO conflicts when a page or sub-page name is identical to a category name? Thanks.

  7. John
    Posted August 5, 2008 at 10:29 pm | Permalink


    The plugin you recommended i.e. Top Level Categories (step 3)

    Will not work with /%category%/%postname%/ (step 2)

    I discovered this when I tried it and it says so in the readme file of the plugin.

    Does this throw the who approach out?


  8. John Bertrand
    Posted August 25, 2008 at 7:03 am | Permalink

    Common sense siloing your strategies brings success, it’s an old strategy but it works fine.

  9. Photoshop
    Posted August 28, 2008 at 9:09 am | Permalink

    Just a great guide again..thanks for it.

    Bookmarked this Blog..

  10. Donna
    Posted September 13, 2008 at 12:38 am | Permalink

    The Top Level Plugin has a known bug which will prevent it from working with the permalink structure you have recommended here. You can read about the bug on the programmers website. Since you recommend both, have you found a workaround?

  11. Lee
    Posted September 23, 2008 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

    OH! I found out the same as the others here. The Top Level plugin does not work with the category/post permalink. Have you found a workaround?

  12. John Lamansky
    Posted December 10, 2008 at 12:17 pm | Permalink

    @John/Donna/Lee: If you’re experiencing problems using the Top Level Categories plugin with step 2′s permalink settings, I’d recommend trying the Advanced Permalinks plugin, which has an option that provides functionality similar to that of the Top Level plugin.

  13. Make Money
    Posted February 18, 2009 at 5:21 pm | Permalink


    do we need a parent/main category set up in WP?

    Let’s say i have various categories “whatever diets”…and main KW is “diet”. Do i need a main/parent category “Diets” ??

    Also..what goes on the front page? By default, each new post is promoted to th front page. But those posts should stay in their designated categories!

    I assume it would be best to have only posts related to the ROOT keyword on the front page? Maybe even a static page? Eg. generic talk about “Diets” on a static frontpage of the blog?

    Thanks…great read by the way. Started making my own silo sites now.

    Posted March 13, 2009 at 7:24 am | Permalink

    good job

  15. Alex Wrobel
    Posted April 4, 2009 at 10:08 pm | Permalink

    Great stuff here. Silo Structuring is something that every blogger should apply to their blog. Not to mention have a good back link campaign as well as great content like this blog provides.

  16. Digi
    Posted June 30, 2009 at 9:28 pm | Permalink


    I have been looking but cannot find away to choose the top level cat as the permalink, I have a game trailers blog and alot of the trailers are for games on multiple systems, ie: PS3, XBox 360, PC, and I have created categories for the diff systems as follows PC Gaming, PS3 gaming etc etc. These are subcategories under the parent cat “Video”, but when I submit a post to the multiple cats including the parent Wp randomly builds the permalink and it is usually for a subcategory. ie: http://www.game-trailers.ca/video/wii-gaming/ghostbusters-lore-of-the-spiderwitch-game-trailer/, so I end up with a permalink that comes from http://www.game-trailers.ca/video/xbox-360-gaming/ to a Wii page in the permalink. What I would like to have is the Top level cat displayed http://www.game-trailers.ca/video/ghostbusters-lore-of-the-spiderwitch-game-trailer/ coming from the subcategories that I have chosen.

    Does anyone know of a hack or plugin that does this on wp 2.8?

    Thx Digi

  17. JNB Web Promotion
    Posted August 7, 2009 at 10:57 pm | Permalink

    Silo in SEO strategies is a great way to beat competition easily.

  18. Lara35
    Posted December 18, 2009 at 7:30 am | Permalink

    We do opine, you can utilize the submit article service for your stuff just about this good post, because that is manifestly supreme and mustn’t be hidden from public!

  19. John Bertrand
    Posted December 20, 2009 at 8:12 pm | Permalink

    With a silo you can control points of PR and link juice.

  20. damhazumai
    Posted January 15, 2010 at 4:38 pm | Permalink

    Hello.. now i’m understand about silo.. i think i want apply this tip to may blog.. thanks you for sharing this great tips..

  21. fSEVIE
    Posted February 9, 2010 at 10:27 pm | Permalink

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  23. No Name
    Posted March 22, 2010 at 2:59 am | Permalink

    i try it to my wordpress site,
    is acquire a few deep links pointing to each of the article pages.
    this kinda make me to set it up again all my page, because
    these deep links should have keyword(s) in the anchor text, for which the category, subcategory and the post are being optimised.

  24. Eddy
    Posted September 29, 2010 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

    Heya, thanks for the post, a lot of info here.

    I’m curious though, I see this is from 2008…has anything changes since WP 3.01 came out?

    Or is this method still a valid way of creating SILO themes in WP?

  25. Jeffrey Smith
    Posted September 29, 2010 at 5:50 pm | Permalink

    Theming and siloing works better than ever, I highly recommend it.

  26. Eddy
    Posted September 29, 2010 at 9:56 pm | Permalink

    @ Jeffrey Smith…

    no no lol, I KNOW theming and siloing works great, but I’m pretty new to wordpress, and since this post is from 2008, was wondering if this particular method is valid for WordPress 3.01.

    All I can seem to find on info for siloing in WP, is to buy Dan Raine’s plugin, but I don’t want to…he’s rich enough lol.

    I’m just thinking there HAS to be a semi-automated way of creating silo them in WP.

    This SOUNDS good, but like I said, not sure if it applies to WP 3. That’s all I want to know

  27. Bill Canaday, 2010
    Posted December 6, 2010 at 5:58 pm | Permalink

    The Similar Posts plugin has not been updated in nearly 900 days and was last known to work with WP 2.6.2. Since WP is now at 3.0.2, I’m wondering if that suggestion isn’t likely to cause more problems than provide answers.

    I want to optimize my blog, not break it.

  28. Agence référencement
    Posted June 5, 2011 at 4:55 pm | Permalink

    Hi !

    thanks for this great post, but (an i think to not be the first in this case)

    I would like to silo my wordpress blog, but their’s a little problem to fix for these that use categories and subcategories.

    On the nav bar, wordpress display also subcategories, so you cannot silo your website.

    I m searching for solutions for show subcategories only if you visit the parent category that correspond to this sub categorie.

    Is there a plugin that manage that in a simple way ?


  29. Derrick Favaloro
    Posted October 25, 2011 at 4:31 am | Permalink

    They have definitely a great tool for gaining backlinks through various methods.

26 Trackbacks

  1. By links for 2008-02-06 oggin.net on February 5, 2008 at 8:25 pm

    [...] WordPress SEO Tip: Implementing the Power of Theming and Siloing | SEO Design Solutions – Internet M… Our lead developer and resident WordPress Expert John Lamansky is back to share a powerful siloing technique for WordPress to maximize the impact of theming data and categories to have a greater impact in search engines. This is one of many other WordPre (tags: WordPress SEO) [...]

  2. [...] or after the topic of the page. This is common with blogs but is a well known SEO tactic based on siloing or theming information for logical categorization. An example would [...]

  3. [...] a flat site architecture using the root folder and build your main pages as the top tier of the information silo. Then for more competitive phrases, build a sub folder one off the root with your main keyword or a [...]

  4. [...] each one in its own subfolder or category. (See: SEO Siloing, Advanced SEO – Siloing Content, Implementing the Power of Theming and Siloing on Your Blog, PageRank sculpting – Siloing and [...]

  5. By Anatomy of an Optimized WordPress Blog on July 5, 2008 at 6:06 pm

    [...] You can find other helpful articles on this topic, such as Silo Structure SEO and WordPress, WordPress SEO Tip: Implementing the Power of Theming and Siloing …, and WordPress SEO – Definitive Guide To High Rankings For Your [...]

  6. By The Quality of SEO Matters | SEO Design Solutions on September 26, 2008 at 8:38 am

    [...] content strategically organized in a way that fundamentally supports information retrieval such as (theming and siloing), has strong internal links and has persuasive and compelling content and usability was the [...]

  7. By The Quality of SEO Matters | Web Data Source on September 26, 2008 at 3:11 pm

    [...] content strategically organized in a way that fundamentally supports information retrieval such as (theming and siloing), has strong internal links and has persuasive and compelling content and usability was the [...]

  8. [...] may have heard of Theming and Siloing for SEO. If not, here is a step by step guide that explains how to implement the power of silos on [...]

  9. [...] added or developed to do everything from reducing duplicate content, creating relevance through theming and siloing information, sculpt page rank and hundreds of SEO tactics that had to be applied the old fashion [...]

  10. [...] its what is beneath the surface. That is the type of optimization you should concern yourself with (building keyword-rich silos of information). Just like they always say age before beauty, in this case it’s build [...]

  11. [...] rambunctious code into a compatible format, aligning off-topic content to a structured formula (theming and siloing or virtual theming). As well as following best practices for infusing titles, tags and links to [...]

  12. [...] method is simple, find a topic as your theme, then build deep silos of information on the topic, such as 20-30 articles or posts over time. Then go back to those [...]

  13. [...] From there, you place relevant pages within each sub folder based on sorting order (also known as theming and siloing) [...]

  14. [...] by using a clearly delineated site architecture, internal links and using a modified technique of theming and siloing to get the benefit of each post working for a benchmark semantic goal (the competitive root [...]

  15. [...] protocol (no following outbound links that were unnecessary, internal link structure set up to reinforce the theme through internal link [...]

  16. By SEO Checklist | SEO Design Solutions on March 16, 2009 at 9:05 am

    [...] of content within site architecture (topical relevance, theming and siloing, flat site architecture, CMS (content management system / dynamic pages, [...]

  17. [...] keywords, sniping, grouping, theming & siloing [...]

  18. [...] has one of the most flexible ad options for affiliates I have ever seen and with a few tweaks to supercharge the settings, it can capture more top ten tenure on accident, than most sites on [...]

  19. [...] only is their site architecture based on theming and siloing, but the internal link structure reinforces it with virtual theming by linking in mass from [...]

  20. [...] knife, the SEO Ultimate Plugin allows you to fine-tune your WordPress theme to unleash the power of theming and siloing, relevant naming conventions and unified tags, titles and SEO settings to achieve higher organic [...]

  21. [...] Go to Source [...]

  22. [...] curious to what the reference is for theme bleeding, you can refer to our post on theme density and theming and siloing as an effective alternative to flat site architecture for search engine [...]

  23. [...] is beyond the scope of this article, but for more competitive articles it takes a pyramid of themed articles to rank for a top level highly competitive keyword [...]

  24. [...] with a plugin such as SEO Ultimate for WordPress, change the permalinks (title and h1 tag)  and silo the site architecture in a matter of [...]

  25. [...] WordPress SEO Tips Implementing Theming and Siloing [...]

  26. By 12 hot sources to find your keywords - Uprankers on March 11, 2011 at 7:07 am

    [...] I find this visual tool to be very useful while mapping out the general idea for my site, its categories and subcategories. It is an easy way to discover concepts which Google considers related to your primary niche. As it is an accepted knowledge that well-themed sites rank better, the Wonder Wheel may help you design an excellent silo-like structure. [...]

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