To draw on a visual analogy, most websites are like the image of mixed fruit below (which makes it difficult for a search engine to determine the topicality or relevance of the website (or more importantly the page) when trying to determine what to rank that page for or why.
Website silo architecture is the process of implementing a structure whereby each topic is housed in it’s own mini-site within the site and the internal linking pushes ranking factor back up to the primary / topic page otherwise dubbed the “silo landing page”.
While SEO is simpler than most so called “experts” imply, it’s like the difference between a short order cook and a chef, they both cook food and often use the same ingredients, but it’s how they use them that matters.
Similarly, when you dial in the appropriate on page and off page SEO using website silo architecture, then regardless of whether your website is aged or new, a website which previously had zero presence can instantly sprout wings and start ascending the SERPs (search engine result pages) to the top 5 results.
On the contrary, if your execution lacks the proper structure for the granular ingredients, then lackluster results are sure to follow. You have to (a) understand your topic (b) create a top down model (starting from broad phrases to specific categories and supporting content) and (c) put each thing in its proper place.
So, what is the proper way to structure a result-driven SEO campaign? Here’s our take on five fundamental methods which we have deemed evergreen SEO principles we’ve used for years to create proven results.
- Proper Title and URL structure.
- Proper H1 Use (to mirror title and URL).
- Proper site structure (cascading tiers of relevance).
- Theme relevant internal linking.
- The proper amount of link flow (to reach and exceed the tipping point).
Proper Title and URL Structure
By using specific shingles (groups of words) in the title (with prominent keywords first) you send the strongest SEO signal to search engines (as they attempt to determine the topic of your page).
The more diffused (or verbose) a title is, the less effective it is for SEO. For example, if I am trying to rank for insurance rates, then those shingles should be the sole or primary page title as well as the URL structure should follow suit such as domain.com/insurance-rates/
While conversion cues must be balanced with SEO, it is possible to get the best of both worlds through using synonyms or plural variations in the title while keeping it succinct and relevant.
For example, a title such as – Insurance Rates: Find the Best Rate and Affordable Prices! (which also includes keywords like best, prices, rate and rates) in case consumers use a long-tail query, then your landing page can rank for all potential variations of any of the shingles.
Proper H1 Usage
Using the proper H1 tag (header tag) is a common tried and true SEO technique; if you use WordPress then your permalink (page title) can easily be switched to your H1 tag by simply changing your style sheet.
If you are using other CMS (content management systems) or static html pages, similarly, the suggestion to mirror your title and URL structure with the primary keyword is ideal. Such as the example above, the H1 tag should be “Insurance Rates”.
One little trick is, you can also make the H1 (Header Tag / Text) a link and link that either to the home page or pass that ranking factor on to another page you intend to rank. If you are properly theming your website using website silo architecture, then it is possible to feed the primary silo landing page from your category pages this way (to page rank flows up and back to the primary landing page) from nested pages that support the category.
Proper Site Structure
Think of your website in tiers, those tier represent the natural data hierarchy of your website. Starting with your home page (in the root folder), this is tier 1 and the starting point for your SEO.
The root folder is the natural destination for your most prominent pages and should house your primary landing pages in the first tier. This is because eventually, all the nested pages will pass their link-flow back to the root and you can scale laterally with multiple silo landing pages for competitive keywords and markets.
Here is a visual aid to assist provided by Network Empire.
Using the example from above, domain.com/insurance-rates – would be my Silo Landing Page, i.e. the keyword I want to rank for. Now, by adding relevant categories and supporting articles, you can give any landing /silo page wings in the SERPs (search engine result pages).
Theme-Relevant Internal Linking
To implement theme-relevant internal linking, It is linked from my homepage with the keyword “insurance rates” as the anchor text to reinforce it. I would also use contextual anchor text links to any other silo landing pages that need tier one link flow to support them.
By writing a contextual article and linking to the silo landing pages from the homepage, any link juice my homepage receives, get ring-fenced and passed along to the on page editorial links (the silo landing pages / preferred keyword landing pages) by design.
The next tier is your category pages; these will become the hub page that sites on tier 2 one folder away from the root.
The category page and primary landing page share a similar URL structure, but the primary landing page is the grandparent and the category parent, next up the posts or supporting articles are the children of the parent/category page.
For example (to support my silo landing page, I would create a category called “affordable insurance rates” since it is thematically relevant to the silo landing page.
On that page, if I wanted to use the H1 tag to link back to the primary landing page with “insurance rates” it would pass along that link flow, when I add the tier 3 pages (blog posts/products or articles) depending on the type of site you are building.
Domain.com/insurance-rates/affordable-insurance-rates/ – whereby the silo landing page becomes the grandparent, the category the parent and the post/supporting article becomes the child.
The third tier would be used for adding supporting content under the nested theme relevant category which has the primary purpose of acting as a controlled portion of the website to administer all content that contains the primary or secondary keywords associated with the primary silo landing page.
Adding the Proper Amount of Link-Flow
Link flow is created from linking from page to page with the appropriate anchor text. Link-flow also takes the number of inbound and outbound links in addition to the strength and thematic relevance of the links. Siloing passes maximum link flow by capping contextual links (from only linking within the silo) and each page is linked via navigation by virtue of the category.
As an example, if I added supporting articles to the affordable insurance rates category they would also be theme related and contain a contextual link that linked back to my category page, which in turn links to my silo landing page (primary landing page in the root).
I would add pages like:
- Best insurance rates
- Save money on insurance
- Compare insurance rates
And each would become a post attached to the category, such as: domain.com/insurance-rates/affordable-insurance-rates/compare-insurance-rates
And have navigational links to everything in that category, while linking back to the silo landing page with the contextual keyword it is trying to rank for “insurance rates”.
The benefit to this type of siloing (using a helix link structure for the data hierarchy) is that the primary keyword (the most competitive phrase) gets ranked from the pooling link flow becoming buoyant underneath it and the category and supporting articles also get ranked as a side benefit (from the internal linking from the navigation).
To take this a step further, you can mix the anchor text shingles and link back to the category / or silo landing page with multiple anchors (to create keyword stemming).
Or, if you wanted to purely silo the page, then you would link in your navigation from the tier 3 pages back to your category page and use the contextual links from the nested supporting articles to link to the primary silo landing page (and not link across to other silos or silo landing pages from any category) only the parent or grandparent (Silo Landing Page).
Building sites in this method produce tectonic shifts in rankings, the only thing you need to is (a) continue to drip fresh content and (b) start link building using deep links to the silo landing page or the category pages.
There is no need to link to the supporting articles, unless you want to give them a boost, since, over time, they too will rank (from sharing the collective PageRank and link-flow of the theme cluster you created).
Website Silo Architecture SEO Tools Under Development
Siloing can be difficult, which is why to make this simple, this feature has been integrated into our upcoming theme WP Ultimate (which is still undergoing fine tuning). We will however, be releasing our plugin the WP Silo Importer that works in tandem with Domain Web Studio and allows you to build theme relevant optimized WordPress sites in minutes (instead of painstakingly publishing dozens or hundreds of pages by hand).
In order to use the advanced silo importer, you will require a subscription to DWS. But we also have a basic silo importer inside “The WP Ultimate Theme“ that allows you to quickly and easily create categories and nested posts on the fly.
The advanced silo importer however is far superior and adds a parent silo landing page, ties the category (using a page not a post) to keep link flow buoyant (so your rankings stick) and then uses the posts as the last tier after the categories.
The WP Silo Importer Plugin (released within 7-10 days to the DWS community) also uses shortcode which you can inject into pages or sidebars to instantly build our all of the navigational elements for theming your content. Doing this by hand on a 100 page site would take hours, with our plugin, merely seconds.
So, the takeaway is, proper planning from theming the website at the beginning of a campaign, combined with tactful supporting content and site structure can save you months on the way to page one and allow you to rank for multiple keywords with 1/10th of the links as a mixed-fruit website.