As a child, I was obsessed with libraries and their gigantic, floor-to-ceiling shelves packed with thousands of books. However, what impressed me most was the speed at which a librarian used to find the resource I was looking for. Have they developed some sort of photographic memory over time and really know where each book is placed just by hearing its title? Of course not. Their spotless performance is the result of perfect organization.
The same goes for your website that is basically an online library. This is where people learn about your products or services, look for more information about your business, find your contact information, or engage with your blog. Of course, the bigger your site is, the more difficult it is for your visitors to find the desired information. And, if they get lost while browsing through your site, not knowing where to start their reading adventure, they will probably leave it dissatisfied. Not to mention how difficult it is for Google to crawl and index such sites.
In other words, overly complex website architecture may affect your SEO efforts both directly and indirectly. But, don’t worry. There is a simple solution to this problem and it’s called building a content silo.
The Advantages of Using Silos
When planned and executed properly, a siloed website structure can improve your SEO effort and boost the hierarchy of your website content. Here are the major advantages of a well-structured content silo:
- Simpler and logical navigation for website visitors
- Making it easier for users to find the desired content
- Search engines can easily discover and crawl your site’s content
- Improved internal linking
- Better usage of website breadcrumbs
- Greater keyword relevance
Creating a Strong Silo Structure
Simply put, a silo structure means grouping similar content together. It gives you the opportunity to make a better-organized website architecture and keyword-centered topical categories. Now, there are a few steps you need to take to get the most out of your website structure.
Vertical vs. Horizontal Website Architecture
Many SEO experts believe that horizontal (flat) architecture is better for SEO than vertical (deep) one. The explanations are multiple, from better user experiences to higher crawlability. However, this doesn’t have to be so. When used in a simple way, deep website architecture allows you to eliminate navigational clutter and group your content into logical sections.
A silo structure is, of course, deep. The idea behind it is simple- to create hierarchical groups of content, based on their topical relevance. In other words, silos let you separate content into logical categories. The relevance of your content silos makes you more relevant in Google’s eyes. Let’s say you’re running a blog about digital marketing. In this case, digital marketing will probably be your primary silo. Then you need to come up with the relevant subtopics about digital marketing, which would probably be SEO, PPC, content marketing, email marketing, social media marketing, and so forth. The next step is to divide each of these silos into more precise topics. For example, content marketing could include silos like content creation, content promotion, a content strategy, and so on. Each of these silos should also be broken down into even narrower silos.
When creating content silos, you need to keep in mind that your URL structure should remain as simple as possible. Let’s take the above-mentioned content marketing category as an example again. In this case, your URL structure would be something like:
When Google sees /content-marketing/ followed by, for example, content-creation, it will know that the content marketing category is the parent page, while content creation is its child page. Such a URL structure lets you create a silo structure, making it easier for the search engine to crawl your content, understand its purpose, and see what topics your website covers.
Internal links are usually linked with your blog. In short, you link out to your product or service pages. On the other hand, these pages will rarely link back to your content. This is where creating content silos steps in.
When building silos, you’re basically creating solid internal links between pages within the same topical category. These links connect your pages and highlight the thematic background of each category. Precisely because of that, it is extremely important not to cross-link the content that doesn’t belong to the same topical category, as this may confuse Google and impact the way it indexes and ranks your pages.
Using Silos in Local SEO
Creating silos in local SEO may be done effortlessly, especially for single-location businesses. If you run a New York-based business, for example, you could simply invest in New York SEO services and make sure your local information is added strategically to each stage of your content silo.
But, for multi-location businesses, rules change drastically. In this case, each local silo you create needs to be observed in an isolation. Namely, your goal is to build a content silo for each location and ensure that the major content categories link out to each of them. Greg Gifford explains in a recent post that high-quality local blog posts and off-site signals, like Google My Business listings or local backlinks are critical for creating multi-location content silos. He emphasizes that, instead of building “a single boring location page for each location, you’ll now have a robust silo of unique local information about each city that your business serves.”
What Are the Issues You May Face When Building an SEO Silo?
Building a reliable content silo requires lots of research and technical know-how. Otherwise, your entire website structure (and your SEO efforts) may suffer. Here are a few facts you need to keep in mind when building a silo:
- The layers of your silos need to support your overall SEO efforts and build positive user experiences. SEO and usability need to go hand in hand to deliver better results.
- Mind the depth of the website structure. Limit the number of layers of the silo, preferably no more than 3 clicks away from the homepage.
- In the digital marketing sphere, shorter URLs perform better than lengthy ones. Adding too many layers to a silo may result in extremely long URLs and affect site’s crawlability.
- Make sure your sections are well-balanced. You don’t want one section to take up 50% of your blog, while other categories remain almost invisible.
Ready to Start Creating Content Silos?
These are just of the major benefits of using a content silo structure in your SEO strategy. So, if you’re not using these techniques to boost your SEO efforts, it’s time to rethink your approach. Start by crawling your competitors’ sites to check what website structure they use and replicate those tactics that work.
Sure, creating an effective content silo requires lots of research, strategizing, and technical know-how. So, if you believe you’re not ready to do it on your own or don’t know what strategy would work for your site, you can always consult professionals.
Have you been using content silos to increase your online performance? We’d like to hear from you in the comments below!