February 13, 2017 | Website Design

Using Content Silos To Organize Your Site and Improve Your Rankings

It seems like anytime we discuss content creation, there’s one overarching idea that goes almost unquestioned: everything should go on the blog. But in the face of an evolving Google and changing SEO practices, the classic “everything-on-the-blog” approach may not stand the test of time - and that’s where content silos come in.

Using Content Silos To Organize Your Site and Improve Your Rankings

The fact is, having all your new content stacked in one blog just doesn’t make much sense from a website-structure perspective. Creating content silos for your site is more than just an easier and more user-friendly way to arrange content - and when combined with a smart internal linking strategy, it can also help boost your rankings.

Creating More Intuitive Site Structure

For most sites, blog architecture is predictably “flat” - that is, all pieces of content just one link away from a central homepage. That means relatively few links bridging blog post to blog post, and generally content pieces are arranged by date or sometimes by category. This is not a particularly easy or helpful method of navigation for the user, and the same is true for Google’s crawlers.

A flat content structure.

Instead, consider a “deep” or “vertical” content structure. This hierarchically groups content based on relevant topics and sub-topics, making it easier to structurally group content with other similar content. Not only can this make navigation to relevant content easier for the user, but it also makes your content appear more topically relevant.

A deep content structure.

That’s because introducing entire categories dedicated to specific, relevant topics - rather than just single pages - supports your website’s overall authority from Google’s perspective. But be warned - there are limits to how useful this organization strategy can be. Leading users too far down the rabbit hole without a clear indication as to how they got there can disorient and confuse, especially if the link between separate sub-groups isn’t immediately clear. Many sites that are organized into silos utilize breadcrumbs, which show a link representing each “level” down the chain that a user has navigated to get to a particular page. This makes it easy for users to get oriented within the site and to jump back to relevant information quickly.

In addition to making navigation easier, breaking down content into more and more specific categories makes it more likely that your content will answer specific user queries. If you can get your content to cover every query in every topic in an entire niche, you’ll have the best site in Google’s eyes - and that will result in better rankings.

Internal Linking, Made Useful

Another highly useful benefit to structuring your content into silos is the opportunity for more effective internal linking. If the majority of your clicks are coming to your home page, you are likely not driving as much traffic as possible to specific content pieces - and that can mean missed opportunities to connect with a reader in a meaningful way.

With content silos, you can improve your internal linking strategy to better drive readers to the pages they want to see. By linking each silo to both lower and same-level pages, as well as upper-level pages, you can give users a better pathway to relevant information, rather than having them scroll through a flat listing of every blog post. This will improve clicks for pages across your site and improve your site’s authority as a collected body of relevant information.

Example of Content Silos

Say (if you can imagine) you’re the admin for an SEO company, and your site is divided into silos. These might be Brand Development, Web Strategy, and Digital Marketing. Clearly, these are highly interrelated fields, and yet each can claim a sub-section of the site for its own:

Brand Development

Graphic Design
Logo Design & Development
Tradeshow Booth Design
Corporate Identity
Brand Strategy

Web Strategy

Content Strategy & Copywriting
Responsive Web Design
Mobile Application Development
User Interface Design
eCommerce Website Development

Digital Marketing

Content Marketing
Email Marketing
Inbound Marketing Strategy
Video Production
PPC Marketing

The effect of siloing is most notable in your site’s URL, which will reflect in which silo each subsection can be found. For example:

http://www.seocompany.com/brand-development/graphic-design/
http://www.seocompany.com/brand-development/logo-design-development/
http://www.seocompany.com/brand-development/brand-strategy/

http://www.seocompany.com/web-strategy/content-strategy-copywriting/
http://www.seocompany.com/web-strategy/responsive-web-design/

http://www.seocompany.com/digital-marketing/content-marketing/
http://www.seocompany.com/digital-marketing/email-marketing/

These three sections each paint a clear picture of a specific facet of this business, and relate to specific services offered in each of these three areas. But several of these subsections are clearly related - Content Strategy and Copywriting may be under Web Strategy, but is nevertheless closely tied to Content Marketing under Digital Marketing. This is a great example of where an internal link would make the most sense, and would likely drive users further into the site itself in search of the most relevant answer to their query.

How You Can Organize Your Content Into Silos

If, like many of us, your site was not built with silos in mind, the thought of reordering all of your content into silos may seem daunting. But the results of your labor will be better ranking in organic search and a more robust authority given to your site overall.

Creating a silo strategy for your site takes a good amount of planning, from determining which content should be grouped in which silo to going back and linking older pages to newly-created ones to encourage navigation within the site. Take the time to think ahead and your overall user experience will improve to match.

Need help figuring out your content silo strategy? Altos can help you create a plan for your content, and even organize your site to better align with best SEO practices. Get in touch and we can get your site silo-ed and ready to dominate in search, one piece of well-organized content at a time.

Megan O'Keefe

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