The SEO Silo: Facts, Does and Don’ts [A Guide]

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Imagine you visit a library. You’re interested in reading a thriller. But instead of different sections and shelves, the library has all the books neatly (but randomly) placed in the corners. Will you be able to find what you’re looking for? More importantly, will you even try to find it? Maybe, no. No matter if the library keeps adding the best collection of novels, it won’t be worth it–it will only become worse.

Similarly, if you keep making content for your blogs and website without a solid plan, it’s like going in circles. Without a clear strategy, you won’t be able to leverage the content, and any growth is likely to be really slow, if at all there is a growth.

Implementing an SEO silo structure is one of the ways to fix this. Siloing is all about grouping related topics. In simple terms, it’s like visiting a typical library (and not the one I talked about earlier). This way, when someone visits, they will find all the relevant books neatly organized, easy to find. In the digital world, this is not just helpful for the users, this will be greatly appreciated by search engines like Google too. The result? More visibility and more visitors!

So apart from the basics of silo, I’ll also tell you about the different silo structures, their benefits and implementation in this article.

What Is A SEO Silo Structure?

“What is a silo structure in SEO” is a common question posed to those who deal with SEO. Let’s begin with understanding the basics of an SEO silo structure. Adopting a silo structure means putting similar topics together so it’s easier to find things. In technical terms, it organizes content (for example, your website) based on specific themes or topics, grouping related information together to clear pathways for navigation. 

infographics representation of seo silo structure

Not only does this help users navigate the site better, it also makes search engines understand what’s important and the content hierarchy (making your website SEO-friendly). The aim is to improve the website’s overall visibility and ranking in search results.

This article covers different silo configurations achieved through internal linking. And before we move to the next part, you need to be aware of the two types of silos:

Soft Silos and Hard Silos

Soft Silos

Soft silos in website structure are based on organizing (or grouping) the content thematically, but it is more flexible around interlinking between pages. Each group of content, or silo, covers a specific topic and there is room for interconnectedness between related topics. Soft silos promote a more dynamic and interconnected structure. 

Hard Silos

Hard silos emphasize a strict and isolated organization of content. The pages in one silo will have minimal connections to pages outside the silo. You choose this approach when a clear separation between different themes is desired. You can do this to prevent keyword dilution by maintaining focused content themes.

How Does Siloing Benefit SEO? 

Siloing facilitates the systematic structuring of related content through interlinked pages, which optimizes the distribution of link equity (passing value and authority from one page to another). This method conveys the relevance of the topic to search engines and enhances the authority of specific content clusters. Implementation of silos fosters improved organic search rankings by strengthening the topical focus and link distribution across your website.

Siloing Helps Enhance the Topical Relevance of Your Website

Siloing contributes to a more concentrated topical focus. The interlinking of content within the silos creates a contextually rich framework which results in the reinforcement of the thematic relevance of each page. 

As a result, search engines understand the significance of your content within those specific topics and consider your website an authoritative source for particular subjects. The result? It can positively impact your website’s ranking in relevant search results.

Siloing Enhances the Effectiveness of Link Building

Siloing makes sure that the benefits of external links are passed to all the different contents within a specific silo. And you already know that securing external links is very important for improving a website’s authority and search engine rankings. 

This approach optimizes the distribution of authority, increasing the topical relevance of the entire content cluster and contributing to improved SEO performance. When I say improved performance, I’m referring to all the pages in the silo, and not just the one with an external link.

Siloing Lets You Rank Much More Easily for Long Tail Keywords

Long-tail keywords are specific and detailed phrases that indicate a more refined search intent. It is difficult to generate external links to such pages because of the specific nature of the search terms.

But with a well-siloed approach, you make the overall context of the cluster more aligned with particular long-tail keywords. It helps the search engines recognize the depth within each silo and boost the ranking of the long-tail keywords associated with the specific topics. 

How To Plan & Create a Silo Structure

Planning an SEO silo structure for your website is not rocket science. Your aim is to organize content in a way that makes it user-friendly. Let me walk you through the process of planning and creating a silo structure for a gardening website, say mygreengarden.com. We’ll ensure that our example of an SEO silo structure aligns with good keyword practices and addresses specific long-tail phrases.

Step 1. Start with good keyword research

As usual, you’ll begin the process by conducting thorough keyword research for each main topic and subtopic. This will involve identifying relevant keywords such as “rose care,” “tulip varieties,” and “sunflower planting tips.” Understanding popular search terms helps in tailoring content to ensure you’re writing what users are looking for. 

The primary category pages on the website will be decided based on the identified SEO keyword phrases. These pages will have their supporting pages, but there will be no interlinking between them.

Step 2. Break the topic into supporting pages

Once your keywords are ready, break down each main topic into supporting pages. For instance, under the “Flowers” main topic, supporting pages could include “Types of Roses,” “Caring for Roses,” and “Best Rose Varieties.” 

You will identify such topics based on the research you perform. These supporting pages serve as in-depth content for specific subtopics, serving the more intentional users.

Step 3. Break the sub-topics into long-tail keyword phrases

It’s now time to refine your content by breaking subtopics into long-tail keyword phrases. Using the “Roses” subtopic as an example, long-tail phrases could include “How to Prune Hybrid Tea Roses” or “Tips for Preventing Rose Diseases.” 

This creates another level of supporting pages which cater to niche queries and improve the relevance of your content.

Based on this research (and, of course, the example), now we know more about the desired website site architecture and the type of content required for the website. 

You need to plan the link structure within the website hierarchy for implementing the SEO silo structure. Let’s see how it is done.

Implementing an SEO Silo Structure

Creating an SEO silo structure for mygreengarden.com will organize and connect different types of pages, like blogs or service pages, to each other. Suppose you have a blog with general gardening tips as the main page. Under that, you have more specific topics like choosing plants or dealing with pests. 

Now, let’s say you have a service page around personalized garden consultations. This service page is another top-level page that focuses on a specific aspect of gardening expertise. 

You may have subtopics under this service page that could include “Customized Garden Design” and “Personalized Plant Care Plans.” To bind all these content topics into a silo, you need to establish proper interlinking.

How you’re linking the pages is crucial as it decides the flow of the link juice travels and creates relevance among the page. If you simply link from the main page to specific topics, you’ll hit a dead end. Meaning, the link juice stops there and the connection between different pages won’t be strong.

For a local SEO silo structure, the ideal way is to create links between related topics. For example, your blog about choosing plants will link to the service page offering personalized plant care plans. This makes it easier for people to navigate through the content and helps our website be more visible on search engines.

Let’s see how to silo for SEO with these 5 configurations:

The 5 Configurations

There are several types of SEO silo configurations depending on the linking. Creating an effective silo structure plays an important role in enhancing the SEO performance of your website. 

All configurations have strengths and weaknesses, choosing the right configuration depends on your website’s goals and content strategy. Below, I’ve covered all these points so you can make informed decisions.

#1: The Top-Down Recycle

The top-down recycle silo configuration is created by a continuous loop of link juice within a silo. It flows from the top-level page to the bottom-level pages and then goes back to the top silo page. Thus, it completes the loop to ensure the link juice is shared throughout the entire silo. It also ensures that backlinks to a page within the silo benefit the entire silo and increase the overall authority.

infographics representation of top down seo silo structure

Strengths:

  • Efficient Link Juice Recycling: This configuration efficiently recycles link juice for all pages within the silo. This directly contributes to the collective strength of the content in the silo.

Weaknesses:

  • Limited Topical Relevance: Even though the link juice is efficiently distributed in the silo, the structure’s focus on the loop may lead to limited topical relevance. It hinders the website’s overall search engine performance. More so when the search engines value highly relevant and contextually linked content.
  • Underutilization of Relevant Content Linking: The configuration cannot fully utilize the potential of linking relevant content within the silo. There is a probability that you may miss opportunities to establish more nuanced relationships between related topics.
  • Misalignment with Sales Goals: This configuration doesn’t naturally guide visitors towards commercial content. It has a continuous loop structure that may not encourage users to explore beyond the silo’s immediate scope. The result? It can impact the promotion of conversion-focused pages.

Example for mygreengarden.com

Let’s suppose there is a “Gardening Tips” silo with subtopics like “Flowers,” “Vegetables,” and “Garden Care.” Each flower type page within the “Flowers” subtopic will link back to the top-level “Gardening Tips” page. This continuous loop ensures that any backlinks to individual flower pages contribute to the overall authority of the “Gardening Tips” silo. 

#2: The Reverse Silo

When we have a two-way flow of links within a silo, it becomes a reverse silo structure. It will have both parent pages link down to child pages and the child pages will link back up to the parent pages. This creates a bidirectional flow of link juice which helps pages both above and below within the silo. In this silo, we stress enhancing topical relevance by establishing links between related pages within the silo.

infographics representation of reverse seo silo structure

Strengths:

  • Promotes Topical Relevance: Like I explained, it enhances the topical relevance within the silo. This configuration is effective for creating a network of interconnected content as it can boost search engine performance by conveying the coherence of topics to the search engines.
  • Guides Visitors Across Pages: This configuration guides visitors not only towards general information within the silo but also towards the commercial pages. This type of linking can encourage users to explore beyond specific topics.
  • Well-suited for Beginner Websites: The silo structure offers a safer internal linking approach which is particularly helpful for new websites. It offers a logical and organized flow of link juice without any significant drawbacks.

Weaknesses:

  • Not Universally Optimal: The effectiveness of the linking depends on the specific goals and nature of the website. Thus, it may not be the best silo structure for every website.

Example for mygreengarden.com:

Consider the “Vegetables” silo within our website using reverse silo configuration. The parent page could provide general information about growing vegetables. It will be linking down to specific child pages like “Tomatoes,” “Carrots,” and “Potatoes.” Also, the child pages will link back up to the parent page. 

#3: The Serial Silo

The serial siloing configuration creates lateral topical relevance within a silo. In this configuration, the parent page links to one child page, which will link to all its siblings. Finally, one sibling links back to the parent page and completes the loop. This is how there’s a lateral flow of link juice between sibling pages, which offers a different approach to silo structuring.

infographics representation of serial seo silo structure

Strengths:

  • Useful for Large Websites: It provides a systematic way to organize extensive content. Serial siloing can be implemented in websites with many child pages under a parent page.
  • Link Juice Flow: Despite its lateral structure, there is a proper flow of link juice to flow to all pages. It ensures that each page within the silo receives some level of authority.

Weaknesses:

  • Minimal Topical Relevance Links: Each page in the silo has only two topical relevance links – one from the parent and one from a sibling. This limited connectivity reduces the potential for establishing contextual relationships between pages.
  • Pages Receive Unequal Relevance: Pages which are not directly linked to the parent page may receive less relevance and link juice. It will impact the visibility and authority within the silo.
  • Not Always the Most Optimal Choice: Generally, websites benefit better from configurations emphasizing stronger topical relevance.

Example for mygreengarden.com:

Consider the “Vegetables” silo within the website using the Serial Siloing Model. The parent page might link to “Tomatoes,” which, in turn, links to “Carrots” and “Potatoes.” One of these sibling pages links back to the parent page, completing the loop. 

#4: YOLO Silo

So, You Only Link Once strategy will have every page linked to as many other pages as possible (regardless of content or hierarchy). In this model, link juice flows freely but haphazardly throughout the website.

infographics representation of yolo seo silo structure

Strengths:

  • Well, no clear SEO benefits or strengths have been identified for the YOLO silo configuration.

Weaknesses:

  • Ignores Topical Relevance: It completely disregards topical relevance. Irrelevant links lead to a lack of coherence and contextual understanding.
  • Spammy-Looking Content: The content may appear spammy due to excessive and random linking. It also impacts user experience negatively.
  • No Priority for Service Pages: The lack of focus on important pages hinders the website’s ability to drive specific actions from users.

PS:

The YOLO silo configuration is deemed ineffective for SEO and is generally not recommended. I’ve included it here for awareness purposes only. 

#5: Priority Silo

The priority silo configuration basically starts with a reverse silo structure with a strong emphasis on topical relevance. Then, you’ll be manually adding additional links between highly relevant pages. You’ll do this while focussing on priority pages such as landing pages. This configuration combines the benefits of strong topical relevance with a targeted SEO focus on key pages.

infographics representation of priority seo silo structure

Strengths:

  • Combines Strong Topical Relevance with SEO Priority: The priority silo configuration combines a solid foundation of strong topical relevance with additional manual links to priority pages. This combined approach boosts overall SEO performance.
  • Boosts Ranking and Visibility for Priority Pages: The configuration focuses on priority pages and contributes to improved ranking and visibility for them.
  • Scalable for Increasing Internal Link Number to Key Pages: It’s a scalable configuration which lets you increase internal links to key pages over time. This makes it suitable for websites with changing content and priorities.

Weaknesses:

  • Relies Heavily on Choosing Effective Priority Pages: Choosing the wrong pages as priorities will diminish the impact of the strategy.
  • Copying Without Adaptation Can be Ineffective: Customization is the key to align this configuration with the characteristics of the website.

Example :

This configuration will involve prioritizing key gardening tips or product pages within the existing silo structure to enhance their visibility and conversion potential. But remember, the other pages within the silo are still connected.

Final thoughts

Picking the right silo configuration for a website is crucial. While doing so, keep in mind what your website is all about and what’s most important for you. Ultimately, you need to choose a configuration that integrates with the goals and content landscape of your website. A well-considered and tailored approach to silo structuring will boost how your site does in search engines, make it user-friendly and improve the overall effectiveness. 

Johnny Meagher

Founder – Proco

Johnny is the founder of Proco, a marketing software company that specialises in providing innovative digital solutions for businesses. His expertise lies at the intersection of technology and marketing, and he has been instrumental in developing Proco’s range of efficient and user-friendly marketing tools. Under Johnny’s guidance, Proco focuses on delivering practical and effective software solutions that address the evolving needs of digital marketing. His approach is grounded in a factual understanding of the industry, ensuring that Proco’s offerings are both relevant and reliable for businesses navigating the digital landscape.

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