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The Importance of Using Silos in Your SEO Strategy

April 1st, 2009 | | Advanced SEO Tips

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Today, I would like to discuss silos and how they can improve your search engine optimization strategy. No, I don’t mean silos that you would find on a farm. As we know, search engines (and people!) want information to be structured in a logical, easy-to-follow manner that can be reviewed and interpreted efficiently. By implementing silos in your SEO strategy you are creating a system that will be search engine friendly and user friendly.

What are silos?

In order to provide the best user experience, search engines want to serve users with the most relevant, authoritative content that best suits their query. To locate this information the search engines will review the keywords and content of each page on your website, they will determine the theme of this information and the level of relevancy to potential search queries.

Often specific themes and keywords are scattered throughout a website, and not focused in one central location. This dissemination of content and keywords can hinder the search engines from determining the theme of each page/section of your website. And this can negatively effect your web rankings. The idea behind “siloing” is the creation of keyword-relevant content and themes for each page/section of your website.

How do the search engines pull this information together to determine the overall theme of each page?

The search algorithm that culls together the keywords and phrases within a block of content and determines the overall theme of the information is called Latent Semantic Indexing (or LSI). Once a search engine deciphers the keywords and themes of a particular page, it will determine the relevance of the website for these particular terms. The LSI algorithm compares your content with other websites that are targeting keywords similar to yours and creates a ranking system for which page is most relevant.

Why use silos?

There are a few reasons to use the silo method when conducting  your keyword research and planning your content creation and site structure.

  • Search engine friendliness: Since search engines want to quickly determine the theme and relevancy of each page on your site, using silos allows you to add (and even guide) the search engines to understand what each page on your site is talking about. Silos can also help you rank better for long-tail terms as the search engines recognize your authority on your targeted topics.
  • User friendliness: Silos can help users understand the content of your website quickly and easily. Lets face it, web users are fickle and they will only give you a short window to convince them that they have arrived in the right place. Silos can break down your information so its easy to digest, understand and the user can take action.
  • Authority positioning: By creating individual pages that provide great, relevant content, the search engines will view your website as an authority on your topic/product. Remember, search engines are looking for keywords, and the relevancy of your content to these keywords.
  • In-bound link focusing: When you have pages/sections of your site devoted entirely to one topic, you can focus your inbound links to the appropriate content on your site. This way, you can target and distribute your links to the content that will get the most benefit.
  • Increased rankings: The result of all of these positive attributes of siloing is increased rankings within the search engines for head and long-tail terms.

How to use silos?

So, now that we know what silos are, how they can help your website engage the search engines, and all of the benefits you gain from using this strategy… exactly how are silos implemented? There are various tactics for which you can separate and categorize the information on your website:

Keyword silos: Before you even write one piece of content, you should take a step back and create silos, or themes, for your keywords. If you are going to create highly-relevant content with targeted keywords, you first need a plan as to where each of your keywords will go. After conducting your keyword research, go ahead and group your keywords according to topic/theme.

Content silos: If you have your keyword silos/themes in place, you’re already on your way to writing your themed content. Each page on your site should have a theme and discuss a specific topic. This content should be optimized for the assigned keywords. Using this method allows you to craft content themes around  your keywords and this helps make these pages/sections of your site more relevant and authoritative.

Directory silos: You can use your site architecture to split your site into multiple themes. This method is also called directory silos. This tactic groups like content pages into a tightly organized and themed directory within your site. What would this like in action? For example, if you are selling books, your directory silos might look like this:

Booksite.com/poetry/contemporary.html

Booksite.com/poetry/avantguard.html

Booksite.com/poetry/elegies.html

Booksite.com/poetry/freeverse.html

Booksite.com/poetry/limericks.html

Booksite.com/poetry/haiku.html

As you can see in the example above, the name of each page lends to my over theme of the section to this site (and the theme of this section is poetry). This naming convention helps to establish that these pages of my site are about poetry and conveys this information to the search engines.

These are three examples of silos that you can employ within the content on your website. The goal of these tactics is to create a site that is theme-focused, keyword-relevant, search engine friendly, and user friendly. Tune in next week when I’ll discuss how your internal linking strategy can help further define your themes and silos.

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  • Pingback: LSI Siloing, Co-Occurrence Proven: Debunking Stompernet’s Ploy | Rex Freiberger

  • http://www.jnbwebpromotion.nl/ JNB Web Promotion

    I agree, its all about common sense SEO sturctures.

  • Robar Web Services

    In your example, where would the first level “category” page be for the “poetry” category?

    Would it be at:

    booksite.com/poetry/(default.html)

    or

    booksite.com/poetry.html

    (note the difference is that the first option is one directory level deeper than the second.)

    • http://callmestupidbut.co.uk Heather

      I think it would make sense for it to be the first option:

      booksite.com/poetry/(default.html/index.php)

      Although I could be wrong… anyone?

  • http://infoservemedia.com Mark

    We have a point of contention concerning silos. If you have a website selling credit card offers and credit score information etc, the site will contain one and two level items. Credit score information is one level deep, and the main Credit cards page is one level deep, however the sub categories such as Rewards credit cards or Business credit cards are two levels deep. Should all of the links in articles concerning credit cards point to the Main credit cards page that contains a link to each sub category, thus creating better rankings for that page but at the same time forcing the user to find the “Rewards credit cards” and make another click to get there. Or should the article links go directly to the sub category page, thus making it easier on the user and causing less bounce but also lower ranking for the main credit cards page.

  • http://twitter.com/kartonista Neil Joseph Yamit

    So this is referred to as “siloing”. Thank you for the information.

    When we started developing our site a couple of months back, it just made sense to follow logical structure – categorization.

    SEO is just common sense.

  • Anonymous

    I can only make my keywords to # 1, then all my problems go away! “If only it were that simple. Perhaps in the early days of SEO it was acceptable to judge the performance of your campaign keywords followed by classification, but it’s time for you to realize that there are better ways to track the success of SEO.

     search engine optimization company