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Your Internal Linking Structure Can Strength Your Silos

April 17th, 2009 | | Advanced SEO Tips

In my last post, I discussed the importance of using silos within your SEO strategy and your website architecture. Today, I will focus on how to strengthen your themes and silos through a strategically implemented linking structure

Creating themes within your site architecture

As I mentioned in the previous post, your website should be structured so that all of the pages on your site are contained within themed directory silos. Here is a quick example, if you are selling books, of how a directory silo might look:

Booksite.com/poetry

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, all of these pages are different types/genres of poetry.

Cross-linking within each theme

The core idea here is to insert links between your themed pages so that you are emphasizing which are most important.  When you insert a link you are passing pagerank between those pages. In order to achieve the highest rankings possible, you don’t want to dilute the link juice between themes.

Think of your links as votes. If you insert 10 links all pointing to a particular page on your site, the search engines consider those to be votes for that page’s importance.

Lets look at the example above. If I am selling poetry books, the page I would want to rank for these related terms would be Booksite.com/poetry. To give this page a boost, I will link to it from all of my sub-categories within this directory. Within this example, that would be at least six links going to this main page.

Cross-linking outside of your theme

You don’t want to dilute your themes by cross-linking between them. However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t link between themes at all. It just means you need to make sure your not passing pagerank (or link juice) between themes.

If you want to link to a fiction page from your Booksite.com/poetry/contemporary.html page, that’s fine. However, you would want to use a “nofollow” link. To users, there is no difference and they’ll never know. However, this indicates to the search engine that you don’t want to pass pagerank to this fiction page from your poetry page. You want to keep your poetry links within your poetry silo.

The use of strategically placed followed and no-followed links within a website is also called ‘pagerank sculpting.’

Using anchor texts to strengthen your theme

Whenever inserting a link, you need to give consideration to the anchor text. Make sure that your anchor texts contain keywords that are relevant to your theme.

For example, if I’m linking to my limericks page, I would insert a link that says, “limerick poetry.” I would not use a link that says, “Learn more.” What does “learn more” say to a search engine? Nothing! And this doesn’t strengthen your theme/silo.

Don’t waste your link juice on utility pages

Deciding which pages deserve to receive link juice/pagerank is your decision. But there a few standard utility pages for which you should generally use no-follow links. These pages include:

  • Contact us page
  • About us page
  • Staff directory page
  • History of company
  • Directions/Hour of operation

Of course, you will want to link to your contact page if you want users to contact you through the site. However, you should use a no-follow link in order to tell the search engine that you don’t want to pass link juce to these pages because these are pages you don’t want to rank for.

Let me say this too: don’t abuse any of these tactics. Excessive internal linking can actually damage your standing with Google. Moderation is the key. Just make sure that the links you insert are logical and flow with the content of your site.

Keep in mind, these are just initial steps to crafting a tightly themed website using keyword, content, and directory silos that have a strategically crafted linking structure. But this should get you started!

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  • http://www.ozonesem.com John

    Enjoyed your articles on silo-ing.

    Question – how do you go about optimizing the page(s) that reside above the well-defined silos?

    For example, let’s say your book site had only Poetry, Business, and Religion books. Siloing each of those makes sense, but then what would you optimize the home page for? “Books” in this case seems to broad.

    It’s a convoluted example but I’ve seen it more than once on B2B technology company sites where they sell similarly disparate products and solutions (sometimes resulting from company acquisitions and the resulting merger, etc…).

    Thanks again. Would be interested in your take.

  • Bryan

    Hi Joe,

    I appreciate the article. I wondering what kind of rules you
    follow when linking to main category pages from article pages
    with a category and from home page?

    If you were linking from Booksite.com/poetry/contemporary.html
    to the root category do you recommend linking to the category
    page as one poetry/index.html or /poetry/ or is there another
    way?

    Thanks,

    Bryan

  • Robar WebServices

    Bryan – have you ever found a reference to support either method?

    Booksite.com/poetry – in the example seems worse than Booksite.com/poetry.html since the first option is technically one level deeper than the second.

    Thoughts?

  • Bryan

    I was actually referring to when linking back to the root directory. If the sub directory/category is “Poetry” then you can either link to it as Booksite.com/poetry/ or Booksite.com/poetry/index.html. I’ve read a report saying that linking Booksite.com/poetry/index.html is better for it linking to the /directory/ can spread authority to /subdirectory/ and /subdirectory/index.html at the same time diluting the strength of the link back to the sub directory.

    Linking to Booksite.com/poetry.html would be linking to a separate page and not part of a sub directory. If you set up the site with a page instead of a subdirectory then you would link to the page of course. But in the example in the post, their would be a lot of pages in one category so it would make sense to silo them in a sub category.

    It appears that the author doesn’t like to reply to readers. I was hoping for a reply shortly after posting almost year ago, and I get a reply from another reader a year later. No wonder I’ve haven’t bothered to make any other comments or visit the blog until now. :)

    • http://rankbydesign.com Erik

      Bryan,

      Would seem like a great test to try. I currently have a WordPress site and am looking at restructuring it this way using a index.html

      Now in WP, it would make sense to create a Page for each Silo, give it a decent intro with some content and then follow it with a listing of all your related articles. This to me seems like a better way that just using straight categories?

      • Bryan

        Hey Eric,

        That’s a great point. I’ve thought the same thing, because the silo would seem more complete by adding the index page to a wordpress blogs. I’m working with WordPress now much more now and I was thinking about the same thing but wasn’t sure the best way to go about it with WordPress.

        The more I’ve been working with Genesis from Studiopress — with and without child themes I can see this can be done easily but I’ll have to test it. I’m not sure if you can do this in WordPress across the board but in Genesis you can easily edit the actual url of a post or page. So, in this case you could probably create a page and ensure the path was /category/index.php.

        With Genesis and possibly in other Premium themes/CMS’s you can also create custom nav bars and add the links to the index page and replace the nav bar with the default.
        It’s something that could be tried and only testing could reveal if it would make much of a difference with the SEO, but it is in line with a the silo structure that would be used with a static site.

        Nice domain and blog by the way!