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The Silo Structure: Skyrocket Your Rankings with this One Simple Trick

Despite our vast technological advancements over the years, one thing still remains true; computer programs must follow certain parameters set forth by their creators. Google’s algorithm works in the same manner. Despite what many people may believe, Google’s algorithm is a program and is not infallible. Whether we like to believe it or not, it simply cannot view websites the same as you or I.

With over one billion live websites and likely hundreds of billions of pages to scroll through regularly, this can be a daunting task even for Google’s crawlers. In order to expedite the process, these crawlers look for specific criteria in order to give their “opinion” of where a specific site should rank.

By understanding exactly what the crawlers are searching for, site owners are able to create a site that is favorable to Google in order to rank higher. This is the basis of SEO and has been around since the beginning of the internet age.

We all know about the use of keywords, links, and quality content as being contributing factors that Google looks for when determining rank. These are the main aspects that most site owners focus on.

However, there is one major factor that can provide an insanely powerful boost, but unfortunately, so few people actually know about it (which makes it even more powerful).

This aspect is the overall structure of your site. I will teach you how to create what is known as a Silo structured website in order to gain immense favor from the “Big G.”  Here is what the CEO of Theme Zoom had to say about a silo structure…

Silo Theming: “A website architecture based on a linking structure that segregates various themes into different ‘silos’ so that people and search engines can easily identify the main topics of a website. Approximately 50% of the theme of a page is communicated by on-site linking. This communication happens most effectively with a website silo architecture which, in turn, can help lower the costs of website rankings by up to 90%. In addition to this, you are more likely to rank for keywords related to your topic than you would with a haphazard linking structure.” 

Sue Bell,

CEO, Theme Zoom LLC

In a video provided by Matt Cutts in 2011, Cutts tells of the benefits of creating a well-structured site and its importance to Google’s ranking algorithm. This is similar to the chapters of a book, siloing creates content that is themed or subject specific within your website.

A silo structure is simply a method of implementing the type of architecture that Cutts is referring to. Here is that video…

As I’ve already covered, Google’s web crawlers work within certain parameters. Web crawlers don’t have eyes, ears, or reasoning capability to view your site and make a ranking determination based on what you or I would see. They can only judge your site based on how they were originally programmed to do so.

For instance, you or I may view a site and agree that it offers value and is aesthetically pleasing. However, Google’s web crawlers may see the layout of the site as messy and unorganized if the linking structure is all over the place, making it difficult to crawl, dramatically affecting its rank.

A silo structure is a method used to properly design the framework of your website by implementing a hierarchy of pages. This allows web crawlers to quickly and efficiently navigate and map every inch of your site and properly determine exactly what each published page is about, effectively ranking it higher in the SERP’s.

It creates an organized pathway, which is ideal for a computer program to follow.

Interestingly enough, this organization also makes for a user friendly site as well, which may be why Google gives it so much clout. So, by simply following this method, you can not only dramatically change how Google views your site, but also positively affect your viewers as well? Sounds like a win-win to me!

Notable Benefits of a Silo Structure

1. A site that is properly follows a silo structure allows for up to 90% fewer overall useless internal links.

Whether we are aware of it or not, the majority of websites have an internal linking structure that does not convey any central theme. Without a clearly identifiable theme, pages will not receive as much value in the SERPs. 

Internal linking is important, but if it is unorganized it adds little value to for the audience, which Google may take note of. Here is an example provided by MOZ.

internal linking gone crazy
That looks messy doesn’t it? If we were to click on that site, we may not even notice the crazy linking pattern, but that is how Google’s crawlers will map it out. By linking every page together, there is no hierarchy. There are no themes. What does a hotel from London have to do with a hotel from Houston? 

2. It allows the “juice” to flow down from your main pages to your content pages, which increases their value and provides a higher boost making it easier to rank for long tailed keywords. Here is a view of what a properly siloed site could look like, courtesy of Themezoom.

 silo structureNotice how much cleaner this is. Each level of the hierarchy has a related theme to the one above it. As it goes down, the pages become more theme specific.

This is only one of the many silo layouts that has become popular across the web. The primary goal of Google is to provide users with the most relevantly themed pages and websites for their query.

Focusing specifically on keyword phrases may be a lost cause since the launch of the most recent Google updates. Instead, one should focus on building themes that match your specific keyword phrases.

Here’s an idea of how it would work; for this example, we are going to use the photo shown above. If I had a website that sold cell phones, here is how I would structure it:

Homepage

The theme of this page would revolve around the main keyword “cell phones”

Silo Pages

These could include different sub topics of the main theme. This 2nd level of the structure could have cell phone plan, wireless cell phone, cell phone service, and ringtones.

Categories

This is the 3rd level of the structure and will feature sub topics from the theme listed in the 2nd level.  For instance, under your subtopic “ringtones,” we could include sub-sub-topics such as ring tone downloads, free ring tones, and video game ringtones. 

Supporting Pages

These aren’t absolutely necessary unless you have a very broad niche and want to capitalize on even more long tailed keywords. A few supporting pages for video game ringtones could separate into different genres, such as first person shooters, RPGs, or sports game ringtones. 

The Final Say

Creating a properly structured website, you stand a far better chance at ranking for specific keywords early on. In no way am I saying this is a miracle fix, but if done properly, it can yield some incredible results.

The fact that very few websites actually implement this style of structuring will only add to the boost you receive as Google will view your site as potentially well relevant as all of your themes and categories will be properly designated.

Go ahead and try this for yourself and let me know how it works out by leaving a comment in the section below!

 

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About Sean Donahoe

Sean is one of the most recognized industry leaders in business and marketing. As a popular speaker, author, consultant he has helped over 50,000 students world wide find success in their businesses and has consulted with Fortune 500 companies and businesses of every size grow and thrive...

30 comments

  1. There are so many ways to build a silo site that not just one way is the correct way. This style is truly amazing however, you can rank with video, image, and very little content. Good examples Mr.Sean.

    • Thanks Jim and you are right, many ways to structure a silo. We have found in our testing this is the most efficient and versatile way in our experiments. Silos make life much easier, either way.

  2. Great Article, I now realize how poorly structured my sites are, and my rankings could be that much better ….thanks Sean

  3. Great post. Would love to a step by step video of how to build a silo site using a WordPress theme. The only information I can see about building a silo site using WordPress just says buy this or that plugin.

    If there is a way to do it manually, I would love to see it. 🙂

  4. Sean

    Very good post as always. Just restructured my sites with the generous free plugin from theme zoom. Guess what? All sites have increased in serps from a couple of pages to in some cases 30 to 40 for long tails.

    Siloing works full stop.

    • Dom,

      Can you go into a little more detail about how you restructured and if you use 301’s for about how many pages? We are looking at using this plug in for about 800 pages.

      Thanks in advance.

  5. You always give us such great information and I’m truly grateful to you for sharing your expertise with us.

    I have a site built as you describe above. However, I don’t have the fourth tier of Supporting Pages that you’ve mentioned. I would like to add that tier to my site but don’t know how to go about doing that. Are they just another category added as a sub page to the existing category? Or how do I go about adding that to my site?

  6. Great article, Sean. I will definitely be bookmarking this and sharing it.. This is something I do as second nature when designing a site. For any web designer navigation is one of the hot topics. Having a well thought out directory structure is not only better for your site’s Google rankings, but it will also make it much easier for your customers to find what they need within one to three clicks. So this really kills two birds with one stone; one, it will help your site’s rankings with Google, and two, it is great UI/UX designing.

  7. I have a plugin…. I think it is called Seo Zen…. Is that one OK and will work?

  8. Nice article Sean! I’ve been using a silo structure for some time and do agree that it helps with rankings. However, I do everything manually and find it to be very time consuming. Any plans in the future to create a plugin to automate this process? I tested a few that are out there, but they work more like your first example (messy) as opposed to being laid out nice and tidy as in your second example.

    • That would be great to see.

      I would even buy a step by step guide that shows you how to do it manually. It has to be step by step.

      As far as I can see no-one has done that yet, You get the odd article that starts off do this do that, then does not tell you how to do the links. Make it a how to do it on WP themes and you will have a seller. I am doing an SEO course for 100 people and nearly 20 have asked about silos, but it is not taught on the site.

      Please get writing Christina. I’ll proof read it for you.

  9. This is a terrific article, well worth reading, learning and personally I wish you would do another one on this very subject with more examples, so that it really sinks in how this is to be done. For instance showing us a site that is actually properly structured would be a huge help. I do believe you are right in how this is to be done but it would sure help to see what a site is suppose to look like too. Paul

  10. Thanks for that, what about a pre – existing web site, that is not right but lots of pages and posts how do you then go and sort this out?

  11. Great info, thanks. Quick question, on the lower levels of the silo, does it still work to have the pages then linking on to a common contact / request a quote page, or do they need to be “dead ends” and have the user go back through the higher levels to reach a conversion page? And is it OK to just have the structure as links from each page, or do the actual page URLs need to be hierarchical as well (eg: home.com/silo-page/category-one/supporting-page-one, or is home.com/supporting-page-one OK?)

  12. Thanks Sean I know my site needs a lot of work.Thanks for these articles and your great products.

  13. Another helpful post from you! Thank you so much Sean! I am always waiting for posts from you. It’s like I am visiting your site every now and then for new posts.

  14. Thank you for posting! This made me realize my sites are not working well 🙁

  15. Good idea. The exact url for a post would be:

    http://www.website.com/silopage1/category1/article1

    Is it correct ?.

    What would happen with the actual structure,

    If I use this permalink structure:

    http://www.website.com//%postname%/

    Do we have to change the entire permalink structure ?

    thanksss..

  16. This is my first time to hear about SILO and I wonder if I can improve my rankings with this. Thanks Sean!

  17. Great article. Just had a technical question. We asked about how we set up the silo structure. Can you please let us know. Thanks.

  18. Does your training show you how to build a silo site without a plugin, or using the free one from SEOZEN?

  19. Wow. I just remember seeing this on our examination question papers “5 marks for good & legible writing”. Looks Google also believes in awarding properly linked sites. Great post.

  20. Hi Sean,

    This is a really nice clear and concise summary about Silo SEO.
    I’m pointing my members here as a nice easy entry point to the whole subject.

    There’s something new and Silo based in HeatMap World, as yet under wraps with my inner circle, but getting ready for launch. It’s right in this ball park. Could maybe do a special ‘pro-lite’ version for you as we did all those years ago 😉

    Drop me a line at through regular HeatMap channels if you are interested 😉

    Cheers,
    Stuart

  21. Yup I still have your avatar on my skype contacts 😉 Will ping you when time zones coincide. Cheers. Stuart

  22. How long after implementation of silo structure on website it will show the results in SERP? Better ranking of pages, posts and category pages.

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