SEO Siloing

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SEO siloing

SEO siloing or SEO silo is a method invented and promoted by the online marketing firm Bruce Clay.

What is SEO siloing?

SEO siloing is simply a metaphor borrowed from the agriculture industry to represent a SEO technique to make your site’s content more clear to the search engines.

The main concept goes like this: After harvesting (in real life) one should store their different grains in different silos so they don’t mix up. This way the content of each silo is clear – one type of grain – and of course one can make more out of selling wheat, corn, barley etc. separately then mixed up.

Applying this to SEO, the inventors of SEO siloing say that you should create virtual structures (or even physical ones with folder structure) to separate your content’s main categories.

The reasoning behind siloing goes that if you group your content into separate “silos”, separating those almost hermetically, it will help search engines to identify the content of your website, the content of your different silos and thus help you get better rankings. The main advantage of this technique can be that as the silos of your website represent your most valuable keywords with the highest traffic, this method helps you to obtain better search results for those very important keywords.

(See the example below for better understanding.)

When should you silo your site?

If done correctly, siloing is basically grouping your content into topics. Thus it is advisable to every website if not for SEO reasons, than for usability. It’s much more easy to find something on your site if the topics and hierarchy are clear. Visitors are more likely to find what they are looking for, to spend more time and visit more pages on your site, and also to share it. This in itself leads to better search results.

But siloing as a SEO technique is highly recommended for sites over hundred pages. This is the size when you are ready to rank for thousands if not tens of thousands of keywords, but also this is the size when you can get confused among all these keywords. Siloing will help you see through your keywords (isn’t it this what is it good for? 🙂 ), find better keywords, key areas to improve with great reward.

My personal advise is to do siloing whenever you start a new website. This should be part of the keyword research process, to clarify the content and the structure of your site.

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How to silo your website?

I’m going to show this through a real-life example. The point here is not to copy what I did, but to understand what I did. – I specifically did this siloing incomplete for one reason: I want to see the future structure of my new site but I don’t want to spend time on topics that won’t be covered with articles in the next 6 months.

Real-life example

I want to build a site that’s focusing on Hungary. This is my country and I really want to share our incredibly colorful culture with the world. Focusing mainly on food at the beginning, but with the intention to broaden up the site’s coverage in the future.

My most important keyword is of course “Hungary” with 165000 exact monthly searches, but this is not a very good keyword to start with. Of course the traffic is tempting, but you can’t rank for a keyword like this when starting a website. There are much more profitable keywords like “hotel budapest” or “budapest restaurant” where the search volume is lower, but hotels and restaurants are happily willing to pay for people who entered these keywords.

So the first thing is to specify the main topic of my site. It could be “Hungary“, it could be “Hungarian recipes“, it could even be “Hungarian goulash recipes“. It mainly depends on the scale of the project, the main point is to clarify the topic of your whole site.

Then find subtopics that are still general, but attracting visitors with high traffic keywords. These will be your silos to group your content into. In this example, “Hungarian cuisine“, “Hungarian recipes” “Budapest” and “Hungary tourism” are my silos. Also as I said before, there are silos that I plan to use in the future, like geography, history, economy and language. But as I don’t have time to work on these ones right now, I just made a note of them and didn’t do any keyword research.

Depending on your site’s size you might consider subsilos, that is silos inside silos. In my recipes section it might be a good idea to make a goulash section, a dessert section.

So my initial silo structure looks something like this (click on the picture to see it large):

SEO siloing structure

A side note on SEO siloing

SEO siloing is a great concept, but it’s not your holly grail in getting good results.

If you do nothing else then group your content into clear topics, and make these topics clearly visible to your visitors within your site structure (menus, categories, footer links), you’ve done much more then the sole SEO purpose of siloing. You’ve done your site user-friendly from the content point of view, which I think is key to good rankings and a profitable website.

Photo credit: 24acrons.

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