A search engine optimization silo (SEO Silo) helps you organize your website content for your website visitors and the search engines.
If you’re just beginning to learn SEO, you’re in luck. The rules have changed so much that being a newbie might give you an advantage. You won’t have to unlearn a bunch of things that don’t work anymore. If you’re an SEO veteran, you likely have the battle scars from countless algorithm updates to prove it.
But here’s the good news. There’s still one tactic that works as well as it did back in the old days. It’s called siloing.
Siloing isn’t just great SEO practice. The creation of a silo document also allows you to maintain your editorial calendar (if you’re publishing content) and provide a great User Experience (UX) for human visitors. Yep, this document simultaneously pleases search engine robots and ordinary site visitors.
What is a Website Silo?
At its core, a silo document is a spreadsheet that allows you to record information about your website at the page level. Here’s an example website silo for a tax preparation and accounting company.
If SEO is your only concern, your silo document might contain only the four columns in the example above. Let’s take a look at each of the columns:
Location – As you can see in the image above, the numbering system allows you to indicate web pages that are nested within other pages in the site architecture. For example, pages 1.1, 1.2, 1.3, etc. are nested within page 1.0, which is a category page.
Page type – Every site will have different page types. If you have an eCommerce site you’ll likely have product category and product detail pages. Blogs will likely have pages, posts, categories, and tags.
Page name – This could be the page name in your content management system or this section could be used to denote the topic of the page. In any case, you’ll want to use this column to express what that page is about.
Keyword – Most of your pages will have at least one target SEO keyword. This is the keyword that will be used in the title tag, meta description, file name and alt tag. The keyword and variations of it should also be used in the body copy in a natural way. If your pages have more than one keyword, a second or even third column will be needed.
The first benefit of putting this document together is evident in the image above. It gives you a simple way to plan and communicate the SEO keywords that are being targeted at a page level.
Cross-linking your site is a great way to send signals to Google about what a page should rank for in their search results. It works; try it.
Every page would cross-link to the page that it is nested within. For example, using the example silo above the crosslinking would look like this:
- 1.0, 2.0 and 3.0 would cross-link to the 0 page (Home) using the targeted keyword for that page as the anchor text.
- 1.1, 1.2, 1.3, etc would cross-link to the 1.0 page using the targeted keyword for that page as the anchor text.
- 2.1, 2.2, 2.3, etc would cross-link to the 2.0 page using the targeted keyword for that page as the anchor text.
When you do this, you send a signal to the search engine as to what the page is relevant to.
How do Website Silos Improve Website Experience?
If Google has taught us anything over the last couple of years it’s that they don’t like people that try to game their search rankings. Over the years I have developed a good rule of thumb that has kept me in Google’s good graces over the years. When considering SEO tactics for my website I always test the tactic by asking this question: “Will this SEO tactic be good for my human site visitors?”
Siloing your website passes the test because a properly executed silo organizes information in an intuitive way. That’s good for search engine robots and human visitors alike. Nothing frustrates site visitors and crushes conversion quicker than poor site navigation and information architecture.
The search engine optimization silo truly is a powerful, multi-functional document. Outline your existing site architecture in a silo. Then, go to work improving your site at a page level. You’ll create an organized, intuitive website architecture that satisfies the search engine spiders and human visitors alike.