Business Content marketing

Tips for Building a Silo in WordPress

If you want your WordPress website to rank well in the search engines, then you need to make sure that it is laser-focused in terms of keywords and themes. Websites that try to be a jack of all trades are doomed to failure, because they lack the focus that is required for the search engines to consider them an authority in a particular niche.

Sure, there are exceptions to that statement – but unless your website is a part of a media empire, you are unlikely to be one of the exceptions. If you want good rankings, you need to find a focus for your site – and siloing is a great way to do that.

What is Siloing?

Siloing is the concept of dividing information into small, related groups. Think of a silo as being like a chapter in a book. Each silo is a specific theme, keyword or subject on your site. When you group your content in that way, the search engines will see it as being highly keyword relevant, and this will help to improve your rankings.

All too often, websites with great content don’t get a lot of exposure in the SERPs because they do not have a clear strategy for their content, or because they put articles to do with cooking right next to articles to do with running. Yes, healthy recipes and sports may both fit on a blog about living a healthy lifestyle, but the search engines see those as two discrete topics. That’s why siloing matters.

How to Get Started

Siloing requires you to go through a clear and focused process. Firstly, you will need to think about the theme of your website:

What is it that you want your website to be about, and that you are trying to engage your users regarding?

What sort of topics does your website rank for right now?

What would a user search for to reach your website (not what YOU, the webmaster would search for, but what your users really type into the search engines – those two things will often differ!).

If you had to break your website down into clear themes, what would those themes be?

Once you have an understanding of the themes that are the most important to your website, you can start to look at technical implementations to create a silo. You can use directories, or you can make ‘virtual silos’ that will still look like silos to the search engine. Depending on your approach, you will then need to make sure that the link structure that you use on the website reinforces the idea of the silo, so that the search engines know exactly what you are trying to convey on each page.

Implementing a Silo

Siloing is something that hasn’t taken off in the world of WordPress, yet. There are only a handful of solutions available, and they tend to be premium plugins. The good news is that you don’t have to spend a fortune to implement siloing – you can actually do it with some free tools and a bit of keyboard time.

The first thing that you need to do is use the Google Adwords Keyword Tool[1] to figure out which keywords you want to use for your siloing. Look for keywords that have a good balance between search volume and competition. You don’t want to waste time on keywords that you will never rank for, but spending time on low search volume keywords isn’t ideal either.

Look at your blog – you will probably find that you have some ready-made categories that will make good silos. For example, the previously mentioned fitness blog probably covers fashion (jogging clothes, compression tops, etc), tech (fitness wearables, bodyfat analysers, diet tracking software), cooking (healthy recipes), health advice (dealing with injuries, calorie counting, supplements), etc. Instead of lumping all of that into one front page that doesn’t make a lot of sense, you can break it down into several silos.

There are a few different approaches to doing this, but perhaps the easiest is to make your posts as normal, and assign them to categories, and make each category page a silo. You will need to make a few template changes to achieve this – you want the category template to show a description of the category, any sub-categories in it, any stick posts if you have them, and then a list of the titles of other posts in that category. This is the easiest long-term implementation, since it means that the page will automatically be updated when you add new content.

You will need to change your permalink structure to make the site’s URLS as SEO friendly as possible. Set it to /%category%/%postname%/, and then make sure that you remove the category slug for your category pages, so that the folder layout is consistent across the site. You should install the WordPress SEO by Yoast[2] plugin for this – and for the other features that the plugin has. Yoast’s plugins are some of the best plugins available for making your websites search engine friendly, and they are incredibly easy to use too.

Don’t worry too much about your old content – WordPress should automatically set up redirects for you when you change your permalink structure.  You can test the pages manually (Assuming you don’t have hundreds to worry about). If it doesn’t fix them all, then you will need to use your FTP client to open the .htaccess file and write the redirect yourself – you can post on the WordPress forums for advice about what the redirect should look like, if you aren’t confident in editing the .htaccess file yourself.

There’s one final thing to think about – the breadcrumbs. These are the links that run across the top of the site to show people where they are in relation to the home page. For example, whether you are in Home > Fitness Tech > Review of Awesome New Heartrate Monitor. Make sure that you are only showing relevant information in the breadcrumbs. You might want to reword certain parts of the breadcrumb, or remove them, so that you don’t rank for irrelevant words. Try to limit the number of outgoing links and cross-links on the site. If you are going to include links for things like ‘read more’ at the end of an excerpt, edit the template so that the ‘read more’ link is not counted and the title link is canonical. This will help to avoid you watering down your site’s link juice with irrelevant links. When you link out, only use authority sites. Remove links that don’t need to be there. Why link out to someone that does not add value?

It is a good idea to have keyword rich, dynamic silo landing pages for each of our categories – that’s why we are using the Category page for the landing page. Have your best posts featured at the top, and a list of other posts that are directly a part of that silo, as well as a list of child silos. Don’t water down the silo too much with child content. Make each silo laser-focused, so that Google knows exactly what it is getting with your pages. If you want more tips, take a look at what Bruce Clay, SEO guru, has to say about using silos[3]. He has implemented them successfully not just for WordPress, but for static sites and other content management systems too.

[1] http://www.adwords.google.com/keywordtool

[2] https://wordpress.org/plugins/wordpress-seo/

[3] http://www.bruceclay.com/seo/silo.htm

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