SEO Siloing Primer

SEO Siloing is a rather advanced SEO topic. Nonetheless, it is well worth your attention if you aim to increase your rankings in the search engines.

Siloing for SEO is nothing new. It’s been around for quite a while now. However, not all webmasters know about it and even fewer webmasters actually implement it on their websites.

Whether you’re completely new to SEO siloing, or have some idea but need more details, this blog post is for you. Here’s what we’re going to cover in today’s’ post.

  •         What SEO Siloing really means?
  •         What are the SEO benefits of Siloing?
  •         How does siloing benefit your website visitors?
  •         How many types of SEO siloing are there?
  •         A guide to creating SEO silos?

We’ve got a lot to cover so let’s get right to it!

SEO Siloing: What it really means?

The word “silo”, when used as a noun, means a tall tower that farmers use to store grain. When used as a verb, the word “silo” means to separate/isolate.

So what does farming and isolation have to do with SEO?

Well, both of these definitions actually have a lot to do with SEO siloing.

An SEO silo is just like the silo farmers use, except it’s used to store relevant and related pieces of content rather than grains. Think of SEO silos as categories or groups where related pieces of content are stored.

As simple as it sounds, siloing possesses tremendous SEO power and can significantly boost your website’s rankings. It is an all-encompassing technique that spans across technical SEO, website architecture, and UX (User Experience).

Going back to the definitions we mentioned earlier, SEO silos are distinct groups that contain topically related pieces of content. In other words, silos provide an organizational structure for your entire website content. Having a well-defined content structure ensures that both visitors and search engines can easily browse (and crawl) through your website and can easily find (and index) your content.

The most common examples of SEO silos can be seen on large ecommerce stores such as Amazon and EBay. These sites have hundreds of thousands of products, organized into dozens of categories. These categories are basically silos; providing an organizational structure for all the products on the site.

However, ecommerce sites are not the only ones that can benefit from silos. In fact, silos can be utilized on much smaller sites and can be implemented for both pages and blog posts.

If your website has anything more than, let’s say, 15 pages of content, it’s probably a good idea for you to use SEO silos. Creating silos takes little time and effort, yet it goes a long way in the success of your online presence.

SEO Siloing: Benefits for Search Engines

Search engines absolutely love websites that make it easier for their crawlers to find and understand the website’s content. Needless to say, such sites reap the fruits by winning higher rankings in the search engines.

Although Google does not mention “SEO silos” as such; the Google Webmaster Guidelines do state that webmasters should design their websites in a way so that they “have a clear conceptual page hierarchy.”

Siloing gives you two main benefits from the perspective of search engines.

Firstly, it lets you create an organizational hierarchy for all your content. This makes it easy for the crawlers to browse through all the content and index it.

Secondly, it lets the crawlers understand the “topical relevance” of each piece of content. Let’s look at a very basic example.  Say you have a website about fruits and have different silos for apples, oranges, and mangoes. Every piece of content relating to a particular fruit would go under the respective silo.

“Apples” is a fairly broad term and hence we use it as a silo. It can house numerous content pieces inside, such as “apple benefits”, “types of apples”, “apple cider”, and the list goes on. You get the idea, right?

Crawlers do assume that content pieces under a particular silo are all topically related, revolving around the same theme and subject. Relevance is of utmost importance for search engines and creating silos is one of the best ways to show search engines how relevant your content is for a particular topic.  

SEO Siloing: Benefits for visitors

Siloing not only benefits your website in terms of SEO, but is also a great technique for enhancing the user experience for your website visitors.

If you have a website with lots of content, relating to multiple topics, it’s absolutely imperative that you use silos. A proper organizational hierarchy creates a great user experience as your website visitors will immediately know what topics are covered on your site, and under what topic they can find a particular piece of content.

Keep in mind that UX (User Experience) best practices are not just to facilitate your website visitors. Google actually uses some user experience signals as ranking factors, particularly the dwell-time (the average amount of time visitors spend on your site).

If your website has a well laid-out organizational structure where visitors can easily navigate and find the information they’re looking for, it is likely they will spend more time on your website. This will result in a higher dwell-time, and in turn, giving your website a direct SEO boost in the search engines.

Never lose sight of the big picture when planning your website (or redesigning an existing one). The time and efforts spent on creating silos are worthwhile.

Types of SEO Siloing:

SEO silos basically fall under two types: virtual silos and physical silos. Both serve the same purpose and have pretty much the same impact, but are created differently. You can use either or both types of silos on your website. Let’s have a closer look at each one.

Virtual Silos:

A virtual silo structure is accomplished via a strategic linking between related pieces of content. For virtual silos, no physical hierarchy exists for the website’s content. Rather, related pieces of content falling under the same silo are linked to each other.

In other words, there’s no apparently visible structure or organization of the content and all the work is done via links between related pieces of content.

While virtual silos have almost the same seo benefit as physical silos, these silos clearly compromise on the user experience. Search engine crawlers will have no difficulty in detecting the patterns and connections between virtual silos, but visitors might sometimes have a hard time in understanding the content hierarchy on your website.

You should only consider virtual silos if you plan to implement them on an existing website. If you’re starting out a new website, it’s better to go for physical silos. For best results, we recommend employing both silo types on new websites.

Physical Silos:

As you might have already guessed, physical silos are the exact opposite of virtual silos. Rather than creating associations between content pieces via links, we actually create a physical hierarchy where each category represents a silo and can have multiple content pieces inside it.

For most websites, you’ll find the physical silos either in the main navigational menu or in a secondary menu if there are many content categories. You can easily identify these silos on large ecommerce websites such as Amazon. Each silo represents a particular category of products and each silo has thousands of products, all “topically related”.

Physical silos create a sense of organization and structure on your website. They make it easier for both the crawlers and visitors to navigate and understand the content on your website, as well as its hierarchy.

Between physical and virtual silos, physical ones are the clear winners and should always be your first choice.

Creating SEO Silos for new and existing websites:

Fortunately, creating silos doesn’t take a lot of time and efforts, regardless of whether you already have a site or are going to create one.

For a new website, you simply need to come up with a logical, hierarchical structure for your content. If your website covers multiple topics, each topic can serve as a distinct silo. If your site deals with a single topic and has many pages of content, you can still break down the main topic into sub-categories and turn each category into a silo.

Implementing silos on an existing site is not that hard either. You’ll just need to figure out a common theme for a few pieces of content, and strategically link those together. By strategic linking, we mean that you’ll need to do a bit of keyword research and then use keyword-rich anchor text to create links.

You’ll need to select one piece of content as the silo itself, i.e. the parent category; and then link out from that main piece to all related pieces of content that fall within that category.

If possible, it’d be way better if you choose to redesign your website and get physical silos in place along with virtual silos. However, it might not be always possible, especially if you have a website with several hundred or may be thousands of pages. In such case, you can simply map out virtual silos to implement on your existing pages, and follow the same strategy for all new content on your site.

There’s really nothing complicated about silos. Most of the time, you can get it all done yourself. However, if you feel this is not your thing or you don’t have the time to spare, you can always refer to professional SEO agency.

Have a look at our kick-ass SEO services, suitable and customizable for businesses of all sizes and all types. You can also schedule a free SEO consultation with us to see what we can do for your business.

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