For those not familiar with the SEO silo concept, in a nutshell you try to theme or niche every part of a site to a specific content niche so as many of the elements on each webpage support THAT web pages SERPs NOT the site as a whole or other sections of the website.

No idea why it was termed SEO silo and not SEO content theming or SEO content niching since silos are large storage devices, used for storing grain, coal etc… below is an image of a grain silo, I just don’t see the relationship?

Silo

SEO Silo?

SEO silo is really niching or theming your content into a distinct organizational structure that limits interaction with non niched content.

Not really a silo per se (not a storage device) which is why I rarely ever use the term silo SEO and refer to niching/theming links and content (easier to understand without having to explain what SEO silo means: like above!).

What this means in practice is avoid linking unrelated niches on a website together and avoid adding unrelated content like sitewide widgets with the same content (not all WordPress widgets include links, it’s not just links that have an SEO impact). This website has a silo SEO linking structure I use the Stallion Responsive SEO theme and the built in SEO Posts Widget to theme/niche/silo this sites internal links.

SEO Silo Structure Hmm, reading through a few old SEO silo articles ranking high in Google suggests it might be because the authors seem to think the physical directory structure is important to SEO rankings. So guess the term SEO silo derived from physically locating html files in the same directory, which is a storage device.

All niche 1 html files would be stored in the directory /niche-1-directory/
All niche 2 html files would be stored in the directory /niche-2-directory/

We no longer live in an online world of physically generated html files, most websites are generated using content management systems (CMS) like WordPress, Joomla and Drupal and there’s no physical location for the webpages, they are all dynamically generated.

It’s never been a case of physical location per se was important to Google SEO, filenames which include directory structure like the example image above right is an important SEO metric, Google reads a filename (the entire URL) and uses words it can parse from a URL as part of the ranking algorithm. Google would parse the following words from a URL like “stallion-theme.co.uk/niche-one/niche-one-article” to

stallion theme co uk niche one niche one article

Google reads hyphens (-) and / and dots (.) as a word separator (a space) in a URL or filename, note underscores (_) are NOT treated as word separators.

Anyway, doesn’t matter where the filenames are physically/virtually located, what matters is the URL the content and how it all links together.

How to Link Silo

When most SEO’s talk about silo SEO they tend to mean the link structure of a website, strictly niching your internal links, but it should also cover the URL and text and image based content as well, not just the links.

I have several distinct content niches on this site:

SEO
WordPress SEO
Making Money
Product Reviews
Off Topic Stuff
Theme Tutorials

There’s natural overlaps in the niches, WordPress SEO is a further niched version of SEO, product reviews is an aspect of making money, sort of.

In a perfect SEO world all the making money content would NOT interact with the rest of the sites content unless it was “make money using SEO” or “make money reviewing products” where content fits in multiple niches. The SEO and the WordPress SEO sections because they are related can interact (via internal links) to a larger degree than making money and product reviews content.

It’s like treating sections of a site like independent content islands or silos (I just don’t like the term silo).

This is only taking silo SEO into account, we also have to consider users, do I really want a user to land on the make money part of the site and have no easy way (links) to find the SEO and the WordPress SEO content? We have to strike a balance between SEO and user experience, get it right and Google is very happy and your users won’t know sections of a site are tightly themed.

In practice IF you believe silo SEO is important (it is up for debate, there are pros and cons to SEO siloing techniques) you don’t go for perfect SEO silos, you take siloing into account and try to niche your content as much as possible whilst allowing users access to everything relatively easily.

As you can see siloing is a simple SEO concept, avoid linking unrelated content together, break your site into distinct themes and try to keep unrelated content in separate content groups by not over interlinking.

How NOT to Silo Links

Most webmasters SEO approach with links is more is always better, they’ll add 20 WordPress tags from an article covering every keyword that article is even barely related to and add the article to as many categories that again have barely any relevance to the content and add sitewide widgets like they are going out of fashion: read more about WordPress Category SEO.

You might find an article about Making Money Online with Clickbank has the following tags:

Making
Money
Online
Clickbank

This is awful SEO wise, do you seriously believe you’ll get traffic to a tag called “Money” :-)

You are filling the site with archive sections that cost link benefit to keep spidered/indexed which is a waste of SEO resources because you aren’t going to get single keyword tag archives like “money” or “online” to rank for anything. Single keywords are highly competitive, the likelihood of gaining a top 10 SERP like “online” with a tag archive is ZERO.

In effect you are creating hundreds of webpages on your site that won’t generate any search engine traffic, but take more SEO link value than your awesome SEO copy content!!! Note: this website has ZERO WordPress tags.

This is the opposite of siloing your content, it’s almost randomly linking it together because you can. If you are one of those webmasters who think more is better, pack it in, it’s damaging your websites SEO. ONLY create archives (categories and tags) your site NEEDS, this will make siloing so much easier without having to think about it too much: I don’t think about siloing, it naturally happens because I tend to link related content together** and have an SEO policy of a WordPress post should only be in one or two categories unless there’s a really good reason to add it to more categories and never use tags.

** I’m not strict on theming links, if linking to a non relevant part of the site makes sense while I’m creating an article or it’s useful to users I’m linking to it. Since I tend to link mostly to relevant content, the link siloing/niching is still really strong overall (most links are relevant to the same niche).

With most WordPress themes a full on silo SEO link structure isn’t possible unless you go the route of multiple installs of WordPress: install WordPress say 5 times on a domain and each install could be niched to a particular topic and any interaction is down to the webmaster manually linking the WordPress installs together. I’ve used this technique myself many years ago and it’s a pain to manage, all those WordPress updates etc… eeek!

Or you could pretty much run WordPress with no sidebars and widgets (or no automated sitewide widgets) and manually link content one page at a time. If you remove your widgets there’s no unrelated sitewide links. Still have to cover sitewide menus.

How to Silo Links with WordPress?

The SEO Package I develop can through planning silo a website without multiple WordPress installs or installing any additional plugins or running with no widgets.

As it happens a few days a go I made a site change here to better link silo this site. I used to have a sitewide categories widget with sitewide links to the following 17 categories:

AdSense Blogger Templates
AdSense WordPress Themes
Business Entrepreneurship
Google AdSense Tips
How to Search Engine Optimization
Make Money Online
Off Topic Blogging
Product Reviews
SEO Tests
SEO Training
SEO Tutorial
Stallion Responsive Tutorials
WordPress SEO
WordPress SEO Plugins
WordPress SEO Tips
WordPress SEO Tutorial
Yoast WordPress SEO Tutorial

This is the actual category widget below: I used the Tags Cloud widget and set it to show categories instead of tags.

I’m able to load the above category here because Stallion Responsive 8.1 includes a widgets anywhere feature, by adding a shortcode to this post the widget area loads anywhere I want it. This is the shortcode for other Stallion theme users:

<div class="sidebar-box">[stallion_widget_any id=swa5]</div>

Basically says load the swa5 widget area which under “Appearance” >> “Widgets” is called “Anywhere Widget Area 5” (already used swa1 to swa4 for other pages: can have dozens of these widget areas) and on this site has a single Tagcloud widget set to show categories.

This meant every webpage of the site had the above 17 links, that’s 17 sets of anchor text (anchor text is very important SEO wise) no matter what the content of the page is about. When I first added the category widget it had a few categories, but as I added more content the number of categories grew and now it’s causing too much collateral SEO damage to each site niche (as I add more posts I’ll need more categories so this SEO issue would only get worse).

If an article is about SEO you can see these category links help because they all contain relevant SEO niche keywords as anchor text:

How to Search Engine Optimization
SEO Tests
SEO Training
SEO Tutorial
WordPress SEO
WordPress SEO Plugins
WordPress SEO Tips
WordPress SEO Tutorial
Yoast WordPress SEO Tutorial

However, these category links damage the anchor text niching (which is why I’m not linking to them, damages this posts silo SEO):

AdSense Blogger Templates
AdSense WordPress Themes
Business Entrepreneurship
Google AdSense Tips
Make Money Online
Off Topic Blogging
Product Reviews
Stallion Responsive Tutorials

For this example it’s almost fifty/fifty good to bad anchor text for SEO content. For another niche product reviews, all but one of the category links anchor text damages those articles SEO.

WordPress Silo SEO Widgets

With Stallion Responsive I can set which sections of a site to load a widget (Stallion Display Widget Feature), as a fix I set the category widget to no longer load on WordPress Posts (few clicks of the mouse to achieve): it now only loads on archive sections of the site and the front page, oh and here since I added the widget shortcode above earlier.

If you look at the sidebars and footer area of this page there’s no sitewide categories widget, go to any category archive or the home page and in the footer we still have the categories widget. Could argue from a more pure silo SEO structure even this isn’t siloed enough, do we want links to the product reviews and off top blogging category from the WordPress SEO Tutorial category?

From a user perspective we do NEED some unrelated links for users to find other sections of the site, but if you wanted more siloing you could drop the category widget completely and build your own manual links to relevant sections of the site.

I’ve made a start on this for several sections of the site (not done it all, never have enough time), go to any of the WordPress SEO Tutorial articles (like the one you are reading now) and scroll to the bottom of the main content (just before the comments start) and you will find a set of links.

Stallion includes a widget area (under “Appearance” >> “Widgets”) called “Bottom of Blog Posts and Static Pages”, this widget area only loads at the bottom of blog posts and pages, so not shown on archive sections of the site (Stallion has over 20 widget areas and an unlimited number of custom widget areas you can create and add anywhere).

See the later screenshot to see the settings I discuss below.

To have the links on every page under the WordPress SEO Tutorial category (those links automatically load for any new posts added to the category, like this article). I added a Stallion SEO Posts Widget set to Popular Posts, 25 links shown and set to not load a thumbnail or excerpt (just wanted the links). This basically loads the most popular posts (by comment count) on the site.

I unticked “show All Posts From Categories” and selected the “WordPress SEO Tutorial” category, by setting this it limits the posts it will show to only the WordPress SEO Tutorial category.

So the widget only grabs posts from the one category and orders them by most commented. The Stallion SEO Posts widget has multiple ordering, can set alphabetical, by ID, recent and many other ways.

Currently the widget would load sitewide (well on the bottom of posts and pages), to limit this widget to the posts under the WordPress SEO Tutorial category only I used the Stallion display widget feature to set the widget to only load for the WordPress SEO Tutorial category, see the ticked box in the screenshot below. By ticking the box WordPress only loads the widget on posts under that category, there’s plenty of others ways to control the display of widgets, not just by category. As you can see in the screenshot there’s two more widgets below that are titled “Yoast WordPress SEO Tutorial” and “SEO Tutorial”, these have similar content, but with different links to articles under those two categories.

The posts in each of the three categories load a different set of links, I’ve siloed the links to only relevant content using multiple Stallion Responsive features.

SEO Silo Widget

As I’ve created a widget for each of the three categories and set the number of posts to load to 25 every time I add a new post to one of the categories it will not only load this widget, but that new post will be added to the widget until there’s 25 posts in the category. Means automated siloing the links without having to think about it, if I add more than 25 posts to this category I’ll consider whether to increase the number of links shown or leave as is (more than 25 links is a lot of links).

When I get the time I plan to further niche the links on the various sidebars, right now the Popular Posts widget on the left sidebar is sitewide, I think I’ll change it to a few versions of the widget, one that targets the SEO categories, one that targets the money categories and a third for the rest. When I add more content might add further Popular Posts widgets to cover specific niches.

During the Stallion Responsive 8.1 update I changed the way social media links are handled sitewide. You will note there’s Facebook, Twitter and Google+ like buttons on every article, this could have a negative SEO impact of siloing, but in Stallion 8.1 those buttons are loaded within an iFrame which means SEO wise the buttons do not exist on the article pages. Used the same technique for the social media profile links on the right side of the page and within the author biography box, those links have no SEO footprint which means the SEO siloing is increased because the unrelated links to Facebook etc… no longer exist on the webpage.

While I worked on Stallion Responsive 8.1 stumbled on a technique for generating page specific custom menus, didn’t have time to code it into v8.1, plan to look into adding the ability to create multiple navigation menus that would load for specific sections of the site. Right now the navigation menu below the header area of the site is sitewide, that’s a lot of links that helps some parts of the site, but not others. Same issue I discussed above regarding categories.

David Law

David Law > AKA SEO Dave
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20+ Years Experience as a Freelance SEO Consultant, WordPress SEO Expert, Internet Marketer, Developer of Multiple WordPress SEO Plugins/SEO Themes Including the Stallion Responsive Theme (tested to WordPress 4.9 November 2017).

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