Should Your Website Have A Silo Structure?

website-silo

Update: I just released a new podcast on silo structure, you can listen to it here! There’s also an iTunes and Stitcher link available in the post too.

On my Six-Figure Challenge website I’m using a silo structure, and I think most other people are too. While today’s post isn’t a 6FC update, it is something that will interest a lot of you.

A few weeks ago a fellow marketer named Tony reached out to me for advice about restructuring his site to a silo. He essentially wanted to know my thoughts on doing it; how should it be done, did I think it was a good idea, and so on.

I did think it was a good idea, and we bounced a few emails back and forth before he started.

He emailed me back shortly after he’d started saying that he’d already had excellent results and a great improvement on his site across that board, so that was fantastic news!

I asked if he’d be willing to share his results and experiences with you all, and he was glad to. Today’s post is going to be his introduction.

Before we start though, let’s take a look a bit more about a silo structure and how it works.

Components of a Silo Structured Website

The traditional way of structuring a site is to have pages as static and independent of one another, and blog posts as part of categories and a blogroll.

silo-structure

When you use a silo, things take on a more structured approach, which results in better usability, more time on page, more pages per visit, and more SEO benefits as well.

Let’s take a look at how it might work.

HumanProofDesigns isn’t using a silo structure, but if it was, I might organize it something like this:

Top of Silo

At the top I’d have a main page, such as “Make money online”.

On this page there’d be 1,000-2,000 words of content, all about making money online. It would be a really good and informative page, and would be a parent page for all other posts in that category.

Think about all the different subsections you could have for making money online though! Affiliate marketing, eCommerce, freelance writing, being a virtual assistant, the list goes on. You could theoretically dedicate a page to each of them and make that the second tier.

Second Tier

So on that first page, I’d also have links to the second tier of the silo. Let’s say I had subpages called “Affiliate Marketing For Beginners”, “How To Start an eCommerce website” and “Freelance Writing Jobs” for example

I’m just throwing ideas out here by the way, you could do any real structure.

So naturally people will be likely to click through from the top page to one or more of these second tier pages. This really helps them get the information they need, helps them stay on your site longer, and generally makes everything better to organize.

Third Tier

Assuming that each of those second tier pages is on a different category, and has its own 1,000-2,000 word page/post, you could then add another tier and another and another. The final tier (in this case the third tier), would link to all the blog posts/reviews/case-studies/whatever that you have in that category.

So for “Affiliate Marketing for Beginners” I’d have another 2,000 word article, and at the bottom it would link to all the posts on the site related to affiliate marketing. All the posts related to freelance work would go on the freelance silo page, and so on.

A 100% Silo Structure Is Nearly Impossible & Not Recommended

Most silo structures are known as ‘leaky silo’s’. This means that they aren’t 100% fully enclosed. For example, if you write an article a guide on ‘affiliate marketing for beginners’ and you happen to talk about outsourcing your work to a VA. You’d naturally want to link to your guide on hiring virtual assistants – like I just did. This essentially breaks the coveted silo structure but at the end of the day is more user-friendly.

Always chose user experience over silo structure.

We don’t do silo structures for our ready-made sites, but we do pay attention to internal linking and other on page seo factors. Consider each niche site we build to be a single silo. People are often stacking our niche sites together to build authority sites.

Does this make sense?

Why Do This?

Well first of all, it’s easy to maintain, easy for your audience to follow, and lastly, it’s great for spreading link juice around the site. Imagine if every link you build just goes to the top of the silo, the “Make money online” page. Over time, the link juice will flow down to each page and post in the silo, making them rank in turn.

So you want your top silo to be the most competitive page, and the bottom posts to be weaker. Most of them should rank on their own or after just one or two links have been built. As you build more links, the second tier pages and finally the first page will rank as well.

So it’s great for your users, and great for SEO and search engines.

If you’re planning to build an authority site with a lot of posts and pages, it makes sense to use this structure.

Over To Tony

I’ve done my best to explain what a silo structure is, and now it’s time to hear Tony share his thoughts on the whole process.

Please note, he’s not starting a site from scratch, but converting an existing one or two to a silo structure.The rest of the post is from Tony.

Hello to everyone here at Human Proof Designs! My name is Tony, and I’ve been following this blog for quite a while. About 4 weeks ago I reached out to Dom with a few questions about SEO and overall site design as I am trying to restructure two of my sites.

I wanted to write this up for everyone really quick as I document all of my results over the next weeks and months so that everyone here can follow along and see what happens.

Currently, I am running two different blog sites in separate niches with a third site in the wings. I wanted to make this post so that everyone can see kind of a baseline from where I am starting because I thought it would be fun for everyone to be able to follow along while I try to build both my traffic and sales over the upcoming months.

So, without further ado, let’s talk numbers.

blog-1

 

Blog #1 – January – 4,650 visitors and $37.00 in earnings. The bounce rate on this one is a bit high at 75.68% and the average session duration for this blog is 1:16. My goals for this one are as follows:

All goals are to be completed by June 1st

Traffic: 10,000 monthly visitors

Bounce Rate: 70%

Average Session Duration: 1:30

Money Earned: $100.00 monthly

blog-2

Blog #2 – January – 950 visitors and less than $20.00 in earnings. The bounce rate on this site is pretty close to the first with 72.84% and the average session duration is 1:41. My goals for this site are as follows:

Once again, I intend to meet these goals by June 1st

Traffic: 3,000 monthly visitors. This may sound a bit low, but the niche is a very competitive one.

Bounce Rate: 70%

Average Session Duration: 2:00

Money Earned: $100.00 monthly.

The Plan

After I reached out to Dom, I started executing some of the things that he had suggested I do. The first is ensuring that my site follows a “silo structure.” While I could literally spend days debating with you as to what a silo structure is, I’d rather just provide my personal take-away on the topic.

A silo structure in a nutshell, is simply making your site easier to navigate by your visitors and giving Google a clear trail to follow.

First, I took my sites and started developing what I am calling content clusters. For example, I review a physical product which results in roughly a 1,000 word post on my site.

Then, I will go out and look for the most pressing questions people are asking about that product and I will try to gather 5-10 of them. I then write VERY SHORT answer posts to those questions that range from 200-400 words each and I link to them within the content of the original review.

I then also link back to the full review from each question post urging people to go there for more information.

Initial Results

So, with all of that said I did two of these content cluster posts. The results? I was able to decrease my bounce rate by just over 4% in the first week of deployment and I saw multiple conversions begin to occur. I also noticed very good rising metrics for competitive search terms with my new content ranking as high as position 6-10 instantly.

Also, I received 3 sales from one of the new clusters in the first 7 days. Pretty crazy for just a quick change, right? I certainly thought so.

Currently, I am still executing the overall site plan that Dom and I discussed and I will be sharing more information about it in the future. I hope to have it fully shelled out by the end of February, so I will be able to really start tracking results soon.

Once again, I just wanted to stop by here and share the “plan” that I am working out right now and give everyone here a baseline that you can follow along with over the coming months. Thanks for taking a look and If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask.

22 Comments

  1. Excellent post-Dom. I am littile but confuse about the short question. so I should create 5 to 10 article post about that product or create one article post with 5 to 10 question combined it and link to the reviews page? which one I should follow.

    • Both can be good in different situations. Look in Google to see what is already ranking, and try to do the same as that.

  2. Nice to see some quick results Tony, congrats. While I understand what siloing is, I’m still trying to wrap my head around how this works on larger sites.

    Surely over time your second level could just have 20, 30 or even 40 post links if you were writing that much content about the site? At that point are you just writing a list of topics/links rather than adding anything constructive to the page?

    For example, would this be a suitable second level of a silo post? http://www.smartpassiveincome.com/nichesiteduel/

    • At that point you’d have a massive site and those 20,30,40 posts would probably be the bottom tier of a silo.

      Your everyday posts should always be at the bottom, whereas the top tier and second tiers are more like “epic posts” “ultimate guides” or “topic pages”. You’ll only ever need a few of them.

    • In essence the page link that you shared is kind of a suitable second level, however, for most people you are going to need a lot more true content on that page rather than just an index of links.

      The owner of that blog, Pat Flynn, actually has a very large following that really covers all of his content. With that said, this example is more of a navigational index for his readers rather than an SEO silo page.

      Thanks for commenting!

      • Good answer Tony. I think this would make a great example of a first or second tier page: http://www.healthambition.com/juicing-2/

        Under the video, there’s a post grid with links to “every juicing article” on the website, as well as reviews and other things.

        Originally the page also then linked to articles about individual juicers, which in turn linked to all the “best juicer” articles, but it seems they updated it. Still a good example of a second or first tier page.

        • Love it, fantastic example!

          For anyone else clicking and getting a 404, go to ‘Nutrition’ and then click ‘Juicing’ so that it gives you a new page

      • Thanks Tony! That makes perfect sense…I guess it should start reviewing my navigation before it gets too complicated. Cheers!

  3. I’ve started using a silo on my latest niche site as well. To early to see the results but one of the things I’d like to see in future articles is how to implement this in WordPress. I assume you are using pages instead of posts for this. Any plugins?

    • Not sure about what Tony does, but I’ve been using Thrive Content Editor.

      This allows you to put a posts grid onto the page, and tell it to automatically populate the grid with posts from a certain category, that way when you add new posts, they go onto that page. You can also tell it to add certain pages or specific posts as well.

      It’s just generally a kick-ass plugin.

      I’ve not seen any free plugins that do this, because “related posts” plugins only work on posts not pages. There are probably some post carousel plugins that would work.

      I doubt there are any plugins that automatically silo a site for you though.

    • I am currently not using any plugins whatsoever. I restructured the site using pages which then point to individual brands. For example, let’s say I was reviewing vacuum cleaners.

      My main page or domain would be vacuums for less.com. Then my second tier pages would be best vacuum cleaners, vacuum reviews, and vacuum tips and tricks.

      Best Vacuum cleaners would then link to posts such as “best vacuum cleaners for hardwood floors”, “best vacuum cleaners for short carpets”, “best vacuum cleaners for shag carpets”, so on and so forth. These posts would then link to additional information about the recommended vacuums which would then link back to the best vacuum cleaners page.

      For vacuum reviews, I would do a list of vacuum manufacturers and on the same page a great “epic post” that provides visitors with a vacuum buying guide. The manufacturers would link to individual pages with some company information and then to individual models that each company makes.

      The models would be “hoover carpet vac 5000 review”, “Dirt Devil Hydrowhatsit 3000 review” so on and so forth.

      Then the reviews would link in the content to frequently asked questions about each vacuum. For example, let’s say I discuss in the review the motor on the vacuum. I would then link to small posts which answer FAQs such as “how long does the motor last”, “How loud is the vacuum”, etc….

      Those individual question posts would then link back to the review itself as well as the main vacuum review category.

      Affiliate links are placed with calls to action on the actual product reviews. Hope this clears things up a bit for you.

      Thanks for commenting!

  4. Evelyn Baldwin

    the first website has enough traffic to earn 100 usd/month. Maybe you should focus on conversion

    • Depends on what the traffic is, where it’s coming from, and what the keywords are for, but I agree it should be doing more than $37 a month.

    • Normally, I would agree completely with that. However, the main keyword that was bringing in the traffic is for the customer service department of a computer product. The company that makes it is very hard to get in touch with and it was a big seller over the holiday season.

      For some reason, I am not ranking well for the actual review on the site, but I am ranking in position one for every possible problem with the product. Keywords like “product won’t connect to wifi”, “how to reach customer support for product”, “screen broken on product”, so on and so forth.

      Where I had given the product a poor review, I am receiving a lot of traffic for the problems associated with it. With that said, unfortunately the majority of people coming into the site have little to no interest in purchasing any other product until their issues are resolved.

      If you have any suggestions on how to remedy this, I’m all ears!

      Thanks for the feedback!

      • Interesting. I had a similar site once where people were just coming for info. 1,000 hits a day but $0 earned.

        You could try putting adsense in that post and seeing what happens, but who knows.

  5. Evelyn Baldwin

    have you did any link building to your websites? important to know

    • With the site that is receiving less traffic, there are some links that have been built from other blogs.

      There are no links currently in place for the high volume site.

      Thanks for asking!

  6. Hey Dom,

    Thanks for both giving me the information and letting me track the results here with everyone. I really appreciate it!

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