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 a recent “new website” challenge, I'm applying a silo structure and I think most other people are too. While today's post isn't an update for that challenge, I think it's 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.
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.
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.
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 Bryon 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 – 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 – 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.
After I reached out to Bryon, 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.
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 Bryon 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.