Most site owners know how to improve the SEO on a certain web page. You understand the importance of picking one solid keyword, optimizing your text, headers, and metadata around that keyword, and running a checklist to make sure you didn’t miss anything. Most WordPress users know the Yoast plugin, which gives you a very satisfying green smiley when you tick all the boxes.
But SEO is more than just satisfying a checklist for each page. You can have great on-page SEO while neglecting your website’s SEO.
And that’s as much of a problem as you just feared. Your website’s SEO doesn’t just give strong signals to Google, it affects the user experience of your visitors, too. By structuring your website in a way that helps real visitors, you also gain favor from Google.
So how do you fix your website’s SEO?
In the online community, the solution is known as silos. These silos are the pillars of your website. By grouping your content into different silos, you create a clear structure that is intuitive for your visitors and appreciated by Google.
These silos are the structural representation of the categories of your website’s content. If you discuss (slightly) different topics on your website, creating a silo for each of those topics is a great way to focus your readers’ attention and keep visitors engaged for longer.
Since you immerse your reader in an environment they were initially interested in, there’s a higher chance they’ll stick around longer – read more pages, engage with your content, and follow your lead to a destination you’ve set out for them.
On top of that, when Google recognizes a silo, it gives your website’s credibility a boost, too. Instead of ranking each page individually, creating a silo files these individual posts into a folder. That way, you benefit from Google recognizing the overall topic and identifying your posts in that silo as part of the bigger topic. This creates an SEO sandwich that benefits everyone.
Now that you know to build silos of content, it’s time to understand how. For this, we can simply look at the menu on top of a website. With most websites, you’ll see a few main categories that represent the most important aspects of the website’s business.
Let’s take a local family lawyer for example. Their website has three categories for visitors. These categories both represent the bulk of the cases the lawyer handles, and most of the information on the website: divorce, adoption, and child support payments.
On a siloed website, each of these topics would have its own silo. All information regarding divorce is filed under the ‘divorce’ category, and every post is clearly a part of the ‘divorce’ information.
Most of this is rather intuitive. The problem arises when your website expands and more diffuse topics come up. Think of the topics ‘child support payments’ and ‘divorce’. Without designing the silos with a clear purpose in mind, these topics will quickly overlap.
When you have this overlap, Google doesn’t know what to prioritize. You even run the risk of SEO cannibalism, where two of your own pages compete for the same concepts and both underperform.
To keep the silo intact, you should have all posts and pages assigned to one silo and link only within the silo. There can be some exceptions, but as a rule of thumb all pages and posts on ‘divorce’ should link only to other pages in the same silo.
When you’re creating a new website, you can design the silos upfront and have a great structure from the beginning. For most people, building silos is more a matter of fixing your website’s SEO. The good news is that all the content is already in place. The bad news is that it will take some work to sort everything out.
In the process of sorting all your content in a limited number of silos, you will find content that blends over into different categories. Decide which category would fit the content best, prune the content to fit the one silo, and use the removed content to beef up a page that better fits another category.
Once you have established all your content, start linking all your content within the same silo. Suggest related posts, point to informational pages that give an overview about the topic, and minimize links to other silos. This keeps the silo intact and your website’s SEO strong.
Aside from the immediate SEO benefits, silos have a great side-effect. When you’re building your editorial calendar and planning for new content, the silos can help you identify different topics. In your pruning and sorting, there’s a good chance you’ll come across topics that need additional information.
By seeing the silos as individual parts of your website, it becomes easier to identify clear topics. Where before, you might have stuffed your article with different topics, you’ll end up with clearer copy (and perhaps two blog posts instead of one).
While it’s easy to focus on on-page SEO, too many website owners neglect their website’s SEO. Building silos is a win-win in every aspect of your website: it helps visitors find relevant information and stay on your website longer, it gives your articles a clear focus, and Google will give you bonus SEO points for content that would otherwise have been lost.
For bigger websites, fixing your website’s SEO can be quite the project. The rewards are just as impressive, though. Going through the silos will help you focus your content, build a website that’s better for visitors and more resilient to Google’s future updates. Of course, then there’s also the benefit of having better website content, too.