The Comprehensive Guide to Building WordPress Silos for Higher Rankings
What is a Silo?
To better understand how to build a silo for your website, it will be best first to know what a silo is in the first place. A silo is simply designing and organizing a website so that topics and related information are grouped together. It refers to a systematic way of organizing the content of a website.
While building a silo may looks interesting; it is not what you can do in a rush. It requires careful planning, structuring your content right from the bottom up. To help you better understand how a silo looks like, check out this illustration:
and so on..
This is a quick illustration of what a silo looks like. Now you can see it is not something you can just dabble into; it instead requires careful planning and lots of effort. But you might want to ask if it requires this level of effort and attention, then is it really worth it?
Well, let’s talk about some of the benefits of building a silo for your website. Then, you can judge if it is what you should do for your website or not.
Some Benefits of Silo; Why Do You Need It?
It helps search engines better understand your website and rank it for relevant entities
The top reason you would need to build a silo for your website is because of its SEO benefits. With a proper silo built into your site architecture, search engines will better understand your website through the content you provide on the site.
Search engines want to understand how your site is structured and how to locate your content to better serve users the most appropriate information when they conduct searches on their platforms. So, improve your SEO and help search engines rank your website by providing easy navigation and clear structures on your site.
It provides a better user experience
This is another reason you might need to consider building a silo on your website. When your content is well-organized and easy to navigate because you have a structured way of organizing the content on your site, it makes it easy for users to quickly find the relevant information they need on the site.
On the other hand, if you don’t have a well-thought-out structure on your site, your content will often end up in posts. This will make your website more difficult to navigate, just like when you walk into a library where the books are not arranged into categories.
It makes interlinking super easy
Creating backlinks within your site serves the primary purpose of helping your users navigate and find content across your site. With a silo structure on your site, it becomes super easy to link between your categories, subcategories, and the home page.
Such interlinking has a way of helping search engines better crawl your entire site. Remember that a website that is crawled will have a better chance of ranking for specific keywords and search terms. So creating a silo will come as the extra push your SEO needs to get your website to the top of search results for many of your keywords.
It increases the chance of having more content crawled on your site
Having a proper silo on our site will encourage more interlinking between your content. This hence, helps search engines crawl your content easily by using the internal links to find more content within the site. That again comes as a plus to the overall SEO of your website.
How to Conduct a Link Audit
Now that you understand what benefits your site can enjoy from having a silo’ed structure, let’s get into how you can implement that on your site too. If you are starting the website out afresh, it is just the best time to get things right from the beginning.
This initial structure will come as a great foundation on which the entire website will be built. This is even more important if the website will be an authority website with several posts and pages.
Before we move on, do you remember the illustration we gave in the earlier section of this guide? Keep it close to your heart because we will be using it again.
Getting the Pages Well-Structured Out
Retaking a look at the illustration above, you can quickly tell what we are trying to achieve. The topics used in the illustration would represent pages on your site. The subtopics would also be pages too. So the topics would be the main silo pages, and the subtopics would fall under individual “parent page” – that is the main topics.
You can also take things a step further by having subtopics for the subtopics. Since there is no limit to the number of nested pages you can have on a WordPress website, this is not going to be a problem. So, in the end, the result would likely look like this:
This kind of structure is common in very large websites. Having a silo structure on such websites will create easy navigation throughout the site.
Have a Better Understanding of Your Targeted Keywords
Keywords are the central focus – that’s what brings it all together. So to create an effective silo structure on your website, you will need to have a better hang of the keywords you will be targeting with the website. Even if you don’t have a full list of all the keywords, you should at least get the main keywords you are looking to target.
While getting your keywords, don’t ignore long-tail keywords too. They can bring in a good volume of traffic for your website if you get the right ones. Also, look for the keywords your competitors are targeting and consider them in your approach. Get as many keywords as possible, and your silo will make a lot of sense.
On the other hand, you will also need to get a substantial number of keywords before you can think of implementing a silo on your website. So, if you are struggling to come up with enough keywords for the website, it might just be that you are not searching hard enough. In that case, consider putting more effort into your keyword research and get more long-tail keywords to your list.
Generally, you need to have at least five subtopics for most of your main pages to implement a silo on your website fully. However, it is recommended that you don’t add too many subtopics to the main page so that the subtopics (child pages) will be able to get enough link juice.
The Roles of Interlinking
Building a silo is not only about making a well-organized structure; that’s just an easy part of the equation. Another important aspect is interlinking the pages – and that is one part that makes the whole setup work appropriately.
You will need to interlink the pages in such a way that enough link juice reaches every page in the silo. However, some people proposed different strict methods as to how to interlink within the silo in order for each page to have a fair share of the link juice. But this doesn’t have to be complicated. By just linking naturally related topics would satisfy the aspect of linking and will help your users have amazing experience using your site.
So what you need to do is to just structure your pages like we’ve shown in the illustration above and link to related posts or content every chance you get. That way, your site will both be having an excellent silo structure with adequate interlinking.
Some Interlinking Guidelines to Bear in Mind
When interlinking within your website, there are some guidelines you should follow in order to do it right. Using the illustration we have above, let’s see how some of these guidelines work. In case you are not sure of the illustration we are referring to, here it is again:
So, using the illustration, let’s take a look at some guidelines for interlinking within the pages in your silo:
- All content in each subtopic page should link back to the main silo page – the topic pages. An example is having content in the Topic-1/subtopic-4 page link back to the main page, which is the Topic-1 page.
- Each page can link to other pages within the same silo and also to the other main silo pages. For example, content in topic-1/subtopic-4 can link to content in topic-1/subtopic-2. At the same time, it can link to content in the topic-3 or topic-4 pages.
- The subtopic pages should not link directly to pages that are not in the same silo. Instead, they should link to the main silo page for the other page. For example, content in topic-1/subtopic-4 should not link to content in the topic-2/subtopic-1 page. Instead, it should link directly to topic-2 being the main silo page for topic-2/subtopic-1.
- The main silo pages should link to all the pages in their silo. For example, there should be interlinking from topic-1 to all the subtopics under the main topic (page) – topic-1/subtopic-1 … subtopic-2, …subtopic-3, etc.
- Each parent page can link to any of the other sub-topic and subtopic subtopics under them.
Adding Content to Your Silo Pages
Since you are starting a brand new website for this, it is important you get your content well planned out from scratch. When you already have a silo structure and well-planned content, adding new content would definitely not be a challenge. It would easily fit into the structure you have planned.
So do your research well and write your content with these keywords in mind. Put related topics together in your silo and follow the linking guideline earlier stated to link the content on your website.
Migrating Old Website to a Silo Structure: Simple Steps to Follow
Like we said earlier, it can be pretty easy to create a silo structure for a brand new website. But it may not be as easy when you already have the site running and with many contents on it already. However, it is not something impossible – in fact, it is what you should do to help boost user experience and SEO of the website.
So to migrate your existing website to a silo structure, here are the step to follow to get you there:
#1: Spend enough time working out a plan
Migrating an existing site to follow a particular silo structure is not something you should do without first having a solid plan. You will need to spend plenty of time planning the whole thing before you start rolling out the other steps. Taking enough time planning will help you achieve the desired result easily and faster without any problems.
#2: A comprehensive research is important
Siloing is majorly based on grouping certain content or pages together based on how related they are. The best way to know related content on your site is to judge them based on keywords. So take time to conduct comprehensive keyword research to get all the keywords you are targeting, including several long-tail keywords you think you can rank for.
Even if you don’t eventually use all the keywords you found, it is wise to have enough keywords that can help you create at least 5 subtopic pages under each main silo page.
#3: Have a well-thought-out structure for the website
This is more like deciding on how your content will be organized within the website. To appropriately do this, put yourself in your audience’s shoes and imagine if you were to land on your own website, how would you have loved to navigate the website?
Use the keywords you have found to map out the new silo structure. Gather all related topics together in one silo, and that will be all.
#4: Analyze your existing content
Remember you are organizing your existing content into a silo structure that will benefit your users and send the right signal to search engines about your website. So get a full list of all the posts on your website. Know all the pages and URLs that exist on the site, too. To make this easier for you to get, just fetch your sitemap from Google, and you will have the full list in your hands in no time.
Once you have the list of the posts, you can now decide which post or page is doing well and which one is not. A tool like Google Analytics can make this easier for you too. Refine or rework content that are not doing well and, if necessary, optimize the ones doing well to do better.
However, it is not only your content that needs to be analyzed; the URLs on your site also need to. Since you will be making many changes on the site to get the content to align with your proposed silo structure, you would definitely be making a lot of changes on the site, which may cause some URLs to change. You don’t want to have dead links on your site, so what should you do?
Just make a list of all the pages with the new and old URLs, and use a simple 301 redirect in your .htaccess file to fix all the issues with bad or broken URLs. So add the following to your .htaccess file:
Redirect 301 /oldpage http://yourdomain.com/silo–1/newpage
Redirect 301 /oldpage2 http://yourdomain/silo–2/newpage
This is something you can either do manually or with a plugin. If you have an SEO plugin like Yoast installed, then it wouldn’t be difficult to add these redirect links to your .htaccess file. You only need to copy and paste in the lines and then hit the save button.
#5: Back up the website
Now that you have thoroughly analyzed your website and fixed all that needs to be fixed, including broken URLs and not-good-enough content, the next phase is the implementation phase. But before that one, you need to ensure your website is backed up. In case anything terribly goes wrong down the line, you will be able to get your website back to how it was before the implementation.
Some web hosting providers will also allow likely provide regular backup for your website – this can be daily or weekly. So in case anything goes wrong while implementing your new silo structure, you can easily request the latest backup of your site.
#6: Create the main silo pages
The next thing is to work on creating the main topics – that is, the main silo pages. When creating each main silo page, your aim should be to create a page with high-quality content that can serve as a worthy anchor for other pages coming under it. So aim for about 2000 words for this page.
Now, work on the interlinking part. Remember that each of your main silo pages should link to the subtopic (child) pages under it. But where can you out the link?
This can either be in the content – which is the most preferred place, or at the bottom of the content to link to related pages or posts. However, don’t force things with your linking. Let every interlinking be done naturally – and this should not be a problem since the main silo page, and the child pages are already closely related.
#7: Start moving your existing posts to pages
This is arguably one of the most time-consuming parts of the whole process. It will require you to create a new page for every post you already have on the website. Then you will now need to move the content on the existing post to the new page you have just created. This can be a really stressful and time-consuming task, so prepare yourself for it, especially if your existing site already has several posts before you decide to migrate.
To get this done, here are the simple steps to follow:
- Create a new page for each post: This is the same thing you will do for every post on the site. So, create a new page and title it appropriately – usually the same title as the post you are looking to move.
- Update the URL: Even if the parent page does not show up yet, don’t worry about it. Everything will align later on.
- Copy the text to the new page: copy the text of the old post and paste it into the new page. Then check for any details you may need to update due to change, including the post’s meta description.
Choose the right parent page for the new page you just created.
- Set the old post as “Private”: don’t discard the old post yet. Instead, set it as private so that if anything goes wrong with the page, you can also go back to the post without the fear of it being lost.
- Repeat this for all the existing posts on the website until you have all of them conforming to your new silo structure.
- Check to be sure everything went well: before you can relax for a job well done, you need to double-check to be sure you really did a good job. Just click on the “All Pages” view to quickly see if all your pages are arranged in a hierarchical order.
#8: Take care of your top navigation menu
The next thing on the list is to set up the navigation menu at the top of the page to reflect the corresponding link to the main silo pages. This is actually not something difficult. Since we are working on a WordPress site, you can use the built-in Menu feature to make the job easier for you.
If you are not sure what to use as the title of each of these menus, you can simply use the main silo topic. But if the topic will be too long to be used for that purpose, you can use a simpler version of it so that it fits well in the navigation menu. If possible, title the menus with the keyword for each silo mage in mind. If you don’t like that idea, you can also use the keyword synonyms or related words too.
#9: Test before you launch
Now that you have your existing posts all migrated to new pages, you may want to be tempted to believe that is all. No, that’s not all. You should test the website to check if everything you have done is working well. You don’t want your users to be the ones to discover a fault created due to the changes. Test things out yourself and fish out any issues there.
Not sure what things to check? Here is a list to help:
- Check the interlinking between the main silo pages and the subtopic pages. Check if they are all working well.
- Check to be sure the links of the navigation menu are working well. Also, check the links at the footer and sidebar too.
- Check for any broken links and fix them. A simple broken link checker tool can help with this.
- Check to be sure the Analytics Code is running
- Check to be sure the redirect code in the .htaccess file is working fine. A simple way to do that is to enter the URL of one of the old posts and see where it leads.