Blog Structure: Higher Google Rankings with What You Have

Blog Structure: Higher Google Rankings with What You Have

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build your blog silo structure

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I assume we can all agree on the fact that if the foundation sucks, the building will suffer.

The same goes for your blog.

Believe it or not, the way you structure your blog can make it or break it as far as getting traffic from the search engines is concerned.

There are different approaches to a successful blog structure – some arguably work better than others.

However, the point of this post is not to get you to spend countless hours restructuring what you already have; although in some cases, I must admit, that seems to be the only plausible way to go.

You see, there’s an IDEAL way to structure your blog and the better/easier way for the rest of us.

I am the “easier way” kind of gal in this particular instance and that’s what we’ll be talking about today.

But in the beginning, there was some theory…

Blog Structure Makes a Difference

To your search engine rankings, that is.

HUGE difference.

Search engines catalog all the pages on the web according to their subject (check out how Google works for more on that).

The better you manage to zero down on the subject, the more likely you’ll outrank your competition.

Just publishing a post based on a keyword, throwing in some deep linking from both within your blog and other sites might not do the trick – as you well know it, I am sure.

On the other hand, if you manage to organized your content in such a way that it screams “Relevance!” to the search engines, you are much more likely to grab that coveted spot on the first page of Google – whatever the term.

Blog Siloing

how to silo your blog

Basic Blog Silo Structure

The name of the game is SILOING or THEMEING – the generally accepted term for this type of site organization.

First of all, what is siloing?

Siloing is a way to structure your blog by using categories or pages to create a string of content themed around a particular keyword.

Successful siloing is generally achieved by creating several pieces of content (a silo) on the same topic, interlinking the content within the silo, linking TO the silo from other posts, BUT not linking OUT from the silo.

Confusing? It can be.

Blog siloing is a complex issue that most of you don’t REALLY need to spend hours upon hours studying and implementing.

For those of you who do want to learn more about it, here are some of the best resources around – in all honesty, these bloggers did a far better job explaining the subject than I ever would:

  • SEO Siloing: Building a Themed Website by Bruce Clay (the silo image above came from his blog)
  • Siloing Revisited by Lisa Barone (you’ll also find links to her other posts on the subject there)

Here’s also a great video overview by Michael Gray:

And now that you have a bit more subject knowledge behind your belt, allow me to explain how I learned to adopt the concept of siloing without having to control every single angle and link on my blog.

Posts VS Pages

This is what prompted me to write this post to begin with.

I am sure we were all quite curious to see how our blogs did in the last PR update… not that we care… oh, wait a minute – of course, we do!

And it wasn’t only the home page I was interested in; I also wanted to see if I got any high PR on my interior pages as well.

If you are not sure how to check for your inner pages PR, read this handy post that will guide you through that:

So as I am checking the rank for Traffic Generation Cafe, I am starting to discover one interesting pattern: most of the higher ranking URLs on my blog are not posts at all – rather, they are pages on my blog.

Let me step back for a second.

When I first started blogging (and for a while after that actually), I couldn’t figure out what the difference was between blog pages and blog posts and why I would want to use one over the other.

I assume there are at least a few of my readers who are in the same boat at the moment, so let me give you a quick rundown on the two.

  • Pages are static; posts are dynamic.
  • Posts are displayed in chronological order on your home page, archives, category and tag pages, etc.
  • Pages  are not sorted by date; they are not classified by categories or tags.

Generally, when we think of a blog, we think of a site that publishes updates (posts) on a regular basis. It’s a short-term circuit of ever-changing information, if you will.

Pages, on the other hand, contain more of a long-term information that is not meant to be buried in the archives.

Good examples of that are Contact page, About Me page, etc.

However, pages don’t have to stop at “contact me here“. When used properly, they can do wonders for your blog structure and SEO and, consequently, for your SEO traffic.

In other words, pages are a great way to put the concept of siloing into practice on your blog.

How to Build Silos Using Pages

… step by step.

Step 1. Establish Theme Keywords

Brainstorm several keywords that go hand-in-hand with your overall blog theme.

They shouldn’t be long-tail; 2-3 word top level keywords.

Let’s say you have a blog about fruit.

This general theme can be subdivided into several subthemes:

  • apples
  • pears
  • oranges

Those can be further subdivided into different varieties of apples, pears, and oranges.

For instance, your apple silo might look something like this:

  • YourFruitSite.com/apples/fuji
  • YourFruitSite.com/apples/red-delicious
  • YourFruitSite.com/apples/granny-smith
  • YourFruitSite.com/apples/lady

Step 2.   Write Highly Targeted Content Within Silo

Start with writing an in-depth article on your top broadest keyword – apples in our example.

Publish it as a PAGE, not a POST.

Do not link to any other posts on your or any other blog from this article. No links, period.

Make sure you pay close attention to your on-page SEO like title tags, description, header tags, etc. If you have no idea what I am talking about or just want to make sure you do it right, grab a free copy of my SEO report.

Next, write an article on one of the apple varieties, say Fuji apples.

Publish it as a PAGE, not a POST.

Link it to the first article about apples in general with “apples” as your anchor text. Do NOT link out other than that.

Then,  rinse and repeat with each of the apple varieties, each time linking the new page with the previous one ONLY with a targeted anchor text.

Step 3.   Link Building

Link Within Silo Only.

This step is very important, so I am willing to repeat myself here.

The whole idea behind linking within the silo only is not necessarily the potential pagerank leakage, but rather establishing the relevancy to the topic at hand.

Of course, that doesn’t apply to external links going to the silo – you still need to build those just like you would with your site in general or any of the posts you write.

Step 4.   Promotion

You need to promote your silo pages just like you would any of your blog posts:

  • bookmark ‘em
  • share ‘em
  • tell your lists about ‘em
  • build links to ‘em…

To see what I do to promote my “hot off the press” posts, take a look at this:

Step 5.   Close Comments

This is a debatable issue and you can test it either way.

My personal opinion is that comments on pages you’d like to rank highly on Google are an impediment or, worst, an obstacle.

They dilute your theme by adding more text that has nothing to do with your content. Plus you open up a can of worms with potential spamming issues.

I used to keep the comments open on my pages, but have recently decided to go the other way with one of them and see if that page does better in search engines without the comments present.

Out with the Old, in with the New

This strategy of using pages instead of posts can also be applied to the content that’s already ranking highly for a nice keyword, but was originally published as a posts, has a bunch of links within the post body, plus comments of course.

So here’s what you can do with such posts:

  • update and improve your content creating a new page for it;
  • change the slug of the original post to something like “post-name-original” or “post-name-part-1″;
  • publish the new page under the original post URL.

By doing that, you greatly improve your chances to rank even higher for your keyword since now your page “lives” in a much more controlled environment.

I wouldn’t abuse this technique, but I would certainly use it for content that has a good chance to bring in loads of targeted search engine traffic – this way you’ll make it evergreen, prominent, and easy to update.

Marketing Takeaway

There you have it: blog structuring for the rest of us.

Once again, this post is not meant to dot the I’s and cross the T’s on the topic; just give you a good understanding of how you can structure your future content better to give it a much-needed push in the search engines.

Love it or hate it? Comment to show me that you’re alive!

ana hoffman blog structure

traffic generation cafe comment below

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53 Comments (click here to leave a comment)

  1. Wow, that’s a lot of information to take in. I’ve never thought about structuring post in such a way. The whole concept of Silos nearly blew my mind when I started the article but the concept finally clicked with me. A few concepts are unclear to me. The Post linking while not linking. I might of misread that. and the comments being off. I thought you got a small boost in rank from comments. I’m no expert so please correct me if I’m wrong. Great site though.

    • Ana Hoffman

      If I understood your question correctly, Justin – you can/should link from posts to pages (silos), but not the other way around.

      Comments generally don’t add much to SEO; they are too short, but they can dilute the content.

  2. Thanks Anna
    This is a very useful article
    Being an article, I just discovered that the foundation of my blog is not exactly right :-)
    This silo principle makes a lot of sense to me
    Thanks for your great newsletter as well, I appreciate your tips very much

  3. Liked your post but unfortunately am still confused about these 2 matters:
    (1) You say not to link OUT from the silo. How then can you do internal linking between one silo post or another if both posts compliment each other?
    (ii) In website architecture it seems common practice to have the homepage link out to the relevant pages then have these in turn link out to other pages grouped by topic of the parent page. How can this be done in a blog? I mean how can a homepage in a blog (if it exists) link out to sub-pages? Should each category have a mini home page within that will then link to other pages within the category?
    Thanks for your reply – as I said this confuses me:(

    • Ana Hoffman

      All good questions, Joseph – and they all go to the heart of what I think most bloggers should avoid: take the subject of siloing too far. ;)

      In the end, siloing works a whole lot better for static websites rather than for blogs, since with blogs you run into all sorts of interlinking issues you mentioned.

      If you really want to understand the subject, I suggest you do more digging through the resources I suggested in the post.

  4. Bethany

    Hey Ana, what a GREAT explanation of siloing. I’m having some issues trying to restructure my site this way using WordPress. I do have a question though, something I can’t quite grasp. If I am doing product reviews, and those review pages are what make me money, where are those to be in the silo?

    As in, are those the secondary pages (Fuji Apples) or the categories (apples)? My understanding is that the category pages (apples) are what you ultimately want ranked, but that doesn’t help me if it’s the secondary pages (Fuji apples) that make me money.

    So, in other words, in a silo, where do you want the “money page?”

    if I have an apple guy who will pay me a commission for all the Fuji apple orders I send his way, am I not trying to get the most traffic to the Fuji Apple page? Same for the other guy who is giving me a commission on all the Gala apple orders I send his way.

    Since, after all, the Apple page itself doesn’t link to the Fuji apple page, why would I want to have that page rank high? Or is the general Apple page more for the purpose of establishing legitimacy for Google? I’m trying to get this all in my brain and I think it isn’t fitting.

    • Ana Hoffman

      It depends on the nature of your site, Bethany.

      For instance, in your comment you linked to a review site. Sounds like all that site does is reviews.

      So the site you are referring to: is it the same or similar review site?

      If so, I don’t think you need to silo your blog using pages; if you publish your reviews as posts, you can still rank them just fine.

      Yes, the idea of siloing is to rank the top page for a competitive keyword. However, it doesn’t mean that the other pages pointing to the top one can’t or won’t be ranked; it’s all a matter of link building at that point.

      If you do decide to structure your reviews through pages, the best way I see to do it is to structure each silo based on a separate product and write supporting pages on how to use the product, tips, etc.

      Does that make sense?

      Let me know if you have any follow-up questions.

      • Bethany

        I was referring to that site, and also a similar one that I’m working on in a side-by-side partnership of sorts with a blog I’ve run for several years. With the regular blog, I definitely get the silo part, and I’ll be making a plan to get three years (ouch!) worth of content slowly swapped over. But the review sites are what had me stumped.

        So thanks for your help! Since I just made some major changes I may just hold off, or actually maybe I’ll test it on one site since I have two that have relatively similar search volume. Now that I think about it, I think I will do that :) Thanks! You are, like usual, a gem. I’ve learned some things in the last day or so from your blog that I have never ever seen before and they are big helps! So, again, thanks!

        • Ana Hoffman

          You are very welcome, Bethany. Of course, I learned something from you as well, so it’s a fair exchange. LOL

  5. Nice post Ana.

    The truth is, I have never heard of Blog Siloing before.

    I am guessing it’s to link relevant pages to a central theme.

    I have heard somewhere that pages perform better than posts, though I cannot remember the specific reasoning given for this.

  6. Hi Ana,

    I have come across siloing before. But it didn’t really click till now. I think I have a better idea of what you are getting at and how to address it. I think my blog needs more content before I apply this, but I am glad I understand it now.

    Thank you.

  7. I keep re-reading this article, because I’m not that smart, and need to get my mind around the concept. So I’ve started building a silo with Pages about humorous superheroes, with the idea of linking them. This also makes sense for humans, because if they like one article on superheroes with humorously silly superpowers, they may want others. Some questions:
    1) Should the articles link in only one direction, toward the big article at the bottom of the “funnel,” or can they link to one another?
    2) Can Posts link into the feeder pages, as long as none point out?
    3) IF posts can link in, should they be about silly superheroes? And can they have comments?
    I’m especially interested because I would like to build pockets (well, silos) of relevance, like mini blogs, in a blog that is hopelessly diluted (a creative decision I made that keeps writing fun for me, even knowing it’s an SEO no-no.)

    • Ana Hoffman

      Hey, Astro:

      Creating “mini-blog” within a blog with silos is a great idea to get some search engine traffic.

      Your silo pages should all link in one direction – from the bottom to the top.

      Posts can link to silo pages, just not the other way around.

      Posts don’t really have to be on the exact topic as the silo pages to link to them, but it does help if you link with the keyword-rich anchor text.

      Let me know if this clarifies it.

  8. I use techniques on my blogs similar to the silo techniques you talk about here. That is really the basis for any new website that I launch. When I feel I have enough content to build a full silo for it, then I turn that content into a website of its own. I think the reason that siloing works is because of the way if flows Topic Sensitive PageRank.

  9. This siloing strategy has been around for a while now, and its still beinged talked about, so there must be something to it. I think the first time I heard of it was about 5 years ago! So its amazing that it is still being talked about and has remained relavent througout all this time.

    Good debate on the closure of the comments section. Its hard to know, and the testing that you are conducting will be worthwhile in my opinion. Would be interesting to know.

    -Jean

  10. Thanks for sharing about that “blog siloing” this is new to me. I’ll read the links you shared about siloing, I am very sure that it can help me in restructuring my blog.

  11. I have found that since certain posts on MSB get good results from search traffic that it only made sense to turn it into a static page using the wp post to page plugin..

    And that particular post that continues to get excellent traction which I turned into a page just so happens to be a post where you enter your url then it shows you exactly how search engine robots are viewing and indexing your site which of course greatly clues you in as to go about structuring your site ;)

  12. Ana Hoffman

    Some day I am planning on checking out your membership site, Wayne… Big sigh… LOL I need more hours in the day!

  13. Adam James

    Hi Ana, I first noticed this siloing thing as an option for the seo ultimate plugin widget, been wondering for a while what it was, and how it can help, great read once again, thanks.

  14. Hi,

    Perfect timing as I’ve been thinking about adding a few more pages to my website. Cheers for the useful advice.

    All the best

    Andrew

  15. Hi Ana, thanks for Sharing this Tip I never heard of it.
    Am going to implement this ASAP, but dont you think I will be having lots of pages on my blog.

  16. How do you consistently come up with such interesting and well written content?What exactly is in that coffee?!@?

    I love silo’s.
    Another great tip is although you are right to keep the silos seperate – use the LSI keywords to interconnect them a few levels deeper into the tiered linking structure you set up.
    SO level 1 and 2 links always stay within a silo but then on level 3 and 4 say, you could use the LSI keywords that link them to interconnect the layers and strengthen the whole thing.

    ….

    did I just make that sound as confusing as I think?
    now Im confused too!!

    ignore me – read the post and then go and write epic shit.

    Yeah – that works

    • I always do, Alex – ignore you, that is… LOL

      Interlinking: I would have to argue with you on this one – respectfully.

      It’s always recommended to link to the top pages only, even if you want to interlink 2 silos. You should always link them to the main page of a different silo.

      Speaking in theory though: I’ve never built silos deep enough to worry about this.

      There’s SEO and there’s too much SEO.

  17. Great findings, Arfan – definitely supports everything I’ve learned about using pages over posts so far.

    I haven’t seen Don around for a while…

  18. I have replaced my built in comment system with Disqus comment platform. I am just experimenting whether a post without comment gets better rank in search ranking or not. As you mentioned that comment dilutes the keyword which is very true I think, I also read on some blogs where it was also mentioned about the dilution thingy. In a single word we can say that keyword density plays some role in search engine ranking.

  19. I find that if I view the page source code for my site the links that appear first tend to see more pr than those towards the bottom. Since my nav menu is near the top of the page when viewing source code they have more rank. Some of the ones further down get some depending on how long they sat on the main page and depending on when google decides to count them. Further down the page links get little or none. There is one exception my vary last link in the footer has decent rank which is just a php sitemap. Go figure, not much on the page actually. Some of them do not contain much info at all. The only thing going for them is they are near the top of the page code, and some are aged a bit.

  20. Thanks, Ana, I’ve always been confused about the difference between posts and pages. Apparently I’m not the only one – there is a Vice Versa plugin for WordPress that will convert existing posts to pages, or pages to posts. Might be helpful for anyone trying to reformat existing contact into the silo.

  21. Top notch Ana. Heard about the concept before but never did really dig into it. I have one question though about “turning” an old post to a page. Instead of altering the slug, do you think that it will do any good/bad, if you just moved the post in its entirety to a page and 301 redirect that post to the new page? It would be great if that has a “ring” to it. Just like my structure, I am helping a friend who’s got some good ranking posts that could easily be turned into a page. Wonder if that will work? What do you think?

    • Definitely a valid option, Francisco.

      A couple of potential concerns with it:

      1. Comments will be transferred with the post, I believe.
      2. Ideally, Google will transfer the links from the original post to the page, so you shouldn’t miss out on any. However, I’ve seen Google fail to transfer certain attributes in a 301 before.

      Just thinking…

  22. Flo | Create Your Own Website

    Hi Ana,

    Great post on topics I never find elsewhere as always.

    I was reading this post and nodding my head that I am already doing the silo structure albeit unconsciously :) But when I got to Step 2’s “Do not link to any other posts on your or any other blog from this article. No links, period.”, I got completely confused because I thought the lines going from say Cordless Power Tools to the specific cordless tools are links to the subpages.

    If someone lands on my “apples” page from the search engines, or even from my home page, how will they get to the “fuji”, “lady” etc sub-apples pages if there are no links to these pages from the main article page? Wouldn’t this adversely affect the usability of the site?

    Once again, great post.

    • Great question, Flo.

      That’s the reason that I don’t implement the true silo structure on my blog that requires to use categories and link only within the same category and never out.

      In my opinion, it impairs user friendliness.

      In the case of pages, subpages should only be linked to top pages and never to regular blog posts – that’s the whole point of silos: never mix the grain.

      However, even with the lack of links within the page, there are still links in the sidebar and navigation bar for your readers to follow should they want to explore your blog more.

      If your content on the page is good (what’s the point otherwise, right?), the readers will definitely find their way to the rest of your content.

      • Flo | Create Your Own Website

        “If your content on the page is good (what’s the point otherwise, right?), the readers will definitely find their way to the rest of your content.”

        That’s right but we also have another rule that “if we make our visitors think, they will leave” :) The search engines will always keep us on our toes as we try to find the thin line between making our visitors find their way easily and ranking well in the search engines :)

        O well, my own takeaway is that this silo method is the best way to write sales or squeeze pages with the objective of getting the page to rank well in the search engines and funnel the visitors towards the buy button.

        Thanks.

        • That’s spot on, Flo. That’s why I try to explain difficult concepts in simple language where possible.

          Yes, I agree with the funneling towards the buy button.

  23. Hi Ana,

    Wow, to me, this is one of the best blog posts you’ve written. I haven’t heard about the term blog siloing before, but it makes perfectly sense. The problem, at least for me, is that it seems to be fairly hard to start doing this now after blogging for a few years :)

    Thanks a lot for sharing. I’m going to take a closer look at my blog and do some thinking about how on earth I’m going to apply this technique :)

    Jens

  24. Ian Belanger

    Hey Ana,

    I had always wondered what the difference was between posts and pages, and of course I find the answer here at TGC. Siloing seems like it could be very complicated, but you explained it in such a way, that it is easy for me to understand.

    Thanks for this post, or is it a page :)

    No really, thanks Ana for sharing this, I know I will be coming back to it when I decide to try siloing my blog.

    • Definitely, Ian.

      In the beginning stages of TGC I tried siloing “the right way”. Boy, was it work…

      Then I figured out to do it this way: still works well and with a lot less effort indeed.

  25. Indeed Ana! Many people do not realize that because wordpress creates a bunch of archive/category/etc pages that link juice gets lost on those pages due to the mix of not tightly related links on the same pages. Focusing on a page rather than a post (but using a post to drive blog readers to the page) is a strong wordpress SEO strategy and a very important skill.
    Kim

    • Oh, no, Chris – the pages are still a part of your blog. Just like the pages you see in my sidebar – they are as much of a part of my blog as any post I write.

      Your readers will never know the difference between pages and posts, but the search engines will because of the way they are structured.

  26. Another great, insightful post from Ana, thanks :D

    With the Posts vs Pages debate, it’s certainly possible for your posts to rank higher than your pages. And whilst I think we’re more inclined to internally link to our statics pages more regularly than previous blog posts, I find blog posts to attract more external links naturally than our static pages (but I guess that all comes down to your individual site/topic).

  27. I recently started using a method similar to this and it has been giving back great results. I have been creating resource pages, linking to them to increase theire pagerank and placing opt in forms to convert the traffic. Not only have the resource pages become the highest visited pages in a short amount of time, but they convert the best too. This is a method that really works. Great Stuff!

  28. Great post Ana. This ties in nicely with the post you wrote about relevancy and Google. The silo principle pushes the idea of being relevant but to posts within your own blog and how to structure it. We can now think less on keywords and phrases (still needed but not as much) and move on to how we can be prove the focus of a blog .