Relevancy in Google's eyes begins with strong content. Furthermore, that same content needs to be well structured. One of the best ways to inject positive results into your organic campaign, is to structure your website into a symmetrical organization - silo structuring.
A disjointed website will many times wreak havoc and minimize the keyword performance of your site. On the other hand, if you tightly theme your content, search engines will index your site better and give you a boost in keyword rankings.
A clean site structure is clearly one of the most powerful and underrated SEO strategies today.
Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI)
Before we delve into silo structures, let's touch on Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI). The definition of LSI is complex, and the benefits many. As it relates to search engines, it is used as an indexing and retrieval method to identify patterns in the relationships between the terms and concepts contained in an unstructured collection of text.
How does LSI work? Along with determining which keywords a web page or document contains, other web pages/documents are also examined for the same words. In essence, LSI attempts to determine relevancy on a grand scale.
As you can see, LSI plays a direct role in your silo strategy. Your goal is to help your website play nicely within the LSI confines.
Silo Structure to the Rescue
Silos are used to categorize themed content in an effort to help the search engines determine relevancy. The tighter the focus, the more relevant Google will see each page of your website.
Figure 1 shows the a typical website siloing structure:
For example, suppose you have a website on guitars. If you offer up relatively dissimilar topics such as how to play acoustic guitar, how to play electric guitar, and even how to play classical guitar, all on the same page, the relevancy will be diluted. Even though your content may be far better and more useful than your competitors, poor structure will hurt you at some level.
To aid the LSI process along, the webmaster can structure the site into one of two types, Physical or Virtual. Both silo types are highly effective for SEO because it creates a working ecosystem for the content.
Physical Silo Structures
A physical silo is a means of theming or grouping your website content into like categories. Also referred to as a directory silo, they are known to be the easiest to set up and maintain. Think of a directory silo as a filing cabinet. Everything in a file must be distinctly associated within the category to remain relevant.
The directory-style silo structure is the easiest for both search engines and visitors to follow, and most times should be the starting point when designing your site.
Virtual Silo Structures
Once a website becomes established, the structure can break down over time. The virtual silo model can enforce the structure once again through highly targeted internal linking strategy.
Virtual silos use a drill-down cross-linking structure to enforce distinct categories. In other words, the top landing page of each silo is supported by the pages linking to it. Figure 2 shows how you can prop content using a virtual silo model:
Internal linking is a major component of virtual silos. Linking should be done between like-topics, avoiding unrelated categories as much as possible.
Obviously, there will be times when you need to link to different silos to make a point or improve an article. When cross linking between unlike silos, use the Rel=”NoFollow” attribute to reinforce the structure.
For new websites, a physical silo structure should almost always be used. Directory silos are much easier to set up and manage. Established sites, on the other hand can find value in virtual silos if the physical structure is non-existent, or breaks down over time.
Get on Track using a Silo Structure
Many websites never reach their potential due to a lackluster theming strategy. You can have a good looking website with great content. However if your site lacks clarity in terms of topical relevance, your targeted keywords will be discounted, and even devastate the most well meaning campaign.
Siloing your content is a form of on-page SEO that deserves special attention throughout the life of your website.
The main objective of siloing is to create a website that ranks well for both short and long-tail keywords. Get on track by using sound silo structuring. A symmetrical organization is one sure-fire way to propel your keyword rankings and improve visitor experience.