Having trouble deciding how content should be organized on your website? Rather than put everything on your blog, columnist Patrick Stox recommends a silo structure.
Why is it that when SEOs write any new content, the content will inevitably end up on a blog?
Most companies create a vague concept of a website structure which includes pages that cover products or services offered by a client, and these pages typically stay there until the website is redesigned. All the new content is then posted on a blog. But blogs really don’t make sense from a website structure standpoint.
Instead of doing keyword research early and planning topics/subtopics for a proper website structure, most companies end up with a few basic top-level service pages. All of the good content then gets lumped into blog posts.
I urge you to think about your website structure, how your users will navigate to any additional pages and how you will link to additional pages before building the website.
What Should Be A Blog?
News, employee profiles, company announcements, various media and entertainment are types of content that should be in your blog. Any informational resources (or resources that fit into any of the content groups on your website) should not be a blog.
If you’re worried about your readers and promotion, you can still post a blurb and link to your new pages from your blog.
What Does A Blog Look Like?
A blog generally looks disassociated from a website, to the point where you’re basically splitting your website into two sections.
From the standpoint of a crawler, a blog might as well be a separate entity. Blogs usually have a flat structure where every post is on the same level, occasionally grouped by categories (which is a little better) or sometimes by date (which is usually worse).
In general, linking from a blog to your website pages is like throwing a baseball from left field to right field before throwing it home — it doesn’t make sense. Ideally, you would go from left field to the shortstop and then to home plate, as that is the logical path.
Flat Versus Deep Site Structure
Flat architecture, or “horizontal architecture,” is what is typically used on blogs. Many SEOs recommend a flat structure for websites, too, but my preference is for a deep structure, also called a “vertical architecture.”
These deeper architectural structures allow for easier grouping of content and less navigational clutter. Deep structures also make it easier to understand metrics at each level.
A silo structure is a type of deep site architecture that I find to be very logically organized. The hierarchical groupings are determined by topics and subtopics; topically relevant content should be structurally close to other topically relevant content. Silos are basically a way to separate your website content into categories.
The more topically relevant content you cover in a silo, the more topically relevant your website will be in the eyes of Google. If you cover all of the major search queries that people use when searching for a topic — and your site shows up and is clicked on for these queries — then you are the best result, period.
Take this further and cover every query in every topic in an entire niche, and you win the internet. This is how silos work — they let you grab your main ideas and break them down into smaller and smaller categories until you have pages that are answering all relevant user queries.
If you think about the term, “digital marketing,” as your main silo, you’d find lots of relevant subtopics that would be secondary silos such as SEO, PPC, content marketing, social media, conversion optimization, user experience and so on. You would find further silos under each of these topics based on the topic above.
As an example, under “content marketing” you might see additional silos such as “content strategy,” “content creation,” “inbound marketing” and “types of content.” Each of those could be broken up into further silos, but eventually, instead of new silos or topical ideas, you will find more content or page-level ideas that answer user queries.
“Content strategy,” for instance, might be broken down further and include “editorial calendar.” “Editorial calendar” would arguably be the last topic in this chain, and instead of more new subtopics, the keywords around this would be more page-level ideas, such as:
- How To Create An Editorial Calendar
- Editorial Calendar Examples
- Editorial Calendar Ideas
- Editorial Calendar Templates
- Editorial Calendar For Social Media
- Editorial Calendar Software
- Editorial Calendar Plugin
These are not only searches people would use, they also provide valuable insights into the kind of information you might need to include in a page about editorial calendars in order for that page to rank.
Some of these ideas may also need to be included in other pages in order for those pages to be considered a relevant result. I would assume that someone looking for how to create an editorial calendar would also want examples or templates, or software and plugin recommendations, as well. This is the kind of related information that is too often overlooked.
Too Many Clicks From The Home Page
The most common argument I hear against a deep website structure is that each page should be X number of clicks from the home page. My fellow SEOs, if all of your traffic is coming to your home page, and you’re relying on those users to click through and read your blogs, you’re doing it wrong.
Don’t look at it like that; successful content’s biggest driver will not be from people navigating your website. “Too many clicks” is a poor argument. When creating your website, go with the number of topics/subtopics that makes sense, no more and no less.
This reasoning makes even less sense for a blog, since the user would have to click through to the blog, probably pick a category, and what then? Guess a page number before clicking on the article? Doesn’t make sense to me.
Going back to the idea of the website being split, internal links are often not considered with a blog. Usually, blogs will link out to product/service pages, but those pages rarely link back to the blog. This one-way linking is not a good practice, but it’s all too common.
If you create a silo structure, the structure will make your internal linking a lot easier to follow. Basically, each silo will likely link to lower and same-level pages, as well as upper-level pages, as the topics are in similar groups.
Don’t forget to plan how relevant pages will link to each other, include links in your content, and go back to old content and add links to your newer content. You really need to think ahead with silos and allow for menu changes or internal navigation on pages to fully take advantage of a silo structure.
It’s strange to post content about a topic on one part of a website and link to it on a completely different part of the website, but that is typically what blogs do. Having your content in a logical silo structure allows for easier internal linking and more topically relevant groups of pages.
Next time you’re posting a blog, think about the content and whether it’s a better fit on another part of your website.
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