Content silos’ are a simple and effective way of using internal linking to organise related website pages.
Done correctly, they can gain you more organic traffic.
They are easy to understand and set up and don’t require a web developer’s help.
The basic concept of the content silo
Website’s often have service/product pages, which they occasionally link to with blogs or other pages.
Content siloing is a way of consciously controlling this process. Let’s take a look at a silo website example.
It involves linking related content to a main ‘hub’ webpage. This related content can also link to other related content. For example, if the ‘hub page’ is about eggs, then all egg recipes and content about eggs should link to it.
Some of the egg-related content can link to one another, but it wouldn’t link out to other non-egg-related pages. This way of organising blog silos and keyword siloing helps maintain a clear, relevant silo website design.
This is unlike many websites, which often organise their internal links in a fairly random way (A). Content siloing creates a more organised and beneficial structure (B).
Content silos are like sales funnels
Many people are familiar with the sales funnel. It’s a simple concept that can be summarised in a simple illustration:
Content silos are a practical way to apply a similar logic to your website. They don’t track exactly with the sales funnel, but there is an overlap:
As you can see, different pages will match different stages of the buyer’s (/user’s) journey.
At the apex of your content silo is the call-to-action on your hub page. Below this are other pages and posts that drive the user towards them.
What are the benefits of a content silo?
There are three main benefits of a content silo.
1. They guide the users’ journey
You can’t cover everything about a particular product or service on a single webpage.
At the early stages of making a decision, different users might have specific questions they want answered.
Regardless of what point they are on the decision-making process, when they search, they want to be able to find an answer quickly.
The important point is that you want to provide them with multiple answers to multiple possible questions. These answers act as ins to your silo.
From here, you can lead them onto finding out more about the subject by linking to related content.
Eventually, they will (hopefully) end up on your call-to-action page. This is especially likely if your supporting pages are of a high-quality.
2. They help Google understand and rank website pages better
Having multiple pages around a particular topic related to your business is a good thing.
However, when Google crawls your disorganised website and finds these pages, it might not know which one to rank.
Having a clear silo site structure helps avoid this.
Obviously, your hub page is the most important of these pages. Without this, all your other content is simply providing free information about a service or product that users might eventually find somewhere else.
Pointing supporting towards the hub page (by linking to it with them) will help make sure that the hub page will have the best chance of ranking highly.
It also enables you to pass on link equity (aka ‘SEO juice’) to your main page from your supporting pages (see below ‘Step five: Internal linking’).
3. They are a practical way to build up topical authority
Topical authority is authority over a particular topic or niche.
The more comprehensively you cover a subject, the better your chances of being recognised by Google as a topical authority on it are.
Gaining topical authority will make pages from your domain more likely to rank.
Afterall, if a shoe company randomly wrote a great page about a particular car engine repair technique, would you rather read that or a good page written by a car mechanic?
Google’s goal is to serve you with the best and most relevant content. This naturally leads it to favouring serving content written by authorities on that subject to users.
One of the ways it decides if that source is a topical authority is by looking at their body of work as a whole. Covering different aspects of the same content in different contexts is also a sign that a source is a topical authority.
How to create a content silo from scratch: an example
First, let’s imagine we have created a brand-new website. It is a website for our Bicycle store.
One of our store’s main products is different kinds of road bikes (you know, the kind they use in competitive cycling).
Step one: Keyword and competition research for your hub page
The first thing to do is to decide on a specific keyword for the page to be optimised for. (To find out more about keyword research, read this article.)
In this case, we are simply going for ‘road bike’.
Next, we will need to do your competition research. When we type ‘road bike’ into Google, what results come up?
We need to look at those carefully to help us work out what information we need on our page.
Step two: Call-to-action for your hub page
We know it should have a call-to-action.
In this case, it could be a form to fill out to arrange an appointment looking at road bikes in our store or even an option to order a road bike there and then.
You can base your decision on either what your competition is doing or what you feel is best.
Step three: Create your hub page
Now, we create our hub page. We do all the usual things: proofread our text, make the page look nice, add alt text to images, etc.
Now, this is where most websites will stop. They create their page and they move on…
Despite our work, we will still consider this hub page a ‘work-in-progress’.
Every few months we will go back and refresh our memory of what content is on our hub page and compare it to the competition. Perhaps they have since added new content that we are missing, perhaps totally different pages are now ranking for this keywork, etc.
Step four: Make a content plan for supporting pages
For a content silo, we now need to start building relevant supporting pages that link to our hub page. These pages can be blog posts or other web pages (for example, an FAQ or some pages listed as ‘resources’).
Once we have decided the exact form of our supporting pages, we can start brainstorming.
In our example case, we are going to create blogs.
This means we need to think of what kind of questions people ask about our keyword: ‘road bikes’.
We can also use Google itself, some free SEO tools and some paid-for SEO tools to think of other questions.
Once we have our list of questions and topics, we can begin creating content.
Step five: Internal linking
Getting links to a webpage helps rank it.
However, it is difficult to get links to a service page. Afterall, what’s in it for the person linking to you?
Why, for example, would a cycling blog or magazine want to link to your page selling road bikes? The value here would be mostly for our bike page, not the backlink giver.
Getting links to blogs is easier. High-quality information on a particular subject is more useful for other websites to link to.
For example, a cycling blog or magazine could be very interested in an interesting or entertaining article you have written. This is especially the case if you have real expertise and/or new research to share.
In our example, we will write an article about the best kinds of PEDs to avoid detection in cycling competitions…
We will make sure our new blog post naturally links to out hub page selling road bikes. Now, a lot of the power our blog post gets from cycling websites linking to it will pass on to our hub page.
By linking your blogs to specific internal pages, you can pass on some of the link equity (aka ‘link juice’).
We won’t often internally ink to other pages with our blogs other than the road bikes hub page, because that will lessen the power of the link equity we are passing on. And we won’t often link from our hub page back to our supporting pages.
Step six: Linking relevant content to our hub page and with the good anchor text
As we create our supporting pages, we need to be mindful of how we link them to our main page.
When we link pages, we usually put the hyperlink (URL) into the text link this:
The text that has the link in it is call the anchor text. (Creating good anchor text isn’t as simple as most people assume. This is a topic for another day.)
Note that we shouldn’t have the same anchor text on our supporting pages. We should use variations.
For example, if we have three blogs which link to our hub page, we want three different anchor texts that encourage the user to click them to go through to our hub page.
Here are three ways we could write this:
- First blog: More information on our latest road bike models.
- Second blog: Which model of road bike is best for you?
- Third blog: Our different types of available road bike might be of interest to you.
Another important point is to limit how many internal links you give out because this reduces link equity. Keeping internal linking limited to both the hub page and related blogs will keep your content silent focused.
Utilising content silos is a great way to help you rank important pages and build topical authority.
Content silos are similar to sales funnels. Silo site structure helps search engines understand websites and guides users towards your hub page with its call to action.
It also help you direct attract and pass on link equity from blogs to hub pages.