Website Silo Architecture and Internal Linking

silo

When talking about SEO most people know about meta tags and external backlinks but there is another type of link that can help with your rankings.

We know that we must have good internal linking so the search engines can crawl our website and find every page to index them.  This is done using a site map for larger sites but can be easily accomplished by footer links on smaller websites.

Google loves authority websites so creating a larger website which is well structured and well linked can help with rankings.

You have probably seen ecommerce websites that are structured with categories, sub categories and product pages which is a logical hierarchical design.  Creating an information website with a similar structure will help Google determine the overall theme of your website and of various sections.

This type of website structure is often referred to as Silo Architecture. One description of a silo structure is where web pages link vertically but not horizontally, therefore each vertical is a different category which links to from a main category page.  The home page links to the main category pages but not to every page of the website.

Google’s Matt Cutts has admitted that using a silo structure, or Website Silo Architecture will help your ranking requiring few inbound links to your site.

To enhance your on site linking it is very useful to use text links to other relevant pages on your site within your content.  A great example of this is Wikipedia.  Whatever page you look at on Wikipedia you will see in content links to other pages.  Why do you think Wikipedia has top rankings for all kinds of keywords?  They have great content and their site is well structured and linked. I’m sure the owners of Wikipedia don’t do SEO backlinking.

Using in content links to other pages on your website will entice your visitors to explore your site and ultimately spend more time on your site.  This in turn is an indicator to the search engines that your site is an authority.

So there’s a few ideas for ways to structure you website to improve your rankings and decrease the number of backlinks you need to build.

Image courtesy of themezoom-neuroeconomics.com

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Roger Weavers

Roger has been working in the telecomms and IT industry since 1973 working for international companies such as BT and Honeywell. Roger founded Sytec Computers Ltd in 1996 and provided consultancy services to a variety of UK companies. In 2001 Sytec diversified into web design, marketing and hosting and now Roger specialises in SEO.

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8 Comments

  1. Hi Roger,
    You are definitely the go to guy for SEO. This is all way over my head.
    I just don’t have the time to learn all this SEO stuff.
    My two option seem to be, either start bugging you with a ton of questions, or outsource the things I’m not familiar with,
    nor have the time to learn.
    Keep up the great work, my friend!
    Regards,
    George
    George Nieves recently posted..Revisiting Information Overload – Public Enemy #1My Profile

  2. Dita says:

    Hi Roger,

    I am sure glad I came across this article. You know I have an issue with the on site linking strategies. I see value in flat site architecture and I also see value in Silo type architecture. So I am going to ask you a couple of questions and hopefully you can set me straight.

    First when one is linking on site is it wise to link back to posts so for example you have:

    A → B → C → D → B

    This way you are kind of looping back. I do that sometimes but I am just not sure. I would use this type of looping in Silo and Flat as well.

    As well, can you use both Silo and Flat on a site. Is it wise?

    What is your feeling on this? I would love to hear back from you as it has been gnawing at me for some time

    Regards,

    Dita
    Dita recently posted..Posterous Blogging Platform To Shut Down April 30, 2013My Profile

  3. Hey George,

    Stick with what you enjoy doing and outsource the rest.
    I’m a bit of an SEO nut but its not for everyone.
    Cheers
    Roger

  4. Hi Dita,

    Thanks for your comment and questions. I think the way you structure your website can depend a lot on your niche and how wide you are spreading within that niche. I think one of the reasons for silo-ing a website is to tightly group relevant pages and linking these together will help the search engines determine what your site (or silo) is about.

    I don’t see anything wrong with your link loop scenario providing each link is relevant and the flow helps your visitors navigate your website in a logical way. I would expect to see this more in a silo type site and not so much in a flat site.

    There’s also nothing wrong with a flat site as long as it is not too big, probably no more than 20 or 30 pages.

    Just remember, if it is easy and straight forward for your visitors to navigate then the search engines will like it too.

    I hope that sort of answers your question.

    Regards
    Roger

  5. Dita says:

    Hi Roger,

    Thanks so much for your answer. Yeah, I always try to think of my visitors when I am structuring a blog. I want them to have a good experience and be able to navigate through my blog easily.

    I was just worried that the loops may be confusing the search engines. I also have a site map now for an easier navigation.

    Have a great day.

    Dita
    P.S. I have visited your site before, when I was looking for some references and I find your site a wonderful SEO resource.

  6. Hi Dita,

    I am glad you find my blog useful :)
    When using a WordpPress blog make sure you use the categories and tags which will give your site good internal linking. You can also use in text links to other posts. You can get a plug-in that does this automatically but this can produce unpredictable results so I recommend you do it manually.

    When writting a new post, if you type a word which is described in another post, add a link, like wikipedia. Don’t go too mad, just a couple in each post.
    I’ve never been a great fan of site maps, if your site is well structured, Google should be able to crawl every page with out a site map. If you think your readers might benefit, then create an html site map. Also to help Google along, create an xml site map and submit via webmaster tools.

    All the best
    Roger

  7. Hey Roger,

    That Silo image you have above is spot on. I was on a webinar a few weeks back and the guy presenting it has thousands of local lead gen sites. All of them top of Google for multiple keywords and he was using a silo just like that. He was arguing that onsite structure is the most important thing when trying to rank for local phrases and if you use the silo you’ll need very little if any backlinks etc. because the site is so well set-up it’ll rank in no-time.

    Thought it was refreshing to hear you can rank with the right structure without relying too much on backlinks.

    Cheers,
    Noel.
    Noel Cunningham recently posted..Magical Method for Entrepreneurs to Get More Done In Less TimeMy Profile

  8. Hi Noel,

    You are right, the better you site is structured the less backlinks you will need. This also goes for other on page factors. provide high quality content, your bounce rate goes down your time on site goes up and you gain more authority from Google so again, less backlinks are required. Poor quality sites will need more backlinks to gain similar rankings.
    Local phrases have less competition so it would make sense that fewer backlinks are required.
    Google looks for quality backlinks rather than quantity so with a quality well structured site and a few relevant quality backlinks you can rank really well for low or even medium competition keywords.

    Cheers
    Roger