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January 29, 2008

Hey Rand, Do You Mean Siloing?

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Rand was over at SEOmoz yesterday talking about the process of "sculpting" where site owners and SEOs can use the nofollow attribute on boilerplate and unimportant links to control link flow and funnel PageRank to their most important pages. Sounds smart, eh?

Well, of course it does, Rand, and we’d like to formally welcome you to the PageRank optimization party! PageRank funneling, or PageRank optimization, has by and large always worked. It’s something we’ve been saying for a long time through our concept of siloing.

I kid. We love Rand! ;)

Truthfully, we were really glad to see the folks at SEOmoz talking about sculpting/siloing/whatever you want to call it and even more glad to see that people seemed excited about it. Siloing is an advanced search engine optimization technique that when used correctly can help solve the problems that occur when sites accidently dilute their available PageRank with erratic and unfocused linking.

Chances are that if you visit the blog, read any of the ongoing 6-part siloing series, attended SEO training or were there to listen to Bruce’s SMX Give It Up presentation, you’ve already heard about siloing and the benefits that creating a hierarchal organization structure can have on your site. We hope you’ve already taken steps to integrate siloing and weren’t waiting on Rand to give you the formal okay.

However, if you were and are now just educating yourself, you can learn more about one of our favorite search engine optimization techniques by checking out our newsletter articles Building A Web Site Theme With Silos (Part 1) and Siloing Revisited. However, I’ll also try to give you guys a simplified version right here. Both because it’s helpful and because I don’t do technical all that well.

So what’s siloing?

Siloing, as you may or may not know, is our way of categorizing content in your site based on a theme. The theme and sub-topics are obtained by the target key phrases for that content. Siloing categorizes the content both structurally and virtually. Structurally, it is how the content is categorized on the server which includes the directory structure of the site. Virtually, it’s how the content is linked together in the site because PageRank also works for pages internal to your site, not just external links.

PageRank funneling is just one part of what we call siloing. It’s the ‘Virtual’ part. It works by using the rel=”nofollow” on pages that are unimportant on your site.

This does two things for you:

  1. It decreases the number of counted links on the linking page because links with rel=”nofollow” are not counted. This, in turn, increases the value of the links on that page.
  2. It allows the links to only go to important pages of your site.

Why does this help increase rankings? Because of the PageRank algorithm. Originally, the PageRank idea was developed as a way of modeling human behavior. It gives us an automated way to figure out which pages are more important than others on the Web. The assumption was that a human user is more likely to link to pages that are informative or valuable in some way. So in theory, a page that has a high amount of inbound links should also have a high value. However, this didn’t take into consideration the fact that most sites globally-link to pages that are only valuable to users who are already browsing their site (e.g. a Contact Us page). Adding the rel="nofollow" to these types of links basically removes the PageRank from the pages they go to and redistributes it to other pages on the site.

Optimizing PageRank is a good starting point, but siloing takes the idea one step further by taking keyword relevancy into account. In a properly-siloed linking structure, the important landing pages have the most PageRank going to them, AND this PageRank is coming from pages that share a common theme and contain relevant content. Think about it… what is Google more likely to rank: A page with inbound links from random pages, or a page with inbound links from relevant pages?

That’s really the idea of siloing at its core. For more advanced information, I’d really encourage you to read all the siloing articles. And, if you have any questions, feel free to drop them in the comments. I’ll lock one of our analysts to a chair and make him help out.

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9 responses to “Hey Rand, Do You Mean Siloing?”

  1. Marios Alexandrou writes:

    The siloing series has been my favorite content from the newsletter recently. Actually, they’re what prompted me to sign up in the first place. As with great TV series, the worst part was waiting for the next installment! :-)

  2. Megan writes:

    Lisa,
    You and Rand are so cute. You talked about him yesterday and he is talking about you today.
    “Shared IP Addresses – Lisa Barone wrote an excellent post on the topic of shared IP Adresses back in March of 2007.”
    Both of you are addressing excellent stuff! Silos(sculpting) and how to correctly redirect pages are meaty topics that everyone can benefit from.
    Megan

  3. Rajat Garg writes:

    Hey Lisa,

    How does putting no-follow on all 4th level sub-nav page go hand in hand with website’s tail traffic.

    I understand the reasons to concentrate your link juice, however, a website with millions of pages getting tail traffic will negatively impact its traffic.

    What do you think?

  4. Lisa Barone writes:

    Rajat — Siloing does not require that ALL links to lower level pages be nofollowed. Presumably, there would still be interlinking between lower level pages in the same silo. The interlinking of these lower level pages usually allows them to have enough PR to rank for longer tail, less competitive keywords. At the same time, nofollowing links to unimportant or differently themed pages should get more link popularity to your higher priority landing pages.

  5. Tim Dineen writes:

    This is an excellent topic and useful to read about… but I almost didn’t bother to read it because of the baiting re: Rand. Why obscure good content by using a page title and lead paragraph(s) about some other consultant?

    Great information – thanks for this post and past writings on the topic.

  6. Catfish writes:

    Actually, the inventor of optilink software has used a similar theory for a long time by masking links with java script before there even was a no follow tag. But I really don’t care who started doing it first. I think one of the considerations in siloing or page rank sculpting or whatever you want to call it, is not to block links whose anchor text is going to have more of a benefit for you than conserving a little PR would.

  7. SEO Wrench writes:

    I’ve been actively using this method for about 6-8 months ago and have had much success. It was buzzing around SES San Jose, but I gotta admit when I dug in for my research this site was the one that had the most information early (pre-SES). Maybe you should have reposted that post from last year to avoid the he said she said:)

    But either way, thanks for the great content! Even the old crusty SEO’s can benefit from industry blogs !

  8. Jaan Kanellis writes:

    So are we to believe Google has gifted only the people who know of nofollow attribute the ability to out-rank others that dont use it? LOL, hardly. In fact even if this PR Sculpting does work, it probably does on such a small level comparable to other SEO techniques it is not even worth doing.

  9. John Illnes writes:

    The official claim is that links with the rel=nofollow attribute do not influence the search engine rankings of the target page. In addition to Google, Yahoo and MSN also support the rel=nofollow attribute.

    i think it helps indexing



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