Theming Through Siloing
The goal of SEO is to improve your keyword ranking. In terms of ranking, sometimes you will find that you are well-ranked for general keyword terms and that you are not well-ranked for specific keyword terms or vice versa. This issue of not being well-ranked for general and/or targeted keywords is in some cases caused by poor page to page linking. When you link indiscriminately from page to page, you dilute the organizational theme of your site, thus making it difficult for your keywords to rank naturally in the search engines.
The solution for diluted or unfocused linking is siloing. Siloing resolves this problem by allowing you to achieve high search engine placement both for general and targeted keyword phrases through themed vertical page linking and/or construction. One of the ways to achieve this goal is to incorporate silos into your site structure. There are two types of silos that we will discuss: directory based silos and virtual silos. Both silos create theme through linking but they do so in different ways. Virtual silos create content and subject relationships through cross-linking to create theme while directory based siloing creates relationships by utilizing directories to group like-content.
In a directory silo, relationships between pages are created by grouping like- content pages under a single directory. The names of the pages help to focus the subject matter of the directory. The theme of the directory is tied into the directory structure itself.
Directory structures require at least five pages of text which support whatever topic the directory is addressing. Directory silos must be very structured and highly organized.
To correctly implement a directory silo, you would group like-content into separate directories. Let's use peanut butter and jelly, for example. You would create a directory for each theme, one for peanut butter and one for jelly. Contained within these directories, you would have subsequent content-rich pages to support the overall theme of the directories. For example, let's say that there are two types of peanut butter-creamy and chunky. These would fall underneath the peanut butter page. Then let's say that there is further information about chunky and creamy peanut butter, all of the information regarding each peanut butter type would fall underneath that respective directory.
Now, suppose that you want to link between the peanut butter directory and the jelly directory. As an example, let's say that you have a page underneath the peanut butter directory which discusses a jelly that goes hand-in-hand with a specific peanut butter type and you want to link to this type of jelly. Rather than linking from that peanut butter type to the jelly type which complements it, you would only link from the peanut butter page to the jelly landing page. The reason for this is that if you have multiple links linking different peanut butter manufacturers and jelly with peanut butter, you are diluting your theme which makes it difficult for your keywords to stand out and tell the search engines what your pages are about. If you have two distinct categories or silos, "peanut butter" and "jelly", it is much easier for your keywords to stand out and consequently, be ranked by the search engines.
In a virtual silo, theme is created through linking. The names of each page are not important because the pages in the relationship are not necessarily in the same silo. The silo is defined by the pages that it links to. Thus, you are creating theme based on links rather than directory structure.
So, what is a virtual silo exactly? A silo is a vertical page linking design. You have your landing page, or your main page, at the top of the silo and underneath this page you have pages which support your main landing page theme.
To use the above peanut butter and jelly example, the peanut butter page would be one of your landing pages. Let's also say that you have additional pages which discuss the specific manufacturers who make peanut butter but they are not in the same directory. These pages would all link separately to your main landing page and they would link horizontally to each other, thus helping to build the theme of that silo. The side note to this is based on what you want to be ranked for: if you want to be ranked for peanut butter as a general keyword or if you want to be ranked for specific types of peanut butter. Siloing too tightly would mean that you would not be supporting your general term with your specific terms. In this respect, cross-linking within a silo would be okay to do. It all depends on which keywords you want to be ranked for and whether they are general in nature or more targeted. Keep in mind, though, that cross-linking between subjects dilutes your theme. The point of linking is to group similar subjects in order to tell the search engine what this section is about.
Now, let's also suppose that you want to discuss jelly as well as peanut butter. The jelly page would have its own silo design. The landing page would be the jelly page and as in the above peanut butter example, any pages which discuss varieties of jelly, would be the subsequent pages which would all link to the jelly landing page but not to each other.
Suppose that you want to link between pages in this virtual structure, you would follow the same rules that applied for the directory structure example. So, let's say that in your peanut butter page, which discusses a particular manufacturer of peanut butter, you also want to discuss a jelly which the same manufacturer makes. Rather than directly linking from the "brand A peanut butter" page to the "brand A jelly" page, you would link from the brand A peanut butter page to the jelly landing page. As with the directory structure linking example, the reason for this is that if you have multiple links linking different peanut butter manufacturers and jelly with peanut butter, you are diluting your theme which makes it difficult for your keywords to stand out and tell the search engines what your pages are about.