5-Point Silo Strategy that will help you Boost Your Search Results
Feed your SEO strategy with a "Silo" of targeted SERP-focused content
Grain silos are pretty fascinating inventions. Farmers harvest grain then drop it all into tall cylinders as a means of storage. When it’s time distribute the seed, all you have to do is open a chute.
Content silos are just as fascinating. If you want to feed your SEO campaign then you probably want to nourish just the right search engine results page (SERP). That's where a Silo Strategy may come in handy.
What is a “Silo Strategy”?
Search engines have to satisfy each search request with the most relevant content possible. It’s also in their nature to be efficient as possible. That’s why spiders (the little robots that index web content) are designed to categorize word usage, theme and relevancy of every page it comes across. So, what does that mean, really?
Pick your main topic and create individual pages that are chock full of original content that relates to the main topic. Make sure that the keyword focus for each article is the same, but differentiate the narrative with how-to's, hacks, workarounds, histories, personal experiences, and other insights. Make a 'stack' of such articles and search engines will reward your website with the distinction as an authority on the promoted keyword/phrase.
If your silos successfully attract search engine spiders, just think how visitors will be attracted to you when they find a stack of easy-to-consume and informative articles! Silos chunk down your content so that it’s easy to digest, easy to understand, and easy to remember. The best part is that, thanks to your silo, your Call-to-Action (CTA) will take care of itself. Lay off the sales pitch – focus on the conversation, and if you've done your job right, your readers will be looking for the "buy" tab.
The best part of silo strategy is that it only sounds complicated. All it takes is a little focus: content creation wise, that is.
A 5-Point Silo Strategy for your Content
- Focus on your target SERP. Start with keyword/phrase that you want to develop. Let’s say you want to push into the top 10 for “custom treehouse.” That’s where your plan for content creation and site structure should begin. The goal is to build your page authority based on the targeted keywords. You may have other keywords that you want to include, but whittle your priority down to one search engine results page – in this case, that means “custom treehouse.”
- Focus on relevancy, not just keywords. Keyboard in hand, dive right in and start writing articles about how you started building custom treehouses. Think of features that you think make treehouses really cool. Write about hacks, concepts, new ideas, and (yes) even shortcuts for do-it-yourselfers. Minimize the sales pitch and remember that How-to’s always rank better than what for’s. Make sure that your target keyword appears in one of the three: the headline (H1), sub-head (H2), and the first sentence. Repeat the keyword about once every 70 words or so. But don’t go crazy with that – approximate is good enough for the spiders. Too many times, and you raise the risk of getting greylisted as "spammy." Note also that Google has software that detects articles that are written strictly for SEO ranking. No more keyword stacking - focus on context and relevance.
- Optimize article length. Shoot for 600 words per each post or page; smaller than that, and you risk getting penalized by spiders for “thin content.” There’s an ongoing debate about word-count, but assume there's no maximum. Some tests have shown that longer articles rank better than shorter articles. However, I have found that shorter articles with lots of graphics or photos seem to rank very well compared to long articles with fewer graphics/photos. Makes sense, no?
- Target page and blog post count. My recommendation: write at least ten articles (pages and/or blog posts) for each "silo" - the more, the better. Yeah, it’s a lot of writing for some folks. That’s why you might consider hiring some help – especially if writing is not a core skill. Silo strategy has an equation: quality plus quantity equals authority. I’ll share a little secret about writing – if it’s a topic that you really know then write the way you’d talk. Keep it simple. Keep it plain. Keep it focused.
- Go the extra mile. Add a video that focuses on one aspect that you explain in the article. Think short video – 30 seconds (or so) on one aspect of “custom treehouses.” Upload the video to YouTube, optimize the title and tags, and embed the video in the article itself. And if you need some lengthening for the text article, add portions of the the transcript from the video.
Finally, make sure that all articles have a nice introduction that’s blended with the main content. Resist the urge to copy the intros from other articles – Google will demote all articles that have duplicated text. Use different headlines and end the articles differently as well. If you have a Call-To-Action, keep any taglines, but reword the offer/incentive.
Measuring the “Silo Effect”
Need a metric for the silo? Watch your “bounce rate” (Google Analytics): the number of times that visitors hit a site and quickly leave. A well-executed silo strategy will drive your bounce rate lower (about 10-15 points below your average) because more visitors will dig deeper into your content. It’s not the most important measurement, but it’ll show you if your silo strategy is on target and having a good effect on your audience. If the bounce rate starts to creep higher, consider some rewrites, or add more content.
That leads me to the final consideration. As I mentioned earlier, one silo should comprise at least 10 separate articles; and if possible, each will have its own short video, meme, and/or infographic.
Got more to say? No reason not to add more silos as needed.
Let's say you've got more to say. No problem. Add more silos! Yep. You can have more than just one. Let’s say that the parallel of your business of building “custom treehouses” is “treehouse supplies.” What if you want to sell “do it yourself treehouse plans” or “step-by-step guides”? Get the idea? Some content managers may recommend that you start with one silo, and they’d be right. But there’s no reason on God’s green Earth that you should keep it that way.