[SEO Siloing: 2023] The Last Siloing Guide You'll Ever Need

splishsplash

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The Last Era of SEO

At last, it's here. The very last guide you'll ever need for SEO.

We are in the final days of SEO now folks. AI is changing the game..

Google is working on generative search (https://blog.google/products/search/generative-ai-search/)

Finally, SEO really is going to die.

But..

Not yet.

We have time left. I don't have a crystal ball, but my estimate would be around 5 years. In 10 years, it'll be an old term no one talks about anymore.

It won't just die overnight. It'll be a slow death, with many niches disappearing and being replaced by generative search.

I'm not saying this to scare you. I'm arming you with real knowledge so you can prepare.

Now is the final phase of SEO and if you miss the boat on this then it's gone for good. No more procrastinating. Get off your ass and build that SEO empire you've already dreamed off and bank from it before it ends.

If you disagree, fine. You don't need to tell me. I don't care. I know my industry and I know AI. Your belief is irrelevant, as is mine. What will be, will be. This guide is for people who want to make the most of the next few years and get as much success in SEO as possible.

What's in this guide?
Let's break down the major components of succeeding in SEO. This guide will be very practical. Minimal theory/proofs. I talk about enough theory in other threads where I reference patents etc, and I'll post more theoretical content in the coming months/years. Especially on topical authority/topical maps.

The core things to rank are topical authority, page relevancy to user intent and power/juice.

Trust/EEAT is a 4th, but only in some niches and it's more controversial. I think it's more likely that EEAT is assessed in the YMOYL(your money or your life) niches manually. They may also have finetuned some models to assess trust. This is do-able, and it's always good to assume it's true and just implement as many trust signals as possible. You can find a lot of articles on EEAT, so I won't write about it. Google it and implement it on all your sites.

1) Topical Authority ( For the theory about what the heck topical authority is, see: https://www.blackhatworld.com/seo/a...e-question-what-is-topical-authority.1450324/ )

This is what we aim to achieve with siloing and site architecture.

The more topical authority you have, the easier you rank.

Siloing still works. There was a time back in 2014-2019 that it was insanely powerful, but things changed a bit over the years and things started to lean more towards "topical clusters".

Today, what I'll teach you is a modern take on siloing that combines siloing with topical clusters to gain the best of both. This guide is about 1)

2) Creating Individual Articles - OnPage

I have an excellent OnPage guide here - https://www.blackhatworld.com/seo/a...e-question-what-is-topical-authority.1450324/

Read that before writing your individual articles. Everything in there is still 100% relevant today.

3) Backlinking - Power/Juice

I'll write a guide for this next.

I wont cover actual link building its self because there's already plenty of guides on this. The info is really not lacking and I would have nothing spectacular to add. I will probably write an outreach guide separately, but in the upcoming guide I'm going to focus on the topics that no one else talks about, which is how to stay safe when link building and look natural. This is why so many sites get hammered in the serps. Especially recently with the Dec 14th 2022 SpamBrain link update.

Now onto the subject of this guide.. SILOING!

How to Do Siloing in 2023

I'm not going to go into technical details about how to implement any of this. It's too time consuming and I've done it before. The technical details haven't changed. See my old guides for details. I will focus on the structures that work. It's up to you to implement the technical details.

Now, I'm not one to just give you a whole load of technical mumbo jumbo babble pseudo-speak and flabbergast you with terminology, give you a ton of theory and then expect you to work out how the heck to implement it. Phew..

I will just give you a complete example from start to finish. (Within reason of course. I can't great a mega site in an evening, but it'll be enough of an example that you'll be able to apply it to your own niches, or expand)

The Core Site Architecture/Structure

We will be implementing physical silos.

They can be 2 to 4 levels deep depending on the size of your site.

Our example domain is persiancats.com

So we can have persiancats.com/A/B/C/D/your-article-name

For ecommerce sites you can have 5. A/B/C/D/E/your-product-page

It really does help google categorize your site well.
It also allows you to create multiple category pages which helps with indexing of larger sites so you aren't relying on just internal links.

Exact same strategy as the old silo: See here: https://www.blackhatworld.com/seo/the-ultimate-guide-to-seo-siloing-dominate-google-in-2018.985967/ and here https://www.blackhatworld.com/seo/s...lding-step-by-step-blueprint-9-parts.825593/#

But to refresh it's basically this..

Let's say you have
persiancats.com/A/B/D/article-1
persiancats.com/A/C/E/article-2

article-1 will be in the category A, B and D. It'll appear on persiancats.com/A, persiancats.com/A/B and persiancats.com/A/B/D - All 3 are category pages.

article-2 will be in category A, C and E. It'll appear on persiancats.com/A, persiancats.com/A/C and persiancats.com/A/C/E - All 3 are category pages.

Show the last 10-15 articles in each category page for google and users. Simple. Crawling will be better. UI will be better. Structure will look clean.

Have breadcrumbs, so on article-2 you have breadcrumbs Home->A->C->E

No fancy internal links in 2023. Forget the old virtual silos or trying to juice certain pages up with lots of internal links. It's not really needed and is a bit spammy now. Plus there are better ways to use your links. And double plus, you do NOT want those old "tight silos". The purpose of siloing is not about PageRank sculpting or trying to block the flow of PageRank. You can't do that. It's just about creating clean, logical groups for google to crawl and it makes for a better UI. You should be linking across silos where there's relevancy/connections.

Your core silo structure with silo/category pages creates your easy to crawl structure and the internal links naturally just cause the crawler to move around between relevant pages and more important pages will naturally get more internal links and thus be considered more important by the crawler.

And each silo will have a "Pillar" article. The page persiancats.com/A/B is a category page that should contain text, and then links to the content. You can also have a sidebar with some goodies if you want. Just make it highly relevant to the silo/category. It'll also PROMINENTLY link to the pillar. Always.

The PersianCats.com Example
First thing we want to do is map out the persian cats niche.

You can use any good keyword explorer type tool. ahrefs keyword explorer, spyfu's keyword research or semrush keyword magic. They all do the same thing and give you questions and various keyword groups you can expand upon.

I have them all, but I like semrush's keyword magic the most.

You can spend days researching this and planning out a big spreadsheet with each level.

I'll do a small spreadsheet and screenshot it so you can see.

Here's the topical map link - https://wolfofblogstreetinc-my.shar...hEqYMnMbQtkQcBKcA90CWL-MQ9jExoQ2CLIQ?e=c3s3Q1

Now doing this is SUPER simple. Just time consuming..

Here's the steps

Step 1

You paste EVERY question from one of the tools for the base keyword "persian cats", or your base niche into the question column of the questions sheet

Step 2
Google every question.

It's that simple. Look to see what the result is. For example, if we Google "are persian cats loyal"

The rich snippet is "Persian Cat Breed Profile". Then under it you have things like "Are Persian Cats Loyal: 10 Benefits blah blah"

You can either decide to make this question part of a PILLAR article for a silo. In this the level 1 silo I'd choose would be "Behavior".

If you go for making this part of the pillar then it would be something like "Persian Cats Behavior: Breed and Profile Information" or something general like that.

OR

You might decide to make this part of an article like "Why Persian Cats are Loyal", or "Are Persian Cats Loyal", or "7 Ways Persian Cats are Very Loyal Cats".

Sometimes make it a question, sometimes make it a statement article and sometimes make it a list article. Vary it.

BUT, I wouldn't really go for articles like "10 Benefits of Owning a Persian Cat". This is more fluff that belongs on a site that doesn't necessarily specialize in persian cats. This would be fine if you had a general cat site, but it's too broad/fluffy and it'll actually clash with a lot of other articles covering specific topics.

Now, here's another VERY IMPORTANT POINT.

You DO want clashes between your pillar articles, and your more targeted articles. This is FINE. What you don't want is multiple articles repeating the same stuff, like you would get in these fluffy "10 benefits" articles.

But even if you go for the "Are Persian Cats Loyal?" article, you would STILL potentially want to cover this in your characteristics pillar page, because that is an INFO DENSE page that's covering a very specific user intent. Google might choose to show that, or it might choose to show your targeted article. It's up to Google. But some people who are searching for "persian cat characteristics", "persian cat temperament", "persian cat character traits" will want to see a big complete guide with everything densely written in 1 place, with tables/images/data etc.

This also applies down to the homepage where you have your "ultimate persian cat" article, which will repeat information in the health, behavior, characteristics, grooming and history pillar pages.

The difference is the homepage article goes into less detail. It's more of an overview, going BROAD, but not too deep. Understand?

your behavior page will go deeper into behavior, but not SUPER deep. So it might have a couple of sentences about "why your persian cat likes to headbutt you", but the "why your persian cat likes to headbutt you" article will go REALLY deep on that specific topic. The behavior might even link to it.

So you go through EVERY question, google it, decide which article it should be part of, whether that's a pillar or regular article, and decide the level 1 silo, and if appropriate a level 2, and if appropriate again level 3. You won't have a level 4 for persian cats, but a bigger site yes. You probably won't even have a level 3, but you might have a couple of level 3's in some level 2's silos where it makes sense.

Where you get questions that belong in an existing article, just copy and paste.

You can use chatgpt to help you group questions together so you end up with an excel sheet where all the questions are more grouped. This makes it easier.

Keep going down the list, and eventually you'll have all your silos, pillar articles and regular articles.

You always start with questions. Never start with silos or anything else.

ALL YOU NEED ARE QUESTIONS.

You don't need keywords. Questions are better. You'll naturally see opportunities for other sub-silos, like I came across "a white persian cat". When I google that I get a page about a white persian cat, so I made a characteristics/white level 2 silo and a pillar page "The White Persian Cat: Information, Pictures, Behavior and Care"

From that I realized, hey, you probably have grey and black.

The more you fill out, the more you'll find opportunities for other pages/questions.

If you do run out and you still want more, then by all means work through keywords and you'll find some more opportunities, but even for persian cats there's like 1600 questions. You're going to end up with about 200-400 articles from that lot which is a lot for just persian cats. You could probably get another 50-100 though working through the keywords, but max for persian cats should be around 500 articles. I can't really imagine going beyond that!

Step 3
Once you've completed all the questions, you fill out the level 1 topics sheet with the names, the title of the category/silo page, and the pillar article. Do the same for level 2-4. Remember your category/silo articles shouldn't compete with the pillar page. Just a simple title like "Persian Cat Behaviors" is fine. Aim for plural where you can. See the sheet for the ones I did. They should signify plural. They won't rank for much. They are there for structure/crawling for Google, and a better UI for users.

Google is pretty good at understanding differences. So I've gone for silo page names like "Persian Cat Articles about Mating", "Learn everything about Grooming your Persian Cat", "Learn about Persian Cat Costs" etc. It'll see from the title and content of the pages that it's different than the pilar articles which are like "Persian Cat: A Complete Grooming Guide"
Step 4

Create your homepage pillar article first. Although it won't rank, it helps to establish your core topic.

Next create all the silo/category pages. They should look like this :-

Silo Page.png

So every silo page has a header bar with all level 1 silos(same as the homepage and every page on the site)

So if this is the silo page for Health,

The title - All Persian Cat Health Issues

A couple paragraphs of text about persian cat health.

All the pillar pages under that silo: Persian Cat: Complete Health Guide, the level 1 pillar, and the 2 pillar articles for allergies and mating level 2 silos

Next all the silo pages under that silo. So this would be a link to the silo page for allergies, and the silo page for mating.

Finally the latest 10-15 articles. EVERY article that's under health, will be in the health cat, so will appear here. That's articles that are just in health, or articles in health/allergies, or articles in health/mating. It doesn't matter. The allergies articles will be the only ones in the allergies silo, general health or mating won't appear there. Make sense?

Important Note: In the level 1 silo, you link to ALL pillar articles in all silos, all the way down to level 4 if you have it.

BUT, for the silo page links in level 1, ONLY link to level 2 silos. Level 3 silos will be linked to from level 2.

The reason for that is the silo pages are less important than the pillar pages, so even a level 4 pillar page is still important and we want it linked to in the level 1, level 2, level 3 and level 4 silo.

The homepage is a special page.

It's a pillar article and a partial silo/category. Depending on the size we don't want to link to EVERYTHING.

We won't link to the silos. They will potentially be linked to in the main persian cat homepage article if there's an opportunity and its relevant. They're also linked to from the header.. The difference is, on a level 1 silo page, it's still all the other level 1 silos in the header, so that's why we now link to level 2 silos there, and in a level 2 silo page, we link to the level 3 silo pages.

On the homepage you definitely want to link to ALL LEVEL 1 PILLAR PAGES.

Most level 2's depending on space.. I wouldn't link to level 3 or 4 pillars from here or it'll get too messy.

You can also link to your level 3 pillar articles from the level 2 pillar. Just depends how you want to format it. Obviously if you have 5 or 6 level 3s under a level 2, it might get a bit messy, but maybe you link to 2-3 of the important ones in a prominent space near the top of the article, as it IS related content. Ie, in the health section, it makes perfect sense to have a graphic block linking to the allergies and mating guides where people can read more detail there.

You can also in your pillar articles link to the silos at the bottom, as this is nice for the crawler and good for users. So someone has finished reading the health pillar, you can link them to the health silo page, health/mating silo page and health/allergies silo page to read more health related content.. You can mix it up like this. Just follow the main structure in the image.

Remember, this doesn't have to be perfect. There is no perfect structure. You're just making it easier for google to crawl your site and see relations.


Final Word About Internal Links
You don't have to worry too much about internal links. We aren't doing any silly greedy linking strategies like linking all level 3 silos back to the level 3 pillar.
Just internally link, do it often and link FOR THE USER. Connect highly relevant information through long phrase natural anchors. Between pillars and articles mostly. I wouldn't link much to silo pages other than at the bottom of pillar articles and on silo pages themselves.
Sill pages are crawled from homepage->silo 1->silo 2->silo 3 and so on
Also do a few external links. This is good. Read up on the google knowledge graph and try to link externally to entities so you help google understand your page more.
Ie, if you've got the text cat nip, then maybe you link to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catnip with "catnip" or https://www.petmd.com/cat/general-health/what-is-catnip

Keep your external link anchors shorter and more "entity" based rather than long phrase. Your goal with external links is to connect knowledge graph entities.

Ie, knowledge graph entities are names, places, people, locations, medicines, brand names, company names. When you externally link with those, to an authority page you highlight to google the knowledge graph entity you are talking about, and this builds more understanding of your topics.


Enjoy and good luck.
 
This was a great post, and as someone that works with AI as well and love SEO. I agree with you 100%, SEO might die in a few years, not as yet though because it's still in it's beginning stages. It's just getting good really fast.
 
Awesome guide, thanks for taking the time to write this and give it away for FREE.

Quick question: what is the future of local seo and small business?

Surely Google isn't go to kill local seo with AI?


That's a good question..

Since the direction of Google is "generative search" and we know that personalization and user intent are very important to them we can make some assumptions about what's to come when AI advances..

Personalization will likely increase through AI.

The AIs will have more advanced long term memory. This is already incredibly easy to do with embeddings and vector search, but the problem is cost. It's way way too expensive for Google to create a vector db memory for every single user of its search engine. Even Google will all their hardware don't have THAT much processing power available.

A lot of the limiting factors right now are in fact hardware. The technology is already advanced enough to do a lot.

So, once we have generative search with AI personalization you'll have essentially a sort of assistant that knows about you, and is going to choose things more specific to you.

If you search for "find a plumber near me", instead of Google crawling, indexing and returning relevant results for your search based on some personalization data like location, you will have an AI combined with crawling/indexing, and the AI will then decide which plumber is good for you.

It'll likely look at various plumbers, reviews from customers, what's being said about them in general, how they operate, if they're likely to be able to help you and if it thinks they're trustworthy based on all the information it can see.

It'll then generate a page for you. It won't just give you their site/number. It'll generate an entire page that helps you, probably explaining how to go about contacting them, advice about what you should ask, how much you should pay, what to expect, how to stay safe from scams.. It'll also give their site/number, but it'll generate a useful page for you. It might even list out some alternatives and let you choose, but make a recommendation for which it thinks is the best.

Similar to what search is, but much more custom.

The biggest parts of the web to be hit will be information. AIs won't really need humans to write amazon review sites, or persian cat info sites. It'll know more than any human, and have access to every existing article, every video and every book on persian cats.

But, at this stage, most of us are already using AI to write our persian cat sites.. So I don't know why it's a stretch that google will just cut us out and write its self :) What does it need us for? Even now it's becoming increasingly difficult to find honest writers who aren't trying to scam you with AI content.

What we may end up with is "AIO" - AI Optimization :)

But then that for the most part would just be making a quality product/service, getting good reviews and having people say good things about your business. But people will of course as ever try to game it like SEO has been gamed since its inception. This is the nature of life!
 
Another brilliant guide. 100% agree with how you've laid things out here. It's how I do my sites and it works like a charm. I hope the people reading the guide actually take note and do it this way.
 
Another brilliant guide. 100% agree with how you've laid things out here. It's how I do my sites and it works like a charm. I hope the people reading the guide actually take note and do it this way.

Lets hope not TOO many though. Don't want too many new competitors ;-)
 
So the silo 300 to 500 words and a supporting article 500 to 1000 what would you recommend for the articles at the bottom of the chain these being a mixture of questions and articles? Also is it better to use pages rather than posts in WordPress or does this not mater thanks in advance :)
 
So the silo 300 to 500 words and a supporting article 500 to 1000 what would you recommend for the articles at the bottom of the chain these being a mixture of questions and articles? Also is it better to use pages rather than posts in WordPress or does this not mater thanks in advance :)

There's no support articles. I didn't use that word once in the guide :)

That's an old term from virtual silos.

And it's 1-2 paragraphs in the silo/category. That's 80-150 words. It's just a little text to give google some extra context about the silo/category page.

I'm not going to answer technical questions like pages vs posts. It's irrelevant and you can find all that information in my old siloing guides. I'm sticking with the SEO side and not going into technical implementation details. There are 100's of ways to implement this from raw html to wordpress, or any other cms. It's not important what you choose.
 
There's no support articles. I didn't use that word once in the guide :)

That's an old term from virtual silos.

And it's 1-2 paragraphs in the silo/category. That's 80-150 words. It's just a little text to give google some extra context about the silo/category page.

I'm not going to answer technical questions like pages vs posts. It's irrelevant and you can find all that information in my old siloing guides. I'm sticking with the SEO side and not going into technical implementation details. There are 100's of ways to implement this from raw html to wordpress, or any other cms. It's not important what you choose.
thanks I'll do some more research then on here cheers
 
Really Important Point - MUST READ

This is something I forgot to highlight in the main guide, and I just thought about this when watching Matt Diggity's latest video where he talks about not using your homepage for an info article.
It's something I'd do naturally on a case by case basis(decide how the homepage should be), but I forgot to actually explain that to people. In the persian cat example we put an information article on the homepage. That might imply to people you should always do that, but in fact you definitely shouldn't.
It entirely depends on the niche.
The first thing to say is, like in Matt's video (
) you don't want create stuff like "Best" articles on the homepage.
The only time you would use your homepage as a big informational article is when you have micro niche sites.
A micro niche site in 2023 is not the same as a micro niche site in 2012. A micro niche site can be 500 articles, but I define it as a niche within a niche within a niche. Ie, this is persian cats, within cats, within animals.. Basically a small, very tight niche. If we had a site about cats, we would NEVER have an info article on the homepage. It would be lists of articles.
The key to deciding is this :-
What is the user intent behind your BASE keyword.
For the persian cats site, it's "persian cats".
Even for this, I still, at the top of the homepage have grids of articles directing people to various points throughout the homepage, but, I also choose to have an info article because if we google "persian cats" you will see a ton of articles ranking like
( Ignore the wikipedia at #1. If you google any broad keywords like 'cats' you'll potentially get a wiki page, and a wiki page serves the user intent of talking about the broad subject, and also linking you to more information about it, so it's an article and a type of category page )
We see "thesprucepets.com" with an article "Persian Cat: Breed Profile, Characteristics & Care"
aspca pet insurance with "Persian Cat Facts: History, Personality, and Care"
cattime with "Persian Cat Breed Information, Pictures, Characteristics & ..."

So, in this case we do actually want to have a dense information page with all the core info about persian cats.

But as I said in the main article you aren't going too deep. You're specifically in this case covering all the topics(You'd have a sub-heading for each silo), characteristics, grooming, health, financial etc

So you help establish all the topics on the site, discuss them lightly AND contextually link and potentially even create a kind of hybrid category/info page, with some nice grid like category page links under each section for more info, thus giving you the best of both worlds.

This only applies to sites where if you google the base keyword, you will find these info dense type articles.

It would never apply to really broad stuff like "fish", "seo", "marketing", "content marketing" and so on. Only micro niches where you can actually have an large article that spans the topics within the niche and touches upon them lightly..

If you don't have that, then you just go for a classical "silo template" for your homepage, which is important level 1 silo grid layout links at the top, then another grid with your level 1/2 pillar articles, and potentially some level 3's if they're important, then your latest articles across the site.
 
How will you structure the homepage if when you search for a keyword like “foldable phones”, the search results are all about “best foldable phones”.
 
First off, amazing guide. Really makes a lot of sense when you think about it.

However I've got a question about the breadcrumbs and category pages.

I am currently using RankMath and their breadcrumbs are linking to the category archive page which are not customizable (e.g. /category/SEO).

Do you have any good way to do the breadcrumbs so they link to the manually category pages/silos and not the category archives page? A good plugin or some code you are willing to share?

Thank you!
 
Hi @splishsplash,

great article as always!

Could you elaborate a little deeper on the exakt purpose of pillar articles?

I follow the logic of your way of siloing since I read your first article about it several years ago and it works fabulous.

The only thing I do not do as recommended: I do not build pillar articles. I either I leave them away completely or I put what you would place on the pillar page directly on the silo page.
 
Thanks for this amazing write-up.

Sorry for a dumb question.

What's the difference between level 1, level 2, level 3 articles? If you have a bigger site for persian cats, you would have more articles? Where can I find your posts where you go into detail about this? I couldn't find it, thanks.
 
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