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February 8, 2008

WordPress SEO Tip: Implementing the Power of Theming and Siloing

This is one of many other WordPress SEO Tips and is a follow up to 20 Practical SEO Tips to Super-Charge Your WordPress Blog!, another great resource for WordPress users looking to unleash the power of such a pliable CMS platform.

Let’s face it: Search engines really want to know what your blog is about in order to give relevant results to searchers.

Siloing is the technique of theming your site’s directories to increase search engine relevance in a natural and logical way. It is great for sites, such as blogs, that have quality, topical content for which high search engine rankings are desired.

This step-by-step guide will help you implement the powerful siloing technique on your WordPress blog through a combination of plugins, settings, and strategies.

Step 1: The Preliminary Status Check

Does your blog as a whole have a clear, distinguishable theme? Do your categories logically break your blog topic into subtopics?

I’ll use my blog as an example: The WordPress Expert is, of course, focused on the WordPress niche. Since my content is focused on one topic, the search engines should have a clear idea of what search queries my site is relevant for. My categories (SEO, Social Media, Tutorials, etc.) break the content down into logical subtopics, which further aids the engines in understanding and cataloging the content.

If your blog lacks organization and clarity, consider niche-hunting and/or restructuring your blog’s categories.

This is the critical, foundational step for an effective siloing implementation, so don’t skip past it!

Step 2: Setup Category-Based Permalinks

Go to your WordPress administration panel, then go to Options > Permalinks. Select the “Custom” option and type in:

/%category%/%postname%/

Tip: If you’re using a WordPress version prior to 2.3, install the Permalink Redirect plugin to make sure your old permalinks redirect to the new ones.

Step 3: Install the Top Level Categories plugin

By default, WordPress will setup your category archive pages like this:

www.example.com/category/seo/

In this example, we’d rather have the SEO category show up at this URL:

www.example.com/seo/

Achieving this is very simple: just install the Top Level Categories plugin, and voila!

Since we just set up category-based permalinks in the previous step, then posts in the category “SEO” will appear as subdirectories of the category’s URL. This is perfect for siloing purposes.

Step 4: Install the sCategory Permalink plugin

An annoyance with WordPress’s category-based permalinks system: When a post has more than one category, the category with the lowest ID will be used in the permalink URL.

Fix: Install the sCategory Permalink plugin, which will let you choose which category (silo) each post should go in.

Step 5: Show Excerpts in Your Category Archives

We want the category archive pages to be linking to the posts in the silo, not outputting the full posts themselves.

Whether or not your category pages display the post excerpts or the full content is up to the theme you have installed. Here’s how to check: In your WordPress admin, go to Presentation > Theme Editor > Category Template. See if the code has the text the_content and if so, replace it with the_excerpt

Step 6: Interlink Within Silos

Your silo-ed categories are now set up! Now you need to reinforce your silos by linking your posts to other posts in the same silo.

For example, if your silos (categories) are “SEO” and “WordPress,” then the goal is to have your SEO posts interlinking with each other and your WordPress posts interlinking with each other.

Here are some strategies:

  • Deep-link to other posts in the same silo.
  • Try to minimize links that don’t lead elsewhere in the same silo. For example, try adding rel=”nofollow” to external sidebar and/or footer links.
  • Install the Similar Posts plugin, which inserts a list of related posts you’ve written to the bottom of each of your blog posts.

For an added silo boost, go to your WordPress admin, go to Options > Similar Posts, and then set “Limit matches to same category” to “Yes.”

Conclusion

Siloing is a powerful tool for your WordPress SEO toolkit. It’s easy to implement thanks to the flexibility and extensibility of WordPress!

For more WordPress SEO tips, check out my 20 Practical SEO Tips to Super-Charge Your WordPress Blog.

Author:  John Lamansky is an up-and-coming web developer who has building websites for 7 years and has been working with WordPress for almost 3 of its 5 years of existence. He is experienced with XHTML, CSS, PHP, WordPress, and much more, and looks forward to providing WordPress tips, services, and resources to the blogging community.

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