Ask anyone what it takes to rank a site and the answers will usually be either content or backlinks (or something related to either). Rarely does anyone answer with one of the most underrated factors that affect ranking: Site structure.
Let me explain. Imagine you want to buy a book about French cooking, so you head to a mall that has two bookstores. In one bookstore you see the scene on the left, and in the other, you see the scene on the right.
In which bookstore are you most certain to find the book you are looking for?
Of course, the second one is because it is structured. You expect there to be French cooking books in the cooking section, while you wouldn’t know where to begin in the first store.
Some people think that Google works the same way; they think that Google prefers the organized site so people “silo” their sites with a physical silo and nice-looking menus. That’s how they end up with URLs like site.com/category/sub-category/article.
And yes, Google prefers the organized site but not the way you think (The structure YOU like is not what Google likes). While a physical silo is great for users and makes things look neat, most people are surprised to find out that they won’t help you rank. You obviously don’t want to bury your pages deep within your site, but when it comes to ranking Google doesn’t really care about your physical silo.
For ranking, Google is looking for structure created from body links (virtual silos). There are multiple ways to go at this but let me introduce you to a particular and powerful way of doing things: Reverse silos.
What is a reverse silo, and why should you do it?
A reverse silo is an SEO technique put forth by Kyle Roof (from High Voltage SEO, PageOptimizer Pro, and IMG Courses) where you strategically interlink content in such a way that maximizes link juice. This technique has been born out of 400+ SEO tests made over 4 years. It’s tested, powerful, and it moves the needle.
Before getting into the actual how-to, here are a few reasons why you want to do reverse silos (Besides helping you rank):
Harnesses your own site’s authority
Reverse silos help your site rank by leveraging its own authority. The special site structure allows the juice to cycle through and get concentrated into one special link (going to your target page). It’s a bit like mixing the link juice, turning it into a mini-tornado before passing it on.
Most people will refuse to link to the page you really want them to because it’s probably commercial (selling something)l. Even if you wait, most natural links won’t go to the desired page but most likely your home page or an informational/content page.
With reverse silos, you not only get highly relevant link juice (that ends up lifting the page you want) but also highly relevant users as a bonus. Someone who clicked on “What to look for in ski boots” is interested in ski boots and is a likely buyer.
One of the worst things someone can do upon landing on your site from Google is hit the back button. On the other hand, one of the best things they can do is to stick around (increases on-page time) or clicking elsewhere on the site. Reverse silos encourage this last behavior because it’s dependent on supporting content (More on this below).
Making your reverse silo
Ready to ramp up your site structure? There are only 3 elements needed to make a reverse silo. First, you need your target page, this is your sales page or any other page you want to push up the rankings. Next, you need to have supporting articles related to that target page and then the final element is interlinking. This needs to be done in a specific way.
A picture is worth 1000 words, so here’s the reverse silo:
Here’s how to do this step-by-step. First, determine your target page and supporting pages and then link them like so:
- Each supporting articles link to your target page
- The target page links back to each supporting article
- 1 or 2 links to other supporting articles
- Use clear, descriptive anchor text for the links
This is a reverse silo because most would have their target page at the top while in this model it is at the bottom. Here’s a reverse silo for “car insurance”
A few pointers…
“Physical” silos are irrelevant
As stated early in this article, “Physical” silos are silos that rely on the URL structure. For example:
This doesn’t work because the juice isn’t passed through the URL structure. So you can keep your URLs flat like:
It is the internal links that create relevance and pass the juice, not URLs
The linking is crucial
Don’t miss this! First, the kind of linking we are talking about is body links, you can more or less ignore menus and footers. Second, the supporting pages all link to the money page, but they are NOT daisy-chained. This means A ↔ B ↔ C but A doesn’t link to C. Again, this is key.
Also important is that there are NO other links on the Supporting Posts besides what you see in the graphic.
In short: Be very selective about your links, only body links, and do not daisy-chain.
Now that you have an idea of the structure, where are you going to find those pages to support the target page? Here are 3 ways…
3 ways to find supporting pages
Not any piece of content will do as a supporting page, it needs to be related to your target page. 3 Simple ways to find them:
1. Google’s P.A.S.
The first way is from Google itself, just look at the “People also asked” section for some great ideas.
2. Autocomplete searches
Next, you can mine autocomplete. The manual way to do this is to search on Google for:
- [Keyword] + a
- [Keyword] + b
- [Keyword] + c, etc
Bothersome? You bet. The SEO Stack Chrome plugin does that for you automatically. Simply search for “* [Keyword] *” and it will mine auto-complete for you.
You might want to deselect numbers because it will search google for [Keyword] + 1, etc. That usually gives non-relevant results.
“Can car insurance drop you” and “can car insurance be deducted from taxes” could make 2 nice supporting articles.
3. Answer the public
Another way is to go to Answer the public. This is great because a lot of searches dance around your topic and make great supporting pages. For example “Is getting X worth it?”
Is it a reverse silo?
Reverse silos are very powerful but also deceptively simple, hence sometimes it’s easy to think you have reverse siloed a page when you haven’t. It only takes one wrong link to ruin the effect.
Follow this flowchart below to make 100% sure you have siloed correctly.
If you have done this correctly you will have siloed your page. Apply and rank to the top!
This article has been written with permission from Kyle Roof. Reverse silos are just one of the key concepts he reveals on his “On-page SEO” course. This teaches how to rank with solid on-page optimization and site structure, and it’s the culmination of 4+ years and 400+ SEO tests (and counting). You can watch this course on IMG, it’s like Netflix for SEOs. Click here and get access to On-page SEO along with 30+ traffic and income-generating courses.
If you are a dedicated SEO, take advantage of a huge discount on yearly memberships for SEO Mastery summit readers. A year of IMG is $1,164 but you can get it for $790 by clicking here. Deal expires August 31’st.