Siloing (theming) - advanced SEO
Creating Virtual Silos that are great for users and for search engines
Why Siloing your WordPress site is Important
According to Bruce Clay: "Search engines award top keyword rankings to the site that proves that it is the best fit for the relevancy of a subject or theme that matches the user query".Google's advice is:
"Make a website with good architecture; have a tree-like structure that includes a home page with well linked static links to the individual pages of your site. Make sure that the important pages are just one or two links from your home page (near the top of your website architecture) so that the PageRank is still relatively high there. This will allow your silo to purposefully pass the most PageRank from your home page (the page with the most PR and clout) to your most important landing pages."
Siloing your WordPress site - fundamental
Siloing your WordPress site isn't the whole SEO story but I believe it's a fundamental pre-requisite to creating a great user experience and a well optimized site.
You can find out more about "How to build a website silo architecture" from http://www.bruceclay.com/eu/seo/silo.htm
A well themed site is based upon keywords so I'm going to assume that you have already done your competitor and keyword research and have a list of your main keywords ready so you know what you're targeting.
Planning a WordPress silo structure
A good place to start is with a site plan using a silo structure. There are many options to producing a site plan. I tend to use Excel, as this can form part of a workbook containing my plan for URLs, Meta tags, 301 redirects, headings etc.
Create a hierarchical site map showing silos and supporting pages
This is not your full site page plan. Only have your home page and major themes in your main navigation menu. Put all the other pages somewhere else like the footer; pages such as About Us, Contact, Terms & Conditions etc.
Search engines consider links to be a strong signal of subject relevance. Virtual silos use a drill-down cross-linking structure to create distinct subject categories. In a virtual silo, each supporting page is linked to the category landing page and also linked to the other supporting pages for that theme. Each Support Page should link to every other support page in the virtual silo - include navigation on the page link the pages together. Essentially a category sitemap!
A minimum of 5 pages are needed to establish the theme and each must be named to reinforce the subject matter.
To link 2 related pages in different silos, only link to category landing pages - this helps build the theme. Linking from support page to support page in different silos will dilute the theme of both silos. If you have to link one support page to one in a different silo use the rel="nofollow" link attribute.
Here's an example Site Map using Excel for this website which has 3 main silos.
I recommend that you go to Settings > Permalinks and customise the permalinks to show category and post name without the trailing /.
When to use posts & pages in WordPress
WordPress comes with two content types; posts and pages.
Posts are blog content listed in a reverse chronological order (newest content on top). You will see posts listed on your blog page. The URL for a post includes the date the post was published. Due to their reverse chronological order, your posts are meant to be timely. Older posts are archived based on month and year.
Because posts are timely, they are often shared on Social Media networks and can allow comments.
Posts are organized using categories and tags. Pages are hierarchical and can be organized as child and parent pages.
It's easy to create a hierarchy of your pages using Parent/child technique. This allows for the parent name (the silo name) to appear in the URL making it easier to Google to correctly identify the page's content relevant to the silo name.
In the example shown in the diagram above, I've made all the supporting Internet Services pages children of the Internet Services top level theme or silo. This is indicated by the dash next to the page name.
To make a page with a child relationship open that page and look at the Page Attributes box on the right.
Select the parent page from the drop-down list.
As well as creating a good structure in the WordPress backend, it fashions a good URL. In this case it would be www.mysite.com/internet-services/keyword-competitor-research thus reinforcing my silo.
URL structure is of great value from a search perspective. Those page names that include a queried search term receive some benefit from proper, descriptive keywords in the URL. The URL should accurately predict the content of the page.
When you create a WordPress page, the permalink is shown just under the page title, but you can edit this if it would help your SEO. It might be that your page title is too long and you want to shorten it to make it easier to remember. Just click the small edit button.
Type in your preferred permalink and update.
Remember that the menu link under Appearance > Menus will show the original page title, so you may need to edit that as well, or your page menu link will be too long.
Navigation links supporting a WordPress silo or theme
Each silo support page should link to every other support page in that virtual silo. It's a good idea to include navigation on that page to link the pages together. Create silo specific menus that only appear on that silo/theme's pages; in this case I've got one for Internet Services which links to all the other pages in that sub-silo.
To link 2 related pages in different silos, only link to Category Landing pages - this helps to build the theme. Linking from a support page to a support page in different silo will dilute the theme of both silos.
If you have to link one support page to one if a different silo, use the 'rel-nofollow' attribute. Also use the 'nofollow' attribute on other links on your site if you don't want to remove them altogether. It's usually a good idea to make links that are of no importance from an SEO perspective as nofollow. Such links will share the "juice" with links to more important pages, reducing the "juice" available to these other pages.
Note: It's easy to add nofollow if you use SEO Press Pro - highly recommended.
The menu name is automatically taken from the page title, but you can edit this if it helps your seo.
Always use breadcrumbs on your site to reinforce the silo structure to the search engines and to help users.
Whilst creating a silo structure is not the full answer to a well optimized site, I do believe that it is a prerequisite to a well organised and well optimized site that is great for both search engines and for users.