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There has always been a lot of talk about whether site structure is a ranking factor, and if so, how do you properly set up the structure of a site in order to send the right signals to the search engine?

Well, if you are familiar with the term silo it will play in to this. Basically what you are doing when you layout a site is silo information so that all of the like content and information lives in one focused area of your website.

So here is another way to think of making silos in your website, and honestly the way I have always thought of this is as mini websites within the website.  So let’s say we are selling widgets, so the focus of our website is on widgets. Let’s also say we have widgets made from steel, plastic, rubber or wood.

Okay, so lets look at different types of content based on the fact that we are going to silo our site. I like to think of things in terms of topics pages, which in my way of looking at things are mini homepages for that section and articles which I would consider supporting content on the subject.

So if we were going to layout our site based on the widget model we talked about, we would have:

The main Homepage, and then we would have a topic page for each material – steel, plastic, rubber or wood. They would then in turn have supporting articles under each one of those topics.

So doing this will lay out the site structure in a way where every little section will have all the like-content contained within it, and then the content in that section will need to link back to the other content in that area.

As an example, this is what the steel section would look like.

Topic Page: Steel Widgets

Articles to support Steel Widgets:

How steel widgets are made.

Why choose a steel widget?

Why choose a steel widget versus a plastic one?

So here you would now have a topics page and 3 pages that are supporting it. So you would have Steel Widgets as the main topics page which you would link in to your main navigation to give it importance, and the three articles would link to each other for support and also link to the topics page, giving it supporting content.

My main navigation for the site would look like:

Home | Steel |Plastic | Rubber | Wood | About Us | Contact Us

Each of the other sections would be laid out just like the steel section. This type of site structure will support your main content that is important for the search engines spiders to pick up, as well as sending the right signals with the content and the focused sections.

One of the best things to do this sort of thing, especially if you have a large site, is to use a mind map tool that will let you flow it out in detail before you ever build the site.

In closing, I will also caution anyone that is having a site built by a developer and then after the fact involving a SEO expert, you are likely going to have to trash your site and start over. Many developers will build a site exactly the way you want it and not worry one bit about your site actually ranking. That is not their job, and most of them lack the know-how to achieve SEO for a site, so they will build it and then when it’s time to get traffic to it you will be faced with having to scratch the site, or at best spend more money to get it right. So I will say the best course of action is to get your marketing and SEO team involved from the ground floor, that way when you are building the site all the necessary components are in place and resources are not wasted.

Beth Guide - ACTWD