What Is a Content Silo?
- 1 What Is a Content Silo?
- 2 Why Are Content Silos Popular?
- 3 Why You Should Identify Silos
- 4 How To Get Rid of Silos
- 5 What Is a Content Silo? Final Thoughts
According to Dictionary.com, the verb “silo” means to separate or isolate from others. That may mean separating items into groups or units, for example. That’s what the business term “silo” refers to as well.
Visualizing an actual silo — as in, a tower structure that stores grain — can help to visualize content silos.
Unfortunately, silos aren’t always good in the business world. Isolating teams detracts from collaboration, when people can share ideas and create opportunities. And limiting what your website content can link to can ruin the user experience.
In this article, we’ll go over content silos, business silos and how they impact content teams, and how to improve collaboration, workflow and content.
What Is a Content Silo?
The term “content silo” refers to the SEO method of structuring your website content around a keyword-centric theme. In other words, when you create content silos, you group related content into different sections of your website.
Subcategories and subtopics are used to group content based on keywords and topics. There’s also usually an internal link structure that guides visitors through related content.
What Is a Content Silo vs. Business Silo
Content silos are a popular way to structure a website, though it has its flaws. However, if your content team is siloed from the rest of your company, that’s not nearly as helpful. This is called a business silo, and it prevents different teams from connecting with each other.
With a business silo, a team or process runs in isolation. This is something that may affect your content team.
It’s like working in a vacuum. If your marketing team doesn’t speak with your sales team, for example, it’s difficult to figure out what customers want at each stage of the customer journey, and there could be a disconnect when it comes to getting users from the brand awareness stage to the conversion stage.
Efforts can clash or overlap, which means two or more individuals or teams end up working on the same thing needlessly. Or, some people may end up having to complete a task at the last minute.
There could also be a disconnect between different marketing collateral, like online and offline content. Ultimately, a lot of opportunities can be missed.
There could even be silos within your content team. This is because a content or marketing team is responsible for a lot at once: content writing, paid advertising, SEO, social media, etc.
If different members of the team aren’t communicating with one another, your content and ranking can suffer.
Business silos tend to happen over time, accidentally and without anyone really noticing. They typically occur because there’s no expectation of or process for regular communication and collaboration.
Why Are Content Silos Popular?
Content silos can be good for SEO because search engines get a better understanding of your content. Search engine crawlers have an easier time figuring out what your content’s about and where it is on your site.
That’s because internal links give Google context. For example, if a page about the Paleo diet (page 1) points to a page with Paleo recipes (page 2), Google can guess that page 2 is topically related to page 1.
Content silos also make it easier for visitors to use your website because they’ll have an easier time navigating it. Users can figure out how different pieces of content relate to each other, and they can find their way to helpful, related information from whatever page they’re on.
Content silos can boost rankings, too.
One way this happens is by improving PageRank, which is how Google scores a page’s value based on the number and quality of the pages it gets backlinks from. If any of those backlinks are of especially high value, some of the link juice will be passed along through internal links.
To put it another way, internal linking improves the PageRank flow within the website.
Why You Should Identify Silos
It’s important to identify both content silos and business silos that are affecting your content team.
Why You Should Identify Content Silos
The problem with content silos is that the separate silos don’t link to each other. They should, though.
Since your website revolves around one main topic, chances are that content from the separate silos will have overlapping themes.
For example, let’s say you have a website about working from home. One content silo focuses on creating a WFH office. Another content silo offers wellness tips for people who WFH. At some point, an office-related article is going to mention something about wellness and vice versa.
With content silos, you can’t technically link from one silo to another. Your readers could miss out on learning about a topic they’re interested in.
Some experts feel that, as long as your content is linking to other relevant content, it doesn’t matter whether you’re linking within the silo or out of it.
Why You Should Identify Business Silos
There are a lot of benefits to identifying business silos on your content team:
- You’ll get more insight into what your audience wants and the type of content your site is missing.
- The content strategy will work for everyone on the team and in the company, not just for one person or team.
- Outside teams will understand your team’s goals and how they align with their goals.
- You’ll produce better content that’s stronger, deeper and well-informed.
Ultimately, identifying silos will help you create a better process and better content.
How To Get Rid of Silos
It may be in your best interest to get rid of content silos and business silos. Here’s how.
How To Get Rid of Content Silos
Instead of thinking of your content as remaining in siloes, it may be smart to use a pyramid structure. Most websites today are structured this way.
In the example below, the shapes represent topics and the lines represent internal links. Your most important topic is at the top, and below it are the next most important sub-topics of that topic, and so on.
Just like with content silos, pyramid sites are easy for both the user and the search engine to navigate. Plus, more context is passed along since there aren’t limits to internal linking.
Don’t Bury Important Content
Even if it’s easy for users and search engines to find all of your content because it’s optimized and properly linked to, Google assumes that buried content is unimportant content. Tools like Semrush can give you crawl depth information so you can troubleshoot.
For example, pages that are five or more clicks away from your homepage may not get ranked as highly as pages that are more closely linked. If you find pages that are buried too deep, you can add links to them from higher content to show that they’re more important in the hierarchy.
How To Get Rid of Business Silos
Regularly reviewing how your content team communicates and collaborates is the best way to prevent and fix business silos.
To improve communication within and across teams, especially if some workers are remote, use traceable technology like Asana, Google Docs, Slack or Zoom. These tools are designed for collaboration, and they also update immediately so nobody misses out on an important question or comment.
Also, share information early on; don’t wait until the last minute. Withholding information can make people feel like they’re not part of the team.
What Is a Content Silo? Final Thoughts
Content silos sound like a good way to plan content and add it to your website in a methodical way. Unfortunately, as soon as you try to link from one silo to another, the content is no longer separated, and you probably missed out on other internal linking opportunities along the way.
Similarly, business silos that impact content teams also prevent the sharing of information.
Ultimately, both types of silos should be broken down so that newer, more effective strategies can take their place.
By using a pyramid site structure, content is still grouped into topics, but there aren’t any restrictions on what you can link to. And by creating a more collaborative environment, everyone on your team will have the opportunity to be heard and perform better.
To get started with your pyramid structure, check out our article about topic clusters.