Blog Architecture and Design — Theming with Silos and Internal Linking Strategies
There is an interesting thing about SEO blog architecture and design. It tends to evolve on a continual basis, but once you decide on a scheme, chances are it sticks forever. You can’t revamp the whole site and change the internal linking structure unless you can afford the cost of broken links and losing rankings.
While you can redirect each page to the new URL, it can be a lot of work, especially for a huge sites.
Fortunately, some of the principles are here to say. Several years ago, I may not build a blog with the architecture, design and linking structure like it is now. However, that doesn’t mean the old architecture doesn’t work anymore.
Inbound links that are built over time, age of the site, and other factors contribute to site rankings too. Just that with current content and linking design, it is more optimal. What used to work will continue to work if you don’t use any cheesy techniques. Still if I am to start anew, I will use the linking strategy explained in this post.
What Makes a Blog a Search Engine Magnet
Search engines love blogs for a reason. Just because you have a blog doesn’t mean search engines will rank your blog pages high in organic search rankings.
Here’s a few reasons why a blog is search engine friendly:
- It is updated frequently. Fresh content could mean only one thing. The blog owner is maintaining the site with up-to-date content.
- A blog links to each others. Bloggers are monitoring the blogosphere for conversations. They are more likely to link to each other if there is content related to the topic they are telling, and if the blog posts are useful to their audience.
- Internal linking structure. A blog maintains the internal linking and archival of content. It minimizes human errors, so search engines are able to find their way to the deepest content.
That’s why may blogs are able to rank well on search engines because of the natural features of the blog.
The Purpose of Internal Linking Structure
You can optimize the flow of link juice — cough PageRank cough — to significant pages on your blog by properly using internal links.
It helps if you study the simple diagram below.
It shows the trunk of the blog (homepage) with three separate silos namely rose seeds, rose growing and rose care. Below each silo will be pages (from here on called child pages) related to the silo, each pointing back to the silo itself.
The direction of the arrow means there is a link from the homepage to every silo. When child pages need to link to a child page within another silo, it can’t directly link to the page. Instead, it must link to the parent (silo). Linking from a child page of rose seeds to a child page of rose growing can dilute the strength of the theme.
Human First, Then Spiders — Know the Right Questions to Ask
Despite what others say about link structure, it is important to keep in mind that you must write for human first, search engine spiders second. As search engines improve their algorithms, you are encouraged to write and grow your site naturally. Currently the linking structure is there to help readers find their way to your content but it also provides search engines with clear presentation of the theme of the content.
Maybe in the future web publishers don’t have to worry about this anymore, but for now, let’s stick with a design that gets the best from both worlds.
One particularly effective method to design site content and structure is to think like the visitor. What do you want to use in the search engines to find information about your topic? I hope you’ve already done your keyword research.
Why should the readers visit your site? If you sell a product or service, think why should they buy your product or become your client.
You should design your blog navigation and pages based on those questions, but also keep internal linking structures in mind.
How to Improve Your Internal Link Structure
If you already have a blog, you also can use the following techniques to emphasize on your silos (most important pages).
You should make use of the nofollow attribute of the a tag to prevent distribution of link juice to pages that you don’t want to. Control the flow of the link across silos.
There are two ways to develop a theme with siloing. First, you can use blog’s categories. Each individual category is a silo. The only drawback is, your category page may not be structured in a way that helps the readers immediately, i.e. they have to look around before deciding which content to read. Category pages tend to change too as you add more pages.
Another method is to create virtual silos using the static page features. You can still update information in the page but it contains optimized content for the readers to consume.
Remember that child pages link to silos, particularly their parent, and other child pages in the same silo. Search engines will find the child pages from the sitemap or category listings linked from the home page of the blog. This will ensure all your blog posts and pages are spidered.
The following are links available within your blog:
1. Text Link Menu / Navigation
Text link menu or navigation is site wide. Use nofollow attribute for pages that are not important to rank on search engines, like the contact page.
Blog design uses HTML and CSS now, so you can arrange the appearance of the block of content in the right order of significance. Even if you have a left sidebar, you can easily put it below the main content. Readers will also see the post and page first before the sidebars are rendered.
Text link in the menu helps because of the readable anchor text. If you decide to use image, make sure you use the alt attribute appropriately.
2. Inline Text Links
Inline text links, as the name implies, appear inside your content. You use them to link to different blog posts or to external resources.
Use the internal text links wisely and link to relevant pages with the right anchor text to help search engines determine page topic.
It is debatable, but inline text links may be given extra weight because of the nature of the links, i.e. they determine topic by linking to related pages instead of site wide links.
3. Links in the Footer
Footers are abused in the past. Webmasters put tens or hundreds of words and links to other sites to manipulate search engine rankings or transfer link juice.
You need to use this space carefully so it doesn’t weaken the value of each link from that page. If you have 100 links on a page, the value of each link is distributed across 100 links.
Use anchor text in the footer and link only to important pages. Some web publishers like to repeat their main navigation there. Footer is a common place to find site map of the site.
The Importance of a Site Map
A sitemap displays your site / blog content. As with other pages, it must be created with both human visitors and search engines in mind.
A quick glimpse over your site map should make the readers understand the content you make available on your blog. Blogger may include snippets of the content below each link to the blog posts and pages, hence giving the readers a clue about the content on the site.
The page ensures search engines to find their ways into your blog content.
The Impact of Content for Site Links
Each blog should contain unique and well-written content. With millions of blogs already out there, your blog will not stand out unless you have contents the readers want to read and add value to the Web.
Good quality information ensures the readers to come back for more, by subscribing either to your content feed or through email. Well thought-out content invite bloggers to link to your post. That strengthens search engine rankings.
By updating your blog regularly, you give the readers a reason to come back again. More content makes the theme of your blog clearer.
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