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Information architecture: How to build up silos using Serpstat and WordPress

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Information architecture: How to build up silos using Serpstat and WordPress
Have you ever experienced this? You've landed on a website that offers high-quality content - but looking for basic information, you get lost. Somehow, you just can't find your way around.

Don't worry, it's not your fault. The reason is missing information architecture. The problem is that a more sophisticated page structure doesn't seem to offer any advantage for a smaller site. But when websites are getting bigger and have a lot of content, such a page structure is mandatory.

But a well-structured page offers even more benefits: Did you know that a good page architecture can have a positive effect on the ranking of your pages in search engines?

What is information architecture?

Information architecture is the structure of the content of your website or blog. In simple words, it is how the individual pages are linked to each other and how users and search engine crawlers move between these pages. The information architecture should not be misinterpreted as the navigation of a page. Although the navigation is often based on the information architecture, it rarely represents it entirely.

Why is information architecture important?

Better rankings in search engines

The first and most important reason to take care of your website's structure is to improve search engine rankings. John Mueller from Google recommends a pyramid structure for your website:
A good website structure and internal linking help crawlers to crawl and index your site more efficiently. If your pages are not well linked, crawlers are more likely to struggle to crawl your site.

But good information architecture is not only about indexability. It also gives search engines context, so they understand what your individual articles and your entire website are about. The right term is semantic search.

Another advantage of a well-structured website is that PageRank spreads better across your site. This means that PageRank from external links will flow to all related pages due to the logical structure of your website, helping you to get better rankings on search engines.

Better user experience

Also, a logical information architecture makes it easier for your users to navigate the site and find exactly the information they are looking for. A great user experience reduces the chance of them bouncing and increases the chance of conversions. As an assured ranking factor, these user signals also affect the position of your website in the search results.

Thematic positioning

The third and final point is your thematic positioning.

Through the logical structure of your page, your core topics are easily visible to your page's visitors at first sight.

But thematic positioning helps not only users but also you. When you write and publish new articles, there's always a relation to your core topics, keeping you from drifting apart.

Okay, by now you have understood that your information architecture is important. But how do you build such architecture?

How to build information architecture

Step 1: Do a detailed keyword research

The first step towards information architecture is keyword research. To do this, create an in-depth list of keywords that you would like to rank for.

Think about what your goal is to collect a basic set of phrases. Selection of keywords using Serpstat keyword selection is as follows:

Enter key phrases that describe your site, what products you offer, what services you provide into the search field, and select the region. Then navigate in the left sidebar to the navigation point Keyword research > SEO research > Keyword selection.

The following screen shows the results for the phrase content marketing:
Serpstat Keyword Research tool
Serpstat Keyword Research tool
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Probably not all of the phrases showing up in your results are suitable for you. That's why you should filter your results, by clicking on the filter icon in the top right:
Serpstat Keyword Research tool
Serpstat Keyword Research tool
I put the following filters on for my results:

  • Phrases with incorrect spelling

  • Toponyms (in my case location doesn't really matter)

  • Phrases that include words like agency, jobs, and insurance, which doesn't match the search intent I'm targeting
In addition, I filtered Keywords with an average search volume below 50, to minimize the output.

Serpstat has another useful tool called Clustering that allows you to group the phrases by their meaning. To do this, select all keywords and copy them to your clipboard or export them as a CSV-file. Then select Tools > Clustering from the menu on the left and create a new project.
Serpstat Keyword Clustering tool
Serpstat Keyword Clustering tool
I made the following settings for my project:

  • Search Engine: Google

  • Country: United Kingdom

  • Strength: Strong

  • Cluster type: Strong

If you want to learn more about how to properly configure and use this tool, you should read the article on clustering.

In the last step, import the exported keywords from the keyword selection and press the start button:
Serpstat Keyword Clustering tool
Serpstat Keyword Clustering tool
From the report created, I see that Serpstat has filtered out several categories of keywords with the phrase content marketing. The biggest clusters for my phrase content marketing are:

  • content marketing course

  • content marketing plan

  • content marketing strategy

  • content marketing seo

  • content marketing blog

  • content marketing b2b

  • content marketing examples

  • content marketing for social media

These query clusters will help me to formulate the main features of content marketing that my target audience is interested in. Those are a perfect basis to build silo pages and will give me an idea for the future names.

If you plan to build information architecture with more depth, you can repeat the process of keyword research and clustering for your biggest clusters to get a deeper understanding of the search intent.

Now you have a general list of search queries for your keyword and the terms that are most often searched for in combination with it. Group the collected queries by meaning in any mind mapping tool of your choice:
Queries grouped by meaning. Source: Andreas Mühlbauer / Screenshot from mindmeister.com

Step 2: Build individual silo pages

In the second step, you create custom silo pages for each of your selected keywords. This tutorial refers to silo pages on WordPress, but in many other content management systems the procedure is similar:
Silo page.
Silo page. Source: WordPress
There are a number of reasons why the default WordPress categories are not suitable for building silo pages:

  • The default category pages are classified as thin content by Google because they don't contain unique content. The chance to rank in the SERPs with these pages is extremely low.

  • Category pages are usually highly valuable pages for building backlinks. Backlinks on category pages do not only have a positive impact on the particular page, but also on all the pages that lie below them. However, it is difficult to build links with the standard category pages because they are not very attractive.

  • The breakdown of categories into numbered pages is not effective in terms of link juice distribution.
Notice: Of course you could also use WordPress posts for your silo pages. Especially if you want to use a nested URL structure I recommend using WordPress pages, because posts can not be nested.
In my experience, the following layout works well for silo pages:

  • An H1-Headline containing your main keyword

  • A short introduction

  • One paragraph as a teaser for each post or subcategory, including a call to action

  • A post grid that lists all posts or subcategories again

Step 3: Decide on a permalink structure

One point you need to deal with when building an information architecture is permalinks. You have two options:

Option 1: You use a simple permalink structure that only contains the post name: https://www.yourdomain.de/yourpost/

Find the permalinks options page in the settings:
Permalink settings
Permalink settings. Source: WordPress
There, select the "Post name" setting.

Notice: Be careful when making changes to your permalink settings. If you already have posts on your site, changing the permalinks without setting redirects may result in a drop in rankings and traffic.

I recommend this simple option for the following reasons:

  • Your permalinks are shorter.

  • If you change the URLs of individual silo pages, the path of all subpages will not change.

  • You don't need any additional plugins, complicated URL rewrites, and so on.
Option 2: You use a nested permalink structure: https://www.yourdomain.de/yourcategory/anothercategory/yourpost/

There are several ways to build a page structure with nested URLs on WordPress. This one is the simplest in my opinion:

Find the permalinks options page in the settings:
Permalink settings.
Permalink settings. Source: WordPress
Now select the "Custom Structure" setting and put in /%category%/%postname%/ into the field on the right.

To make both of these options work, we use a small glitch on WordPress that causes pages to overwrite categories with the same URL. To do this, first, build your page structure using WordPress categories. Then simply rebuild your category structure with pages, using the Parent Page widget on the right side:
Parent Page
Parent Page. Source: WordPress
Also, make sure your pages use the same slugs as your categories in the permalink field.

If you followed all the steps and hit https://www.yourdomain.de/yourcategory/ or https://www.yourdomain.de/yourcategory/maybeanothercategory/ you will end up on your created pages now instead of your categories.

Step 4: Build the internal linking

The final step for your information architecture is the internal linking of your content.

Your silo pages should each contain links to all related subpages. The subpages should link back to the silo pages. If you have set up your silo pages as I described in step two, your subpages are already linked to the silo pages. This means that you only need to link from the subpages back to the silo pages.
Internal linking.
Internal linking. Source: Andreas Mühlbauer / Created with Canva
You've probably read about the idea of keeping link juice in the silo and only internally linking to pages that are in the same silo. I believe that in addition to the links between your silos and subpages, you should link to all the other pages on your website when it makes sense and provides some extra value to your visitors.

Conclusion

As you can see, information architecture offers a number of advantages both for your search engine rankings and for the user experience and makes it easier for you to create relevant content. All you need to do is to follow these steps:

  1. Plan your information architecture by doing keyword research and grouping your keywords

  2. Build customized silo pages for your categories and subcategories

  3. Decide on a permalink structure

  4. Put links between silo and subpages (and additionally to other pages, when it makes sense)

Finally, the crucial question: How important is your information architecture for SEO? Is it worth the effort?

In general, for small websites the impact of information architecture on rankings is low. When websites are getting bigger and have more pages and internal and external links, the benefits for your SEO can be significant, because the value of each backlink is spreading better across the site. Nevertheless, it is better to start with a clean structure right away: Changing the architecture of larger sites always comes with the risk of losing rankings and traffic. You can save yourself blood, sweat, and tears by doing it right from the beginning.
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The opinion of the guest post authors may not coincide with the opinion of the Serpstat editorial staff and specialists.

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