Site structure is one of the most important on-page SEO techniques you can apply to your website. It will allow you to present your site to google’s bots in more of a book like fashion. It also lets you add duplicate pages/content that you wouldn’t normally have, but to help user experience and engagement rate. With duplicate content, just make sure you no-index or possibly no follow those pages. Another key benefit is creating a funnel for the backlink juice you get to pages you want. Keeping the SEO flow of links organized, and related backlinks going to the correct pages.
This is why its also called a pillar site structure sometimes. Let us say you have an online store and are getting some backlinks to your sports articles/products. It’s best practice to keep any link juice from another category like men’s suit & ties, away from those pages. Being they are two totally unrelated topics, it will be less confusing for Google to understand what these pages are really about. Connecting on related pages like that is also known as cross-linking categories. We highly recommend not doing this if you are not semi-experienced with SEO, unless it’s a test on a non-money site.
A Basic Website Silo / Pillar Example:
Above is an example of a very simple site silo. As you can see here, any link that hits home page gets sent out to all the inner pages. This would be a common setup if you were buying an expired domain with backlinks. Rather than manually recreating those pages that have backlinks pointing at them, we can just redirect all 404s to the home page. Now all the domains backlinks are funneled into the homepage. With this setup, we are in full control of where all those links get sent too. Linking from the home page to pass them to our inner pages we want to rank.
We are not linking back out to our home page in those articles, so the “juice” gets trapped. The link juice flows into all the articles, and back. You can think of these links like the water pipes inside of your house, and the link juice being water. You want to connect them in the right order and make sure the “water” is going to the places you need it to go.
Bonus Content: SEO Silo Examples For Larger Websites
The above layout is a more advance silo that an SEO agency would likely use. All 80% of the link juice from the site is getting funneled into the three hard keyword pages. Trapping most of the juice in that single silo, and pushing all the juice from the easy keyword silo to the hard silo. If someone builds a link to one of 7 out of 10 pages, the authoritative backlink juice will get sent to the hard keyword silo. Med keywords are not connected to these and trap all the keyword juice in it’s own funnel.
Example of a Local Restaurant’s Site Architecture
This websites site structure was done by a local “SEO/web dev design” company for a local pub of mine that I like to visit. I try never to insult someone’s work; I know some of my early SEO work as garbage work. ( but from a company of 7+ people… ) Anyways, let’s just see what is wrong in this picture, and what changes will be needed to help correct them. The first thing I noticed was one of the design elements they had on two of the pages. It is causing them to have two external backlinks pushing to the menu page, and two to the blog post. All of that link juice is getting wasted sending them to such over and under optimized pages. I can’t see any good reason to double link out to the menu on two pages like this.
The blog doesn’t drive in any organic traffic; it’s just some updates that happen around the bar. No real reason to add a lot of links pointing to those pages. It would be better to push those links to Menu and the home page. This way if people search for food/beer items they sell within their local area, they will have a better chance at ranking on page one for those queries. When the search is more generic like local restaurant – then you are likely going to want the home page to show up for those terms.
The contact us page doesn’t need a ton of links to it as well being a rarely used page. Being they don’t have a contact form, it looks like they are trying to funnel people into calling over email. What they could do is move the “location” section on the home page, over to the contact us page. This way, you would have another unique page of content to try to rank for more local terms.
SEO Focus of the four main pages:
Home Page: Branded searches and general local searches
Menu’s Page: Food & Beer related local searches
Contact Us Page: city based local searches
Blog: More planning required to decided for a good reason even to keep the blog, and what its main focus/reason for being there is.
Restructuring the Restaurants On Page SEO:
This layout is how I would possibly go about restructuring this websites silo. I didn’t want to change much, outside of how we link to our internal pages. Now we are not losing so much link juice, on those pages that can bring in search traffic. Helping to increase the site’s visibility in the SERPs.
News/Events is commonly related to some kind of food, and food can depend on events happening. Internal linking those two makes sense in my mind. Something they could do is create a new section in the Menus for “Speciality Event Food,” and linking those blog post to the menu. For example: If they have a big football game like the civil war. They can create a blog post about the event that’s happening, and share that on their social media pages. This way, if anyone shares our blog post or links to our post. Thier link juice would flow from the blog post to the menu page, to the homepage and recirculate from there.
The menu’s page now only has one outbound link and two inbound links. Compared to 4 inbound links, and 0 outbound links like before.
The home page has significantly reduced in the number of links, now with only three outbound links, and one inbound like compares to 5 outbound and 0 inbound. The main Home Page, of course, is another valuable page we want ranking well. If someone visits their homepage, my best guess is user intent will show they are looking for – hours of operation, the address, or the menu. Make sure they can find these easily from the main home page.
Links to the blog post are now also removed because we have no reason to rank outdated events. Some kind of community building “thing” likely revolving around sports being they are a sports bar. Thier blog could focus on sport-related competitions like a local fantasy football league, nongambling of course. Giving people a reason to visit the blog to see what times the league events are happening, who won, what the score is, etc., etc. With a local community building event like this, you can also help build the Facebook page. Growing a social following from the main site will build a list of people who even love what you are doing. You are most likely going to be able to pull in more traffic via social platforms, than Google with a small town bar like we used in this example. Its one of those fun symbiotic relationships you have to balance. SEO and social.
Ranking position of the Menu Page
For some reason, they have all the different menu categories on the page as h1’s, and my guess is it’s getting penalized and not getting that great of organic clicks. This and the fact that it’s getting so many inbound duplicate links from an unrelated page, and sending its link juice elsewhere.
It does look like they are getting hit with an over optimization penalty If you look at the keywords that page is ranking for – it’s relatively unrelated to what the page is. Minus the Exact match terms. What I would do is change the H1 tags to H2, and give it a week to see if any improvements happen. Then slowly start reorganizing the link structure of the website.
Making these changes should automatically remove any over optimization penalty within a few days. If you don’t see any movement in the SERP results, then try changing things around again.