eCommerce SEO: How to Silo Content

This will be short and sweet, but like with many other things in SEO, sometimes the smallest things have the biggest impact.

Let’s say you – or one of your clients is starting an eCommerce website. Siloing your content, and products is one of those things that pays to get done right the first time.

There are a lot of definitions of siloing content, but you really don’t need the definition. You just need to know how it works, and how it relates to long tail keywords.

For example:

Since I’m a Las Vegas local, let’s use Zappos as an example.

Your homepage should generally be the toughest keyword you’re targeting, and it should give the user the broadest sense of what your website is about.

In Zappos’s case – they’re targeting “Online Shoes” and “Clothing.”

Someone searching for the aforementioned keywords is in the discovery phase, they’re shopping – but they just don’t quite know for what. When a user has something more specific in mind, say he’s a male looking for athletic shoes. Zappos has a relevant page targeting men’s sneakers and athletic shoes.

But we could argue even a user search for athletic shoes is still in the discovery phase. Appropriately, Zappos further breaks down the navigation to include basketball, running, skate shoes, etc.

But again, we can break it down even further. Let’s say a user wants basketball shoes, but wants a specific brand – say Jordan’s, Nike, Reebok, etc. There’s a page for that.

And lastly, we arrive to the products, where you could target super long tail keywords; which also tend to be the highest converting. For example: Black Jordan III’s, or Nike Hyperdunk in white, Blue Reebok Pumps, etc.

Zappos is a perfect example of on-page SEO for an eCommerce store. But don’t expect a huge boost in traffic with a single ranking factor. Zappos also gets a tone of press from local and national publications, the Downtown Project, etc.

One of my latest clients, Iris Impressions, also local to Las Vegas, had many issues with their on-page SEO. They’re an interesting case study because their homepage keywords aren’t as competitive as the category level keywords. For example:

Their homepage now targets “Magic Wrap Skirt, 100 Ways to Wear Skirt & Dress,” because in the broadest sense – that’s what they do.

But as we move to the category level, keyword competition and search volume increases. For example, “Convertible Dress” targets about 15,000 searches (including variations), as opposed to “Magic Wrap Skirt,” which targets about 3,000. Similarly, their “Wrap Skirts” are also a tougher target.

Just a few months in, and they’re on the first page for most of their keywords, and a few second pagers. Just one keyword, “Scarf Dress,” is giving me a little trouble though. Perhaps because a.) it’s last in the title tag for the convertible dress page, and b.) while their products are all similar – perhaps users want to see it on a unique page? For this, I’ll most likely target it through a blog post, something like “10 Ways to Wear a Scarf Dress” which could drive targeted traffic.

BONUS TIP: In SEO, there’s a term called “clustering” which helps prevent users from seeing the same domain multiple times on the first page. However, if you have a relevant video, post it on YouTube and start targeting the same keywords. YouTube does well in the SERPS and could your business own multiple spots on the first page. Here’s Iris Impression’s video on Convertible Skirts and Dresses:

Should you focus on eCommerce SEO?

Another issue you have to face, is whether or not you should focus your efforts on SEO vs other channels like Instagram, Pinterest, etc. One example is Me ‘n Mommy To Be, they’re friends that run a consignment shop here in Las Vegas. They asked me about selling some items online, and optimizing those for search. I basically told them that it’s not worth it because they can’t keep a consistent inventory with used items… and a user searching for items does not want to see pages where items are out of stock. It’s a bad user experience, and because of that (among other reasons) it won’t rank well. They’re much better off utilizing a platform where used items thrive, such as eBay, Craigslist and the myriad of local Craigslist-like apps popping into the market.

Another consideration is keyword difficulty. If you’re selling shoes and that’s what you want to rank for you’re probably not going to outrank Zappos, Amazon, Shoes.com, Nordstrom, Footlocker, etc. within the few years without a huge marketing budget. Look for areas without much competition, and make sure it’s getting enough search volume. With eCommerce, you can estimate how much revenue you could generate because a lot of information is public. Let’s say “Nike Shoes” gets 1,000,000 searches/mo and you rank #1 organically. Well based on historical data, you’re going to get about 40-50% of that traffic. And most eCommerce businesses convert at 3% of unique visitors. You get the idea. And the longer you’ve been in business, the more you can dial in that formula.

Any questions about siloing content for your eCommerce store? Ask me directly or leave a comment below.

Latest Comments

  1. Tanya Huang says:

    Hi Jay! How would you silo a product that belongs to multiple silos? For example, say you want to target searches “blue basketball shoes”, “red basketball shoes”, and “Reebok shoes”. How would you place the product “blue and red Reebok shoes” when it belongs to all 3 silos? Thanks :)

    1. jaysoriano says:

      It’s hard to say without seeing the keywords as it really depends on search volume and the type of products.

      I would suggest using Google Keyword Planner, or SEMRush and silo’ing content based off search volume.

      For the above example, I would use a category qualifier for color, thus, example.com/reebok/basketball/blue or /red

      Thus if I were searching for “blue Reebok shoes,” a good search result would be the aforementioned page, which should be a page with a list of blue reebok shoes.

      1. Tanya Huang says:

        Thanks for the quick reply Jay :) I guess it IS hard without the actual example! (This is my site: knotheory.com) My main concern is the silo crossover. If the shoe is blue AND red, it makes sense that it shows up on both searches for blue shoes and searches for red shoes. But the shoe showing up in both silos seems to violate the idea of siloing….

        1. jaysoriano says:

          Products can show up in multiple silo’s for example, “blue reebok basketball shoes” should show up in at least 4 different silo’s on Zappos.

          Using your site as an example, let’s say you have a product:

          “Red/Blue Checkered Dog Bow Tie”

          It could show up for multiple pages on your website, including:

          /dog-bow-ties
          /dog-bow-ties/red/
          /dog-bow-ties/blue/
          /dog-bow-ties/patterns/

          Just thinking out loud.

          1. Tanya Huang says:

            Ahhh, I thought products showing up in multiple silos wasn’t optimal for SEO. If it not an issue, that makes life much easier! :) Thanks for taking the time to clarify Jay! xo

          2. jaysoriano says:

            It’s only an issue if duplicate content comes into play, eg. if the aforementioned product was your only product, it would be the only one listed on each page – thus duplicate content.

            If that may be an issue, look into the rel=canonical attribute.

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