In this article I will show you how to setup your website structure, or in other words, how the content of a website is organized.
I personally like to use silos for the content hierarchy of my websites because this creates topical authority which helps with SEO.
In this article we will be looking at the following:
- WordPress Pages vs Posts
- How to organize Website Content
- Planning the Main subpages for your Silos
- Creating your Silo Pages on WordPress
- Display Static Homepage vs Blog Homepage
Before we go into more detail however you need to understand the difference between a Page and a Post in WordPress.
WordPress Pages vs Posts
In WordPress you can publish two different types of content, Posts and/or Pages. They both look very similar, and this is why it can be confusing at first to understand when to use which type in your website structure.
Pages and Posts were meant to serve different purposes when WordPress was originally created. Nowadays with the help of advanced website builders it is very easy to use Pages to have similar effect as Posts on a WordPress site.
What is a Post?
WordPress was originally created to target the average individual blogger who created a website to write regular articles and share his or her thoughts or knowledge.
WordPress therefore created Posts so that bloggers could write articles using Posts instead of Pages and these would automatically be featured on the Homepage of their website or blog in order of publishing date.
So, a typical blog site using Posts would look like this.
In the WordPress installation your Homepage is set as a Blog Page by default. This means that all the Posts you write will be automatically added and shown in your Homepage.
These are usually listed in reverse chronological order.
This means that Posts are shown in the Homepage with the newest Post at the top. So your older Posts would be pushed further back as you write new Posts and visitors will have to scroll further down or click on ‘next’ to find them.
WordPress Posts automatically also display information such as the date, author name, tags, and more (known as metadata). Metadata is not displayed on Pages however.
If you want your website to be a typical Blog site then you will be using Posts for the majority of your content. These Posts can also be categorized by topic.
What is a Page in WordPress?
Pages in WordPress were originally meant to be used for more static “one-off” type content. For this reason, by default, Pages do not include comments sections, date, author, and other metadata.
For example, a WordPress website for a small shop or company might only displays basic information about the company. This website would include Pages showing information about the company, its owners, services it offers or products it sells, contact information, etc.
This website would be completely built with Pages and no Posts. Here I’m assuming this company website does not include a Blog section with regular articles.
Nowadays most websites use both Posts and Pages because the more content you have on a site the better your chances of ranking in Search Engines.
Thanks to the various Page-Builders on the market, such as GenerateBlocks, the default settings found on Posts can be easily adapted to your Pages nowadays, and therefore the differences between Posts and Pages are not that big.
Having said this, if you are creating a blog structure for your website, like the one we showed above, then it is more convenient to use Posts for your regular articles and leave your Homepage as the Blog Page.
How to organize Website Content
I prefer to use Pages for the main content of my website because it allows me more flexibility when organizing my website structure.
More specifically, with Pages, I can organize my website content in Silos. This means I can group my different articles by topics. The term used by SEOs for this is topic clusters and this creates topical authority within my website which helps search engines understand better what the website is about.
So, if you build your website architecture using Pages and sub-Pages, you will be able to group the site content in Silos based on the different topics you have in your site. This gives you SEO benefits because it is easier for Google to understand the website structure.
Silo Website Structure
With Silos you link your Pages based on topics and the URLs will be structured accordingly. It’s a bit difficult to explain, so let’s show by example.
Let’s say you’re building a website about Sports, for example, which you call ‘MySportsWiki.com’.
Your Homepage will be a Page that gives a bit of background about your website. Such as explaining that the site is about main US sports and that it will show latest sports team news etc.
Your website structure will have different subpages or hubs for the various types of sports, for example, a Football Hub, a Tennis Hub, a Baseball Hub and so on.
The pages and subpages in these Hubs represent the Silos in your website.
In each hub you would then be writing articles about that specific sport. You can then have further website subpages that talk about the main teams for example.
So, your website structure would be like this
- Homepage: talks about what the website is about and contains sections linking to the various website subpages.
- Subpage Football: this Page contains content specific to football and links to various subpages relating to Football Teams.
- Sub-subpage: Team X (content specifically about Team X)
- Sub-subpage: Team Y (content specifically about Team Y)
- Sub-subpage: Team Z (content specifically about Team Z)
- Subpage Tennis: Talking about tennis in general
- Sub-subpage: Men Tennis (content about men tennis in general)
- Sub-sub-subpage: Nadal (content about Nadal’s matches)
- Sub-sub-subpage: Federer (content about Federer’s matches)
- And so on and so on.
- Sub-subpage: Women Tennis
- Sub-sub-subpage: Serena Williams
- And so on and so on
- Sub-subpage: Men Tennis (content about men tennis in general)
Your subcategories and website subpages can go as deep as necessary, but each topic is a well-structured Silo. So, you have the Football Silo and the Tennis Silo in the examples above.
The website structure diagram of your site’s Tennis Silo leading to Nadal’s stats, would be Home > Tennis > Men Tennis > Nadal.
The URL of your ‘Nadal’ Page will look something like this: https://www.MySportsWiki.com/tennis/Men-tennis/Nadal
You can keep adding more silos or extra silos as time passes and your website grows.
This website structure using Pages, makes it easier for you to organize your website’s Navigation Bar by Topic and allows visitors to easily find and browse to the articles they are interested in.
From an SEO perspective it allows Google to easily crawl the website and understand the website architecture.
It also allows search engines to clearly identify the main topics of the website, especially if you have a lot of different topics on your site.
Apart from this, it’s easier to manage your content hierarchy when it is structured in Silos like this., especially as you grow your site with more and more content.
Downside of Silo Website Structure
The downside or Silos structured this way is that it will be hard to change the website structure further down the line, if you decide you need to.
So, if you decide to build your WordPress website using Silos it’s important that you take the time for your website planning phase.
Once you start organizing website content using these Silo Pages and subpages and creating your URLs in this structure, you should then stick to it.
It’s not impossible to change, however if you change your silo structure later on you will need a lot of time and effort to do it properly. I would go so far as saying you would need to engage an experienced SEO professional to help you out with the change in structure, so as to make sure it does not negatively impact your SEO.
Using Posts in your website Structure
In my websites, I use Pages for my main, evergreen content, however I still have a blog section on the site that uses Posts.
This is common on many websites out there and the blog Posts are usually used when creating articles of a different nature or topic from the main sections of the website.
For example, let’s say that in the sports site, mentioned above, you want to write a click-bait article about ‘Athletes with the longest beards’, or a discussion article about your thoughts on ‘Financing of Sports Teams in the US’.
These topics don’t really fall under one of the main Silos and therefore these can be written in a Post and included in the website though the Blog section (outside of any one particular Silo).
These Posts can still attract visitors through Search Engines, but it would be difficult for visitors to find them while browsing the website because they are not linked form the main Pages.
The Posts will be found in the blog section, however as the articles get older, and more Posts are published, they will be pushed further back in the Blog’s list of articles.
Now that I have explained the reasoning behind the website structure I recommend, let’s see how to implement this on our websites.
Planning the Main subpages for your Silos
Once you decide how to structure your website and which Silos to use, you can start creating the main Subpage for each Silo.
At this point of our website planning phase we will just create and title the Silo subpages. We will not create any content in the Pages.
To help you visualize the Pages and Subpages more clearly you can use a tool called Dynalist (free to use) to map out the website structure diagram.
In Dynalist, create a new Folder and then create a new document in this folder.
To start building the website structure on Dynalist, just start typing in your list. Press ‘Enter’ to go to a new line and press the ‘Tab’ button to indent the next line under sub-group. (Indented bullets will represent the nested subpages under the main pages).
Here’s a snapshot of my Website structure on Dynalist. I had created this for WPWebsiteWiki.com during the initial Website planning. I had then amended it slightly as I started creating the actual website.
So, don’t worry if you’re not 100% sure of the names and exact silos at this stage. You can amend them when you start creating the actual Pages on your WordPress site. The Dynalist will however give you an initial road map for your website.
Creating your Silo Pages on WordPress
Once you have the Silos planned out on Dynalist, we should move the same layout on to our WordPress site.
As mentioned previously, WordPress is not built to use Pages for regular content articles in a structured way. There are, however, plugins to help us create our Silo structure using Pages.
Installing Nested Pages Plugin
To get the Pages silo structure reflected in our WordPress we will need to install a plugin called Nested Pages.
Login your WordPress dashboard, click on the PLUGIN section in the side menu and search for ‘Nested Pages’.
Click on the orange INSTALL button and then click on ACTIVATE.
Once the plugin is installed you will notice some changes in the Pages menu section within the WordPress dashboard. The ‘All Pages’ section has changed to a new layout.
Once we start creating our Pages this ‘All Pages’ section will look very similar to the Dynalist layout we created.
You will also see a new item in the menu called ‘Default Pages’. This is the default way WordPress shows the Pages before we installed Nested Pages plugin (if you use nested pages you won’t have to refer to the default layout anymore).
Creating your Silo Subpages
You will notice that WordPress has already created a few Pages by default. One of them is called ‘Sample Page’.
Hover over the ‘Sample Page’ in the list and at the far right click on QUICK EDIT.
A ‘Quick Edit’ pop-up box will show up. Here you can change the name of the Sample page to that of your first subpage (as per your Dynalist).
Amend also the ‘slug’ accordingly.
IMPORTANT: For each Page you’ll need to change the Slug. This is the permalink URL path where the Page exists on your sitemap. For example, WPWebsitewiki.com/[permalink]. Ideally you want to keep these short and include the main Key Words.
So, for example if I am writing an article about SiteGround Hosting, then the slug would be ‘siteground-hosting’. And the full URL of the Page would become www.WPWebsiteWiki.com/Siteground-hosting/.
I don’t need to write the whole title in the slug or URL, such as WPWebsiteWiki.com/How-to-purchase-a-Siteground-hosting-account-for-your-wordpress-website/
Once you change your slug press the UPDATE button (right bottom corner).
To add SubPages as per your Dynalist into the Pages section in WordPress, you must hover over the relevant Page and click on the three dots at the far right. Then choose Child Page from the drop-down options.
So now you have a Main Page and a Child Page (that’s why the plugin is called Nested Pages). You have started creating your Silo structure through these Pages layout.
Add all relevant nested pages here by clicking on the + sign under each Title in the ‘Add child’ pop-up box.
On the right you then have the option of setting the Status to Draft or Publish. Keep them in Draft for now.
Once you’re done press the ADD button at the bottom right corner. You can amend the slugs later when you write and publish the article, that way you know exactly which Keywords to target for the slug.
Add all the Top-Level pages and relevant nested/child pages you have on Dynalist by pressing on the 3 dots at the right and this time choosing INSERT AFTER.
Title each page with the name you want to use for the Page and add the slug. Keep creating until you have all pages set up. Remember to press ADD after each one.
Remember to keep all the Pages you’re creating as Draft for now.
We don’t want to publish many empty pages as this would not be good for the SEO health of your site (especially if you leave them empty for a long period).
Having said this, at least one main Page and Subpage should be published even if it’s still empty, because later we will be working on setting up our Header and Footer sections and we will need some published pages to test them out.
Once you have created all the pages and subpages, click on any one of the pages you created, and you will notice that the URL is automatically set in the Silo structure way we explained previously.
This is done automatically because we added child pages to the relevant top pages. This way we created a Hub with a parent and a child for each Section of our Website.
With the ‘Nested Pages’ layout you can drag and move the pages in the list to re-order them. However, when doing so, make sure not to move the parent-child relationship of the structure as this would affect the URL (permalink structure) which is not ideal for SEO.
Remember to also include the Core Basic Pages of the website (About Us, T&C etc.).
Now, if you intend to have a Blog section within your website structure, to include regular Posts, then you will need to have a dedicated ‘Blog’ Page created on WordPress.
You do not need to call it Blog. You can name this page whatever you want. The concept is that this will be the page where all your Posts will be automatically shown.
For example, in my WPWebsiteWiki.com site I have a ‘WordPress Tips’ section that does not fall in any of the main tutorial silos I created.
This section will be a blog part of my website, where I will be writing Posts which relate to WordPress and Website building. These Posts however are not part of my main Tutorials and therefore do not make part of my main silo structure.
Any article I write which I want to be in the blog section, I would write in a Post and not in a Page. This way the article will automatically be included under the Blog section.
Display Static Homepage vs Blog Homepage
If you decide to follow my recommended website structure, then your homepage will not be a blog page but a Static Homepage. This requires that we set it up accordingly because by default WordPress puts your homepage as a blog.
So, we need to ensure that our WordPress is set up to show our Static Homepage as Homepage. If we also want to include a blog, then we need to create another Page to act as the blog where all our Posts will be automatically added.
To create a separate Blog page, just go to Pages, create a new page and name it ‘Blog’ or any other fancy name you want to give it. Just remember which page will be your Blog page.
To define which Page will be our Homepage and which Page will be our Blog Page in WordPress, we need to go to our WP dashboard and on the left-hand menu click on SETTINGS > READING.
This will take you to the Reading settings.
Here is where you choose which page will be your Blog page and which will be your Homepage.
If you want to follow the same website structure I have on my site, then for Your Homepage Displays, select ‘A static page’ and then choose the page we had created and named Home.
For your Posts Page, choose the page you just created as your Blog.
In these settings area, you can also choose how many Posts appear in your Blog page. Also you can set how much of the content to show from each post in the Blog page, that is, just the summary (title and first few lines), or the complete article (Full text).
Remember to press the SAVE CHANGES button before leaving the Reading Settings.
Website Structure Done. What Next?
Now that the website structure has been planned out we can start creating our content. We won’t dive into this without a proper Branding strategy, however.
In the next tutorial I will show you how the process to set up a website branding strategy for your WordPress site.
For a full list of my WordPress Tutorial please click here.