The Circle Jerk Silo Structure (Guide + Template)

Written by Constantin Oesterling on 2021-06-03

I've extensively tested most siloing methods you can imagine.

From Bruce Clay's silos to hub pages, linking all pages within a content cluster together to whatever I came up with or read somewhere.

None of them yielded the results I was hoping for.

About a year ago, I figured out a siloing technique that beat everything I have tested before.

I won't claim I invented this method.

There's a good chance someone else figured it out before me.

But I've never seen this mentioned in articles about content clusters and silos.

So the one thing I know for sure is that this technique isn't as popular as it should be.

Let's dive right into it...

Results

Here are the results of one of the tests I ran:

circle jerk silo results

It's a reasonably competitive commercial keyword in a medical niche that moved from pretty much nowhere to the middle of page 1.

All content moved into the silo existed on the site already and was linked to the target page.

The only thing that has been changed is that supporting content was moved into what I call a circle jerk silo consisting of one money page and 10 supporting pages.

How It Works

You might wonder why I call this the circle jerk silo...

Well, because it results in a circle-shaped feedback loop passing relevance and link equity and looks like this:

circle jerk silo visual

Take a very close look.

This is exactly how pages are connected.

The main money page (parent or pillar page or whatever you want to call it) links out to the first of the supporting pages (child pages).

Then each supporting page links to the money page, the next supporting page within the silo, and the previous supporting page.

Eventually, the last supporting page of the silo links back to the first one and the first one also links back to the last one.

If we have one money page and five supporting pages, they would be linked like this (contextual links placed in this exact order):

  • Money page links to supporting page A
  • Supporting page A links to money page
  • Supporting page A links to supporting page B
  • Supporting page A links to supporting page E
  • Supporting page B links to money page
  • Supporting page B links to supporting page C
  • Supporting page B links to supporting page A
  • Supporting page C links to money page
  • Supporting page C links to supporting page D
  • Supporting page C links to supporting page B
  • Supporting page D links to money page
  • Supporting page D links to supporting page E
  • Supporting page D links to supporting page C
  • Supporting page E links to money page
  • Supporting page E links to supporting page D
  • Supporting page E links to supporting page A

Easy enough, right?

Topic Selection

When it comes to selecting topics for supporting content, relevance is key.

Ideally, you'll want keyword overlap.

This means that each supporting page should contain a part of your money page keyword.

Let me give you an actual example to make this as straightforward as possible.

Let's assume the main keyword of the money page we want to rank and build a circle jerk silo around is "best golf clubs".

The first step would be to enter this keyword into whatever keyword research tool you prefer.

For me, that would be Ahrefs.

You'd then check for keywords that contain "best golf clubs".

In Ahrefs, this is under the tab called "Having same terms".

best golf clubs keywords

We would already have plenty of highly relevant subtopics with 100% keyword overlap that we can use for supporting content with this example.

But that's not always the case, and for a competitive keyword, it makes sense to build out a larger silo.

We can find everything we can put into our silo while still keeping topical relevance as high as possible by finding keywords that contain our head term, which would be "golf club(s)" in this case.

First, enter only the term that has no plural into Ahrefs Keywords Explorer.

In our case, that would be just "golf".

Next, add a new "Include" filter with the value "club*" to only show keywords that contain both "golf" and then anything that starts with "club", which also covers "clubs".

golf clubs filter

Then go through the "Having same terms" and "Questions" tabs to find additional topics for your supporting pages.

I sometimes build silos that consist of 50+ pages, and this example keyword would be one of those cases where I would build out a large one, including nested silos and a hub page (more on this later).

But for now, let's assume we only want to build a small silo with 5 supporting pages.

The keywords for these could be as follows:

  • best golf clubs (money page)
  • best golf clubs for beginners (supporting page A)
  • best golf clubs for seniors (supporting page B)
  • how to clean golf clubs (supporting page C)
  • how to swing a golf club (supporting page D)
  • how to hold a golf club (supporting page E)

Anchor Selection

Use keyword-rich anchor text but don't just repeat the exact match keyword.

The best way to find keywords to use in your anchor text is Google Search Console if the money page is already live.

If it isn't, use Ahrefs.

Just run your money page keyword through Keywords Explorer and see what competing pages rank for on positions 1-10:

anchors golf clubs

These are the keywords you'll want to use as part of your internal anchors pointing towards your money page.

You can add words before and after to make them more unique.

Here's an example of five anchors you could use if you have five supporting pages:

  • the best golf club
  • list of top golf clubs
  • what are the best golf clubs on the market
  • use nice golf clubs
  • some of the best golf clubs

You get the idea...

For links between supporting pages, you only have two anchors per supporting page (except for the first supporting page, which gets three).

Use an exact match anchor for the link pointing to the next supporting page in the circle and a close variation for the anchor of the link pointing back.

Link Placement

All silo links should be contextual links, and you should always link out to the money page first.

If you can, link to the money page from the first few paragraphs of the supporting page⁠—ideally above the fold.

The next link would ideally be the one pointing to the next page within the silo, and the last link would be the one pointing back to the previous page.

If you can't find a good place for one or both links to the other supporting pages, you can use this trick.

Nested Silos

In some cases, you'll have other money pages as supporting pages in your silo that you want to rank as well.

If they're low competition, they might rank.

But if they're not, you could give them a push by creating a nested silo (or sub-silo or tier 2 silo or whatever you want to call it).

Doing this is quite easy.

The structure would then look like this:

We simply turned one of the supporting pages into a secondary parent page by building its own circle jerk silo around it.

To stick to our example, "best golf clubs for beginners" would be a good target for a nested silo.

To maximize topical relevance within the nested silo, we'd try to stick to the subtopic when it comes to supporting pages.

This means that if we want to build a nested silo for "best golf clubs for beginners", good topics for supporting pages would be:

  • best left handed golf clubs for beginners
  • how to swing a golf club for beginners
  • how to hold a golf club for beginners

All of these cover "golf clubs" (main topic) and also "beginners" (subtopic of the nested silo) and, of course, they also all have search volume.

Hub Page Hybrid Silo

Incorporating a hub page as last supporting page into a circle jerk silo structure has more than one advantage.

  1. It's a great target for link building as it distributes link equity equally within the silo
  2. It groups silo pages providing additional relevance signals
  3. It's great for users

If you add a hub page to your circle jerk silo, it will look like this:

hub page hybrid silo

The hub page would be the last supporting page within your silo and link out to every single page that's part of it.

Think of it as a kind of a custom category page if your silo would be a category.

The hub page would explain the main topic ("golf clubs" in our example) and group your silo into different sections that link out to all pages from list items.

For example, if you built out a large silo around your "best golf clubs" page that covers everything from "best golf clubs for X" to individual product reviews and how-to guides about golf clubs, your hub page would be kind of a well-designed HTML sitemap with decent content on it that groups and links out to all of them.

This hub page should then be your main focus for link building (internal and external), be part of your main navigation, and feature it on your homepage.

If you mention golf clubs on pages that aren't part of another silo already, this would be the page you'd want to link to.

It's basically the entry point of your circle jerk silo for both link equity and users.

You don't necessarily want to rank it for a keyword.

But still, it might make sense to try ranking it for the head term of the silo ("golf clubs") or a high-level informational keyword, such as "what is a golf club".

Pitfalls

There are some potential pitfalls with this silo structure that you should be aware of.

Not Enough Topical Relevance

Topical relevance is key.

The more attention you pay to it, the better your results.

If you build a silo covering "golf clubs", you don't want to add pages about "golf balls" to it just because there's a keyword overlap with "golf".

Use your brain and keep silo pages as relevant to each other as you possibly can.

Not Enough Supporting Pages

Although a silo with three supporting pages might be better than no silo at all, you likely won't see massive shifts in your rankings.

As a rule of thumb, use at least 5 supporting pages for each main silo.

For nested silos, 3 might be enough already.

But in general, the more pages a silo has, the better.

However, it always depends on the breadth of the topic.

There might be very few subtopics you can target in some cases, and in other cases, there might be hundreds.

What's important is that you fully cover everything that's very tightly related—whether that means 5 supporting pages or 100.

Don't force loosely related supporting pages into a silo just to increase its size.

Not Strict Enough

Double- and triple-check that your silo pages are interlinked exactly as they should be.

Don't link out to pages that aren't part of the silo. Although this doesn't kill your silo, it should be kept to a minimum at least.

The money page should only have a single outgoing internal link to the first supporting page within the cluster.

Then each supporting page should always only have three outgoing internal links as explained above.

However, linking to any page within a silo from another page that isn't part of the silo and is just loosely related, usually isn't an issue.

If you use a hub page as part of your silo, you'd mainly link to that from loosly related content as it distributes link equity equally throughout the silo and also acts as an additional relevance filter.

Link Building Considerations

When you build backlinks to rank a silo, don't go too heavy on the money page.

Instead, mainly focus your link building efforts on the hub page if you use one and the other supporting pages.

This will power up the whole silo and eventually propel the rankings of your money page, which is the central point of the feedback loop within the circle jerk silo.

The advantage of this is that it's generally easier to get links to informational content than to money content.

Plus, you don't really have to worry about your backlinks' anchor text because link equity is being passed to the money page through the internal links and optimized anchors.

Google Sheets Template

I created a Google Sheets template for all three silo variations covered in this guide.

Just make a copy.

Final Thoughts

The circle jerk silo is a massive competitive advantage if implemented correctly.

You'll need fewer backlinks to rank, and you'll run into fewer issues with Google Search algorithm updates.

You can implement this on pretty much any type of website, although this guide focuses on affiliate sites.

If you implement this, share your results on Facebook! 🙂

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