How I Became The “Godfather” Of SEO

It sounds crazy to say this, but my company is actually older than Google.

We were around 20 years ago when Google first published The Webmaster Guidelines.

Some of their early guidelines were to have a clear hierarchy, don’t have excessive links, and to have a clear structure that relates closely to what people are searching for.

They were all pretty straightforward, except what we found was that web designers weren’t taking them into account when designing new sites.

Website navigations are usually based around general categories like “Product” or “Contact” and not around how people search. Google has been advising against this for over two decades now! If you look at my website now, the top level navigation is based around my most relevant search keywords not general categories.

I use my general categories as my subnavigation. For example on the top level I’ll have “SEO” or “PPC” because that’s what people are searching for when they’re looking for my content.

No one is typing “Product” into Google hoping to my find my stuff.

Building our site this way allowed us to keep a concentration of information around SEO in one spot. The same goes for PPC.

This organizes my on-page content in such a way that I’m seen as a subject matter expert by Google.

And since I am a subject matter expert visitors to my site also get a sense of trust and authority from my content leading to more white hat links and better rankings.

I call this strategy “SEO Siloing.” It’s like a grain silo where everything is stored inside and you can see it for miles around.

If you want to create SEO Silos for yourself you need to understand how people search.

And then you it’s your job to provide that content. Simple, right?

The first piece of the puzzle is Keyword Research. What are the actual search terms you’re hoping to rank for?

After that you need to identify your target persona, in other words, who are you selling to.

Every word has multiple means depending its context.

If we search for the word “Hammer” the first result is a museum in LA. The second is a vitamin, the third is MC Hammer! If you don’t know who you’re targeting then your keywords are going to be ineffective.

So you need to first brainstorm who your target is, what they are looking for, and I also recommend you identify the keywords that will give you the highest return.

Further, if possible, identify any “Unicorns” that exist in your market space. In this context a unicorn is something that everybody’s talking about. That can become an additional homepage sublink.

On the semantic web, Google is trying to match the content of websites against what the query is hoping to return back.

It’s more about being a solution to the query than a word for word match to the search keywords.

It helps to have your navigation acting as your silos, but it’s also important to keep your customer journey in mind as well. If your content is vague or filler, then your quality will suffer and it’ll hurt your rankings.

Fundamentally, knowing how people are searching, how you make your money, and providing that content strategically on your site.

This all starts with your top nav and building silos for each category.

Google will appreciate the way you’re concentrating content and you’ll begin to be given that subject matter expert ranking.

Action Steps

  1. Turn your site’s top nav into your best keywords.
  2. Let your sub nav’s be more generic like “product” or services.”
  3. Concentrate content within your silos.
  4. Answer your query with the highest quality content, don’t just try to match search terms.
  5. Add a page on any market unicorns to increase traffic.


Result You Will Achieve

Higher traffic, better search ranking, and the ability to be seen as a subject matter expert by Google using a technique known as SEO Siloing.

Mentor: Bruce Clay

Founder and president of Bruce Clay, Inc., Bruce speaks at leading industry conferences and conducts training courses for students worldwide on concepts and methodologies related to Internet marketing.

This article is based on an EHQ interview with the mentor.