Content Silo structure using WordPress plugin (Guide)

Use a content silo approach to help you communicate focused topical expertise.  And using a plugin is one of the easiest ways to to build a solid silo content structure in WordPress.

Most new websites that are built with WordPress inherit the “Blog post roll” feature. 

The “Blog post roll” is simply a listing of all posts that you have published and is usually sorted by date as default.

And this may be fine but what if you are writing about more than one subject matter?

Or maybe it is the same subject matter but some posts belong more together than others.

Also, would you not agree that the blog post roll feel a bit old and “yesterday”? And many bloggers use it because it is there. Instead build you post structure with intent.

Would you like to break this pattern where everything is being bunched together as one? 

Here today we will look at how you can take control of which blogs posts or articles that are grouped together. 

You will learn how to create a content silo structure to give your website a more logical structure and flow.

Why do new websites need content silos?

To attract search engine traffic you need to offer value and a superior user experience.

But how will the search engines know what you are all about when you are a new website? 

It is all up to you. 

You must clearly communicate your value to help the search engines index and rank your WordPress website correctly.

And this is where content silos can help.

What is a content silo structure?

A silo structure helps categorize your website based on the topic or area that is covered.

In essence all posts related to a specific topic are grouped together to create a contextual area of coverage.

If you write about travel, food and cars you would have three different topics.

Example of website with 3 clearly defined silos
Three separate silos for travel, cars and food related posts and articles

All posts or articles about travel would be placed in one content silo. Your posts about cars and food would be placed in other silos.

After all, your posts about travel would have very little to do with cars or food and should consequently not be placed in the same silo or be linked together. 

The silos help you define and communicate clear topical intent and association.

Who needs content silos?

Content silos are ideally suited for websites that cover 

  • two or more different areas or topics
  • two or more related but different areas or topics

By the same logic you do not need to introduce content silos if you are covering a single topic in a well defined niche.

You could of course argue that both Ragdolls and Maine Coons are Cats. And you are correct.

But by creating content silos your posts about Ragdolls will have a more clearly defined value for people searching for information about Ragdolls specifically. 

What are the benefits of a silo structure?

It is all about building authority. Using a content silo structure helps you to communicate your topical field of expertise. This is an important step in being recognized as an expert in your chosen niche. And authority and expertise are key in your quest to get indexed and ranked in the search engines. 

Furthermore, silos help us to be specific and niche down our content. Broad or generic search terms are very competitive and often fail to signal search intent.

Targeting a term like Cats will force you to compete against authority websites with little hope of success.

And how can you know the search intent of someone searching for Cats? 

You cannot. 

They could be looking to buy a cat or musical tickets. There is no way to know.

WP Show Posts is a WordPress plugin that allows you to create lists of posts or pages that are topically grouped together in categories or by tags.

The plugin was developed by Tom Usborne, also known for developing the lightweight WordPress theme GeneratePress as well as GenerateBlocks.

I use the plugin on two different websites and it runs very smoothly.

Setting up a silo structure in WordPress using WP Show Posts

1. Create site structure

To set up an effective silo content structure you need to group your content with search and user intent in mind.

With a new website you do not have any search data to use. But if you do have search date, it will provide valuable insights in how your content is searched for and accessed.

Look at your posts and articles and group them under generic broad terms. These generic terms will be used in step 2.

2. Set up corresponding tags or categories

You create Tags and Categories in the WordPress Admin Dashboard.

Tags are created by clicking Posts > Tags. You can find step-by-step instructions with images in the article Use Tags For Improved User Experience On Niche Websites

Categories are also created via the  WordPress Admin Dashboard. Click Posts > Categories and then “Add New Category”. Find step-by-step instructions in the article Add, Edit & Delete Categories In WordPress.

3. Install WP Show Posts Plugin

After installation you find WP Show Posts in the WordPress Admin Dashboard
WP Show Posts installed

To install the WP Show Posts Plugin you log in to the WordPress Admin Dashboard and select Plugins > Add New.

Next, search for WP Show Posts Plugin.

Locate the plugin and then click Install Now followed by Activate.

After installation you will find the WP Show Posts Plugin in the main menu to the left, usually under Posts.

4. Setup lists in WP Show posts

Next you need to build lists with related posts for each of your categories or tags.

When you are done you WordPress will generate a ShortCode for you. This shortcode will be inserted into the silo content structure pages you will create in step 5.

You will go through 6 different steps to configure WP Show Posts.

Start by clicking WP Show Posts > Add New in the WordPress Admin Dashboard.

You start by naming the list you are building in the field where I have written “Your TAG or CATEGORY name“. Next follow the steps below:

1. Posts:
Post type: Select Posts unless you are building a list of Pages.

Taxonomy: Select whether you will group your Posts by Tag, Category or Format. If you choose Tag or Category you will be given a list of available Tags or Categories. Choose one or several to match the content silo structure you are building.

Post per page:
List how many posts you want the list to display.

Pagination: Optional if you have many posts to display

Step 1 of 6 configuring WP Show Posts

2. Columns:

List the number of columns you want to use for your list. More than 4 columns will be a squeeze if you intend to use images in your listing.

Set the Columns gutter to your desired value. Leave the default value and change it later if needed if you are unsure.

Step 2 of 6 configuring WP Show Posts

3. Images

Check the box if you want to use images in your list design. I leave width and height blank and set alignment to “left” and Image location to “Above title”. You can always come back and change settings as needed later.

Step 3 of 6 configuring WP Show Posts

4. Content:

Here you list how much text you want to show in your listing. 

I recommend starting with “Excerpt”, 20 words, “Include title” and your prefered text for the button.

Step 4 of 6 configuring WP Show Posts

5. Meta

I do not use any of these fields. But feel free to include any data you want

6. More settings:

I go with the default settings that include that posts are ordered in Descending order by date and that all Published posts are eligible for selection. Feel free to browse and select more Meta settings to build a silo content structure that fits your needs.

When the list has been created you click Publish to create your list.

The list will not be visible on your website but it has now been generated. 

Copy the Shortcode listed in the right column. It will look like this:

 [wp_show_posts id="XXXX"]

5. Create silo pages in WordPress

Next you create your silo content page in WordPress by clicking Pages > Add New.

Insert the Shortcode from step 4 on this new page. It should look something like this.

Create the silo page and insert the shortcode

You have now created your first silo content page. This silo page will only list the posts that are associated with the Tag or Category you have chosen.

If there are no posts on your new silo page you need to make sure that you have posts that are associated with the chosen Tag or Category. 

Go to the WordPress Admin Dashboard and click Posts > All Posts. Now look at the column heading and make sure that the correct values are selected under the columns for Categories and Tags.

Summary and conclusion

Content silo pages will allow you to communicate topical expertise and authority while providing visitors a more structured experience.

You really have all to gain by implementing content silos.

This does however not mean that a content silo structure should dictate what you can and cannot do.

Instead use the content silo structure as a support to help guide you in staying focused in your niche and providing solutions and answers to real problems and questions.

Meet the author: Mattias (Matt) is a serial entrepreneur and travel industry expert with more than 20 years of experience in business and web development. Mattias identifies with self-starters and entrepreneurs, loves to garden, and believes everyone needs a game plan for financial independence.