Case Study 2, Month 09: Improving Silos and Updates

Yoyao & Dim
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So, what’s next after the programmatic SEO site got hit?

Do Yoyao and I throw in the towel and start fresh, or do we attempt a recovery?

It’s a difficult decision. On the one hand, starting from scratch seems simpler than salvaging a build gone wrong. On the other, we asked you—Paul through LowFruits and Yoyao via the Niche Surfer newsletter—and the consensus was clear: “We want you to try to recover this site.”

Recovery it is.

Let’s go over the game plan.

Removing Silo #2

In the last case study update, we suggested that a likely culprit for the website’s downturn was a flawed second silo.

The silo delved too deeply into a specific subject and, from an SEO perspective, got it wrong. For example, you wouldn’t search for the tire size of a “red” Ford F-150; you’d look for the tire size based on the make and model, not the color.

The approach to the second silo was more of a “low-competition keyword” approach and slightly detoured from the first silo’s approach.

The reason for that was the impressions we were seeing from the first silo and wanted to see if we could get traffic faster following the patterns that we saw were getting traffic. 

While our error wasn’t as blatant, and our website isn’t about vehicles, we suspected that the site’s decline was linked to the tens of articles that approached this subject in a weird way.

So, we removed them. We deleted all 72 articles within the silo and 301-redirected them, with the WordPress category archive, to a 2,346-word article that explains what the subject is (the cliché “What Is {This Subject}?” article).

Keep in mind, this is a competitive search term.

To boost the article’s ranking potential, we used outlines from Surfer AI and KoalaWriter, followed by fact-checking, human editing, and proper formatting.

The final SurferSEO score was a whole 94 out of 100, so I slightly de-optimized it before publishing. I don’t have empirical data to prove this, but I know from firsthand experience, and I’ve heard it from others, that over-optimizing an article tends to produce the opposite result.

The “human editing” aspect was key. The one thing we had to make sure of was that the article addressed all the questions covered by the redirected articles—something the AI writers couldn’t anticipate.

Now, it may seem counterintuitive to try to recover a site by deleting content instead of revising it. But given the flawed silo, both Yoyao and I see it wiser to remove the articles rather than rework them. We can revisit the topic later with new content.

However, we have more pressing things to take care of first.

Reinforcing Silo #1

With 95 articles now in Silo #1 and a 2,346-word pillar article in Silo #2, our next step is to strengthen Silo #1.

In the last case study update, we also mentioned that we could have done better at establishing topical authority for Silo #1.

Now that we’re going back to fix that, we can achieve this by adding “What Is {This Subject}?” articles for each corner of the silo and enhancing the internal linking between individual articles.

Here’s the visual. This is the current structure for Silo #1:

We have a category archive and several programmatically generated articles that answer questions related to a given product and its varieties.

The articles you write (Is, Does, Will, etc.) will heavily depend on your niche and topics. The keyword research is vital here to avoid writing articles that have no searches, are not stand-alone articles, and could lead to keyword cannibalization issues.

And this is the structure we’re going to implement instead:

Observe the subtle—but important—difference. There’s a pillar article for the main product and each of its variations. This allows for strong internal linking between each article.

Going back to the example with the Ford F-150 tire sizes, we want to make sure we also discuss the broader aspects of the Ford F-150 to give a better user experience to visitors and in-depth topical coverage to search engine bots.

We are also showing our broader knowledge.

This is the biggest difference between the low-competition keyword approach and the topical authority approach.

We want to have the topical coverage for everything we want to cover. We’re not cherry-picking articles simply because no one else is writing about them. 

With ChatGPT, Google SGE, and other Generative AI tools, the one-off visitors you get from targeting long-tail keyword articles will only decline from this moment on.

If you want to maintain and grow traffic, you want to also create a memorable brand and site, so visitors will remember you and want to revisit you. Which leads us to… 

Improving E-E-A-T

These days, no site recovery attempt is complete without E-E-A-T signals. At the very least, this includes a decent “About” page, a credible author bio, articles that cover the subject matter in-depth, and external links to authoritative sources.

As we rework Silo #1 and spend time on the site, we’ll work all these things in.


The time for building backlinks will come. But first, we’ll focus on getting Silo #1 just right. When we get there, we’ll templatize and proceduralize the creation of new siloes in a cost-effective and replicable way, so we can take a second stab at growing the site.

The Rollout Plan

It’s never ideal when your website gets hit by an algorithmic penalty, but it’s part of the business and a rite of passage for any website builder.

We’ll do the overhaul in what’s left of this year. Recovery is a gradual process and it usually coincides with a core algo update, so I don’t anticipate any immediate improvements.

Thanks for following along and expect our next update in December! In the meantime, share your thoughts or experiences on site recovery in the comments below.

Who We Are


Yoyao manages his portfolio of niche and authority sites, publishes the Niche Surfer weekly newsletter, and has a topical map service that helps sites build topical authority and drive organic traffic.

Learn more about and


Dim started his first site in 2007 when he stumbled upon a blog about making money online. He’s been buying, growing, and selling sites ever since. Fast-forward to today, and Dim owns an indie media company and runs Publetise, a weekly email newsletter for online publishers.

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Hi there,
How is Case Study site #2 going? Very curious if anything has changed and what are your further plans with the site.


Hey Olga,
No recovery yet. Yoyao and Dim are currently working on the internal linking.


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