Are Link Wheels still a valid SEO technique?
You probably know already a thing or two about the link wheel and what it can do for seo, but there are few common misconceptions I would like to clear and give you a fresh new perspective on the link wheel.
This article should actually be called “A complete guide to link wheels” but because of what we are going to discuss.
The basic idea of link wheels is to create a pattern of links which flow from one website to another which would finally link to a targeted website requiring promotion. Link wheels fall under the category of search engine optimization, however, when social media sites are used to create the link flow the link wheel strategy becomes social media marketing. According to experts, “link wheels have maximum effectiveness when the social media sites are used.”
But my personal opinion is that a link wheel is nothing more than a private blog network, one designed to help your search engine optimization and increase the rankings of your main website.
Common misconception 1: Link Wheels are BLACK HAT
Black hat SEO is a hack or exploit which benefits generally don’t last, but if there are still people out there that don’t know what black hat seo is, I’ll explain it shortly. Black hat is the type of seo that cuts corners, is unethical, is gaming some surface flaws in the search engines and most importantly is known to provide fast results, cheap
So now that we know what black hat is, it’s time to tell you why some people consider link wheels as a black hat technique (or grey hat). There are a ton of web 2.0 websites out there, websites with user generated content, website where you can post articles or create your own mini website for free. These websites have a great page rank (usually around PR6-PR9), also they have a truckload of inbound links and the domain name is very old – things which make them rank very well on all search engines (including the major ones, Google, Bing and Yahoo). These web 2.0 properties as they are known where content is generated by the users are websites like WordPress.com, Blogger.com, HubPages, Tumblr.com, Squidoo.com, Webs.com, Webbly.com and others… So websites like the ones mentioned earlier are very powerful publishing platforms [from an SEO point of view] and here’s why they’re used by black hats to build their link wheels: the idea is that since these websites have so many inbound links and very high authority, google and other search engines will not suspect anything if people just put a bunch of worthless articles / content onto them and them create a horde of links to each piece of content. So even if the content is complete rubbish and the links are very low quality, because of the power these web 2.0 properties have, many black hats still think that google can be fooled into thinking that any content, no matter how rubbish it is, is actually good content and it should rank it high.
It’s true [or at least it was true as of May 22, 2013 when the latest google penguin update went live] that any content, even rubbish content, combined with a big enough amount of links can increase the authority and page rank of a url and so increase it’s SERP rankings [even if for a short while].
In terms of seo this strategy sounds good, because you create a bunch of websites on high PR, high authority domains which and via these website you link to your main/target website and so pass pagerank and authority to your website. Nothing wrong with that, but the actual reason why black hats love this strategy is because they can bombard each of the web 2.0 websites they create with tons and tons of links [often more than 50k links per month] and not worry about getting your main website penalized [because in theory, your main website will receive links from the web 2.0 websites only].
So a link wheel can be black hat if built with junk content and tons of spammy links, and google does not like spammy links or the manipulation of their search results. And because of this, when google catches you and finds out the web 2.0 website you created to link to your main website, they will deindex / remove that page and it won’t pass on any link juice to your main website so it will be completely useless. So if you want to keep at it, you’ll have to create another one, and another one, and another one… so you’ll have to build links faster than google can deindex / delist them and believe it or not, this takes a lot of time and effort and in the long run it’s not worth it…
Also, considering the latest google updates, you don’t want your website to be associated with any spammy website with junk links and junk content. In fact, often people will have to work to removed bad backlinks to fix penalizing backlinks.
So that being said, I acknowledge that links wheels can be black hat [and the vast majority of them are] but there’s also the option of doing a completely white hat link wheel that won’t get delisted and won’t get your website penalized.
We all know that “content is king” and good content is the best foundation for every website. So what if you replace the junk content in a black hat link wheel with good content? What if we replace it with great content? What if we replace the spammy links with natural links? What if we keep only the structure of the link wheel and replace everything else?
If you can do that, I can tell you that the results will be spectacular. Because of the great content, your web 2.0 websites will attract a lot of natural links and a lot of social media sharing. And with that comes a higher PR, higher authority and these websites will get valuable in time and will pass on more and more link juice to your main website and because everything is 100% white hat, the web 2.0 sites will never lose their PR and authority and so your main website will stay on top.
So just keep in mind – GREAT CONTENT is always BEST!
Common misconception 2: Building a quality link wheel is easy
These days you there are a lot of programs that can automatically build a link wheel for you. A few clicks and your done… Sounds easy right? Well it is, but the resulting link wheel will be 100% black hat. And here’s why…
First of all, a link wheel built with an automated software it leaves a footprint which google will notice once it indexes all the link wheel pages and then you’ll be in trouble.
Secondly, these automated tools post on certain websites only so all the people using those programs will actually spam the hell out of those websites and the link coming from there will be useless. And also, if someone did it before, google already knows that that web 2.0 website is used for spamming so it will look more carefully at all the links and also will delete them faster.
Third and most important – these automated tools will automatically create content. They create the content by scraping other websites and mixing bits and pieces, getting articles from free article directories and spinning them or a mix of both. Scraping content is not good because you’ll get duplicated content; spinning articles from free article directories is not good because the spinning will turn your article into something unreadable, it just replaces random words with synonyms. So in the end, you get garbage content which will render your link wheel useless.
So if you think about now, building a link wheel is not that easy. You need to create all the content yourself if you want to have great content, you’ll need to create all the web 2.0 websites manually and also post to them manually and when interlinking each the web 2.0 properties you should definitely use a random pattern.
So now you might say: “yea, I’m going to build the link wheel myself, manually, shouldn’t be too hard” Well, get ready to spend weeks or months doing it. Maybe it’s your time comes cheap, but there are probably better things for you to spend your time doing.
Common misconception 3: There’s a lot of free information about building link wheels
If you plan to build the link wheel yourself you should get all the information you need before you start. That shouldn’t be too hard, there’s tons and tons of stuff about link wheels and how to build them, right? WRONG!
If you look carefully, you’ll notice that 99% of the information you find online about link wheels is generic, doesn’t tell you much, doesn’t give you too many details or the exact steps needed to correctly create a link wheel and that’s why almost all people who try to use white hat link wheels fail. So don’t start building your link wheel if you don’t know exactly how to do it, it will either have no effect and you’ll waste your time or it will have a bad effect on your main website, which is ever worse.
Common misconception 4: Link wheels are cheap to Buy [or build]
Building a link wheel: if you want it done right you should create all the content yourself, create all the web 2.0 websites yourself, post to them yourself. And that’s really time consuming, time which you should actually spend running your business… If you want to build the link wheel yourself, there’s a way of doing it much much faster, by using automated software: with a click of a button you’ll have a full link wheel ready in under 5 minutes – and these programs don’t cost much and you can use them to create not one but as many link wheels as you want… But now that you know the effect of automatically built link wheels, I’m pretty sure you’ll stay away from such programs.
But just think about it, if it is so cheap to buy a link wheel (or build one in 5 minutes with the help of an automated software) and get ranked on the front page of google (as many link wheel vendors and link wheel software developers claim),why doesn’t everyone use this method ? I mean, $5 for a link wheel that will get you the front page of google for multiple keywords, or $50 for a software that will create as many link wheels as you want, that’s like a dream come true… And also if this method is so cheap and effective why are there seo companies charging thousands of dollars per month for SEO?
The answer is simple, a cheap link wheel will have absolutely no effect, a dirt cheap one will even penalize your website and lower your current ranks. With the current economic situation, people are trying to sell their junk products / services, but be careful what you spend your money on, in most cases you won’t see any results.
So from now on, when thinking about buying a link wheel service just think about a few things:
- is the vendor using automated software to build the link wheel? [all dirt cheap link wheels are created using automated software and none of the service providers selling cheap link wheels don’t even claim that they build them manually]
- if the vendor claims to build the link wheel manually just ask yourself one thing: does the price justify the time and resources put into manually creating a link wheel ? [usually link wheels below $150 are not done manually – just think about it, if a vendor promises a link wheel with 50 links to your website for only $150 you actually pay $3 per link – so for $3 the vendor will have to create a 500 word or more great article, create an account on a web 2.0 website and then post that article… just think about it, would you spend 2-3 hrs to do this for a return of just $3? if you do the math, it’s $1 per hour… ]
And as for using automated software to build a link wheel or any other type of link scheme – just forget about it.
Common misconception 5: A link wheel is made out of web 2.0 websites only
Use only web 2.0 websites to post articles and create links. That’s what everyone says. And if you’ve been living in cave for the past few years you’ll agree with them. But just remember that google now takes into account and gives great value to links from social media networks like facebook, twitter, pinterest – so make just to use them if you want your advanced link wheel to have the desired effect.
What no one wants you to know about link wheels:
A proper link wheel will actually create a blog network [and we all know that’s what the big boys use to rank their website]. Yes you may have heard that blog networks get penalized by google, but if done right, you won’t get into any trouble because there’s actually no reason for google to penalize you, just read the guidelines.
And that’s one of the reasons why link wheels are commonly advertised as black hat – the big boys don’t want you to use their strategy so you won’t be competing with them.
So paying a small amount of money for your own private blog network is probably the best investment you’ll make.
Why link wheels are better than most other link building strategies?
I’ll keep this short, and I think I should have started the article with this bit. All the websites in your link wheel link to your main website so the link juice is passed to your main website. Nothing fancy so far. But all the websites in the link wheel are interlinked, meaning that they link to each other so the link juice is also passed between themselves. And because of this, not only your website will increase in rank, but all the websites in the link wheel will actually increase in rank and that will lead to search engine domination. And as of May 21, 2013, with the domain crowding update, google won’t let you rank more of your pages for a single keyword, so a link wheel is one of the very few ways to totally dominate the first page of google results.
So what can a link wheel can do for your search engine optimization?
- Increased traffic –> Increased Leads –> Increased Sales –> More profit!
- A private blog network that will help your main website rank better and get more authority over time.
- The results are faster than with any link building strategy.
- Once a proper link wheel is in place, you will have lots of pages [from the actual websites that make up the link wheel, the web 2.0 properties] ranking on google, pages which will funnel visitors to your main website and other websites.
- Your website will get more direct traffic from each of the link wheel pages.
- Your website will get more organic traffic as the link wheel will help increase the rank and authority of your main website, which will increase your SERP positions.
By doing all the above, a link wheel will improve your search engine optimization better and faster than most other link building strategies and at the same time increase your revenue coming from direct sales, affiliate commissions or advertising – so a proper link wheel is one of the best investments you’ll ever make for your seo and if done right, these results will further improve over time.
So hopefully now you know more about good vs bad link wheels but what do you really think about them? What’s your take on the link wheel ? Any success stories ? Or maybe some horror stories about link wheels that went completely wrong ?