Link Wheel Myths for Search Engine Optimisation

NASA Noordung's Space Station Habitat WheelThere’s a whole White- Black- and Grey-hat industry of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), by which all manner of consultants promise to increase your commercial web-site’s page ranking on the major web search engines – Google being the primary target. Most of SEO is bunk; pure snake-oil. At best it throws money away achieving nothing, at worst it counts as cheating by the search engines who will actually down-grade your page-ranking.

The Link Wheel is a much-touted SEO technique, so where does this one fit?

Link Wheels are usually created using free web 2.0 sites (blogs) which are quickly indexed by Google and considered ‘authority’ sites with high page ranking. The sites in the Wheel have closely-related content and all the blogs are interlinked, plus they all have back-links to your “money page” which is the url you want to promote. The Link Wheel is a link building strategy using web 2.0 properties; articles, images, streaming media or a combination of all of them, intended to give your site authority and relevancy for the keyword term or phrase you are looking to rank highly in the search engine result pages.

Some Link Wheels have developed multiple tiers in an attempt to give more authority to the spokes of the wheel, the spokes being all the free blogs used to create the wheel.

How it Works
Say you’re promoting website A, then sites B, C and D are other sites (spokes) in your wheel. Each of the “spokes” adds a backlink to it’s neighbor – creating the wheel. B links to A. C and D link to B. The “hub” is any page on your website.

On each of the ‘spoke’ sites, you write 200 words of unique content, optimized around one theme – a unique keyword phrase. include 1 link to your target site and 1 link to one of your other blogs or microsites in order to build up a network of interlinked sites.

Your high-ranking ‘platform’ sites on which you base your spokes have to be among these:

  • wordpress.com
  • Hubpages
  • Blogger
  • Ezine
  • Squidoo
  • Vox

So for example:

  • On wordpress.com write and publish a unique article with 1 link in it pointing back to your main site and another link pointing to your Hubpages spoke.
  • On Hubpages write and publish a unique article with 1 link in it pointing back to your main site and another link pointing to your Blogger spoke.
  • On Blogger write and publish a unique article with 1 link in it pointing back to your main site and another link pointing to your Ezine spoke.
  • On Ezine write and publish a unique article with 1 link in it pointing back to your main site and another link pointing to your Squidoo spoke.
  • On Squidoo write and publish a unique article with 1 link in it pointing back to your main site and another link pointing to your Vox spoke.
  • On Vox write and publish a unique article with 1 link in it pointing back to your main site.

At this point point you leave the wheel ‘open’; to link your website back to your wordpress.com blog is to ‘close’ the wheel, which is spotted quite easily.

This structure by itself is rather obvious, so needs to be obscured with links to other related (but non-competing) sites outside your wheel. This level of subterfuge is what tips Link Wheels into Grey- or Black-hat SEO. It’s not considered (by the SEO consultants) to be Black-hat as long as you don’t ‘close’ the wheel.

The next month, you would build another wheel, this time changing the hub and use Squidoo as the focal point – creating more authority for that page – and in turn passing more authority back to your web site. You use Vox.com as the hub the next month and so on, building a tiered wheel (a bizarre construction that can only exist on the Web) so that search engine spiders revisit and re-index.

In theory, more links you have and the higher quality those links are, the higher you are going to rank in the search engines. An imaginative way of using web 2.0 web sites, the supposed power comes from an extremely focused group of web sites, all focusing on your main site, with the intention to bring authority to one keyword phrase at a time – to push that phrase up in the search engines.

Promoting the Wheel
Next, you need to aggressively ‘promote’ the wheel so it is picked up by the search engines.

  • Create Social Bookmarking backlinks for each spoke and your hub page.
  • On each of the web 2.0 sites, capture the RSS feed. Then submit the feed to multiple RSS directories.
  • Ping the RSS feeds
  • obtain a sub domain on each of the web 2.0 properties, submit it to a number of directories

It’s not especially complex, it can be build by almost anyone with time, patience and a methodical mind.

And Now for the Bad News
Link Wheel and Link Pyramids are all myth. No one can prove their advantages, only their disadvantages:

  • Populating a link wheel is a slow process and it will take some time before those links from wheel become valuable. It may work in the first few weeks as you rise from search result 2,500,000 to 2,250,000. The advice it not to make too many link wheels too fast, it should look ‘natural’ as most blogs and websites don’t get hundreds of back links over night from high-ranking sites which would make Google and other search engines “suspicious of all the quality backlinks”. If it was a genuine and legitimate technique, the activity wouldn’t be ‘suspicious’!
  • ‘unique content’ and ‘a unique keyword phrase’ are actually extremely difficult to produce
  • Importantly, not every site can link to every other in the wheel, or this becomes and obvious attempt to frack the system.
  • Thin spokes consisting of a single page and minimal content are highlighted as a transparent attempt to frack the system.

In reality, the ranking formulas applied to the web-spiders findings give weight to the diversity of sources of link-backs, cross-referenced to the volume of social-media followers, RSS subscribers and the quality (page ranking) of those sites providing link-backs. In other words, the weight of the wheel and not the mere existence of the wheel, lends weight to the ranking given your target site.

Or, put another way, the indexing algorithms at Search Engine Central are smart enough to recognise a link wheel when they see one. You’d have to be operating in a micro-market of such specialisation and low traffic for a link wheel to work these days. I don’t think we’re in 2005 any more, Toto. AJS

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