Dec
8
2011

Link Wheel 101 – How and Why To Build Link Wheels for SEO

Link Wheel

Once you’ve built your website, the next step is getting people to come to it. Getting your site ranked on Google and other search engines through SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is one popular strategy, and it can be a highly effective way to generate traffic when done correctly. A big part of any off-site SEO strategy is link building. Link building is difficult for many people since it’s not an exact science. Link building tactics change frequently, and the strategy that works best may vary for different sites. I want to help make link building easier for you, so I’m going to show you one link building trick that has worked well on every niche site I’ve created: building a link wheel.

What Is A Link Wheel?

The concept of a link wheel is simple. At the center of the link wheel is your main site, the one you want to drive traffic to and improve search rankings for. Surrounding your site is a layer of various high authority websites you have control over, such as web 2.0 sites you made, articles you’ve posted in article directories, and blogs you’ve created. For example, some common sites used to build a link wheel include WordPress.com, Blogger, EzineArticles, HubPages, Weebly, LiveJournal, and other sites similar to these. Each of these sites will have at least one link back to your main website. The anchor text for this link should be keywords you want to rank for. Many people refer to this network of sites as the anchor text layer. Basically, its just a bunch of websites linked in a circle-like manner around your main site. When you draw a diagram of these sites it starts to look like a wheel, which is why its called a link wheel! Below is a diagram I put together to show you what a link wheel looks like:

Link Wheel
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NOTE: The picture above is of a traditional link wheel. The one we’re going to build has randomly ordered links between the outside sites, which I’ll explain and show you below.

Benefits of Creating a Link Wheel

Now that you know what a link wheel is, you’re probably wondering, “why create one?” There are a few benefits from building a link wheel. The first is you get some links from high authority sites, with relevant keywords in the anchor text, pointing to your website. While this is helpful for your rankings, the impact from these links alone might not be big enough for some webmasters to spend their time building one. There is another big reason my website owners build them though.

The main benefit of a link wheel is it also acts as a shield for your website. This comes into play if you’re doing any type of mass link building or mass article syndication. For example, lets say you syndicate an article to 1,000 sites and all of these articles include a link back to your main site in the resource box. Unless you have an aged site with TONS of backlinks already, it looks very unnatural to add 1,000 new links to your site even if you spread the syndication out over a month (NOTE: in the real world not all 1,000 articles will be indexed by Google so you won’t really get that many links, but it would still be an unnaturally high number).

The way around this dilemma is to have your massive amount of backlinks pointing to the sites in your link wheel instead of your main site. All of the blogs, article directories and web 2.0 sites in your link wheel have millions and millions of links already pointing to them. Adding 1,000 new links (or more) in a day is normal for them. They can easily handle all the new links from your mass article syndication, where your main site can not. BUT, because you’ve set your anchor text layer sites up with links back to your main website they will pass on the link juice from all these new backlinks to your main site. It sounds a bit crazy, I know. But it works. Through a combination of building a link wheel and doing some massive link building to your sites in it, your main site will start to go up in rank and you’ll be able to avoid penalties from Google and maintain your higher rankings.

How To Build a Link Wheel

We’ve talked about the what and why of link wheels, so the next step is learning how to create one. Before we start, let me be clear that it does take a bit of time to build a link wheel. You’ll want to have at least 5 to 6 sites in the anchor text layer of your link wheel. Some people create hundreds of sites in their link wheels but I don’t feel there’s enough benefit to justify that amount of work. If you want to create a larger link wheel go up to 10 or 12 max. My personal recommmendation is to stop there and spend more of your time doing the actual link building instead. Also, don’t feel like you have to create all the sites for your link wheel in one day. Spread it out over a few days or more if that works better for you. The important thing is doing it right, so no pressure to rush.

Let’s Start Link Wheeling!

The first part of building your link wheel is to create content to put on the sites in your anchor text layer. My strategy for these sites is to pick a single topic to use across all my anchor text layer sites that’s closely related to the topic of my main site. Once you have the topic for your sites you’ll need to have at least one unique article for each of your anchor text layer site. Make sure to avoid using duplicate or poorly spun content, as this could get your web 2.0 site deleted by the web 2.0 company or not indexed by Google (if its not indexed it won’t do you any good for boosting your site rankings). As long as you add some value with your content you’ll avoid any potential problems. There are really two approaches to take for creating these articles: write an original article for each site in your anchor text layer, or write one original article and spin it well.

Writing An Original Article for Each Site

The benefit to writing an original article for each one of your anchor text layer sites is you’ll know the content quality is good and it doesn’t cost you anything except time. Of course, the process of writing this amount of articles can take up quite a bit of time. You’ll want at least 5 or 6 anchor text layer sites in your link wheel, so that means writing 5 or 6 useful articles. This is a good approach to take if you’re concerned about keeping costs low or you know a lot about your topic and can write quickly off the top of your head. If you want to save some time, the other approach to creating these unique articles quickly is to use article spinning software.

Spinning an Article

The advantage to spinning an article is saving time. You only have to write one original article to work off of. If you take your time and spin the article correctly, you’ll end up with the ability to produce a high quality, spun variation of your original article with the click of a button! You can then use one of these spun articles for each of the sites in your link wheel anchor text layer.

For spinning articles, I use software called The Best Spinner (aff link). I’ve tried a lot of alternatives, and The Best Spinner really does live up to its name: it’s the best software for what it does, spinning articles. If you decide you want to spin articles for part of your backlinking strategy you might want to get yourself a copy. It will save you time, and give you the best quality spun articles. Just to be clear though, you do not NEED to buy The Best Spinner to create a good link wheel. It’s just a good option to save yourself some time if you choose (which is the reason I use it). They usually have some type of trial offer or way for you to try out The Best Spinner yourself before making a final decision, so be sure to take advantage of that and give it a test drive. For any of you who already use this software or decide to get a copy, I’ll post a more detailed article on how I use The Best Spinner to get top quality spun articles.

Creating Anchor Text Layer Blogs, Articles and Web 2.0 Sites

Now that you have content for your anchor text layer sites its time to build your link wheel. You’re going to setup a combination of 5 or 6 blogs, articles and web 2.0 sites for your anchor text layer. These are going to be simple 1 or 2 page sites, so they won’t take long to create once you have the content from the steps above. Below are a list of some of the sites you may want to use for creating your anchor text layer sites.

Blogs

These are hosted blogs that will allow you to build a blog on their domain name. Don’t let the word “blog” scare you off. All you’ll be doing for your link wheel is building a 1 or 2 page website that will be hosted for free on one of these sites:

Article Directories

There are hundreds of different article directories out there, but for our link wheel we only want to use a couple of the top ones. These top level directories have more authority (even after the latest Google Panda updates) so they’ll work better for our link building purposes.

  • EzineArticles – Top article directory, submissions takes up to a week to be approved
  • ArticlesBase – Free article directory, PR 6
  • GoArticles.com – Not as much authority as EzineArticles but instant article approval

Web 2.0 Sites

By the term “web 2.0 site” I’m referring to some of the newer sites focused around sharing content and a community of users. Specifically, the web 2.0 sites that allow users to create or add content to them. In the past I would have included HubPages on this list since I’ve often used them as part of my link wheels, but after they got hit by the Google Panada updates they’ve been making changes to their site and the way their outbound links work. As it stands now, I can’t recommend spending the time on Hubpages, so stick to these web 2.0 sites:

Once you pick the ones you want to use, create the account at the site and add at least one page of solid content to it (either by writing an original article or by using a good spun version, like we talked about above).

Linking Your Link Wheel

Saying “linking your link wheel” is more difficult than actually doing it. To link all the sites in your link wheel together, first make sure to include at least 1 link back to your main site on each of your anchor text layer sites. For the blogs and web 2.0 sites your link should be in the content (in the first paragraph or two), and for the article directories your link should be in the resource box or author bio. Make sure to use the keywords you want to rank for in the anchor text for these links! Feel free to mix them up on different sites. For example, if your site sells green widgets then use “green widgets” as your anchor text on one of the sites and “buy green widgets” or “green widget reviews” on another. A variety of related keywords will give you a more natural looking link profile, just be sure to focus on your main keywords the most (for example, have 3 sites linking to you with “green widgets” and the other 3 sites with different variations of that).

Next, you’ll want to link some of the sites in your anchor text layer to each other. The most important thing is to make sure you keep these links between anchor text layer sites random. In other words, don’t link from site #1 to site #2, site #2 to site #3, and so on. Pick which site each one links to randomly. Also, mix in some instances where one site is linking to two others, or none. For example, have site #1 link to #4 and #6, then no links (other than to the main site) on site #4 and site #6 linking to site #2. Keeping things random like this will add an extra layer of protection your link wheel “shield”. Here are some more examples of good and bad link wheel inter-linking formulas

Good Outer Layer Linking Examples (random)

  • 1 links 5 | 2 links 4 & 6 | 3 has no links | 4 links 1 & 3 | 5 links 3 & 2 | 6 links 4
  • 1 links 3 & 6 | 2 has no links | 3 links 5 | 4 links 1 | 5 links 2 | 6 links 2
  • 1 links 4 & 6 | 2 links 1 | 3 links 5 & 2 | 4 links 6 | 5 has no links | 6 links 3

Bad Outer Layer Linking Examples (patterns)

  • 1 links 2 | 2 links 3 | 3 links 4 | 4 links 5 | 5 links 6 | 6 links 1
  • 1 links 2 | 2 links 1 | 3 links 4 | 4 links 3 | 5 links 6 | 6 links 5
  • 1 links 2 & 3 | 2 links 3 & 4 | 3 links 4 & 5 | 5 links 6 & 1 | 6 links 1 & 2

Again, the key in all these examples is the linking pattern should be random. Simple patterns such as the ones in the bad examples won’t offer you as much protection through your link wheel. Below is an image of a link wheel using a random linking pattern:

Link Wheel Random Linking
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NOTE: Notice how the links between the outside sites are random, which is how we want to build our link wheel (and it’s different than the first diagram at the top of the article).

Results from Link Wheeling

After reading this article you now know what a link wheel is, what the benefits of them are, and how to build one for your site. If you’ve followed the steps above you might even have your own link wheel already in place! The final question I want to answer is what you should expect. Creating the link wheel itself should give you a bit of a bump in rankings, but it may take a couple weeks before you see anything. It all depends on the competition for your keyword, but we’re not talking about huge, instant results. Where you’ll really start to see the results is after you start building a massive amount of backlinks that point to your link wheel. Once you start doing your mass article syndication and link building, it will still take a week or two to start seeing results, and at least 30 to 45 days before you start getting the top rankings you’re after.

Be patient and keep at it, link wheels DO work!

Finally, if you found this article useful, please take a second to “like” my Facebook page using the Like Box below. Thanks!

About the Author: Dana Duncan

Hi, my name is Dana, and I've been building websites for over 12 years. It's a topic I'm passionate about and enjoy teaching. Here at All Webmaster.com I teach people how to create and run websites, and show businesses how to build or improve their web presence.

3 Comments + Add Comment

  • I am really very glad for visiting your site. This was such very informative and impressive article on the Link wheel. I didn’t have any idea about the how link wheels have been done and what are its benefit to website. Thanks for this great article. I can learn how to link wheel now and all because of these article. Thanks Dana.

  • What about if we want to put the article in non immediate article directories? Should we use a self hosted url shortener?

    • Hi Roberto,

      Using a URL shortener (either self hosted or a hosted service like bit.ly) isn’t necessary. All good URL shorteners use 301 redirects anyway, so any link juice is passed on to the destination page anyway. It’s almost like the short re-direct URL doesn’t exist in the eyes of Google and other search engines. You can use them if you want, but it seems like extra effort for no real benefit.

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Hi, my name is Dana and here at All Webmaster I teach people how to build websites. I've been creating websites professionally for over 12 years and this is where I'll share the things I've learned so you can build your own website and get people to visit it. [More about...]

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