A very effective back link building strategy I have initiated for my niche websites is the creation of a link wheel targeting specific keywords that I want to rank high for on search engines.
A link wheel is exactly what it sounds like, a group of links that link to each other to form a wheel, or a circle.
This link building strategy has not only helped me propel my websites to page one of Google, but it has also helped in quickly getting new web pages and blog posts indexed in search engine search results.
The reason why link wheeling is such an effective back link building strategy is because the websites I use in forming the link wheel are highly reputable websites that have high Google page ranks (PR).
Including a link from those websites to mine gives my web properties a quick PR boost and more importantly immediate recognition by search engines when they crawl the original sources of the link.
Here are some of the websites I use in my link wheel building efforts:
There are others as well but these are some of the highest impact sites as they are all web 2.0 properties as opposed to a traditional article directory like GoArticles or Ezine Articles, many of which have suffered from Google’s lessening perception of these “article farms”.
Web 2.0 properties are also more effective because they contain less or no advertisement. The more ads a particular webpage contains, the less relevant the content on it is deemed by search engines.
In addition, from a PR perspective, webpages with heavy advertisement are likely leaking out page rank if the advertisements do not contain the “nofollow” tag. The more a webpage’s page rank leaks out, the less is left over for your back links within the article.
This is how the link wheeling strategy works in a nutshell. Start out with one of the resources mentioned above and write an article. Somewhere in the article, include a link to another article on another one of the websites mentioned above.
When linking from one to another, use a keyword that you would like your website to be ranked high for. Typically, this is the main keyword of the entire website, or the keyword around which the website’s topic / content revolves around.
Make sure each article has a link pointing back to your website in addition to the link to another article. When linking back to your website, use an anchor text (keyword) that also relates to your website’s main topic. It is alright if you use the same keyword to link back to your website as the keyword to link to another article.
Let’s walk through an example of this effective link building strategy I initiated for my Sue the Airline website.
Start out by writing and submitting one article to an article directory or web 2.0 property. In this case I submitted one to Squidoo. Click that link and notice there are at least two links with the underlying keyword “sue the airline” which is my target keyword for this link wheel.
Within the article, click on the links. Notice that one link leads back to my main website, while the other leads to Wordpress. Visit the article and notice that this article does the same in terms of back links. Click one of the links and it will take you to this article on Hub Pages.
Note: All articles were outsourced to various VA teams
With this, you are officially done building one full link wheel. Though it only involved four web properties, a link wheel can involve as many web properties as you wish. I have created a link wheel as large as involving 25 article directories and web 2.0 properties. Yes that website is ranking on page one spot one on Google for a highly competitive keyword. This is a very powerful link building strategy.
Now there are also some advanced strategies you can apply once you have your link wheel built, such as leveraging social bookmark submissions and mass link building initiatives utilizing an effective article submitter tool.
Let me know in the comments section below if you are interested in reading more on the advanced strategies as it is beyond the scope of this discussion.
When creating your link wheel, I suggest keeping a spreadsheet to keep track of the URLs or web pages for each unique article you create on each of the websites mentioned above. You will need the specific URLs so that you can link to them later. You can also maintain your login credentials for each of the websites on this spreadsheet.
So what are we exactly doing when creating a link wheel? We are essentially transferring page popularity or page rank from one popular website to another. Because each of these pages (where your articles are published) also contain a link back to your website utilizing a targeted keyword, you are basically building a strong network of back links to your website for that particular keyword.
Not only does this give your website more page rank power, but it also improves your search engine ranking for the target keyword. That is why this link building strategy has worked very well for me every single time.
If you are wondering whether building a link wheel is a white hat strategy, it is! As long as you are publishing “unique” content on the websites mentioned above, you will benefit very nicely from creating a link wheel for your webpages without ending up in Google’s penalty box.
I recommend that you implement the link wheel strategy slowly over time. In other words, do not attempt to create ten link wheels for ten different target keywords all at once. Executing a link wheel strategy slowly over time yields the best results as it appears natural to search engines. Do otherwise and you might find yourself in Google’s dog house.
I learned, experimented and tweaked this strategy myself over a span of 6 months. I now outsource this task to get the most “BANG” for my investment. After you master the process, you can develop detailed and concrete instructions that you can provide to your virtual assistant or other outsourcing partners.
I have trained individuals in building effective link wheels to the point where it is now routine task. I am very happy with the job my partners are doing for me, and because of the wage arbitrage between the US dollar and the local currency in which I compensate them, the shifting of resources works very well in all of our favors.
Readers: Do you have any experience building a link wheel? What do you think about this particular back link building strategy?
Here’s a quick tip on how to avoid duplicate content penalties when article marketing. Many new internet marketers accidentally get their websites and blogs in Google’s dog house when they launch article marketing initiatives on a brand new web property.
Even after putting in a significant amount of time and resources promoting a website, many sites simply do not gain traction on search engines because of duplicate content penalties. A common reason why this happens is because the marketer has likely submitted close or duplicate content to article directories online thinking they are benefiting the original web property.
First of all, you should avoid duplicate content submission for marketing purposes. Second, if you do, then ensure that the original content on the original web property has already been indexed, or included in search engine listings.
Some marketers believe that it is acceptable to syndicate the original content online and that it wouldn’t be responded to with duplicate content penalties. It helps that certain websites like press release syndication websites proactively syndicate the same piece of news to thousands of avenues online.
In addition, Ezine Articles, one of the premium article directories online allows republication of the original article providing the author / submitter holds the copyrights to the article. So what’s a marketer to conclude?
Without debating whether syndicating duplicate content is acceptable, let’s discuss what a marketer can do to avoid duplicate content penalties.
Search engines consider a content piece duplicate if it already has the same or similar content in its index, or database of websites, blogs, links etc on the entire world wide web. The key is therefore to ensure that your original content is picked up by search engines before anyone else does and republishes it.
If your website or blog is brand new, chances are search engines are slow to visit or crawl your web property. But if an older, more established website was to take your content and republish it, it is highly likely that search engines will first notice the content on the older and more established website. This is a key reason why many internet marketers submit their marketing articles to well established directories such as Ezine Articles, Squidoo, Hub Pages and the likes.
So in a world wide web loaded with heavy duty veterans, how do you ensure your original content is indexed immediately so you can avoid duplicate content penalties when you begin to market your web property? The answer is social bookmarking.
Social bookmarking sites are some of the most dynamic and fastest growing web properties that are well respected and frequently visited by all major search engines. Because of both the credibility and functionality factor, I often bookmark each and every webpage on my niche sites before I embark on an article marketing campaign.
The best part of this process is that it takes less than a minute to bookmark a webpage. You can bookmark your webpages manually, or through a service like OnlyWire which I use to mass bookmark a single webpage to several social bookmarking websites.
I like to use OnlyWire because once I’ve set up my social bookmarking accounts, I never have to do anything again except bookmark my webpages through the bookmarking dashboard which appears as a small icon on the lower right hand side of my desktop.
What I like best about this tool is that it allows you to schedule bookmarking tasks well into the future. Let’s say you have a niche site that has 10 webpages. In order to not appear as spamming the search engines, you can schedule to bookmark one webpage a day for the next 10 days all in one sitting and never have to worry about it again.
Personally I use to paid version of the program because it gives me added flexibility and functionality. However, you DO NOT have to pay for OnlyWire. You can download a limited version of OnlyWire for free and start using it to bookmark your webpages.
I started out using the free version and have to say that it does a good enough job to ensure you avoid duplicate content penalties by immediately getting your webpages indexed or crawled by search engines.
Once your webpages have been picked up by search engines and included in their listing, you no longer have to worry about duplicate content penalties resulting from either you syndicating the original article online or someone else stealing your content.
Readers: Have you ever been hammered by duplicate content penalties? When did you realize this, how did you find out and what did you do to get out of Google’s penalty box?
Note: I use OnlyWire in my marketing efforts. I am an affiliate of their social bookmarking services and am awarded a small commission each time someone purchases their services through my affiliate links.
Recently a great monthly earning niche site of mine completely went down the tubes. I’m slightly embarrassed to say it took 46 days of wondering what the heck was going on before I slapped myself in the forehead and figured out how to fix it.
No, it wasn’t a trivial broken affiliate link problem. (I’m not that dumb…I checked that on day 45.)
But seriously, I remember startling myself awake and staring at the ceiling with the answer on that 46th day. I had been completely ignoring a basic part of human nature on my site!
But I’m jumping ahead too quickly… Let’s take a look at exactly what went wrong, what I learned about content that really sells vs fluff content that turns visitors off, the importance of simple stat analysis, and how you can benefit from the story of my site’s 46-day vacation from success.
In a nutshell, the site is a “how to” website that teaches how to do something, and sells hosting on the site. Hosting is a complimentary product that makes what I’m teaching on the site possible. All the earnings you’ll see below are from hosting.
Here’s a snapshot of earnings for 46 days before I broke the site…
Please click on all images to view a larger version
Firstly, you can see above that I’m showing a 46 day period. I found it made the most sense to look at what happened in 46 day periods- 46 days before breaking the site, 46 days while broken, and 46 days after fixing it.
Secondly, you’ll see the earnings are at $1,300. This is pretty typical for this site. Some days will get 2 sales. Sometimes there will be sales two or three days in a row, other times there are a few days in between.
Thirdly, taking a look at the traffic, one can see it varies wildly from around 40 visitors a day up to 82 visitors being the most for this period. This type of daily traffic is pretty typical.
But nonetheless, I did some serious changes to the home page.
I realized there weren’t many links AT ALL to hosting companies on the home page. What was I thinking?
There was 1 link above the fold to a secondary page on my own site, and 2 text links to hosting way down at the bottom of the page! Then another link to the same secondary post on my page. Lastly there was a link in the sidebar to a hosting company, below the fold.
That’s only 2 text links to a hosting company, and a sidebar link below the fold. I’m making sales every other day with those links? I gotta have more!
To top it off, I wasn’t making a sales “pitch” on the page whatsoever. I wasn’t directing traffic where I wanted them to go in an overt way. It was immediately obvious to me that adding a little call to action would increase clicks to links, and increase sales in the process.
I ended up adding many more links to the page. I moved the sidebar ad above the fold…makes sense, it’s what you are supposed to do, right?
I also added a text link above the fold to an actual hosting site instead of to a secondary page that rates hosting (like before). I added call to action links all over the place. I basically stepped up the game of the page.
Can you spot the information I HAVEN’T talked about? What links were generating the sales in the first place?
Take a look at the next 46 days of stats…
You can see above that sales were few and far between.
It took 9 days to make even one sale! Of course, you can see that traffic was dying down as well, so I thought it may have been a traffic issue. I decided to let it ride.
You can see that it took 11 days for another sale. Then 3 days. Then there was a whopping 23 day drought in sales!
Are you wondering what type of crack I was smoking that month? Me too. It certainly wasn’t my normal blend.
It’s amazing how bad things have to get sometimes before finally noticing and taking massive action to fix it.
Like I said before, I remember startling myself awake one early am and staring at the ceiling with the answer. My wife asked me what was wrong, and I said “I know exactly how to fix the site that sells hosting!”
I just had to answer a few questions…
Question #1- Where were all the earlier sales coming from?
I needed to figure out the exact links that people were clicking on that generated sales. More importantly, I needed to know which links before the site was broken.
Answer– 100% (ALL) of the ‘pre-broken’ sales were coming from the interior page linked to the home page.
Whoa… This was a huge slap in the face.
All the sales came from one of 3 links on the “Our Hosting Recommendations” – type of page that I linked to from the home page. This page gets traffic from the home page, and that’s it.
Question #2- Where were the sales on the broken page coming from?
Answer- The home page.
2 of 3 sales came from the home page. Interesting.
Question #3- How do I look at the earlier content and compare it to the messed up, non-converting content now?
I obviously needed to take a look at both pieces of content side by side to see what was happening.
Answer- Just like all smart people, just check the regular back ups of your entire site. Oh wait, I didn’t do that!
So what did I do? I went to the Internet Wayback Machine and looked for my site. It just happened to have one single snapshot of the site. The snapshot was from July, my highest earning month! I couldn’t have been more lucky!
Question #4- What’s the difference between the broken content and the earlier content that converted sales?
Answer– The content clearly changed from a soft “pre-sell” linking to a secondary page that did the selling, to a “hard-sell” on the home page.
The conclusion I came to was that I was completely turning off the visitor. I wasn’t establishing any trust by helping them in any way. I was just going after the sale, thinking of traffic numbers, conversion rates, and other metrics instead of helping out the visitor.
People must have been coming to the site wondering “how to” do said activity and thinking, “Whoa, easy buddy on the selling! I came to learn, not to buy! I’m leaving…”
As I stated earlier in this post, I was ignoring basic human nature- People that help us out wholeheartedly, earn our trust very quickly. We listen to recommendations of people we trust.
Oppositely, we get totally turned off by people who don’t make an effort to give value, and still ask for something in return.
Alright. I got it. Time to change it back!
After a quick cut and paste job on the home page from the original site on the Internet Wayback Machine, things were immediately fixed. Check out the stats below for the next 46 days.
Notice the immediate success from day 1 after the content swap out! (The sale has since been returned, but at the time it was a sight for sore eyes.)
You can see the traffic is overall up a bit, but only 4.3 visitors per day in 46 days so that’s unlikely a factor.
However, 12 out of 14 sales happened on the interior recommendation page! Once again, the helpful soft-sell content seems the driving force of conversions.
Lesson 1– Make sure sales can be tracked to exact pages and semi-exact locations. For Amazon, that means lots of tracking ID’s. For Commission Junction, that means adding tracking ID’s to links, and using different links for different places. (Also…ahem… I’ve reminded myself to actually look and see where sales are coming from before making any rash changes!)
Lesson 2– If making changes to content, either use a split testing service online, create a full site back up with a plugin, or even go so simple as cutting and pasting the original content into a document and saving it on the computer for future reference. That original content may be very valuable!
Lesson 3– Take a hard look at how content engages the visitor to the site. Is the content helping the visitor? Does the content completely address the problem the visitor has, with the visitor in mind first and foremost, not the sale? Or does the sale dominate the foreground, turning off the visitor?
Lesson 4– Properly framing the content for a “How-To Website” can be a powerful sales tactic. I’ve taken a good look at this site and a couple other “How-to” pieces of content I have and decided to use more of my How-To Formula for other niches.
Sales have been great for this site ever since, and the next 46 days looks like it will actually be better than the last. I just had my first $400 day for this site…and as you can see below, again, all from the secondary page! Again, the soft sell is paying off.
I hope this story can help you out in some way.
Perhaps a site in your arsenal has been broken for some time and you’ve mistakenly attributed the downturn to other outside forces, like a “weak niche”, or “weak keyword”. Perhaps a little analyzing of stats is all you need to figure out the strengths or weaknesses on a site.
Or maybe a close look at the content is needed to see how it truly resonates with visitors. If you can’t figure out what’s wrong, heck, take a guess! Make a change. Oh yeah…just keep track of exactly what you did!
I’d love to hear how you test new things on your sites below. Have you ever seen a big difference in performance like I did?
Jeff Carson went from serial golf course employee to full time affiliate niche blogger, product creator, and blogger. He and Dave Toomey teach what works for them at their blog, CommissionClassroom.com.
My thoughts: When Jeff initially sent me this piece, I liked it because it highlights one of the biggest mistakes we make as entrepreneurs, which is that we often forget to test or monitor what we implement as it seems an after-thought. However, testing is critical because it allows us to make changes along to way to achieve the objectives and results we have envisioned for ourselves. Before implementing anything, it is important to have clarity about what it is that we want. If we know what we want, we can test various approaches to see which one takes us to our destination.