How to Set Up a Link Wheel
A step-by-step guide to setting up a linkwheel for boosted search engine and human traffic.
Defining a link wheel
It's not that scary!
If you've been onto an affiliate marketing, search engine optimization, social media, or other internet-related website recently, you've probably heard the term "link wheel." Unfortunately, people seem to assume that people know what this means and don't bother to describe it completely.
In essence, a link wheel is a group of pages across various websites that link amongst each other in order to pass authority to each other, and, generally, to one main website or page (usually a sales page or other call to action).
Link wheels are an effective way of creating both organic (search engine-driven) traffic and human traffic via social media - especially if they are done correctly. If performed incorrectly, they may be a waste of time, but performed correctly and they provide an incredibly high return on your time investment.
El Step-o Primero
My SEO is better than my Spanish...
The first step in creating your link wheel is to have actual content you want to drive traffic to. Let's say as an example that I have a very crafty resume that I think positions me as an expert in my niche and will get me customers. I've spent a lot of time revising and copy-editing, and now it's time to try to promote it. This will be the center of my link wheel, AKA, my main page, or sales page.
Define what your main content is going to be (the thing you're going to promote the heck out of). Stick to it, too. Don't change your mind later.
Ideally, this content will be niche in scope, high in quality, and fast in load time (you do, after all, want customers to view it - not to run away before the page loads).
Starting the link wheel
An introduction to Web 2.0: Blogging and Social Bookmarks
Now that you have the anchor content that you want to drive traffic to and it is optimized, it is time to develop the link wheel itself. In one section below I have listed perhaps the most important part of your link wheel: blogging and content platforms. In the other I have listed the less-so-but-still important component to this process, which is social bookmarking.
These lists are by no means exhaustive, but they are a good starting point and I can almost guarantee you will see results even if you only use this starting point.
Helpful hint: Bookmark this page! I will be updating this page periodically as I discover new aspects of link wheels. Additionally, I am going to update the site listings. You can always come to this page and open the links in new tabs to save yourself time later. Otherwise, bookmark each site and search frequently for new ones.
You will be using all (or most) of these sites in developing and promoting your link wheel (yes, you have to promote promotional content).
For reference on the following list, PageRank is N/A or 0-10, with 10 being the best. For Alexa Ranking, lower is better.
Another note: You submit unique content to these sites. Do not use machine-generated garbage, or content you got from other sites (including your own!). This content must be unique and of decent quality in order to truly be effective.
(PageRank and Alexa Ranking data last updated July 2011)
Blogging Platforms (easiest, but least effective):
- Tumblr (Perhaps the best for a quick community-participation-based traffic boost)
Article Directories (medium difficulty):
- Ezinearticles (requires approval for each article), PR 6, Alexa Ranking under 1,000. I, personally, use this one the most.
- Suite101 (requires application and approval for each article), PR 6, Alexa Ranking under 2,000. They also have a revenue sharing program for authors.
- Article Directory (very creative name), PR 4, Alexa Ranking ~12,000.
Content Platforms (I love these, but they do take more time to use - all three have a monetizing program):
Social Bookmarking Sites
These sites, the only unique content you really need to write is a summary (and that doesn't really need to be unique).
If you are going to use social media heavily and rely on it for promotion, you will need to participate in the communities. Do not just spam these places with your own content and never return; that will do nothing. Instead, comment and vote on others' submissions, submit other peoples' relevant content, etc. The stronger your reputation the more traffic you'll get.
- Technorati (not for pages, but if you use a blog platform, claim the blog here)
Constructing the Link Wheel
All you really need to do once you have created an account for various services of your choice and created the content pages for those sites is to link them.
There are two methods (more or less) for going about linking. A lot of people default to a sort of circle, where you will link Blogger to Ezinearticles to Suite101 to Hubpages to Wizzley to Wordpress to Blogger... Generally this is also done via linking in sidebars and bylines, rather than in actual content. It is simple, and at times effective, but it's also standard and boring (and we don't like that, right?).
When I, personally, construct a link wheel, I make each site or page in a very specific niche which is a subset of the niche page I am trying to promote. As an example, the page I'm trying to promote is my resume. In the resume, I focus on my skills as a website developer. For promotional sake, I try to keep the article or page dedicated to a subset of web development (which means search engine optimization for this article, XHTML standards for another, color psychology for yet another, and so on).
I also do not create a blog as one page - I continue to add content to it until it has a respectable amount of good, unique information (remember: reputation is key). Therefore, when one blog has an article about a topic relevant to a different spoke in the wheel, I will link to it within the content. In my opinion, this makes for much more organic, nice, and, most importantly, effective anchor text (which is incredibly important to SEO).
Additionally, it looks less suspicious, spammy, or mass-produced to search engines and people, which means better traffic in higher quantities.
Try it for yourself
I don't want you to just take my word for it!
I want you to go out and create your own link wheel. Pick one page of incredibly optimized (and useful!) content that you want to promote, and create a link wheel around it. Make a Blogger and Wordpress blog post, submit all three articles to Stumble Upon and Delicious, and get your friends to promote it to their friends. By doing so, you will have either increased your traffic or gained experience for your next attempt.
The art of the link wheel takes time to perfect (if it's ever perfect), but even beginners can see advantages of it. As an example to my point, this article about Fiverr documents a five-dollar SEO job (link wheel) giving his website incredible gains for such a low amount of money.
Have you constructed a link wheel? How has it worked for you?