A link wheel is a black hat SEO technique where you – as a business owner – create several sites and link them to each other in a round-robin fashion. They are purposefully and solely built to manipulate the rankings of a website, which is – pretty much – the text book definition of Black Hat SEO (okay, maybe not the text book definition, but you get the dramatic effect).
So, if these are so bad… why are people even discussing Link Wheels as an SEO option?
Because of the first word… “Link”
It is a commonly held believe that inbound links are an important part of any SEO growth plan. I can’t and won’t discredit that belief, but it’s not just about gaining these powerful inbound links, it’s also – very much so – about how they are acquired.
What is a Link Wheel?
There is a post on Quora about how to create one of these link wheels, and several comments about the positive nature of them (although I have a feeling many of these comments were from people trying to sell their link wheel building services) but not NEARLY enough rebuttal (in my opinion) as to why they are not a great idea for any legitimate business.
Image Source: Quora: How do I create a link wheel in SEO
Link Wheels got that name because the resulting circular structure resembles a wheel, with your primary site in the middle. Basically, you create content articles on a variety of external blog sites (Blogger, WordPress, etc.) and link from one to the next like a terrible SEO game of duck-duck-goose.
- Site A links to Site B
- Site B links to Site C
- Site C links to Site D
- Site D links to site A
- And So On….
Eventually, all of these sites normally end up pointing to your main site, known as the Hub of your link wheel.
Why are Link Wheels Bad?
Here’s where the trouble comes in. It’s all fake. It’s artificially generated content, often low-quality content, created purely and solely to game the SEO ranking system.
Unfortunately, I cannot say that these will never work. Sometimes, they will… but not for long. It might work a while, but don’t count on this kind of tactic driving any long-term benefit.
Years ago, link exchanges were a key link-building technique and webmasters traded links bank and forth like they were going out of style. Eventually, Google and other search engine algorithms caught up to them and suddenly their entire business – built on a faulty link structure – collapsed. Link Wheels are even worse, in my opinion, than Link Exchanges because you are the sole editor of what gets linked to and from your sites. At least with Link Exchanges, a webmaster could deny your exchange request if your site was of poor quality.
Plus, another downside is that the amount of time and effort needed to go into creating the various content sites could be much, much better put to use building rich, relevant, quality content on your own site.
What is a White Hat alternative to a Link Wheel?
Technically, there is no such thing. But, if you simply build good content that can act as Link Magnet (meaning other sites will want to link to you purely because the information you provide would be helpful to their readers), that is a fantastic start.
It may take you longer to rank. It may mean having to put in some significant content creation and curation. But the long-term benefits will far outweigh any of these “get links quick” type schemes that will eventually go flat (pun intended).