This is part 1 of a two-part series. Next week on Wednesday, I’ll publish part 2 in the series – Link Wheels and How to NOT Get Your Site Sandboxed. Stay tuned!
The dreaded sandbox is every blogger’s worst nightmare – that is, if you’re making a living primarily by creating and monetizing niche sites. But don’t worry; I have a way you can put those fears to rest – and it starts with understanding link wheels.
Now, I’m sure some of you are staring at this with wide eyes and opened mouths thinking, “But I loved playing in the sandbox when I was younger! So why should Internet marketers fear boxes of sand?”
Well, just read on.
Boxes of Sand
Think Back to When You Were a Child.
Do you remember going to the beach? Maybe you had your very own sandbox. Like many children, you probably enjoyed building castles in the sand, which really looked like giant ant hills (but nobody ever told you that).
When someone else knocks your cherished castle over and it’s permitted to fall back into a sand mound, you can’t help but cover yourself in it – admire the way each grain of rock works together to hide your little body, as you gather bunches of sand and fling it across your legs.
First you bury your toes, then you bury your thighs, then your stomach, and lastly your shoulders – laughing giddily while your mother tries to find you. Eyes squeezed shut, your high-pitched squeals give yourself away entirely; but you don’t know it, and your mother is more than happy to play along.
Come Back to Where You Are Now.
Many of you are bloggers and entrepreneurs. A lot of you are writers. But most of you own your own website.
And here in the online world, sand is deadly.
No one likes playing in sand – not in the Internet sense of the word. And if you aren’t too careful, that sand can quickly turn into quicksand. It will suck you up. And you’ll get buried.
No matter how much content you write or how high you scream, demanding people to listen to you – no one will pay attention. Because no one will be able to find you. You’ll be too far under, suffocating under the weight of the sand. Every earning potential you once thought existed will too get sucked under.
You see, too much sand can kill businesses. It can destroy ideas. Sand murders chances.
But What is this Sand We Speak Of?
How can such a warm, fuzzy childhood memory be so dangerous?
To get “sandboxed” in the online sense of the word means to have a site completely disappear from search engines like Google. So, if you focus entirely on search engines as your primary source of traffic, sandboxes are detrimental to the health of your online business.
For those of you who work on getting backlinks naturally and participate in honest (white-hat) methods of increasing traffic to your site, you have nothing to worry about. But if you’re building a niche site and you’re using shady (black-hat) programs to get millions of backlinks to your site in hopes that your niche site will rank higher in search engines (leading to more traffic and potential income, depending on your monetization methods), Google might find your activities suspicious and so will remove you from search results altogether – putting you in the deadly sandbox.
See where this is going?
And if you get Google angry, you too will be at the mercy of the sandbox, struggling to climb out without enough fuel or traffic to keep your site going – which brings us to our next topic…
Before we go any further, I’m going to talk about what exactly a link wheel is for those of you confused.
What’s in a Link Wheel?
There are two different ways to optimize your website for search engines – on-page optimization, which focuses on creating content around specific keywords on the actual site, and off-page optimization, which focuses on everything else off the site that you do to optimize your site for search engines. Backlinks play a major role here.
Link wheels are a form of off-page optimization, since the purpose of a link wheel is primarily to increase the number of targeted backlinks to your niche site (off the page). A link wheel is basically a network of Web 2.0 sites (highly ranked sites like HubPages, Squidoo, and InfoBarrel) that link back to your original niche site as well as to other Web 2.0 sites. Link wheels can be a powerful way to increase your search rankings but, if overdone, they can also bury you in the deadly sandbox.
Here’s an example of a link wheel (one I’ve personally created) that I use for my own niche sites. Arrows represent links.
As you see, the link wheel can be a powerful tool if used correctly. Keep in mind that there are many variations of link wheels. This is just the one I created for my own personal use (you can use it too if you’d like). You can start anywhere and add whichever Web 2.0 sites you want to the link wheel. You can even change the direction of your links so that they don’t all point to one site after another.
But creating a link wheel is pointless if you don’t know how to use it. I explain this in the next section.
Using the Link Wheel
As I mentioned before, the link wheel is primarily used to boost your site in search engine rankings. So, if you want a site to rank for a specific keyword, you can use the link wheel to create content on Web 2.0 sites that will link to your niche site using your keyword phrase as anchor text.
For example, I’m currently working on a niche site that I hope to rank highly for the keyword phrase “betta fish care.” Feel free to follow my progress in the Niche Site Duel if you aren’t already doing so.
Often, its good to have a plan or model to go by before taking action. The link wheel acts as that model. Each arrow represents one link and each yellow bubble represents a Web 2.0 site. So, as I add content to each Web 2.0 site, I also include a link back over to my niche site in each article. Of course, I’d then use the keyword phrase I’m trying rank for in the anchor text of each link (the text readers click on to visit a particular link).
Below is an example of what you would do if you were to only write for one Web 2.0 site.
Normally, each Web 2.0 article that you write would include a link to the next Web 2.0 site in the sequence. So, every Ezine article written will link to every Squidoo article that you write. Then, your Squidoo article will link to a Triond article (see the first example).
Linking to each of these articles will increase the strength of the links pointing to your niche site. If you’re following my link wheel model, you’ll bookmark each article you create on various bookmarking sites as well, which will then further increase your link strength. When you complete the wheel, you just write a new article for your niche site and start the wheel all over again, creating new content on Web 2.0 sites and bookmarking your articles.
But What if I Want to Create My Own Link Wheel?
In the next part of this two-part series, I’ll talk about different variations of link wheels and how to reduce your risks of getting sandboxed. Hope to see you there!
In the meantime, tell me what you think. What is your opinion about link wheels? Do you think that they negatively impact the online world for other Internet users, or are they just a good way to manage your content? Would you use a link wheel?
Can’t wait to see your responses in the comment section!