Lately there has been a lot of controversy in the Warrior Forum regarding the effectiveness of 3 way links (3wl) as a service. Have you noticed that almost always these controversies contain some lessons for us webmasters- lessons in creating an effective, long term link building strategy? In this article I'll explain it. :-)
Personally I am not a 3wl customer (well, I was for a while but they didn’t approve some of my sites because the headers were not matching, and I figured that if I were to change the headers of the whole site, it would amount of hours of work; so I left).I am nobody to tell you about the effectiveness or ineffectiveness of 3wl: some people swear by it while others bash it! In all cases this article is not so much about 3wl as about what can be called an effective linking strategy.
1. Short term vs. Long term: Look, I don’t know how effective 3wl is in helping people get high rankings in Google, but assuming that it does what it claims, and that Google is going to crack on sites using 3wl, I would say that you take advantage of this service. Here is why: the service works great now (according to those who use it); so why not use it to increase traffic? With this traffic, you can build your own optin lists!
Even if tomorrow Google decides to crack down on your sites there is no harm because you have already built an optin list to which you can make repeated offers! Remember that even if your site 'dies' one day, your optin list will NEVER die; it is immortal, provided of course that you have built a beautiful relationship with your subscribers and continue to offer them great value with EACH purchase!
In effect, 3wl is a short-term strategy you are using to build assets in the form of optin lists (which can be called a long term strategy)!
2. Use 3WL only on sites whose rankings you can afford to lose: Do you have a site which doesn't make you a penny? Then why not use 3wl on this site to see if that helps your bottom line?
But if you're afraid that you will lose pagerank by using 3wl on your site, then use the service only on sites you can afford to lose rankings of! I don’t know how far the rumor of Google slapping 3wl is true, but you can prefer to be on the safe side!
3. Get links from a variety of sources: I have never used 3wl but have a few sites in niches that range of PR2-3 (nothing more than that). My point is that it IS possible to build links even without 3wl; 3wl just makes your task easier and quicker. This doesn't however mean that you should rely only on 3wl for your site's backlinks. Get backlinks from a variety of sources; this not only looks more natural to Google, but also makes your site stand on a rock solid structure instead of sand.
Even if Google really starts cracking down on sites that are part of the 3wl network, it will have very little effect on you because you have got your backlinks from a variety of sources such as press releases, article marketing, social bookmarking, video marketing, viral marketing (in the form of giving away softwares and ebooks; btw, I have seen several affiliates submit branded PDF reports to shareware directories; guess it makes them a lot money otherwise they won’t do it), free giveaways (freely giveaway a wordpress theme or plugin, and make it mandatory for the user to give you a backlink), guest authoring, forum marketing, and some not so effective methods such as link directory submission, blog directory submission, etc.
Social bookmarking best practices: for every self-promoting site that you submit, submit three other non-self-promoting sites, so that you are not looked upon as spammer! Also, since this is a pretty time-consuming task, I would recommend you outsource it.
If you submit your site through Social poster, just select the 'Dofollow (for SEO)' option.
Believe it or not, if you combine all these methods you will have a prominent site in your niche! My point is that it is very much possible to make money without paying 3wl the $47/month, but if 3wl gives you some extra mileage, even if for a short period, then why not use it?
There is one more reason why you shouldn’t rely on 3wl alone for your site's income. Look, if tomorrow Jonathan (the owner of 3wl) decides to quit business and shut down 3wl, what would you do? Or maybe he decides that he would convert to Buddhism and move to Tibet, so you go to hell (hmm, I agree that is a bit far-fetched)! :D Then what? If you were relying exclusively on 3wl for your income then your site would now be dead in waters! I hope it doesn't happen, but you never know :-)
One fateful event in my life taught me not to rely on third party sites for my business. I used a remote ad tracking service which was very good. Then one day I noticed that all of my links were redirected to the site owner's homepage. Needless to say I lost a lot of money that way! Later, I purchased the ad trackz script and began to host all my tracking links on my own site. You know, I can trust my server much more than any third party service!
4. Focus on content: 3wl or no 3wl, if your site contains very little or no good content that is properly keyword-optimized, then forget about making money online, because Google will be de-indexing your site anyway. Focus on offsite SEO of course, but also focus on your site's content!
Er, btw, you can use my custom content writing services if you want :D
5. Google is neither God nor Government: Don't mistake Google for an internet police, governing body or God; it is NOT! It is just a public body created to crawl websites and help people in finding out what they want from the colossal WWW. As long as your site is legal (according to the laws of your country and also those of US), as long as you abide by the terms and conditions set by your web host and domain registrar, as long as you don’t spam people or infringe on someone's copyright/trademark/contract laws, Google has no power to send you to prison even if you follow all the well known black hat tactics such as stuffing keywords, purchasing paid links, having paid reviews, buying links from text-link-ads.com, using content site generators and article spinners, filling up your site with duplicate content, linking to bad neighborhood (provided you don't cross legal limits) and cloaking links because they are NOT illegal. Sure, these tactics can get your sites de-indexed from Google, but that's it; no further harm can cause to you! Google is not going to sue you in court for running a black hat site!
I visit the Warrior forum frequently and I can tell you that people worry much more about duplicate content penalty than how to make more money from their sites! I tell you what – when the opposite happens, the failure rate in internet marketing will go down: there will be 95% of success and 5% of failures!
Bottom line, doing anything that manipulates Google's system is NOT illegal, unethical or immoral; if anything, it is anti-Google. But may I also ask why Google created a system full of loopholes, so that others could take advantage of them? Why not have a fool proof system? That is because creating a fool proof system is not possible since the internet changes too frequently.
If they were to set rules in stone, then they have to be changed too frequently and that would cost time and labor. A much easier way is to create some flexible and vague guidelines and if any webmaster is noticed to be getting on the 'raw' side then Google would crack down on that site! It is as simple as that.
And you will also notice that their webmaster's guidelines are also not too clear; they mostly suggest you some webmaster good practices. They are purposefully vague here because if they were to make them crystal clear then that amount to giving away their secret algorithms, which no doubt, is a top secret known only to a few of their top-level staff!
You also need to realize that you have entered into no contact with Google to make your site comply with their guidelines; you never asked Google to index your site; they did so out of their own accord. Thus you have every right to do what you want on your site (subject to the legal restrictions I pointed out above).