I never see threads on here about really reverse engineering what's going on with the algorithm. It's really important that people do this. In SEO we need pioneers who are willing to tackle the really hard questions about what's going on. I hope we can start a whole new level of SEO discussion here and I'd like to help kick it off. DISCLAIMER: I SUSPECT THAT THIS IS ACCURATE. IT MAY NOT BE. FIND A FLAW IN IT OR PRESENT A BETTER THEORY. IT'S SCIENCE TIME. ARE WE READY FOR HARDCORE SEO? LET'S DO THIS! I always hear that link pyramids work better than link wheels. Usually there's no real explanation, other times it'll be some vague idea about how google sees the shape and that it's better to be chaotic. Nice things to consider but this explanation just isn't good enough. It's our job to reverse engineer this algorithm people. SO LET'S DO IT. Now remember this is just a theory and I'm not saying this is the truth, I'm just saying I can't find anything wrong with it and it's the simplest explanation I can think of. We've got important work to do and we have to start somewhere. So what's the difference between link wheels and link pyramids? It's the whole idea of the wheel. It's the fact that properties on the inner wheel not only link to our money site, but to the next property. You get an actual loop of PR transfer flowing through X different pages, and all this juice is also passed to the money site. Great, right? Yeah great for us but bad for Google! Juice just isn't supposed to flow that way. It's too perfect. It's pure mathematical exploitation! Different sites! Different IP addresses! What will they do? Somehow, they did something. When Google actually succedes in making a popular technique less effective, something important has happened. This is where blackhats get to work. The tricks we exploit like blog comments and forum profiles seem like they should be easy to fix. It turns out they're not. Years ago Google briefly completely devalued links from pages containing words that could potentially identify spam, like "guestbook". Guess what, guestbook spam still works. The engineers are brilliant, but it turns out that's a REALLY hard thing to prevent. So why were they successful with link wheels? The link wheel takes such careful planning to do right that you'd expect Google to never pick up on it. As it turns out, it's incredibly simple and can be done efficiently using simple graph theory. If you know a little about graph theory you can think of each property in the link wheel as a node. The shape that gives a link wheel its power is known in graph theory as a cycle. A cycle is a path between a number of nodes where they connect in a closed chain. Wherever you start, you will end up. Here's a lovely one! That's the same kind of cycle exploited by the link wheel! Unlucky for us, Google is pretty good at drawing circles. Wait, so Google can detect and devalue these crazy structures and not some spammy blog comments or forum profiles? Yes, because this is just a simple algorithm dealing with a data structure all computer science students are familiar with. Ask a second year student to write a program to follow paths from a node on a directional graph and identify any cycles. It's easy and takes very little processing power. All the computer has to do is traverse all possible paths, which is simple (I'll let you look it up), especially with a directional graph. If at any point the computer ends up back at the starting node, all the nodes on that path are marked as part of a cycle. As far as Google is concerned, each one of these filthy nodes had to agree to be a part of the cycle and they will all be shown no mercy. In fact, the penalty can be incredibly severe without any real risk of negatively affecting a legitimate link profile. How likely is it that one of these will occur by chance? It's almost impossible. It gets even less likely the more nodes the cycle connects. So ok it's actually easy, the engineers had no problem once they figured out what was going on. Now ask that same engineer to reliably identify a guestbook that's vulnerable to spam. He'll probably do a pretty good job, but it will involve lots of text parsing and you'll want to use enough criteria to avoid any false positives. That's a whole lot of instructions for the processor to handle, not to mention memory. Now, repeat this process to identify every possible link spam opportunity and devalue the links. It turns out it's not a realistic idea at all. In fact, it's pretty wacky that they actually tried it back in '02. This sucks for Google, because this is what blackhats live to discover. Next time you blast some profile links, you don't have to wonder "How or why is this possible?? How could those stupid engineers allow this??". Instead you get to think "HAH HAH HAH WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO ABOUT IT GOOGLE???". OK that got a bit off topic, but it's a point that every real blackhat should know. Back to these link structures. Why are pyramids the big thing now? Obviously someone tried it and it worked well. Not only that, but it continued to work well. How is it that Google killed the magic wheels so easily, yet pyramids are still going strong? I WILL TELL YOU. A pyramid is that nice triangle shape everyone likes. It's a symbol of strength and it's a lot simpler than a stupid wheel. You go in layers instead of trying to form all kinds of convoluted shapes. But when you think about the pyramid as a graph, it doesn't matter that it fits nicely in a triangle. Actually it can be visualized as a circle. ACTUALLY, it's the same as the wheel without the edges that make the actual wheel. A nice shape, but WHERE IS THE DIRECTED GRAPH? Anyway, with a pyramid your nodes form what's known in the math world as a directed acyclic graph (DAG). There's definitely a special name for this specific type of DAG but I have no clue what it is and I really don't care. Sure, the structure of the pyramid and the levels of links is important, but what's special about the DAG is it's a stealthy little math creature. Here's what makes it so great. 1. By definition, there will be no cycle in a DAG. 2. Any number of DAGs can be formed by traversing the graph originating from any node in a link profile. This applies to all link profiles without exception. So that cycle detection algorithm and nasty penalty? Gone. Can any single intentional DAG link structure be detected when traversing backwards from a money site? No. How weird is that? It is mathematically impossible for Google to ever be able to detect a link pyramid. I'll bet you never thought about that. Now for the final fun thoughts! I'm sure some of you sat there and noticed that you could eliminate the cycle in the traditional link wheel and make it undetectable just by removing one edge between any two nodes. This is absolutely true! The difference is instead of one simple path from any node in the DAG to the money node, there is potentially two. This doesn't create any obviously unnatural path, so feel free to *ALMOST* complete what would have been your magic PR multiplying circle if you want. It's not going to have the magic powers, but it's a more optimized structure. OR Take the time you'd spend linking from one property to the next and start on another pyramid. THINGS TO THINK ABOUT Can you think of a more effective DAG linking structure? They do exist, just make sure it's a DAG! If you can create a better structure, is it worth it to spend the time creating with the tools available or would it be a better use of time to start a new pyramid? Can you design an algorithm that will help you automate your better structure? Can you design an algorithm to identify and devalue your custom structure? Is your algorithm efficient enough to be implemented realistically? I WANT FEEDBACK!