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Have you considered using tiered link building as an SEO strategy to increase the amount of link juice to your website? If you have, you should understand that while tiered link building does have many benefits to improve your search engine rankings and bring more traffic to your website, it comes with many risks as well. Search engines like Google have been clamping down on black hat-tiered link building for years with their many updates.
Let’s find out what tiered link building is and the effect it has on your website’s backlink profile. Next, we’ll explore what are first-tier, second-tier, and third-tier links and the websites that provide these tiered backlinks. Afterward, we’ll take a look at the SEO benefits of tiered link building as well as its associated risks, including how some methods might violate Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. Finally, we’ll discuss the updates that Google has done to its search engine algorithms and what it means for the future of tiered link building.
What Is Tiered Link Building?
Inbound links to your website, especially when they are high-quality backlinks from reputed sites can drastically improve your site’s backlink profile. This is what makes link-building strategies a core part of any website’s search engine optimization (SEO) tactics. Tiered link building involves acquiring links from multiple levels or tiers of sources.
Building tiered links will form a compound structure or web of backlinks with the high-quality links (first-tier links) pointing at your main website, while the lower-quality backlinks (second-tier links) will point to the first-tier links. Similarly, further low-quality links (third-tier links) will point to the second-tier links. In simpler terms, a tiered link-building campaign is about building backlinks to your backlinks.
The main reason for investing time and resources into tiered link-building strategies is that it has the potential to pass a high amount of link juice from the resulting backlink profile to your own website.
The first tier links are the highest quality links that point directly to your main website. These are ‘dofollow links‘ acquired from relevant websites that have a high level of domain authority. The relevant site owners have already established themselves as reputable and knowledgeable figures in their respective fields. Sources of first-tier links also have a great-looking backlink profile.
A few examples of high domain authority sites that can provide first-tier links are Hubspot when it comes to digital marketing, Forbes when it comes to business media, and even Wikipedia. Whatever your industry is, if you look, you will discover relevant sites that are capable of providing you with a first-tier link.
You could write a guest post for such a website that contains a first-tier backlink to your website or convince the site owner to include a first-tier backlink to your website in their own blog articles wherever it is relevant and useful to their readers. Search engines like Google will notice this first-tier link and understand that it’s coming from a highly credible source. With enough first-tier links, your page authority will increase, which will improve your search rankings, and ultimately drive more traffic to your website.
While all of this sounds great, it’s not easy to obtain first-tier links to your website. Site owners of these reputable establishments receive more link-building requests than they can respond to. You will only be able to acquire a handful of these extremely valuable first-tier links. This is many rely on tiered link building to obtain second-tier and third-tier backlinks.
Your second-tier backlinks are meant to point to the web pages of your first-tier sources. This will not only bring more visitors to your first-tier referring domains but also get noticed by search engine crawlers. They see link equity or link juice being passed from the second-tier backlinks onto the first-tier web pages, which improves their domain authority. This will improve the quality of your first-tier backlinks, and in turn, improve your backlink profile further.
Compared to the first tier, the second tier links are of lower quality since the owners of these tier two referring domains have lower authority than in the first tier. You must however remember that the ratio of backlinks to destination web pages will need to increase. Essentially what this means is that in tiered link building, as you lower the quality of backlinks, you will need to increase the quantity. Furthermore, backlinks of the second tier can accommodate both dofollow and nofollow links, although dofollow will remain a priority.
Examples of tier-two domains are personal blogs, directory links, private blog networks (PBNs), and press release links. You could do tier two link building by convincing a site owner to publish a guest post that contains a backlink pointing at one of your first-tier sources. Alternatively, you could include the backlinks, link roundups, or article directories. No matter how you build these tiered links, it is important to ensure they are contextually relevant to the topic.
Third-tier backlinks usually originate from social media sites and forums. Third-tier links are nofollow links but default, and therefore cannot pass any link equity to the target sites. Instead, these low-quality backlinks are meant to grab attention and increase engagement for the sources on the second tier.
While at first glance it might seem like third-tier backlinks aren’t that important, Google will still consider these tiered links as hints about what their search engine results pages (SERPs) should include or exclude. This means that third-tier links will stay and have the effect of improving the relevance of the tier-two webpages.
Similar to the tiered link building seen in tier two, the quantity has to increase since these are low-quality links. According to tiered link-building experts, the third tier requires massive volumes with thousands of social media links provided by sharing, forum links in comments sections, and links from blog post comments to make an impact.
Since it is difficult to create links on this scale manually, many turn to automated link-building tools. This is where people creating tiered links come into conflict with Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. The search giant is against link schemes that utilize black hat link-building techniques like bots and has released many updates to its algorithm to keep its users safe from such tactics.
The Benefits Of A Tiered Link-Building Strategy
Let’s look at all the benefits of tiered link-building and how it can help your SEO strategy.
Pass Link Equity
Unlike regular link building where link equity is passed from a referral domain to your own, in tiered link building, you get the benefit of receiving juice from multiple layers that all contribute cumulatively. You will also be receiving equity from a wide range of sources. And since they are not all pointing directly at your primary website, it won’t look as suspicious compared to your primary website being directly linked by them. These types of link-building tactics may even allow you to get equity from slightly unrelated content which usually doesn’t work if linked directly.
Improve Your Backlink Profile
You can strengthen the profile of your backlinks without appearing to Google’s eyes as a link spammer. The compounding structure of high-quality first-tier links from authoritative websites, which are supported by the second tier of nofollow and dofollow links, makes tiered link building look similar to that of organic backlinks. The third tier reinforces the relevancy of the second tier by signaling through social media engagement, user-generated content, and forum discussions. A link scheme like this appears natural, and will eventually receive organic traffic.
Reduced Risk Exposure
In tiered link building, the primary website is usually separated from the low-quality third-tier links. This means that even if Google flags them as suspicious, it is highly unlikely they will be able to establish a connection to the primary site. The exposure to the risk of penalties will be much less compared to a link scheme that has poor-quality links pointing directly to the primary website.
The Risks Of Tiered Link Building
Creating backlinks through a tiered link-building approach does have its downsides. Let’s look at a few of the risks you will face if you choose to create links this way.
Getting Penalized By Google
Google is constantly cracking down on link schemes they believe are using black hat techniques. They’re getting better and better at discovering PBNs which many tiered link builders used to rely on. Even the less suspicious ones may face penalties, and Google could even come after the beneficiary sites in addition to the site owners themselves.
Link-building schemes that rely on automation tools such as bots are also under threat. To avoid facing these harsh penalties, you should always rely on white hat-tiered link-building methods. This essentially means that your link-building strategy should be done manually instead of using bots that appear to create spammy links.
Tiered Link Building Is Time-Consuming
Even if you successfully create a backlink through a guest post or convince a reputable site to link back to yours, this valuable first-tier link has to be indexed before you can reap the benefits of equity and SEO. Unfortunately, Google could take anywhere from a few days to about 10 weeks to do this, making you wait a while before you observe any positive results in your rankings.
Remember that this is not even counting the amount of time it takes to pitch your guest posts to first-tier publishers, convince them to go with you, prepare good-quality content, and wait for your guest posts to get published. The sources of second-tiered backlinks will most likely respond faster, although you will need a larger quantity of them.
Requires Effort And Resources
Manually performing tiered link building is the legit way of doing this but it’s easier said than done. You will need content writers to supply guest posts and various tools to keep track of the many tiers of backlinks you’re planning on acquiring. The backlink analysis tools that you will be used to evaluate the quality of backlinks, and how your existing ones are performing will not be cheap. Furthermore, all the content creators on your team will need to be paid as well.
The Future Of Tiered Link Building
While Google’s algorithms are used to measure the credibility of a website based on the number of backlinks, those days are long gone. With social networking having a major impact on link building, the company has increasingly made attempts to penalize black hat operators that try to fake a site’s credibility.
So if you’re planning on using methods like tiered link building, you have to ensure you’re not violating any guidelines set down by the search giant. You should also not focus exclusively on tiered link building alone when it comes to your SEO efforts. Your priority to bring in traffic to your website organically is to build a website that contains useful and relevant content that people in your industry niche will appreciate.
If the visitors to your website are genuinely satisfied with what you provide them, your rankings will increase. If more authoritative sites see value in your content, they will be more likely to create backlinks to your pages, increasing your link equity in the process. If you’re unsure of how exactly to do these things, hiring link-building experts who have experience in creating content is a great place to start.
Looking For A Link Building Expert?
If you’ve been searching for a link-building expert, then Inquivix is the digital marketing and SEO specialist you need. We provide a comprehensive range of services in both on-page and off-page SEO. We can help create high-quality optimized content, improve your website architecture, perform white hat link building, and more to boost your search rankings. To learn more, visit Inquivix today!
Tiered link building involves creating backlinks from highly authoritative websites (tier one) to your own, and then creating backlinks to the tier one pages from even lower authority sources in tier two, and so on. The link equity or link juice will eventually get passed to your main website, helping its rankings.
The highly authoritative and credible referring domains provide first-tier links. The second tier is made up of moderate-quality links from directories, web 2.0 sites, and PBNs. The third-tier links are from social media and comments sections of forums.