Are you overwhelmed with the multitude of SEO tactics and practices out there? I get it. There are a multitude of SEO strategies you can leverage to increase rankings for targeted pages. Today, we’re going to discuss the benefits of link-building and what it can do for your webpages. As you may already know, backlinks are a major ranking factor in Google’s PageRank algorithm, and using this to your benefit can expedite your SEO strategy and boost your results.
What Is Tiered Link-Building?
Tiered link-building is a tactic that’s used to boost the SEO value of your existing links by creating backlinks for your backlinks. That may sound confusing at first, but we’ll walk you through the process.
First, what is a backlink? It is simply a link from a page on one website to another. If someone links to your site, then you have a backlink from them.
Here’s an example: you receive a backlink from a guest post article you provided for a blog that is prominent in your industry. Then, on a forum site, you answer a question from another user and link your guest post for more information on the subject. Congratulations! You just created a second-tier link. This is also known as creating a “link pyramid.”
The Benefits and Risks of Tiered Link-Building
Tiered link-building can be a powerful tool that improves your search engine ranking, but it’s not without risks. We’ll go through the reasons why you should include tiered link-building in your SEO strategy, as well as the common pitfalls to avoid.
SEO Benefits of Tiered Link-Building
Creating multiple tiers of backlinks builds up what we call “SEO juice” for each tier of links. Tier one receives juice from tier two, tier two receives juice from tier three, and so on. This creates a battery-like super-charge that eventually ends with your target page receiving all of the built-up juice. Pretty exciting, right?
Tiered link-building can also help you get found for long-tail keywords. When optimizing multiple backlinks for long-tail keywords that eventually lead back to your website, Google will recognize the relevance of these long-tail keywords for pages they are being targeted for. This is taken into consideration when determining your keyword rankings.
Tiered linking is a low-risk, high-reward strategy. It’s worth mentioning that if Google ever decides you’re using black hat strategies for your link-building, you can simply remove the link from your tier-one links. By doing so, you break the connection from any negative SEO. Your rankings should go back to normal by the next ranking update.
What Are the Risks?
Now, I know this may seem like a tall task to tackle, and waiting on these links to generate naturally can take what seems like forever. But if done correctly, you will start to see your content rankings skyrocket. Keep in mind that automation is considered manipulation of Google’s algorithm, so it is imperative that you make sure you are paying close attention and monitoring the links you’re building. Otherwise, this could negatively impact your SEO if you aren’t careful.
Not to worry, though. There is SEO backlink-building software you can use to create these links for you — which can help you avoid a damaging penalty from Google. Softwares like Monitor Backlinks will help you build great links, monitor your brand and create relationships with influencers, recover valuable lost links, and track keyword rankings over time.
The goal of tiered link-building is to mimic what happens to highly-authoritative content once it starts ranking well in Google and is seen as a valuable resource for users. Tiered linking simply replicates what happens to good content that goes viral at a faster pace and a higher volume.
As long as you are cautious and following link-building best practices, you will see great results in your keyword rankings for target pages.
Breaking Down the Tiers
There is a science to how you should go about tiered link-building. Each tier is leveraged differently in this strategy. Let’s break down how to build out your link pyramids.
You want your tier-one links to be your highest quality links. These are the links that point directly back to your website. It’s best to keep these links 100% natural and you should have about 50 of them.
Stay away from automation on this tier. Most tier-one links are going to come from guest posting opportunities, press releases, company social profiles, directories, and reviews. It’s important to make sure the content on the website is relevant to your industry. Check out our guide on optimizing your content for SEO.
The quality of these backlinks can be lower than the tier above. In this tier, the volume comes first while quality and relevancy take a backseat. These links can be generated naturally or by using strategic automation solutions.
Try to limit your tier-two links to 50–100 links. This tier primarily consists of web 2.0 articles that are spun and distributed across web 2.0 properties. Web 2.0 sites are end-user-friendly websites that prioritize user-generated content, ease-of-use, and user participation. Another type of link seen in this tier is a highly authoritative profile link, it involves adding URLs to the personal, professional, or business profiles that you can create on various websites.
Now that you are a few tiers removed from your website, you can begin to push the limits a little more. At this stage of your tiered link-building, you shouldn’t worry about quality as much. These links could be considered borderline spam.
Trying to find a way to scale these links naturally is near impossible unless you’re willing to spend big on hiring a team of virtual assistants to do it for you. Automation is almost a necessity at this stage. You should generally have 300–500 links pointing back to your tier-twos. These links consist of profile links, directories, and forum links.
This tier would be considered spam. These links exist only to help tier-three links get indexed by Google. There should be 750–1000 links pointing back to the third-tier links. They consist of URL shorteners, index submission websites, and bookmarking sites.
White Hat Linking vs. Black Hat Tiered Linking
You may have heard tiered link-building referenced as a “black hat” or “white hat” strategy, but what do those phrases mean? Let’s take a deeper look at how the two strategies line up against one another.
White Hat Tiered Link-Building
White hat tiered link-building can be beneficial to your SEO strategy. With this tactic, you can handpick your backlink opportunities based on the niche, domain authority, and traffic you desire. By choosing a more authentic approach for your backlinking, you completely eliminate the risk of being hit with negative SEO.
White hat tiered link-building comes with a downside: it limits the number of links you can produce. You only have so much time in the day, after all. So if this is something your company is interested in, consider whether investing in industry experts who have this type of experience might be helpful to your overall strategy. This would help take the pressure off you and ensure you get the results you are after. But keep in mind that most authentic linking doesn’t go past the second tier — ultimately reducing the battery-like supercharge and SEO juice mentioned earlier.
Black Hat Tiered Link-Building
Black hat link-building is a risky approach to search engine optimization. The reason is simple: you are pointing automated backlinks directly back to your website. Remember that Google frowns upon and penalizes websites that use any type of SEO automation, so by doing this, you could potentially have your page or website removed from Google’s ranking.
That said, you can use many strategies such as proxies and alternate domains to try to cover up your digital footprint. If you are okay with taking on the risk factor, these automated linking campaigns create thousands of backlinks without the hassle of having to manually post to authoritative websites one at a time. This strategy allows for more links in a shorter amount of time, making it more scalable.
White Hat Tiered Link-Building Strategies
Although many of the techniques used in black hat link-building are in violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines, white hat SEOs can still use the general philosophy to guide their strategy while remaining compliant. Here are some white hat strategies that you can implement.
First-Tier Link Outreach
Perform link outreach for first-tier links to your posts in the same way you would for a piece of your own content.
Include First-Tier Links in Guest Posts
If a first-tier link to a page on your site would be valuable to the guest content, then add it.
Utilize HARO (Help A Reporter Out)
If you have a great article that has a first-tier link back to a page on your site, try pitching it to reporters with HARO (Help A Reporter Out).
HARO is an email list of subjects that reporters are interested in writing about. Often, you can send an article that answers the reporter’s question or could serve as a source, and they’ll send you a backlink.
Integrating Tiered Link-Building Into Your Own Strategy
Backlinks are a great way to rank well in Google, and tiered link-building can help you create a strong backlink profile. However, it is likely that as Google continues to get more sophisticated and aware of link patterns, it will start to crack down on this more. One method is tried and true — naturally built links.
But don’t rely on just link-building to improve your SEO strategy. In order to rank high and maintain your position, combine multiple SEO tactics and follow best practices.
It’s important to stay educated about SEO to keep your business at the top of the search results. Make sure you understand how different strategies could affect your business — positively or negatively. The last thing you want is to invest time and resources into a questionable strategy.