Getting your website pages to rank is always tricky, so many companies and agencies are looking for ways to get more backlinks. But not every backlink is created equally. Some are from… less than awesome sites that might not actually help your site. That’s why some people turn to tiered link building. It’s a way to build backlinks strategically to help boost your rankings—while taking advantage of all links. Let’s dive into how tiered link building works.
What Is Tiered Link Building?
Tiered link building is an SEO strategy where you use backlinks to point to your other backlinks, ultimately pointing just the highest quality links to your own site. With tiered link building, you’re making backlinks for your backlinks. The main goal of tiered link building is increasing your link equity or your “link juice.” You’re only using your highest domain links for your actual site, but you’re still getting tons of links. Tiered link building lets you increase your backlink profile too, increasing how many links you have total.
The Three Tiers
Tiered link building makes much more sense when you break down what each individual tier does in tiered link building. So let’s look at the tiers:
Tier 1 Links
Tier 1 links are your most powerful links. They’re your best and most potent links, and they’re the ones that point directly back to your website itself. At this tier, you probably want about 2–5 links. Usually you want high authority links at this level. That’s sites like Forbes.com and other places you could get a crazy-powerful link.
To get these tier 1 links, you usually want guest posts where you get to write on a great site and then link directly to your own site. A web 2.0 blog could also be a great way to get tier 1 links. Tier 1 links don’t just link to your site though…
Tier 2 Links
Tier 2 links are the backlinks for your tier 1 backlinks. So they link directly to your tier 1 links and to your tier 3 links. These are your middle-ground links. They can be web 2.0 blogs and guest posts as well (maybe just on slightly less potent sites) and they can include things like PBNs, article directories, profile links, and social bookmarks.
With your tier 2 links, you can write a guest post on a less powerful site with slightly less domain authority, and then you link that post to your tier 1 guest post—which then links to your site. Your tier 2 links should still be quality, and that’s your priority over quantity here. You only need about 5–10 tier 2 links. You can lower the bar a bit from your tier 1 links, but you don’t want to lower it too much to keep your link juice powerful.
Tier 3 Links
Tier 3 links are where you can really lower the bar. Your goal for this level is quantity. You’re going to want 5,000–100,000 links. The good news is that they don’t need to be high quality links. Some common tier 3 links include:
- Profile links.
- Forum links.
- Blog comment links.
- Social media links.
- Directory links.
Once you get a tier 3 link, you point them to the tier 2 links. The tier 2 links then point to your tier 1 links which point to your site. So these are the lowest tier links that are the lowest quality but the highest quantity. They direct traffic to your tier 2 links, which then can ultimately point to your site.
Benefits of Tiered Link Building
Tiered link building sounds kind of complicated, but it has some great benefits:
Minimized risk exposure
Low authority sites can actually hurt your website in the end. You don’t look good by linking to low quality pages. But at the same time, you don’t want to get rid of a backlink, even a lower quality link. Tier linking helps you get the best of both worlds. Instead of letting lower quality sites hurt yours, you can set those links as tier 3 links that still expand your profile but without letting them link directly to your site.
Removing 1 link can clear dozens or hundreds of backlinks that might have been hurting your site. It’s simple and effective. Since removing these links is so easy, you can even automate your third tier links without the worry that it will negatively affect your ranking.
A healthy backlink profile should include no follow links, do follow links, high quality and low quality links from a variety of different websites. A tiered backlink profile makes it easy to get depth and variety in your links. A healthy profile also includes a lot of links. A tiered approach helps you get the quantity you need while only using the quality ones directly on your site.
High quality links are awesome. In a perfect world, they’re all you’d shoot for. But the reality is that high quality backlinks are expensive and time consuming. With tiered link building, you can get those amazing links but really build your profile by gathering a high amount of lower tier links. You can save lots of money by having low quality second and third tier links while still building your link juice.
Risks of Tiered Link Building
There are a couple of risks that come with tiered link building:
- Penalty risk. If you get carried away with your tiered link building, it can be easy to break one of Google’s rules and get penalized. A great way to avoid this is by manually building your tier 1 links. Save the automation for your tier 3 links where quality matters a little less.
- Opportunity loss. It can take Google 4 days to 6 months to index your link; it will then take weeks to improve your overall ranking. So tiered link building takes time, and it’ll take months to see the results you want. The payoff can be big, but while you’re spending time on tiered link building, you’re losing opportunities to expand your link building strategy in other ways.
Having a tiered backlink strategy will enhance your backlink profile, minimize risk exposure, create an organic backlink profile, and increase link juice. With tiered linking, you get your sites to rank while still using all of the backlinks you can possibly get. After all, your backlinks have backlinks.
The trick is finding a way to get those links without losing valuable time that you could spend on other high return strategies. There’s a pretty easy solution: use a link building agency. Link builders can do all the leg work of expanding your profile and getting you the links you need—without you having to do all the work.
BASE Search Marketing can help you build a link strategy that’ll work for your organization and then build those links for you. So you’ll reap the benefits of a great profile without the opportunity loss or risk of penalty. If you need help getting started with your backlink strategy, check out our site to improve your overall SEO, and contact us to get started building links!