Does Tiered Link Building Work in 2023?

March 20, 2024
| Maria Harutyunyan
| 8 Min Read
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Tiered link building is an SEO strategy that builds backlinks to your backlinks. The goal of this practice is to strengthen the authority of the backlinks your website gets. 

If you are wondering whether tiered link building is a relevant strategy for you, read further to learn how tiered link building works, what are its advantages, and what mistakes to avoid. 

If you want to know more about how our agency can assist you in building a strong backlink profile for your website, schedule a call with our Head of SEO now.

Tiered Link Building Structure Overview

Generally, tiered links have three levels:

  • Tier 1: First layer links:  Links that point to a target website, also known as a “money site”  (usually your own website)
  • Tier 2: Second layer links: Links that point to tier 1 links
  • Tier 3: Third layer links: Links that point to tier 2 links

On top of all three tiers sits a money site. Money sites soak up link juice from each of the three tiers below it.

link juice

Each tier of links has its own distinct role, but the overall goal is to earn as much link juice as possible. We’ll cover each tier in-depth shortly.

Advantages of Tiered Link Building Strategy

Just like other SEO tactics tiered link building has its own set of unique advantages.

#1: Fewer backlinks more value

As the link building golden rule states, quantity matters, but not nearly as much as quality. To raise the quality of the backlink, you should consider tiered link building as a solution. 

Tiered link building is relatively simple when you can control where each link lives.

#2: Stronger link authority 

Each tier lets you pass link juice to your first layer backlinks. This helps increase keyword rankings (and therefore traffic). The more authoritative each backlink is, the more juice your website gets.

Websites are considered authoritative when they have:

  • High domain authority (DA)
  • Quality inbound and outbound links
  • High traffic
  • Engaging content
  • Minimum Spam score

#3: Safe link building strategy

Search engine algorithms can easily spot (and then penalize) unnatural backlink profiles. For example, if you point ALL backlinks directly to a money site, this raises red flags.

But when you point links from tier to tier, THEN to a money site, it’s much harder to recognize. This is because tiered links mimic the organic spread of information online.

In which case, there’s a reduced chance of penalty when organized correctly …

How does each Link Tier Work?

Each link tier is of higher quality than the tier before it. So tier 1 links are “better” than tier 2 links. Tier 2 links are “better” than tier 3 links. But at the same time, each tier has a unique purpose and provides value.

Tier 1 backlinks

First layer links, or tier 1 backlinks, come from websites with:

  • High domain authority
  • Strong backlink profiles
  • Lots of traffic

Some ways to earn high-quality tier 1 links include:

  • Guest blogs
  • Press releases
  • Sponsored posts
  • Paid directory listings
  • Organic directory listings

Tier 1 links point to your website and transfer quality link juice. It’s critical that tier 1 links appear as natural as possible for this reason.

The following example showcases Adzooma, a digital marketing platform. Adzooma earned a tier 1 link in Real Business with a guest post:

1 link

Real Business is a trustworthy site that publishes articles about business, marketing, and sales. The site also has high SEO metrics and a strong backlink profile.

The reason this is a great fit for Adzooma is because there is:

  • Niche relevancy
  • Target audience overlap
  • High reach potential

Tier 2 backlinks

Second layer links, or tier 2 backlinks, come from:

  • Hosted services (Google Maps)
  • Web applications (Flickr)
  • Social media platforms (Facebook, Instagram, YouTube)
  • Wikis
  • WordPress blogs
  • Microblogs (Twitter)
  • Podcasts
  • Content hosting services

The kinds of websites listed above are often categorized as Web 2.0 sites. These sites rely on user-generated content. And users don’t need advanced publishing or design skills to publish their ideas.

Tier 1 links are of greater quality than tier 2 links. In which case, tier 1 links take precedence over tier 2 (and tier 3). But that doesn’t mean they don’t offer value. Platforms like Google Maps, Instagram, and so on have TONS of traffic. This means your tier 1 links and money sites get more traffic, too.

The following example showcases Mayple. Let's take a look at the tier 2 link they earned through 99firms:

tier 2 link

99firms is a directory that helps users (i.e. businesses) find digital marketing agencies. The platform has an impressive amount of online traffic. This is why even though it’s a tier 2 link, it’s still a valuable link.

Tier 3 backlinks

Third layer links, or tier 3 backlinks, can come from pretty much anywhere. They’re also often generated by an automation tool, or with the help of a virtual assistant.

Tier 3 link quality doesn’t matter as much as tier 1 and tier 2. In which case, some common ways to get these links is by inserting them in:

  • Comment sections
  • Forums
  • Private blog networks (PBNs)

In the example below, we can see a tier 3 backlink for Adzooma posted in JustWebWorld:

tier 3 backlink

JustWebWorld is pretty clearly a PBN. It has way too many content categories that don’t relate to one another. For example, “Entertainment” and “SEO.” In addition, JustWebWorld has a questionable backlink profile (to say the least). For these reasons, a link like this is considered a tier 3 backlink.

Pro Tip: Be careful with tier 3 links! Automation tools or links in “spammy” PBNs may violate Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. In which case, your website could be hit with a serious penalty if you wander into “black hat” territory.

Common Tiered Link building Mistakes to Avoid 

Like every link building strategy tiered link building requires expert knowledge, effort and dedication. Even companies that try to follow link building best practices can make mistakes while creating tiered links. So here are some common pitfalls to know about and avoid:

Mistake #1: ONLY focusing on tiered link building

Tiered link building is an effective way to build a strong backlink profile. However, it should be used as part of an overall SEO strategy.

If you only focus on tiered building, you lose out on benefits from other strategies. Plus, tiered link building is more effective when practiced alongside other white hat SEO tactics.

Mistake #2: Posting poor-quality content

Poorly-written, plagiarized, or poorly-spun content is another common mistake we notice. If you earn tiered links through guest posts or content on other sites you manage, you HAVE to post great content that:

  • Provides value
  • Makes sense
  • Reads easily

If your content doesn’t have those qualities, Google’s algorithm won’t boost it …

Mistake #3: Not identifying quality target sites

Once you have a clear understanding of each link tier, and you know how many you need in each category, you have to choose target sites. What’s more important here is that you identify target sites that:

  • Rank high
  • Earn lots of traffic
  • Relate to your industry, niche, or topic

Getting links from any website doesn’t really cut it. Instead, you have to carefully choose which sites you link up with. Otherwise, you risk hurting your own rankings.

Remember link juice? It works both ways. If you earn a link from a high-quality website, your metrics go up. But if you earn links from poor-quality websites … those same metrics can go down.

Mistake #4: Going too fast

This usually happens when companies use automation tools and get a little carried away. Every link you earn is exciting, and it’s one step closer to higher rankings and other SEO benefits. But, unfortunately, earning tiered links too quickly can catch an algorithm’s attention (in a bad way).

Instead of getting as many links as possible as quickly as possible, it’s critical to slow down. The best thing you can do is remember that tiered link building should resemble organic content sharing.

Mistake #5: “Doing it yourself”

Tiered building (and any other link building strategy) takes time. This principle is especially true at scale. Often we notice companies losing track of each tier as the campaign grows. Unfortunately, this is where mistakes happen, and when Google picks up on them.

Instead, outsource to an SEO agency with proven tiered link building services. Loopex Digital has the team, resources, and experience to manage a campaign the right way. Plus, you get to focus your attention on what matters most: running a business.

Final Thoughts on Tiered Link Building

Tiered link building is an effective SEO strategy —  but it’s not without challenges. Here’s a quick list of all the key takeaways:

  • Tiered link building is an SEO strategy that earns link juice and strengthens backlink profiles
  • There are three tiers of links, each of which is of greater quality than the tier below it
  • Tier 1: High-quality links from trustworthy sites
  • Tier 2: Medium-quality links from Web 2.0 sites
  • Tier 3: Low-quality links from comment sections and forums
  • These links point to your website (called the money site) and transfer link juice along the way
  • Black hat tiered link building strategies can result in serious SEO penalties
  • Work with experienced white hat agencies to get the most from a link building campaign

Are you ready to learn more about link building and other SEO strategies? Visit the Loopex Digital blog for additional resources, guides, and expert tips. Don't hesitate and book a call with our head of SEO for thorough consultation on Tiered Link Building! 

Maria Harutyunyan

Our blog covers a combination of industry trends and professional insights from behind-the-scenes experiences. We provide weekly updates on link building, content marketing, on-site and technical SEO, and more! Sign up for our newsletter and join our LinkedIn to be on top of industry trends!

Maria Harutyunyan
Our blog covers a combination of industry trends and professional insights from behind-the-scenes experiences dealing with every aspect of SEO. We provide weekly updates on topics such as link building, content marketing, on-site and technical SEO and more! Don’t miss any industry updates by signing up for our newsletter! You’ll also receive exclusive SEO strategies and learn about industry secrets like:

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