What are Tiered Links and How Should I use Them?
Several months ago I wrote a blog post about SEO in 2014. In that post I mostly discussed the importance of anchor text diversity and distribution. But another thing that I believe is more important than ever is to use tiered links.
What are Tiered Links?
Tiered links are links that are built on top of one another. For example, “page A” from “site A” links to “page B” from “site B” and “page B” links to the “money site” (the site being promoted).
Page A in this example is the second tier and is usually a backlink that is easier to get, which usually means the quality of that link is, in most cases, lower. Page B in this example is the first tier and is usually (but not always) a content site, like a WordPress (or LiveJournal or Blogger etc.) blog. That’s because although it’s easy to create these externally hosted blogs, it isn’t as easy to get quality fairly unique content on them. So you can’t just create hundreds of them quickly. And these externally hosted blogs are typically on sites that are trusted and established. Of course, that doesn’t mean that your newly created property is going to be instantly trusted and authoritative, but it does mean that some of the initial barriers that a site site has to get through, do not exist.
You can use any web page as your first tier, but you want to make sure that it is legit. For example, using a page that contains your link on a quality social bookmarking site could be used as your first tier. But you want to make sure the bookmark is on a bookmarking site that is legit and authoritative.
Your first tier links should be your highest quality links. Then your second tier links are the lower quality links. So you get a bunch of second tier links to your first tier and you normally have far fewer 1st tier links, but they are your higher quality, more authoritative links. Doing it this way keeps the number of lower quality links that point to your money sites down, reducing the risk of backlash, while still receiving some of the authority that is accrued by the higher quantity of lower quality backlinks.
You can also go deeper and do a 3rd or ever 4th tier! One good way of doing 3rd tier links is by using a good indexing service. So the indexing service is your third tier, the links that you can get a bunch of (like social bookmarks, article directories, web directories, forum profiles etc.) as your second tier and then good, quality web 2.0 content sites (wordpress.com, blogger.com, yola.com, tumblr, livejournal etc.) as your first tier. Doing this really beefs up the authority of those 1st tiers, which then flows into the site you’re promoting.
Here’s How We Do It
For the 3rd tier, we use this indexing service. This is quick and easy. RankCrew (mentioned below) automatically does this for you for some link sources. But for some of the article directories, RSS feed directories and web directories it’s impossible to provide it because of moderation queues. The actual page where the link exists cannot be provided because it has to be moderated and they don’t have API’s that return the page URL where the link exists after moderation.
So for these links, you can manually search for them and then submit them to the indexing service yourself, or just not mess with it… I usually just don’t mess with it. Social bookmarks, forum profiles and pretty much all of them other than the three mentioned above provide the page that contains the link instantly and can be quickly and easily added to an indexing service (and this is done automatically with RC). The indexing service builds links to the 2nd tier links, below.
For the 2nd tier, we use various individual tasks, like social bookmarking, article directories, forum profiles, web 2.0 profiles etc. from RankCrew (RC). In the reports that are provided when completed, all that actually contain the URL of the page that contains the new link, are automatically submitted to an indexing service, as mentioned above. So you don’t need to submit those. These links are pointing to the 1st tier links, below.
For the 1st tier, we use the “Top 20 Link Source Submission” task at RC as well as the blogs that are created by the Private Web 2.0 Blog Network Creation task in RC and any and all other high quality, legitimate backlink sources we can get! Articles from super high quality article directories like EzineArticles, natural links from discussion forums (with an emphasis on natural and non-spammy) and other community sites are also excellent candidates for 1st tier links. These 1st tier links are pointing to the site you’re promoting (the “money site”) and they have accrued a bunch of authority from both the 2nd tier links and the 3rd tier links, so they are much more powerful than your average 1st tier links.
For the 2nd and 3rd tier links, keyword research isn’t incredibly important. You do want them to be relevant, as relevant as possible anyway, to the site that is being promoted, but you’re not trying to get these sites to rank… you’re just trying to build up some authority in them, so you can pass some of it on to your money site(s). So don’t spend much time at all dealing with keyword research for the 2nd and 3rd tiers.
It is also a GREAT idea to gradually build up your own private networks of 1st tier links, so you can use them to promote not only one money site, much other money sites you build in the future! You can do this with your own websites, but you’ll need to be very careful about IP diversity etc. This is why I really like using externally hosted blogging platforms etc. and any “real” self hosted websites that I can get to link to me the better, but those are not a part of my manual link building campaigns.
I hope this helps in your understanding of why tiered linking is so popular and exactly how you can get going with your own tiered linking.