If a website is a center of all your online activity then you can consider backlinks as the road leading in.
Not all backlinks are created equal.
For many years, during the early days of Google, it was common for webmasters to build a massive amount of low-quality links through link exchanges, directories, profiles, and thin content shared on free content platforms.
As you could imagine: Google gave the practice a slap.
The introduction of the Google Panda, Penguin, and Hummingbird added greater results for Google users but presented a disrupt to SEO companies and webmasters:
- Panda – Targeted sites with thin, poor content
- Penguin – Targeted sites abusing link networks and forced links
- Hummingbird – Targeted sites that were slow and unfocused
Webmasters and SEO’s have since needed a change. The goal of building high-quality links remain the same but with stiff competition and ever-changing strategies, it was clear the efforts had to hit a new level.
Enter: Tiered Link Building
You know you’re excited — let’s get right into the good stuff.
The Basics of Tiered Link Building
Tiered link building is a strategy you may have already been employing for your link building campaign yet never quite matched the terminology.
To explain the strategy — it’s easiest to think of it as a pyramid:
- The top is designated to the most valuable link destination (one location)
- The layer underneath (5-10 locations) point to the top
- The bottom (dozens, if not hundreds of locations) pointing to the middle
The general idea is that you choose a web page (such as a product page) as your focus and use this tiered link building strategy to create high authority links through an ever-increasing base.
The lowest quality links help support those in the middle thus building their credibility and authority in search. Those in the middle, which have gained authority, now point to the final page resulting in a massive boost in authority because the links aren’t awash with hundreds (or thousands) of low-quality links (which will tip of Google and other search engines).
The theory is sound when used in an ethical manner.
Yes, you could build thousands of links to these mid-level authority pages, later pointing to the main page, but many of those low-quality sites and link locations have already been slapped and/or could be on their way out.
Your best bet is to combine a bit of patience with a gung-ho attitude when the results (aka traffic and search placement) starts to show promise.
Essentially: Don’t get too cocky with the strategy else Google may take notice.
Got patience? Want to get better ranks? Okay…
How to Deploy a Tiered Link Building Strategy
The good news: Many (if not all) of your link building strategies can be placed into action when doing tiered link building.
Before rushing in — you may want to collect the following:
- What main page do you want to push (and for what reason)?
- Will you be completing this task on your own or with help?
- Are you planning on making a monetary investment now or later?
- Which link building tools do you have (or may use) for the campaign?
Let’s jump right into the process now that you have the goal(s) and resources needed to get things rolling.
Step 1: Refine the landing page (top-tier)
Take time to use optimization tools to refine the landing page before you put in the effort of driving traffic. A page that barely converts will send mixed data; it’s better to build a baseline and scale it through the traffic than to assume it’s operating at its full potential.
Step 2: Create a link/content strategy (mid-tier)
Next up is to create a long-term plan. Build a list of about 10-20 “mid-tier” websites that you’d want linking to your site.
Then build a list double that size for the lower. Proceed to then find a way to create content for these mid-level sites and how you’ll do the lower (such as with paid links or freelance content developers).
Step 3: Act on quick backlink wins (low-tier)
Go for the quick wins such as creating a social presence on the main social platforms. Likewise, get active in a few of the main communities and forums within your industry (that are trusted).
Also, see if you can buy expired domains and rework them into an entire site to support the tiered link building!
Step 4: Expand the tiered link building base (low-tier)
Expand the base and track the results by pushing out new content, social updates, and being included in items like round-ups, contests, and interviews. Consider, as well, purchasing links from small sites which are very inexpensive compared to those on the mid-tier.
Step 5: Refine the funnel (mid-tier)
Track and create reports about the efforts to see where the pass of authority is coming from bottom to top. Dump the efforts that aren’t rewarding and place that extra time and resources into the ones that show promise.
Step 6: Maximize the goal (top-tier)
Take the new data gained from an increase in traffic and page interaction to improve the usability. Try A/B testing with the CTAs, graphics, headlines, and copy.
Be at liberty to change it up from time to time. You don’t always have to work within a single tier.
In fact, it may be best that you bounce around with each of the tiered link building locations to see what works, record what you’ve learned, and capitalize on the efforts that are promising.
But as you can imagine…
The Risks of Tiered Link Building
We’re not going to say that tiered link building doesn’t have its faults or risks. Every link building strategy has them so this type is no different.
When employing a tiered link building strategy you could face these risks:
- Leaks – Webmasters operating sites accepting guest posts and links may make an erroneous decision and take in the wrong ones resulting in their site getting slapped or delisted. This means the time you spent using their platform now doesn’t add the same weight as before.
- Algo Updates – Google likes to keep webmasters in the dark; they often roll out updates without telling so it’s always likely that may have caught onto the activity and down goes your rankings for the money page.
- Time/Financial Sink – A lot of time and money can go into employing tiered link building; sometimes that time and money are best spent on other areas of your site efforts (such as user experience).
Those are the risks you must take, though, if you want to be a major competitor in the search engine space. You can be sure that your toughest competitors are putting it work.
What are your thoughts about tiered link building? Will you be using it in 2017 and beyond? Share your thoughts and suggestions with a comment!