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What Is Tiered Link Building? Strategies for SEO Success

By the Rhino Rank team
25th Mar 2024

If you want to enhance your SEO approach, increase your search engine rankings, and attract more organic website visits, then tiered link building could be the answer.

In this article, we will have a closer look at how effective tiered linking is as an SEO tactic – going over its advantages and disadvantages, the different ways you can carry out tiered link building, and if it’s the right solution for your business.

Key Takeaways

  • Tiered link building is an effective SEO strategy that has the potential to increase a website’s domain authority (DA), but risks and quality of backlinks should be taken into account.
  • A successful tiered link building strategy requires careful selection of target sites and balancing link quality across tiers for improved website authority, rankings, and organic traffic.
  • Advanced techniques focus on contextual relevance and diverse link sources to create a natural backlink profile.

What Is Tiered Link Building?

Tiered link building is all about creating backlinks for your backlinks.

Link building utilizing a tiered method can provide more power and send increased link juice to the most important pages on your website. These pages are often referred to as “money pages”, as they are the pages on your website that generate the most conversions and revenue.

It is crucial to be aware of potential risks associated with a tiered link building structure, as it is possible to receive penalties from search engines if there are too many low-quality second-tier links or if you create an unnatural-looking backlink profile. But don’t worry, we will go into this in more detail shortly.

Tiered link building diagram

The Anatomy of Tiered Links

Tiered link building is typically split into three different layers.

  1. Tier 1 links – First-tier backlinks are inbound links that point directly to your website’s “money pages.” These links should come from authoritative, reputable sites that are connected to your industry or niche.
  2. Tier 2 links – Second-tier backlinks point directly to the first-tier backlinks. These links help increase the visibility and authority of the first-tier website, by driving traffic to the site and helping increase its overall domain authority. In turn, this will increase the value of the “link juice” that is passed to the Tier 1 link.
  3. Tier 3 links – Third-tier backlinks point directly to the second-tier backlinks. These links typically provide less authority and relevancy signals, but act towards obtaining better search engine rankings by boosting the backlink profile of the second-tier website.

By combining these tiered backlinks, website owners can drive more authority and link power to their website, which will help to improve their keyword rankings and overall Search Engine Optimization (SEO) performance.

The Flow of Link Juice in Tiered Linking

A tiered link building framework is a way of increasing website authority and improving search engine rankings through the transfer of ‘link juice’. The SEO value that’s passed on to the targeted site comes from the backlinks used, with aspects such as domain authority, relevancy between links, and impact on user experience all impacting how successful this flow across the different tiers will be.

With proper management, this link building tactic can enhance the targeted websites’ overall authority and result in greater organic traffic numbers over time. A key element when implementing a tiered link building campaign strategy like this is making sure it is properly managed, as poor quality link building can negatively impact your SEO performance.


Crafting a Tiered Link Building Strategy

For a successful tiered link building approach, careful preparation and implementation are essential. The first step is to pick the most appropriate referring sites for your first-tier links, these should be sites that have the highest authority, relevancy, and overall SEO performance. When selecting the referring sites for your second-tier links and third-tier links, it is important to vary quality levels by utilizing both premium and more “average” sites to create a natural backlink profile that won’t raise alarm bells from search engines.

Building Tier 1 Links

Selecting the appropriate target sites is fundamental for maximizing SEO results for a successful tiered link building strategy. It’s important to choose high authority and relevant websites that will transmit valuable link juice to your webpage. Trustworthy domain authority checkers such as Moz, Ahrefs, and SEMrush can be used to assess the authority of a site.

The two most effective ways to build high authority first tier links are:

  1. Curated Links (Niche Edits) – these in-content backlinks are added to pre-existing, highly relevant articles or blog posts that have already amassed authority within Google’s index.
  2. Guest Posts – creating bespoke articles or blogs that contain 750+ words of highly relevant content will ensure strong topical relevancy signals are sent to your website.

Building Tier 2 Links And Tier 3 Links

When building lower-tiered links, it is important to focus on both quality and quantity. This means you can focus on building links from slightly less authoritative sites than you did for the tier-one links, but not dropping your quality standards so low that you end up using black hat link building tactics, like utilizing link farms or Private Blog Networks (PBNs).

By striking the right balance between high quality links and more “average” links, you can replicate a natural and organic backlink profile – ensuring your link building efforts are met with enhanced website authority and improved ranking on SERPs.

White Hat vs. Black Hat Tiered Link Building

There are numerous link building strategies out there including tiered link building, and depending on your link building methods tiered link building can either be viewed as a white hat or black hat SEO tactic.

White Hat Tiered Link Building

White hat tiered link building is a safe and effective approach to enhancing website visibility and SEO performance. This link building method focuses on creating valuable content, and then securing endorsements and links from reputable third-party sites.

By prioritizing quality over quantity, white hat tiered link building abides by Google’s Webmaster Guidelines, meaning website owners can avoid the penalties associated with spammy and manipulative link building tactics. By following these guidelines, website owners can develop a comprehensive SEO strategy that not only boosts organic traffic but also improves search engine rankings, ensuring long-term SEO success.

The easiest way to obtain high quality links is to work with other webmasters to publish in-content links and regular guest posts. However, this can be a very time consuming process, so many businesses choose to partner with a reliable link building agency that offers backlink and guest post outreach services.

Black What Hat Tiered Link Building

Black hat tiered link building involves using unethical tactics to artificially manipulate search engine rankings. Instead of creating valuable content, black hat strategies prioritize exploiting loopholes in search engine algorithms to artificially boost their online visibility.

Unlike white hat link building, this approach focuses on quantity over quality, often utilizing spammy techniques such as buying low-quality links, creating links using automation tools, or engaging in link schemes, like link farms and PBNs. These practices directly violate Google’s Webmaster Guidelines and can result in severe penalties, including websites seeing a drop in keyword rankings or being completely de-indexed from Google altogether.

Whilst it is possible to see some short-term SEO results from building black hat links, this approach can ultimately harm a website’s reputation and long-term success. Therefore, businesses need to avoid black hat tiered link building and instead focus on sustainable, ethical SEO practices if they want to achieve genuine, lasting results.

The Risks and Rewards of Tiered Backlinks

Tiered backlinks come with both risks and rewards.

Utilizing a successful tiered link building strategy can lead to improved SEO results. However, there are potential drawbacks such as receiving a search engine penalty for trying to secure “quick wins” by building an unnatural or low-quality backlink profile. To reduce these issues, it is important to adhere to Google’s Webmaster Guidelines, avoid spammy links, and prioritize creating natural quality connections when implementing backlinks.

By understanding the advantages along with any risks associated with building tiered links, you will be better equipped to make decisions on how best to optimize your overall link building strategy.

What Are The Benefits Of Tiered Link Building?

The top 4 benefits of building tiered links are:

  1. Backlinks will be more powerful – The most significant benefit of using a tiered link building strategy is that your existing backlinks become more powerful, as each link will receive more “link juice” from their referring web pages.
  2. Backlinks profiles will appear natural – By creating a mix of dofollow links and nofollow links from websites with varied authority, you can ensure that the backlink profiles you are creating appear both natural and organic.
  3. Websites domain authority (DA) will increase – By improving the authority of your backlink profile, your website will naturally have a higher domain authority score, making it easier for you to outrank your competitors for your chosen keywords.
  4. Website rankings and organic traffic will increase – Link building is one of Google’s most important ranking factors. So the more high quality links you build, the better Google will view your website, and the higher up on the SERPs your website will sit.

What Are The Risks Of Tiered Link Building?

The top 2 risks associated with building tiered links are:

  1. Receiving Google penalties – Google says that “any links intended to manipulate PageRank or a site’s ranking in Google search results may be considered part of a link scheme and a violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.” Therefore, if you focus too much on building low quality or spammy links, Google will pick up on this and your website could suffer reduced rankings and traffic as a result.
  2. Time and resource heavy – Tiered linking involves you spending time and money on building links to other websites, and although your website will benefit indirectly, the main SEO benefits will go to the website you’re linking to. This means tiered link building is not always the most cost-effective link building method.

To ensure your tiered link building strategy remains successful, it is important to continuously monitor and evaluate its progress. Utilizing tools such as Google Analytics and Ahrefs will enable you to gain insight into your organic growth and referral traffic development. By assessing this data, you can easily assess whether any improvements are needed for effective SEO results.

Advanced Techniques for Tiered Link Building

Suppose you want to take your tiered link building strategy to the next level. Adopting some of the advanced link building methods listed below will allow you to create a more natural connection between your backlinks and increase your website validity, which in turn helps improve search engine rankings.

Contextual Relevance and Link Placement

Utilizing the right type of backlinks to build your tiered links will allow you to generate better SEO results, whilst ensuring you uphold the white hat method of link building and stay clear from penalties.

By focusing on user engagement and placing relevant hyperlinks in context-driven material, you can ensure the links you create add value and improve the user’s online experience – either by directing them to a product they are interested in, answering a question they have, or simply providing them with additional entertainment. This practice helps search engines determine how trustworthy your backlinks are, and the more positive interactions your website has, the more organic traffic Google will send your way.

Diversification of Link Sources

Having a tiered link building strategy that is diversified across sources can help create an organic backlink profile which poses no risk of triggering any Google penalties caused by low quality and manipulative link building.

To achieve this, it’s important to receive links from high quality websites and industry directories as well as medium authority links from social media platforms and industry guest posting. By building a variety of links, you’re telling search engines that the website has genuine value, which will result in higher rankings.


Tiered link building can be an extremely effective SEO strategy. When you use a trusted tiered link building service, tiered links not only improve a site’s search engine visibility but also enhance its credibility and trustworthiness with users and search engines alike. All of which will help boost the site’s keyword rankings and organic traffic numbers.


Frequently Asked Questions

What is tiered link building in SEO?

Tiered link building is an SEO strategy that involves creating backlinks for your backlinks, which means in time more link juice and link authority is passed to your target website.

Does tiered link building still work?

Yes! Tiered link building remains an effective way to build links with a strong backlink profile and increase website ranking. It takes advantage of how Google views and ranks websites and allows you to create the link equity you need to achieve better rankings.

What is a first-tier link?

First-tier links are the most authoritative links and point directly to your website. These links come from websites that have already amassed a high domain authority (DA) and are directly related to your products or services.

What are second-tier links?

Second-tier links are medium authority links that point directly to the first-tier links. These links come from relevant and trustworthy websites, often in the form of press releases or blog posts.

What are third-tier links?

Third-tier backlinks are some of the lowest authority links and point directly to the second-tier links. These links often come from social media channels, like Facebook and Linked, forums, and online directors or discussion boards.

How does link juice flow between tiers in a tiered link building framework?

Link juice, also known as link equity, is a powerful search engine ranking factor. In a tiered link building framework, link juice is passed from higher-tier links to the target web page, helping raise the target website’s ranking position while improving its overall authority.