Backlink Generation Tips

Tiered Link Building - Does It Still Work?

Tom Buckland 19 February 2019
tiered link building

What Is Tiered Link Building?

Tiered link building is essentially where you build links pointing to your site directly that act as a “tier 1”. Then in the same way you generate links to these tier 1 links themselves, these act as “tier 2”. You can build multiple layers or tiers.

The ultimate goal is to power up or strengthen your tier 1 links pointing to the site you are looking to rank.

Why It Works

Tiered link building used to work so well (and many believe still does) because you are building up the authority and “power” of the pages that already link to your website.

How Does Tiered Link Building Work

If you have 5 sites linking to your website that have a “power metric” that stands currently at, let’s say, 30. This can be DA, DR, TR or whatever link metrics you use. By pushing those five URLs up to a 40 or 50 power metric, you automatically increase the power of the links pointing to your site. This in turn, does impact YOUR organic rankings.

If you continue to build tiers from the bottom up, you essentially start to power up the top “tier 1” link more and more. The issue is this becomes very difficult and time consuming to do manually which (😲) is what started the original use of tiered linking.

The Original Uses of Tiered Link Generation (Spam)

The original use of tiered link building centred around spam.

This is when automated tools would build hundreds or thousands of links at a time and then build links to those newly built URL’s, going down and down the “tier” – 4 or 5 layers deep in some cases.

What Is Tiered Link Building

This worked incredibly well back in 2009. But we don’t live there anymore – the world is a wholly different place now.


ICYMI, it’s 2019, and Google’s algorithm is too smart to be fooled by any ‘industrial’ scale link building strategy one can come up with. In other words, automated tiered link building just doesn’t work… 99% of the time (but that’s a story for another day).


To overcome this problem, individuals and businesses have been looking into  white hat tiered link building , trying to get similar benefits of this tiered approach without entering the spam territory.

Is There A White-Hat Application For Tiered Link Building?

There is ABSOLUTELY a white hat application for tiered link building.

However, for most businesses, it’s not going to make much financial sense to implement a tiered strategy. The reason is simply due to the return on investment and large initial cash outlay that’s going to be needed. From outreach, content, link insertion costs and all the other time and resource costs associated with a link building campaign – It doesn’t make sense to implement a tiered white hat link building strategy.

I’ll expand on why below.

Let’s say you have a great in-house link building team or you hire the best link building agency *cough*.

You’ll essentially have a breakdown that will look like investment per link. This might be £100, £500 or £1,000 per link. It totally depends on what you are trying to achieve, but for this example, we’ll say that you build links for £200 each (all in). This takes into account business time (human capital) and any additional costs (content, design, outreach software etc). In any case, £200 a link (assuming quality) is not a bad price point, everything considered.

The problem starts when you start looking into tiered link building, you analyse you have 50 extremely strong tier 1 links pointing to pages that you’re looking to rank. These links might be on high authority sites, hyper-relevant blogs, or any quality site that you have personally determined. Most businesses who have 1,000+ dofollow links will have between 20-50 links that are in the “good” or “great” range.

From here you build out a link strategy to “power” up those links with 10 additional links each, using white hat outreach.

Can you see the problem?

The problem is the amount invested: 50 x 10 = 500 additional tier 2 links @ £200 a link, that’s a whopping £100,000.

From a pure marketing ROI point of view I still believe  link building, SEO & content marketing  is a powerhouse of a combination. Building tier 2 links, not so much – when, at the end of the day, you sit down and calculate the returns on your initial investment.

Here’s a much better workaround:

Instead of having those 500 tier 2 links point to tier 1 properties, have them link directly to your homepage, unless you are worried about the quality of a backlink (in which case you probably shouldn’t be building them in the first place.)

The Solutions

There are a number of solutions to combat the original issue of extremely high capital outlays when building white hat tier 2 links, two of which are more realistic and work even when you are building links on a budget.

1. Let Your Content Earn You Links.

The first involves the site your writing for & the quality of the post itself. I dislike the “write great content” recommendation as it’s so blatantly obvious that it isn’t useful. Instead, write link bait content. This will allow you to potentially pick up site links naturally. This works incredibly well when the use of stats or case studies is integrated into the article.

Marketing Stats Referring Domains

This example by Hubspot about marketing stats has over 11,000+ referring domains… Not bad.

2. Let Your Tier 1 Links Benefit From Your Direct Links.

The second involves linking to your other tier 1’s within any additional guest posts/content controlling link building that you implement.

This is quite different as the majority of the time you are not going to have control over the link building strategies that you implement, as a result you’ll be simply looking to generate one link (resource link building, broken link building etc) but in some select cases you will be able to insert a few references (links) throughout your content, this is generally only effective if we’re using guest posts.

In each new post you write, remember to link to a couple of references that are also in turn linking to your content (or other digital assets). This will ensure your building these strong tier 2 links but also generating a tier 1 at the same time. A lot of people might say this is a massive footprint and it 100% is. But this isn’t black hat. We’re building white hat links so footprints are FINE.

You can also link from content pieces that you build internally on the site – The only issue here is you get into a link building A –> B –> A situation which won’t pass much link juice at all, but it’s great for references and the slight benefit you get makes it still worthwhile.


While tiered link building still works incredibly well, there are obvious cost considerations to make.

Running a white hat tier 2 link building campaign (actively), I don’t believe, is the best use of funds for the specific marketing strategy. Instead, focus on the hyper authoritative tier 1 links and scale those link building efforts.

To request a free, customised link building proposal, do feel free to get in touch with us.