Tiered link building has been used in “black hat” SEO practices to manipulate backlinks and increase higher rankings. With all the changes Google has made to eliminate “black hat” SEO practices, tiered link building took a huge hit.

There are ways to incorporate “white hat” tiered link building methods, even with all the updates from Google that can still increase rankings without a negative impact. Tiered link building basically means you are building links from a variety of sources to your website. You can do this in several ways that are considered “white hat” tactics:

  • Contribute content to higher ranking sites that are relevant to your own as a first tier
  • Use comments and forums as a secondary tier to your contributed content
  • Create profile links to allow people to discover your website

The first tier can be started on a site you own, or on another relevant site that you do not. You then start working to bring attention to that site and from that site to your own. The tactic and strategy is to build an authority in your niche and build your brand.

What Has Changed, and How Does it Affect Your Strategy for SEO?

In the last year, there have been several algorithm updates, and many of these updates were directed towards tiered link building. Google has made tiered link building much less effective than it was practiced in the past, but if you take the time to evolve with Google, your tiered link-building strategies might actually survive the new year.

Tiered link building takes advantage of the way Google spiders and structures the web. The strategy is effective and will remain effective, as long as it is applied properly.

Common Mistakes in Tiered Link Building Campaigns

Poor Content: Poorly written or spun content is one of the largest mistakes web owners make when creating their campaigns. It can be tedious to create content, and spinning content correctly can be even more tedious, but without it, the campaign will fail.

Poor Target Site List: This is an essential part of the campaign, and many people neglect taking the proper steps to ensure success. Target sites should be related to the topic on your site, have clean and clear content, and have a decent Google ranking. Linking up with sites, just for the sake of gaining links is no longer an effective method, and can actually cause your site to lose rankings within the search engines.

Once you establish your target sites, be sure you maintain them regularly. Remove any low-quality sites from your campaign; having that link does not help you, it can hurt you.

Not Spreading Focus: If you are focused only on tiered link building, you are losing out on a variety of other techniques that could earn your site the attention it deserves. A tiered link-building campaign is much more effective when used with other link-building tactics.

Take advantage of aged domains and repurpose them for your own campaign. Owning your first tier can be a very effective campaign strategy.

Not Evolving: Just because you read about a strategy that worked for someone else, it does not mean it will for you. Do your own thinking, and make choices that will benefit your site. As more and more updates are expected to occur in 2014, it is essential that you take the time to research and understand the updates, and what they mean to your campaign.

DO NOT copy everyone else; take the knowledge you are given and evolve with it, be unique…that is where you get the most attention.

What is the Future of Tiered Link Building?

Take a big step back and look at all the changes that occurred in the past year. Google has really raised the bar, and anyone trying to create a solid SEO campaign needs to step up their game. Many people think that these recent updates are no big deal: Google is always fine-tuning its algorithms, right? Yes, they are, and they have been, but the difference today, they are actually getting REALLY good at it!

In 2013, Google changes included:

  • 2 Penguin updates
  • 4 Panda updates
  • Knowledge Graph update
  • PayDay Loan update
  • 2 Phantom updates
  • Introduced Hummingbird

This is a shortlist of the updates and changes that have been made to Google; you can assume that there have been many others that you were not aware of, and plenty more on the way.

Google has dramatically reduced the total number of pages in their index, removing spam pages with their new and improved spam filters. The SERPS have changed…it is time your SEO campaign does too!

Ranking Has Changed

How sites are ranked with Google has changed dramatically over the last couple of years. Since backlinks were introduced in 1998, Google used its algorithms to evaluate the worthiness of a site based on the number of backlinks the site had. The idea that one site linking to another was a positive vote for that site has been altered with the introduction and popularity of social networks. Google has been shifting direction towards social networking, taking the ability to “fake” votes away from webmasters.

The factors for top ranking sites were organized to show the most important:

  • Google +1’s
  • Facebook Shares
  • Backlinks
  • Facebook Total
  • Facebook Comments
  • Facebook Likes
  • Pinterest
  • Tweets

These results were from 2013, so you can expect some more changes to occur in the next year, mainly with backlinks dropping down on the list.

OCBD (Obsessive Compulsive Backlink Disorder) is a real problem for webmasters. The chase to become #1 in the rankings cause them to begin building massive backlink campaigns, neglecting the other several hundred factors that go into ranking a site #1.

If you are focused primarily on the #1 position in Google’s search results, chances are you are going to be disappointed with your tiered link-building campaign. You are most likely going to be penalized by Google, and in some cases, even banned if you use out-of-date tactics.

The update’s Google has made to the algorithms is to create a higher quality search result for their users, so for you to get the high rankings, your site MUST deserve them.

So, Is Tiered Link Building Dead?

Tiered link building is not dead, it did survive the New Year, but it did take quite a few hefty hits. If you are planning on using a tiered link-building campaign without combining it with other strategies, it is not going to get you anywhere.

The changes that Google has made now allow site owners without backlink campaigns to compete fairly against those who do. The “reset” button has been hit, so at this point, every niche is up for grabs.

There are a wide variety of campaigns being tossed around the Internet right now, and many site masters are confused about what they should be doing. The simple answer to what works for your site, may not be what works for others. So, your main focus should be on creating a quality site that deserves to be ranked #1.

With the social networks in place, and Google spending a great deal of time adding a focus on them, if your site is good, the users will agree, and you will be ranked. This is not to say that link building should be forgotten, or even taken away from your SEO strategies, just that you may need to incorporate a new approach to go along with it.
People hate change, but change is what causes growth…so embrace it, and enjoy the ride!