An Ultimate Guide to Tiered Link Building in 2024

Link Building
Optimizers use different link-building techniques, but not all of them are effective. Sometimes, backlinks are poorly indexed, and additional tools are required to ensure search engines notice them. 

What Is Tiered Link Building? What are Tier 1, Tier 2 and Tier 3 links?

To benefit from link building, webmasters have come up with a tiered link-building strategy. When used correctly, it can boost purchased links and increase their juice. 

Tiered link building will not cost a fortune as long as the sponsored links won’t be posted on Forbes-level projects, where you have to pay several thousand dollars for them. 

1. What Is Tiered Link Building?

Tiered link building is a technique that implies boosting the value of first-tier backlinks. If you post backlinks on credible resources, they will be properly indexed, but you can go further and enhance their effectiveness.

Tiered link building appeared long ago, but not all site owners are aware of this site promotion technique. Meanwhile, it does not interfere with natural links and allows boosting the link profile with minimal investment. 

Search engines oppose any link exchange schemes, but in the case of tiered link building, the process of backlink distribution looks natural. If you control their numbers on different tiers, the chances of getting penalized will be minimal. 

Tiered link building also helps boost site traffic by increasing the number of backlinks. You should not expect a large flow of target users, but part of the audience will reach the promoted page.

1.1. How does it work?

A multi-tiered link network is a structure consisting of a certain number of tiers. First-tier links the most authoritative links from relevant donor sites. If projects are really high-quality, backlinks will be indexed without problems and will be included in the profile.

Second-tier links are posted on less authoritative sites and linked to tier-1 pages. The first tier is boosted, the link juice of the donor page increases, and the resource under promotion gets more benefits. 

Third-tier backlinks, in turn, refer to the second-tier pages. As a result, you get a multi-tiered link structure, where each tier is linked to the previous one. 

1.2. Who can use it?

Tiered link building can greatly increase site positions thanks to links with great juice, but in some cases, the technique cannot be used since benefits will be minimal. 

Tiered link building is useful when:

  • there are only a few relevant donors;
  • the niche is highly competitive;
  • site positions remain unchanged;
  • competitors have a poor link profile.

Tiered link building is especially relevant in the latter case. If niche leaders have 100-200 backlinks that are enough to get to the top, a 10 times bigger number of links may cause suspicion in Google algorithms. 

Link building using the tiered method allows increasing site authority efficiently. This affects organic ranking, and over time, positions can improve. 

Tiered link building also helps post links on sites with strict moderation. For example, on Wikipedia, backlinks are not saved for long if you refer to non-credible sites. In this case, you can write an article about the donor site on a reputable blog platform and add it as a source to Wikipedia. 

When checking, moderators will see that the authority of the new source does not require verification because it is YouTube or some well-known analytical portal. This trick will help get backlinks from Wikipedia and other reputable projects. 

1.3. Should you use it in 2024?

Tiered link building will be beneficial only if you use the method correctly. According to Google’s guidelines for webmasters, such links can be considered artificial. But if you are careful, the promoted resource will not get penalized. 

It is beneficial to use multi-tiered links even when there are a lot of first-tier donor sites, and backlinks should not be indexed faster. Each link has its own juice, which can be boosted by additional mentions. 

Tiered link building does not have to be the primary method of getting links. For example, if you pay little attention to the selection of first-tier donors and lose links, you will no longer be linked to the promoted resource, and the scheme will collapse. 

There is no point in promoting all site pages with the help of tiered link building. It is better to choose the main URLs that can get organic traffic and work with them. On average, it is about 30-50% of the total number of pages. 

2. How to Build a Tiered Link Network?

Tiered link building implies a significant increase in the number of backlinks you need to get on different tiers. The difference in performance between 10 tier-1 links and the use of four tiers is significant. 

And if you want to build up more than three tiers, the scale of the task will be even greater. Therefore, tiered link building should be used when it is the only option to boost backlink value or there are resources to work on a large scale. 

Usually, webmasters try to cover as many sites for posting links as possible. They use forums, social signals, crowd marketing, and other sources to build a natural link profile and protect against filters. Some steps will be useful for tiered link building as well, but it’s important to properly classify backlinks into tiers. 

2.1. First-tier links

First-tier backlinks should be posted on the most reputable projects available in the niche. You can get them through guest posting, outreach, and other advanced link-building methods.

The main goal is to find the most trustworthy donor sites with good SEO juice. When selecting sites to post on, search for the most popular and credible sources. Projects get «likes» if it is difficult to get backlinks from them and there are no suspicious links in the link profile. 

Many business sites want to be listed on Forbes, while startups – on Product Hunt. Resources of such scale are highly ranked by Google and boast high link juice

What pages are suitable for tier 1:

  • created for the resource under promotion;
  • ones allowing posting dofollow;
  • those guaranteeing maintenance of backlinks.

The more suitable the link to the page under promotion, which serves as tier zero, the higher its quality should be. If you use forums or directories in the first tier, there will be little benefit from them.

2.2. Second-tier links

A second-tier backlink will be inferior in quality to a first-tier backlink, but this does not mean that you should not pay attention to tier 2. A few social media links will not affect the link juice of tier-1 links.

Second-tier backlinks can be bought on relevant donor sites listed on exchanges. You should create unique content and adhere to the standard link-building rules.

It is important to use quality links for tier 2 because there is little use of spammy links or those posted on untrustworthy sites. If you used guest posting for first-tier backlinks and managed to gain the support of authoritative resources, second-tier links must match tier-1 links.

The PRPosting exchange is perfect for finding relevant donor sites for different countries. In a personal account, you can use filters to make a white list of sites and work with each of them consistently. 

If you managed to get a lot of good third-tier backlinks, you can set the optimal values of donor link metrics and limit the cost of posting links based on the project budget. 

2.3. Third-tier links

Many optimizers get third-tier backlinks with the help of automation tools. They can be acquired from profiles or Web 2.0 resources. There are many tools on the market that allow building backlinks with minimal effort. 

If the work is not supposed to be limited to third-tier backlinks, you should not stop focusing on quality. In this case, tier-3 links can be acquired from social media or unspammed Q&A sites and other resources. 

Experienced webmasters give the following recommendations on the structure of multi-tiered links:

  • follow the 1 to 10 ratio – to one link of the previous tier, post ten in the next one;
  • use the same anchor text on tiers 1-2;
  • use unique anchors;
  • monitor link indexation and use additional tools if necessary;
  • maintain smooth dynamics.

The key aspect is to choose an optimal ratio and make a detailed work plan. If there are 50 first-tier links, there should be 10 times more second- and third-tier links, that is, 500 for tier 2 and 5,000 for tier 3.  

3. The Best Tools for Tiered Link Building in 2024

It is better to get tier-1 and tier-2 backlinks manually, but for tier 3 and beyond, you can use tools to build multi-tiered links. They save a lot of time and help you scale processes quickly.

The list of useful tools includes:

  1. GSA. This is a set of search engine marketing tools for determining CMS sites, automated link building, and URL indexing.
  2. ZennoPoster. With the software, it is possible to create templates to solve problems of any complexity.
  3. SEO Autopilot. A program for automated link building.
  4. XEvil. Software for captcha recognition.
  5. Xrumer. A program for automated backlink building. 

For tiered link building, such tools are definitely useful, which will help partially avoid repetitive procedures, but do not expect that they will do all the work. With the first and second tiers, you will have to work manually. 

4. Using White-hat and Black-hat Link-building Methods 

If you follow Google’s guidelines for webmasters, multi-tiered links can be considered gray-hat in SEO. Any backlink built artificially violates optimization rules and leads to google penalties.

In practice, the situation is different: if you constantly build up links and post them on relevant donors, there will be no harm. On the contrary, the resource under promotion can get high positions for relevant queries. 

For multi-tiered links, it is better to use white-hat techniques, because black-hat ones quickly result in penalties. For the use of some techniques, the site may be subject to an eternal filter. 

5. Common Mistakes of Tiered Link Building

Effective use of tiered link building requires experience and knowledge of link factors. Novice optimizers often make mistakes and follow ready-made guidelines rather than assessing the situation in their niche. 

Sometimes, tiered link building is not relevant because the number of relevant donors is high, and there is no point in building large link networks. And using the method just because it worked for other optimizers is not always right.

5.1. Poorly written or spammy content

It takes a lot of time to create quality content, but it allows you to post links on trusted sites and get backlinks for free in some cases. 

For the first and second tiers, quality content plays a crucial role: if you don’t pay enough attention to it, the scheme will stop working. Do not save on articles and added value of materials. 

5.2. A poor list of target sites

Before you post links on tier 1, you need to make a list of potential donors for tiers 1-2. Multi-tiered backlinks should not be built according to the «the further you go, the worse the sites are» principle. 

The first and the second tiers should include the most trusted projects suitable as donor sites for the resource under promotion. This is the essence of tiered link building. 

5.3. Disregarding other link-building methods

Focusing only on tiered link building is unprofitable and even harmful. Such links may be only part of a site’s link profile, which oftentimes is not of high significance.

For links to be natural, you should use other methods and post only first-tier backlinks. This approach will protect the site from the risks of tiered link building. 

6. Advantages and Risks of Tiered Link Building

Tiered links for backlinks can be very effective and significantly boost a site’s authority, but they have disadvantages. It is important to know them before you use a strategy for site promotion. 


  • first-tier links are boosted, and their juice increases;
  • the possibility of using sites that do not sell backlinks;
  • increased traffic and positions;
  • an opportunity to change positions that stay the same for a long time;
  • an effective link-building method in narrow niches;
  • minimal chance of being subject to a filter with the right approach.

Tiered link building often helps restore positive traffic dynamics for stagnant sites. But don’t treat it as a magic tool that will solve all problems.

Potential risks:

  • removal of a tier-1 link will destroy the connection with all tiers;
  • the donor site owner can sell the link to competitors;
  • possible application of penalties.

Examples of highly toxic paid links

Tiered link building is a popular technique; so, the owner of a tier-1 donor site may sell a link from a boosted page to a competitor who will pay more. Therefore, it is important to fix arrangements in advance. 

7. What Is the Future of Tiered Links?

Google is constantly updating its ranking algorithms, but the impact of links on the effectiveness of website promotion remains high even over time. Therefore, if you use tiered linking correctly, you can benefit from it. 

Any link-building schemes are a potential risk concerning positions in organic search, but without backlinks, it will be difficult to promote the site even in niches with minimal competition. 

Tiered link building is sometimes the only option for building a link profile, and in this case, its use is justified. But if the niche allows using other link-building strategies, don’t disregard them. 

8. Final Word

Not all site owners know what tiered link building is. On the other hand, the technique is often overrated. However, if you work with it correctly, it will greatly increase the effectiveness of the link profile.

Links of several tiers increase the link juice of the promoted resource, improve page indexing, and allow getting ahead of competitors, but it is important to make a comprehensive strategy for working with them. 


What is tiered link building?

A link-building scheme that is based on several tiers. An optimizer boosts not only the main page of the site but also all selected pages of donor sites.

How to build a network of tiered links?

You need to select landing pages with the highest priority, select relevant donor sites and automation tools, and constantly monitor the process of posting backlinks.

What are the best tools for tiered link building in 2024?

Optimizers often use GSA, Xrumer, ZennoPoster, and other software. It all depends on the link-building approach and budget.

What are the benefits and risks of tiered link building?

Tiered link building allows increasing the link juice of first-tier backlinks and making search engines treat them as more relevant. It is important to understand that Google does not tolerate any link schemes and may impose a filter on the resource under promotion.

Kyryk Oleksandr
SEO Consultant

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