SEO Glossary / Tiered Link Building

Tiered Link Building

Tiered link building is a strategy that involves creating layers of links to external pages that, in turn, link to your website or specific pages on your site. This approach builds links in a hierarchical structure, reinforcing the authority of pages that link directly to your main site. The goal is to enhance the effectiveness of primary backlinks, ultimately improving your search engine ranking.

Tiered link building is generally considered a black-hat or grey-hat SEO technique, as it violates Google’s guidelines.

At the top of the hierarchy are Tier 1 links. These are high-quality backlinks that point directly to your website. They are usually obtained from reputable and relevant sources. The quality and relevance of these links are crucial as they have the most significant impact on your site’s authority and search engine rankings.

Tier 2 links point to your Tier 1 backlinks. Their purpose is to bolster the authority of the Tier 1 links by passing additional link equity to them. While these links do not need to be as authoritative as Tier 1, they should still be of reasonable quality and relevance.

Some strategies include Tier 3 links, which point to your Tier 2 links. These links are often lower in quality and are used to increase the quantity of backlinks to Tier 2. This, in turn, indirectly boosts the authority of Tier 1 links. However, as the tiers increase, the quality of the links typically decreases, raising the risk of attracting penalties from search engines.

Tiered link building is considered black-hat or grey-hat SEO because it manipulates search engine rankings by artificially inflating the number and quality of backlinks. This technique attempts to deceive search engines into thinking that a website has more authority and relevance than it actually does. Google’s guidelines explicitly discourage manipulative link-building practices, and using tiered link building can lead to penalties or even a complete deindexing of your site from search engine results.

  • Search Engine Penalties: Engaging in tiered link building can result in manual actions or penalties from search engines, negatively impacting your site's rankings or leading to deindexing.
  • Loss of Trust: If discovered, manipulative link-building practices can harm your site’s reputation and erode trust with your audience.
  • Long-term Viability: While tiered link building might offer short-term gains, it’s not a sustainable long-term SEO strategy. Search engines are continually improving their algorithms to detect and penalize such tactics.
  1. Create High-Quality Content: Focus on producing valuable, relevant, and engaging content that naturally attracts backlinks.
  2. Build Relationships: Network with industry influencers, bloggers, and website owners to earn genuine backlinks.
  3. Guest Blogging: Contribute high-quality guest posts to reputable sites within your niche.
  4. Earn Editorial Links: Gain mentions and links from authoritative sources by being a trusted authority in your field.


While tiered link building might seem like an effective way to boost your site's authority and search engine rankings, it carries significant risks due to its manipulative nature. Adhering to ethical SEO practices by focusing on quality content and genuine link-building strategies will lead to sustainable, long-term success in search engine rankings.