Link building is one of the most important strategies in any search engine optimization (SEO) campaign, but the straightforward, basic tactics of link building often aren’t enough to get you the results you want—or keep you safe from the threat of penalties.
Second tier link building, the practice of building “second tier” links that feed your campaign by pointing to “first tier” links, is a powerful way to improve your results. But what exactly are second tier links? What is the value in second tier link building? And how can you structure your SEO campaign to include both first tier and second tier links?
Let’s start with some basic definitions, and an explanation of link building from a high level. In case you aren’t familiar, link building is a set of strategies designed to help you earn and place links that point back to your website. While it’s possible to try and manage an SEO strategy without link building, most practitioners find link building to be indispensable.
When Google “decides” how to rank search results, it considers both the relevance and the authority of potential results. Relevance refers to the context of the page, and whether it matches the user’s query. Authority refers to how trustworthy the page is. This trustworthiness is measured in terms of “domain authority” and “page authority,” which exist at the domain and page levels, respectively. These metrics are calculated in large part based on the number and quality of links pointing to a domain or page. In other words, the more links you have pointing to your site, and the “better” those links are, the higher your pages are going to rank.
This is a very basic overview of a complex and nuanced topic; for your link building campaign to be successful, you’ll need to consider your external content, the placement of your links, your link sources, and many more variables.
So how do first tier and second tier links play into this strategy?
First tier links are links you build on an external source that point to one of your webpages. You can think of these as “standard” SEO links. They pass authority directly from one source to your website, and are incredibly valuable for increasing your domain- and page-level authority. Most modern link builders create first tier links by writing high-quality content on external publisher sites; these pieces of content cite your onsite content as a source, providing a statistic or further reading.
Second tier links, by contrast, are links built on an external source that point to a piece of content containing a first tier link. These links are designed to pass authority and traffic to the piece of content responsible for generating value with the first tier link.
For example, let’s consider your website “A,” an external publisher “B,” and a separate external publisher “C.” A first tier link may exist in a piece of content on site B, pointing to site A. Once that first tier link exists, a second tier link could be a link built on site C, pointing to site B.
Even within this definition, there are two main types of second tier links.
Why would you use second tier link building? Wouldn’t it be better to focus exclusively on first tier links?
Second tier link building comes with several advantages:
This doesn’t mean that second tier link building is a practical necessity for all SEO campaigns. However, it can complement and improve most link building strategies that mostly center on first tier links.
Second tier link building isn’t a guaranteed success. Like with a standard link building strategy, there are many best practices you’ll need to follow if you want to yield the best results.
With a better second tier link building strategy in place, you can increase the value of your first tier links, ultimately increasing your domain- and page-level authority and increasing your total incoming traffic. If you’re interested in learning more about second tier links (or SEO in general), or if you’re ready to start a campaign of your own, contact SEO.co today for a free consultation!