The Different Levels of Linkbuilding

Linkbuilding Levels

First and foremost, I would just like to say that linkbuilding is here to stay. Social will NOT take over linkbuilding’s value and effects. There are different levels of linkbuilding that we use in our team that I think you should be familiar of too.

Tier 1, 2 and 3

I’ve separated linkbuilding to three levels. This post may not cover all linkbuilding strategies but so far here’s the breakdown:

Tier 1 – Guest posting, Broken Linkbuilding, Citation Requests
Tier 2 – Directory Listing, Article Submission, In-content Link Exchange
Tier 3 – Forum posting, Blog Commenting, Social Bookmarking, Profile Linkbuilding

Tier 1 Linkbuilding – Organic

Tier 1 Linkbuilding TechniquesThis is the top level tier of the bunch because garnering links using these linkbuilding techniques ensures that you have little to no competition doing the same. Guest posting is difficult if you’re doing it for a client – mainly because it requires a good mastery in a field that you have yet to study. It’s easy to guest post if you already have a reputable name in that industry and if you have published previous cornerstone entries – without which, it is really difficult to get your guest post request approved in notable blogs.

The idea behind great linkbuilding is easy – if it’s hard to replicate, it most probably is the most natural, trustworthy, and authoritative plus it’s the one least done or achieved by competitors. The tier 1 linkbuilding techniques are 80-90% organic in its methodology. You cannot force it to happen and there are a lot of conditions. I’ve outlined them below as well as my perceived percentage of these factors: (the percentages are just to give you a general idea and are not completely accurate)

Guest posting Factors:

  • 20% Email Template – Is your email template good? Is it clear? Concise? Is the persona you’re using effective? Is the email address you’re using effective?
  • 25% Prospecting effort – Is the website you’re sending to, a good one? Does it have a contact form? Is it still alive? Is the webmaster still checking?
  • 25% Webmaster – Is he available? What articles does he accept? Does the webmaster accept random guest posts from anyone or does he invite a chosen set of writers? Is he going to allow links in your guest post?
  • 15% Guest Post Content – Is it really good? Remarkable? Is it going to haul you in a lot of traffic from the hosting blog/website?
  • 15% Unknown – Is it a holiday in the webmaster’s country? Did your email get through?

Broken Linkbuilding Factors:

  • 20% Website – Is it still live? Is someone still behind it?
  • 20% Email Template – Is your email template good? Is it focused on the webmaster’s website?
  • 10% – Is the content you want to replicate still there? Are there still any archived footprints of the content you want to replicate?
  • 30% Webmaster – Does the webmaster still care? Is his email still active? Is he still reachable?
  • 10% Replacement Content – Is your replacement content better than the lost one? Is it going to convince the webmaster to reroute the broken link to you or would he rather just delete the link and be done with it?
  • 10% Unknown – Is it a holiday in the webmaster’s country? Did your email get through?

Citation Requests Factors:

  • 50% Website – Is it a personally owned website or a company owned website? Are there numerous permissions before your citation request gets approved?
  • 20% Email Template – Is it personal? Friendly? Is it going to move the webmaster to approve your citation request for your brand as a source?
  • 20% Linkable Asset – Are there any linkable assets in your website that is relevant to your link citation request? Or are all your citation request links going to your homepage?
  • 10% Unknown – Is it a holiday in the webmaster’s country? Did your email get through?

Tier 2 Linkbuilding – Semi-Organic

Tier 2 Linkbuilding StrategiesThis is where the mid-level linkbuilding strategies fall into. There are not a lot of uncontrollable factors included in this set – and it can be manipulated, therefore making it semi-artificial. These are also not too hard to replicate – and without the right tools, they’re not really too easy either.

Tier 2 Linkbuilding Methods are around 30-70% Organic – and I don’t encourage it in my team.

Directory Listing Factors:

  • Directory Site – Is it relevant? If there are no relevant categories for your site, move on to another one.
  • Editors – Are they strict in auditing? The stricter, the better. Means they have less outbound links.

Article Submission Factors:

  • Editors – Are the editors strict in auditing? Are they picky? If they aren’t, don’t waste your time there. Unless you want a low-quality backlink just to increase quantity.
  • Quality of your Article – Is it remarkable? Will it catch the attention of readers? If the article submission site accepts anything less than quality, forget it.

In-Content Link Exchange Factors:

  • Webmaster – Is the webmaster willing to exchange in-content links?
  • Email Template – Does your email template spell out ‘trust’ and ‘relevance’ to the webmaster? Is it a common, impersonal email wherein you just care about getting a link to your website – and you ask the webmaster to ‘put my link first’?
  • Relevance – Is your content relevant to the webmaster’s article? Will it make sense if the webmaster links to you?

Tier 3 Linkbuilding – Artificial

Tier 3 Linkbuilding MethodsThese are the linkbuilding methods that are easiest to replicate. Gradeschoolers can do this and it’s a matter of legwork and perseverance. I’m not saying that tier 3 linkbuilding methods are useless. I’m just saying that if you’re using these methods to compete, you’ll almost always lose. Tier 3 linkbuilding methods are usually used to supplement tier 1 linkbuilding techniques if the tier 1 techniques are moving slowly due to unstable factors.

Forum posting Factors:

  • Good Profile – When the forum moderator passes by, is your profile that of a human or of a spammer?
  • Posting Relevance – Whenever you post something in a thread, does it make sense? Does it sincerely help?
  • Community Contribution – Do you answer questions or do you just keep on asking? Are you giving the community value or are you just sucking from it?

Blog Commenting Factors:

  • Comment Quality – Does your comment make sense? Is it relevant to the blog entry?
  • Website – Is the blog still maintained and moderated by a webmaster? Does it give out dofollow links to blog comments?

Social Bookmarking Factors:

  • This is purely artificial – Just create a social bookmarking account that looks clean and trustworthy and you’re good to go.

Profile Linkbuilding Factors:

  • This is also purely artificial – put up a profile and set a link there. Check if the accounts page is indexable, if not – find another one.

These three levels of linkbuilding are how we categorize and gauge the effectivity and quality of links we garner from our linkbuilding efforts.

Tips for keeps: Have a good mix of tier 1, 2 and 3 for each site that you’re building – they compliment each other.

Double Your Growth.

We curate the best of inbound marketing news and send over the top 10 we know will contribute to your growth - once a month.

  • Hi Sean Si, This is me Aris Llanto. Well, congratulations again for another breakthrough with your career and a very impressive Search Engine Optimization achievers! Another blog about Linkbuilding to ponder. There’s a lot of misconception I’ve noticed recently from different SEO’s who only wants to gain tons of backlinks though they are not aware of those Tier 1,2 and 3. I’ve been following you since you’ve started in 2010 with your SEO Tutorial. Keep up the good work and more power, You are God’s gift from many SEO in the Phil. and continue to share and inspire us all the time! Hope we can meet someday regardless of busy schedule. Thank you and God Bless!

    • Thank you for the kind words Aris. Glad to help out. And yeah that’d be cool. Perhaps we’ll get to bump into each other in one of the SEO conferences. I’m nothing glamorous. Just a simple fellow in a shirt :)

  • Today, I’ve learned a lot about link building and glad you posted it here. Great!

  • That is a pretty in depth list. I wish organic link building was easier. I think Google and other search engines will become more and more dependant on this and your content.

  • Great list Sean! Everyone should read this to understand why some SEO implementations aren’t working. The keyword is: COMPLEMENT. One needs to promote the actions that complement each other. I’ll be sharing this on my social media accounts.

    Spatch MErlin
    More Web Site Traffic Guide

  • nice information, i have basic knowledge about seo and link building, but after reading this articles, i found some other methods for link building.

  • Very well written post. It will be beneficial to everyone who employees it, including me. Keep up the good work – i will definitely read more posts.

  • Link building must be consistent and as original as possible for the better results. The process of link building is to bring the required to deliver long-term inbound links. The more time spent on the higher quality links will bring longer lasting results for sure, no doubt that.

  • Hey Sean! I accidentally stumbled across your site like 4 months ago and I signed up for your SEO Hacker School. I’ve just finished reading all your emails (always during my metro journeys in my phone haha) and I just wanted to say thanks. It really helped me getting into SEO and all the new tools. So… just thanks!

    • Hey Nico,
      Thank you so much for dropping by my site. Forgive me for forgetting to reply on your comment. There are a lot of comments left unreplied to here in my blog. Glad you signed up for SEO Hacker School! You know, I’ll really appreciate it if I get any feedback from you to use for my SEO School – I can even give you a link for that :)

  • Up until now I have only read about getting links from blog commenting, forum posting, profiles, directory, and article submissions. They say blog commenting is the most important way to build links to your site. This is really helpful and eye opening.

  • Rachel

    Tier 1, 2 and 3 says it all. It is the framework of SEO and we really shouldn’t miss one. Well, you can do at least 2 to 3 techniques there, but having the effort of doing these all pays it all. You can do SEO the free way! It just needs time and patience, and soon everything is all worth it.

    Thanks for sharing Sean! :)

  • Hey Sean,

    I know this is post is more than a year old but I just came across it. Nicely written! A clear and easy-to-understand summary of link building methods.

    Would love to read about your thoughts (especially in the effectiveness of Tier 3 links) after the recent Penguin 2.0 update

  • Thanks for teaching us regarding link building techniques. I really like this information to quick influence your rank and Domain authority.