When I went to BrightonSEO last year, some of the speakers said link building wasn’t important anymore. They said it was not a significant ranking factor and we should be focusing our attentions on other factors. However, other speakers, (and I agree too,) believe link building continues to play a crucial part in SEO.
In this post, you will learn why I think second tier links are important. I’ll show you some examples and tell you how you can get more secondary links to improve your rankings and your traffic.
Wait a minute, what are second tier links exactly?
From experience chatting to SEOs, talking about first, second and third tier links can sometimes bring up some confusion. Whilst you may not be able to describe what these different type of tier links are or mean, you’ve probably been using them already.
First tier links are website links that directly link to your website.
(For example: if you’re writing a guest post on behalf of your company, the links you include in the content that link directly to your website will be first tier.)
The image below show links we have achieved through writing guest posts and being mentioned on a site.
Second tier links are links that are directed to your guest blog that has links to your website.
(For example: You share a social media message linking to your guest post which links to your website. The social message link is a second tier link! When other websites are linking to your guest blog, these links are examples of second tiers too.)
Some SEOs don’t like spending much time on second tier links because they think these links don’t offer any ranking benefits. But if you’re sending traffic to your guest post and people are then clicking on your website link in the author bio, you’re getting valuable traffic to your site. Regular traffic is considered as an important ranking feature.
Second tier links are still important and here's why…
1. More Authority
When you’ve written a guest blog for another site, you can receive some ranking benefits of being associated with a higher domain authority site. But it doesn’t just stop there. If other high domain authority sites are linking to your guest blog, you’re then getting the benefits too. Just because they aren’t first tier links doesn’t mean they aren’t valuable.
Helpful tip: Discovering you’ve got high authority websites linking to your site is a good ‘conversation starter’ when asking to write a guest blog for a high DA site. If you know a high domain authority website has linked to your guest blog, it’s clear they like what you’ve talked about before. You can mention you’ve seen they have linked to your work and you can ask if they are interested in getting an article from you on their site.
2. More Referral Traffic
It doesn’t matter if the link on your guest post is a ‘no-follow’ link because it doesn’t stop referral traffic from visiting your website.
Second tier links give you the opportunity to get even more readers seeing your guest post, and hopefully visit your website/blog too.
3. More Relevance
Second tier links automatically link you to other sites. The website you’ve written your guest post will already have relevance to your site (that’s why you chose to write on it) and the other sites that are linking to your guest post will very likely be relevant to your topic too.
When talking about ranking factors, Google has said relevance is crucial. Being relevant with keywords and linking building helps the search engine understand what your site is about. When your website is associated with more sites in your niche/industry, it helps Google comprehend what it belongs to.
4. More Customers
Potential customers and readers will be able to find your site with secondary links.
When other sites are linking to your guest content, it’s highly likely they will have an interest in your industry. People from those sites will be seeing your guest post and there is a chance they will visit your site too. And most importantly, the people who are coming from these second tier sites will be your ideal customers.
Secondary tier links in action
As I’ve talked about the benefits of second tier building, I’ve collected some examples to shows these links in action.
This blog on Moz.com, is a guest blog ‘How to Stop Spam Bots from Ruining Your Analytics Referral Data’ by Jared Gardner. In the bio at the bottom of the guest post is some information about Jared and a link to his website Red Door Interactive.
To see second-tier linking in-action, I needed to find out how many links are linking to Jared’s guest post.
Using Moz’s link tool Open Site Explorer, I can see how many and what types of referral links there are.
Source: Moz, Open Site Explorer
Looking at the Page Link Metrics, there are 50 Root Domains linking to this guest post. That means there are 50 websites which will bring readers to this blog and potentially they will visit the author’s website too.
As the guest blogger has written for Moz.com, he has written for a popular and highly regarded site in his industry. The 50 sites that are linking to this blog will likely bring high quality traffic too.
One the benefits of second-tier link building is the opportunities continue to grow long after you’ve written a guest post. Just last month, 5 new sites linked to this guest post providing 5 additional routes for relevant readers to find it.
These websites have just been discovered. Source: Moz
Do Social Sharing
Promote the guest blogs you’ve written on social networking sites. As soon as your article is live, you should be promoting it on your networks anyway. Just because you’re sending traffic to another person’s site doesn’t mean you’re not getting the benefits too. These secondary links from social sharing will bring interested readers to your content.
Helpful tip: to get the best out of your social sharing, make sure you’re posting on social platforms that are relevant to your ideal readership. Make sure the site owner, who you’ve written the content for, does their own social sharing, it’s likely they’ve got a different following to yours. Encourage them to retweet or share your social posts (after all, you’re promoting their site).
The more publicity they receive from social networks, the more readers who will read your guest blog and likely visit your site too.
Do Outreach To Relevant Sites
Be selective with the sites you want to write for. Before you send an outreach email, spend some time going through the prospective website. Do they have the same kind of readership to yours? Do they discuss similar topics that you have on your site?
Whilst second tier links are important, you want links that will bring in relevant traffic. You want people reading your guest content and then visiting your site - they will only do that if they are genuinely interested in what you’re talking about.
PR campaigns are perfect opportunities to promote your business and to get secondary links.
Get newspapers and magazines to write about you (or your business). These articles will be read by interested readers and if they link to these PR sources, they will instantly become second tier.
It’s important to contact newspapers and magazines that are relevant to your industry. This way, you’ll likely get more people who are interested in your business and what you have to say. And if they like the sound of your business (or you), they will promote the newspaper article on their social networks or even on their own sites; creating more secondary links.
The Importance of Secondary Link Building
Whilst you might automatically want to focus your outreach time on creating first tier links, you shouldn’t completely ignore the opportunities of secondary links. In SEO discussions, the topic of link building is always brought up. Some people think it’s not important anymore but it’s clear it is still relevant and shouldn’t be disregarded. Link building is still a ranking factor but you must follow Google’s guidelines to avoid harmful penalties.
Along with link building, there are many other SEO ranking factors and it’s important to utilise different strategies to improve your site’s overall rankings.
Next time you’re planning your next outreach campaign, consider how you will approach secondary link building. If you’re creating helpful and relevant content, you will automatically see an increase of second tier links because most people like to share information they thought was helpful.