Tiered Link Building for Law Firms

| March 13, 2014

tiered-linkingTiered link building was developed as a method for exponentially increasing the authority of a website through successive rounds of hyperlinks. Of all the early SEO tactics for influencing search, tiered link building is one of the more creative. It also happens to be one of the more time-consuming and difficult methods when done right.

It should be noted that if you use a lot of low-quality tactics for creating your tiered link building campaign, it could be detrimental to your site. If you take the time to make a tiered link network of high-quality that’s useful to users, your site can benefit tremendously.

How It Works

The basic idea is this: a webmaster builds links from one web property to another to another and eventually back to their own website (also called the money site). Because do-follow links count as a vote for the site they lead to, a tiered linking method aims to enhance the PageRank, and eventually the position of the primary website in search for specific queries.

There are varying degrees of elaborateness, and a tiered campaign can get pretty expansive. To illustrate a simple example, a webmaster might start a few cloud-based websites (commonly called web 2.0s) such as on Blogger.com or WordPress.com. They will write content that is relevant to the primary website, then link these cloud-based sites back to the primary site.

For instance an attorney specializing in family law could make a handful of mini-sites (3-4 pages each).  These sites would contain original content helpful for the target audience.  Ideally these sites could then have contextually relevant links embedded in page text and leading back to the family law practice’s main website with keyword rich anchor text.

cms-or-customThese web 2.0s serve as the first tier, and they are known as tier-one properties. Note that the content on these tier ones should be particularly high quality. For instance, a good tier one won’t have any spun or duplicated content, and, in general, would be useful for visitors.

Tier one sites are the only properties linked directly to the main website so they have to good.  It’s also wise to make the properties in your strategy something that you can control in case there are any problems down the road where you need to disassociate them from your website.

Next, a series of tier-two properties are built. These would be things like social bookmarks, links from articles placed in directories, links from forum comments or profiles or any number of other places on the web.

These links lead to the tier-one property and not back to the main website. These properties can also be high quality; however, many tiered strategies have higher tiers that decrease in quality and increase in volume.

How Tiered Link Building Benefits Your Site

Links are still a huge ranking signal, and tiered link building recreates the essential character of how links might happen naturally. The more links that can be harnessed and funneled into a narrower number of websites, the higher PR those sites can muster. When you then link those sites to your website, you can substantially increase your chances of ranking well in search.

Another benefit is that real people actually follow links. Assuming that all of those properties floating around out there are actually of some use to a regular person who finds them, they may follow the links contained there, and eventually find their way back to your website.

When to Use Tiered Link Building

The example outlined above under how tiered link building works is probably not the best way to go about doing it. Just like keyword stuffing, article spinning, poor quality links and cloaking, tiered link building (at least on a simple level) can’t be done without drawing attention to yourself.

seo-footprintSite owners who are too obvious will create what is known as a “footprint” or an easily noticeable pattern of links leading right back to their websites. Footprints happen when you make links on low-quality websites, use spun or duplicated content, create links on websites that were made yesterday or overuse keyword-rich anchor text, among other land mines.

In reality, when you create other web properties that remain under your control, search engines can tell.  The idea here is that you shouldn’t draw attention to yourself by making low-quality or spammy websites and profiles.

Tiered link building using ready-made and high-quality properties may be a viable long-term plan for your law firm. The concept, may be quite effective, you just have to be careful how you use it.  Create only high quality external assets to your second and third tiers.

A High-Quality Approach

You can still build links to your site using the tiered approach, but you need to make sure the properties you build your links on (and the content associated with them) is of the highest quality.

• Web 2.0 mini sites (cloud-based sites with a handful of pages)
• Press releases
• Wikis
• Social bookmarks
• Legal article directories (i.e. targetlaw, lawyers.com, nolo)

The AVVO directory is a good example of a tier-one link opportunity. It’s a PR6, a reputable, well-known service. Higher tiers could then be built pointing at the AVVO profile.

For web 2.0 sites, it’s important to hand write all the content and ensure that they are high-quality websites offering true value to visitors. Articles and press releases submitted to directories should also provide high quality and value for users.

No matter what you use as your tier-one links, don’t cut corners. Make these pieces of content as high quality as possible because they will link directly to your site.