I’m noticing a bit of a trend happening in the blogosphere where people are becoming interested in second tier link building – and some of the top white hat SEO gurus have released posts about it recently. They obviously made some good points but I don’t really feel like they said enough.
So this isn’t me trying to jump on a bandwagon or anything. I just want to make some more complete information available.
I thought about leaving comments on their sites but I was concerned they would feel like I was trying to show them up on their own site. Because I might want to work with them in the future I decided to keep my mouth shut (fingers still).
Basically, they didn’t cover any of the precautions or long term effects that need to be taken into consideration. So what I want to do is – go over the benefits of second tier link building, and then list the potential problems with some tips so as to help you make a more informed decision about your SEO.
1.) It raises the quality of your links.
The more important Google thinks the page is that links to you is, the more valuable the link is.
In other words, the sites that link to the site (especially the page) that links to you are taken into consideration when determining rankings.
Without links pointing to the pages that link to you, it’s hard to say how long that page that’s linking to you will even stay indexed.
2.) It helps to build a relationship with the site owner.
Let’s say you guest post somewhere and your guest post earns some pretty good links and traffic, more than posts on that site usually earn. It’s pretty common sense that the owner of that site will probably be willing to let you post again – or even start following your other content and linking to it when it’s relevant to what he’s doing.
3.) It can help boost your reputation.
If you have a link from a very high authority domain, and that page is SEOed for keywords that a reasonable number of people are searching for, it’s in your best interest to make sure that page ranks high.
This way, when people see that your site was mentioned there they’ll think “hey, that site was mentioned by veryimportantsite.com. That means that site must be important too”.
Another cool trick, is to get that page to rank well for your brand. This way, when people search for your brand, first they see your site and right underneath it they see veryimportantsite.com talking nice about you. Talk about making a good impression.
The potential problems
As you may already know, I started out in the black hat scene. There isn’t a black hat SEO worth his salt who isn’t familiar with second tier link building.
One of the things that you pick up pretty quick in the black hat scene is that Google looks for patterns that look unnatural.
Google is well known throughout the black hat scene for identifying link wheels and link pyramids and discrediting them or worse.
When I left the black hat scene people were discouraging link wheels and link pyramids and encouraging very random and natural looking link networks.
If Google begins noticing that every page that links to you also links to another page that links to you, you’re site and/or the credibility of those links is at risk.
Likewise, if Google notices that every page that links to a page that links to you – also links to other pages that link to you, your site and/or those links are in jeopardy.
In other words, thinking that you can just write a long guest post or article sub that links to 5 pages that link to you, so that you can keep those pages indexed and juiced up – this might end up working against you in the long term and maybe even in the short term.
Repeating link patterns
There’s a software called SEnuke which allows you to quickly submit spun articles to Web2.0 sites and article directories and then juice up the links with forum profiles and stuff like that. It does more than that but, I don’t really want to go into all of it here.
This software allows you to create templates that will tell the software what page each site should link to.
What often happens is when people reuse their templates Google starts noticing and then they lower their rankings either with penalties or link devaluation. I’m actually not sure how many times you can get away with using the same template.
The point is – if your white hat seo efforts start resembling “templates” that you use repeatedly, you might get in trouble with Google.
A Quick Tip
If you’re now a little leery of second tier link building, remember that you can still promote the pages that link to you by sharing them on social networks and the like as well as getting your buddies/partners to share them.
The more a page is seen, the more likely it is to earn links.
Also, second tier link building isn’t something you need to be afraid of. It’s just something you need to be careful with (like all manual link placement).
The Google engineers might not even have a problem with you juicing up your links with Guest posts or whatever but, it’s very possible that you could get caught up in algorithms that were/are/will be designed to catch black hats if you’re not careful.
Google has made it very clear that high quality guest posting and infographics are OK for link building and there are good SEOs who are doing just fine linking to their guest posts from other guest posts that also link to their site in the byline. But…
This is SEO. What you can get away with today might not work tomorrow and I hate to see a lot of hard work lose it’s value, even if it’s not mine.
Remember, any kind of manual link placement should always appear to be random, natural, and in context.
Link Wheel image by David Pagotto – License