Don’t worry, you can let your guard down, you haven’t been clickbaited. Not long ago, I realized my tiered link building system and many others such as Matthew Woodward’s is completely broken.
Upon my initial discovery I felt a mix of emotions; frustration, shock, and all around discomfort. I realized in a single moment that I had been literally banging my head against the wall for over a year with almost zero chance of success.
There is a fundamental flaw in the tiered link building systems that essentially renders the process ineffective.
Yeah you heard right, if you follow my old link building empire tutorial or Matthew Woodward’s ultimate guide to tiered link building you will probably never rank a site, ever.
In this post I am going to show exactly why the systems are flawed and how to run things correctly moving forward, once and for all.
This has shaken me up so much that I’ve taken over a month to write this post, almost not sure if I would even write again. But I couldn’t remain quiet because of my mistake and allow more and more people to be misinformed and banging their heads against the wall as well.
The First Problem – Link Types
The problem is not with tiered link building itself, this is still working quite well. So breathe out a sigh of relief if you’re like me and have invested quite a bit into this method, both time and money.
The flaw is all in the set up and the type of links we are building on each tier. Myself and Matthew have been advising the following link types for your tiers:
- Web 2.0s
- Doc share
- Social Bookmarks
Sound familiar? Well the devil is in the details as they say but in this instance the devil is in the link type, specifically social bookmarks and directories. And in lies the fundamental flaw breaking our link building efforts.
Social Bookmark and Directory Links Should NEVER Be Used in Your Tier Structure!!
That is if you like ranking sites at least. These link types are not what we want in our tier structure, they are not contextual links and will essentially break our tiers starting with T1 moving out to additional tiers.
Here is the image from Matthew’s tutorial
In the picture you will see the tier 2 links actually contain bookmarks and comments which effectively cuts off tier 3 from passing any juice.
If you watch his tutorial though, you will find the specific instructions to use directories and bookmarks on tier 1.
Now if we follow these instructions, build about 50 of each link type, we will wind up with 150 contextual links, and 100 non-contextual links.
Commence tier 2 with the same flaw and we are lining up very few tiers contextually. In fact, we have a completely broken tier structure that will rarely get us anywhere.
But I thought you had results?
Yes, I’ve had them, but not the slam dunk rankings like we’ve made it out to be, and most of my successes were on expired domains with existing authority. This would explain why the few actual tiered links I managed to build actually had an effect. But in general I would estimate that building your links this way you will have less than a 10% success rate. Including the bookmarks, directories, and comments make it incredibly unlikely to ever line up enough tiers to rank since ~40% of each layer is basically worthless.
If you’ve heard of Godoveryou he once had a tutorial that highlighted this.
This image from their forum shows using social bookmarks as a secondary link coming in from the side and not directly in the tier structure.
This is the linking structure that needs to be used for tiered link building to be effective, with primary and secondary links.
With a primary and secondary structure the primary links make up the tiers and the secondary links come in from the side allowing us to build contextual authority.
Passing contextual link authority is the primary goal of tiered linking, with non-contextual links we’ve effectively shot ourselves in the foot.
The Second Problem – Dofollow vs Nofollow
The second problem which is also debilitating to our link building, is using nofollow platforms in our tiers.
Before you get all up and arms about nofollow links still passing juice and being important for diversification, know that I share your sentiments as well.
But I can tell you from experience that using platforms like Jcow in your tiers will get you a one way ticket to never rank shit town.
Platforms such as Jcow and Mediawiki are ALL NOFOLLOW but before we completely write off these links, I’ll paint the extreme picture to understand why nofollow platforms are killing our tiers.
Depending on your site list and the sites you are actively scraping, your list could heavily skew towards nofollow platforms. So if over 75% of your site list is nofollow and you build that out over three tiers, you’re basically fucked. To compound the problem further, most of these nofollow platforms are extremely popular making it very likely that your site list skews towards these platforms.
Building nofollow non-contextual links for your tiers is no bueno bros.
The solution is using a primary and secondary link structure and setting up separate tasks to group and keep track of your links. The focus is on passing relevant contextual dofollow link juice.
The Real Weapon of Choice
The last order of business is to clear the air about what is really the best link building software, because it sure as hell isn’t Ultimate Demon. Yes I’ve promoted UD in the past but I was wrong, for that I can only apologize and hope this post makes up for it. The truth is, GSA SER runs circles around Ultimate Demon and you could build out three tiers on GSA before running 10,000 sites through the UD site detector. If you don’t already own the software, here’s a discount code to save 10% on both the software and captcha breaker.
SER can be a bit overwhelming at first, and this is why many people gravitate towards tools like UD or Senuke XCR, but when you realize the power of SER there is no contest. And for the record, there is no reason why SER can not be used for tier 1 link building and the entire tiered link building process, it’s just the unknown that has caused people to peg it as a solely tier 2/3 tool.
My assumption is that the monetary incentive to promote UD over SER is just too great, so we never hear about it much on SEO blogs if at all. There just isn’t that much money in promoting and teaching about it.
That and an updated version rolls out practically every day so it’s tough to produce long lasting tutorials. But this makes the software even more kick ass with the changes being recommended by real SEOs every day in the GSA SER forums.
Without going all fanboy on GSA, here is how to setup campaigns and avoid the problems I outlined above. We will create additional tasks for our secondary links keeping things separated so the tiered links remain contextual and dofollow.
This takes a little more work but by the time you’re done Ultimate Demon will still be trying to save your first task ;-)
If you’re just learning SER then YouTube, the official forums, and hands on experience are your best bets for getting up to speed. So in this explanation we’ll assume you already know your way around SER.
Start by creating a new task. In the left hand column you will see all the different types of links and engines that can be selected. Right click in that area you will find some options that might have otherwise taken you a month to discover.
Click check all, then uncheck nofollow links, and uncheck non contextual links.
Congratulations, now you’re on your way to building some tiered links. Another cool thing to note here is you can save your engine selection, so save that badboy as “Contextual Dofollow” and just load engine selection when starting new tier tasks.
Now we will set up 7 tasks in total for a full campaign.
Secondary links to Tier 1
Secondary links to Tier 2
Secondary links to Tier 3
Secondary links to Money Site
The setup looks like this:
Now we have isolated our contextual dofollow links as part of the tier strucutre and we’re linking in from the side with our secondary links. The final piece of the puzzle is building your own site lists.
Now the beauty of GSA is it will go out and find sites automatically using footprints and the selected search engines. But if you want to truly run the software to its fullest potential and have more control over the link building, using your own premade site lists is key.
So start scraping your own sites and building footprints outside of the default ones in GSA. Now that you know exactly what you’re looking for the game should be easier.
Good luck everyone!