How to Build Tier One Backlinks (Part 1 of 3)

Ahh the bread and butter of SEO: tier one backlinks.

Build them right, rank, and swim in piles of cash. Build them wrong… and well..

You know what happens.

I’ll be honest with you…It took me a really long time and a ton of testing to figure out what types of tier one backlinks are best for both ranking quickly AND ranking long-term.

The good news is that through all my expensive testing and failures, I now have this link building game down to a science.

That’s really awesome for you because:
A) you won’t have to spend a ridiculous amount of money testing and
B) you won’t have to throw websites in the trash bin because of risqué testing (I already took care of that part).

Ready for me to inject you with the exact techniques and knowledge I’ve used to rank for thousands of keywords despite little Google animals trying to ruin my fun?

Perfect, because this is serious business.

Alright let’s start.

How to Build Tier One Backlinks Stronger Than Fort Knox

If you’ve already downloaded my free eBook like many other smart people have done, then you have an idea of what a good tier one link profile looks like. This post will take it up a notch.

What I’m about show you, is the exact link building strategies I’ve used to rank clients across the United States in some of the most competitive industries online. I’m not here to brag or impress you guys, but I want you to know that I’m not spewing nonsense out of my mouth.

What I do WORKS.

While other people are freaking out on the forums about losing their rankings with every update that rolls out, you’ll chillin’ like a villain knowing that your tier one is rock solid.

Make Sure Your Website Doesn’t Suck

I’ll be the first to tell you that you can rank websites with no content or scraped content, but keep in mind… this is NOT a sustainable approach. And secondly, even if you rank an empty site, you’ll still have to create valuable content to convert traffic. Sucks right?

Regardless of whether you’re spamming or trying to take the clean route, having a solid site is a must.

I’m not going to get into this because this post is about links, so a good place to start is by reading my on-page SEO guide. It will give you the framework for creating a site that Google likes.

Risk Tolerance

I personally have a pretty high risk tolerance when it comes to link building, but this is also compared to some “experts” who freak about every link in the world. I literally had some clown try to tell me that a social bookmark link with a BRANDED anchor text was going to get a site penalized.

Remember, a MAJORITY of the time, your site will be penalized for over-optimized anchor text NOT the types of links hitting your site. Please re-read that sentence because it will dramatically decrease your paranoia.

Now, this isn’t to say you should go buck wild with every type of backlink. There ARE some links you want to avoid on your tier one.

Avoid These Links on Tier One

Russian / Foreign Links

At one point, Russian links were awesome because they were super strong. Google quickly caught onto these links and starting penalizing domains with excessive amounts of links from .ru, .ua, .su, and .tk domain extensions.

These links can still be used on tier two, but they are verrrrrry risky. I personally don’t use them, so use them at your own risk. They are definitely strong, but they are also very easy for Google to identify.


The Russian domain extension is the first problem, and secondly, an American website getting an excessive amount of links from Russian sites is definitely out of the ordinary.

Moral of the story: don’t use Russian links on tier one and if you are just dying to use them, then use them on tier two or even tier three.

Think of it this way… if you’re targeting a U.S. audience, then you should be getting links from American websites or at the very least, English speaking sites.

If you’re Russian, then you should be getting links from Russian sites.

Low Quality PBN Links

Basically any PBN that has super cheap prices is going to be low quality. For example, $15 for 250 PBN posts, is going to be your lower quality network. You’ll want to use these types of PBNs for your tier two.

Here are some identifiers of a low quality PBN:

  • spammy outbound links (gambling, porn, pills, illegal downloads)
  • weak link metrics: PR 1-2, PA 10-25, DA 10-15 (or less)
  • spun or scraped content
  • 40 + outbound links
  • all the outbound links are going to money sites with no links to authority sites like Wikipedia, CNN, etc.
  • They freely give out link reports

Automated Links

All links built with software such as SEnuke, GSA, or Ultimate Demon are very dangerous to use on tier one unless you really know what you’re doing. Google is very good at recognizing footprints and patterns that are common with these tools.

Using these tools on tier two is pretty safe, but I highly recommend sticking to manual link building for tier one.

If you want to use these tools for tier one, then you need to spend a ton of time testing before you unleash them on a site you actually care about. Just keep in mind, even some of the blackest hat SEO’s will tell you to avoid automation on tier one. Be smart.

Understanding Anchor Text

I preach this often, but your anchor text profile is one of the biggest factors when Google’s algorithm is determining whether your site is “quality” or just trying to manipulate the search engine. In essence, you need to save your keyword-rich anchors for your most powerful links and use “natural” anchors on all other types of links.

Read my anchor text post to learn more about this concept.

Supporting Links: “Look Google, My Site is Natural!”

Creating a link profile that looks natural is the first step to not only ranking well, but keeping your site safe from any updates. These links will be from trusted sources, will be diverse, and will have unoptimized anchor text.

What is the point of the supporting links?

  1. To send trust and authority to your site
  2. To build a foundation of diverse and natural anchor text
  3. To get links from many different IPs
  4. To help your site look natural

The best supporting links for building a rock solid layer of trust for your website include:

Business Directories

A real business will submit their site to these directories. Act like a real business and you’ll be treated like one. Most of these directories will allow for naked link or branded anchor text. Of the ones I give you when you sign-up for my free newsletter, it’s about a 50/50 split of DoFollow and NoFollow links.

Traditional Directories

Focus on directories with manual approval, directories that are niche specific, or directories that have at least 30 DA. Don’t you dare use a keyword rich anchor text with directories or you will regret it.

Paid Directories

Paid directories are well moderated and are great for transferring authority to your site. The good news is that most spammers won’t pay for these links, so most of these sites are pretty solid quality.

Press Releases

Press releases are my go-to for supporting links because one distribution will submit your site to over 70 websites and about 95% of those will index that day. You can typically insert about three links in the press release, so this means you’re actually building 210 supporting links. Focus on branded, generic, and naked link anchors here.

NoFollow Blog Comments

In every niche I enter, I find some strong blogs to comment on to A) diversify my link profile with some NoFollow’s, B) send some more unoptimized anchors to my site, and C) send relevancy to my site by showing Google that I’m an active participant in the community. Plus, if you write some helpful and informative comments, and you’ll get referral traffic.

Relevant Forums

Same thing as comments. Just make sure you use naked links or branded anchors in your forum sig.

Social Profiles

Don’t be stupid… get on Twitter, Facebook, and Google + and link back to your website. Sure it’s NoFollow, but it’s natural to have these properties secured for your website.

What About Social Signals…Do They Work?

Power Links: You Can Say These Links Go “H.A.M.”

Power links are the links that will move your website the most. Since these are the strongest links you can get, you will want to use keyword-rich anchor text.

PBN Links

Yes, private blog networks really are the best type of link right now because they are powerful and you have complete control.

Building your own is the best, but if you would rather just rent out some spots on a quality network, then I highly recommend you sign-up for the RFA Network – It launches on August 15th and spots will be extremely limited. I’m not even trying to use scarcity or anything like that.

There’s literally going to be a cap on how many people can use the network because I want to keep outbound links really low and the quality really high. So, head over to the site, enter your email, secure your spot, and return back here to finish reading the rest of this article.

Are you back?

K, let’s keep going.

Now..There are some SEO’s who solely use PBN links for ranking and there’s no denying that this strategy works.

BUT, I still believe that you need some supporting links to a) diversify, b) make your PBN links “blend”, and c) to make your overall link profile look natural to Google.

Hiding your PBN links and making your link profile look natural not only keeps your site safe from penalties, but also confuses the prying eyes of competitors in your niche.

Paid Links

Don’t get nervous. Paying for links works really well and can actually be relatively safe if you do your homework. Like PBN links, you have control.

The big difference between PBN links and just straight up paying for links is that paid links will typically stand alone without any content. Usually in a sidebar or footer.

If you take this route, then use relevant sites whenever possible. If you’re having trouble finding relevant sites, then just go with a site(s) with insane metrics to make up for the lack of relevancy.

301 Redirects

One of the quickest way to skyrocket the authority of a new website is through 301 redirects. To be safe, I wouldn’t use more than two redirects to any site.

Try to find a domain that is somewhat relevant to your niche. You obviously don’t want to redirect a site about giraffes if your site is about SEO. The easiest way to judge the relevancy of an expired domain is to a) look at the anchor text profile, b) look at the actual links, and c) run it through Wayback Machine.

If you find a relevant expired domain, but the link and anchor text profile is questionable, then you can build some unoptimized links to it before redirecting or after the redirection. Either way, the link and anchor profile will still flow to the new site.

Avoid expired domains for a future 301 redirect if…

  • it has over-optimized anchor text – if it has 15% + commercial anchor text, then I would avoid it. Anchor text DOES flow through a 301.
  • it has spammy links – avoid expired domains with low-quality PBN links or links built with automated software. Look for expired domains that acquired links naturally and didn’t actively do SEO on the site.
  • it is deindexed – I know this doesn’t matter, but I wouldn’t trust redirecting a site that was deindexed by Google.

Obviously, you can tighten up the screws on your 301 standards if the site really means a lot or lighten up on the standards if you’re trying make some quick dough.

Guest Posts

Yes, guest posts still work. Think about it this way: if guest posts don’t work, then why are private blog network posts working? They are the same exact thing except one is more artificial than the other.

The biggest downfall of guest posts is that they are rarely ever on the homepage where the actual authority resides. On a popular website, your guest post will be published and will live on an inner page with ZERO authority. In fact, a newly published guest post isn’t much stronger than a newly published web 2.0 article.

Unless you’re getting guest posts on CNN or Forbes, then your newly published guest posts are not very strong at all. Fortunately, you CAN make them stronger through some solid tier two links.

Next week, I’ll be releasing part two of this series and it show you EVERYTHING you need to know about building both black and white hat tier two links.

Web 2.0s

As you know, I’m a big fan of web 2.0s and they are my go-to because they are the easiest way to send a massive amount of relevancy and authority to your site without having to spend hours networking. In fact, it’s nearly impossible to get a link more relevant than a web 2.0 because you have complete control of what the free blog will be about.

You should check out my manual web 2.0 article if you want to learn how to build these properties correctly.

Like guest posts, a freshly published article on a web 2.0 will have really low authority, so building some solid tier two links will be essential.

My Entire Link Building Process (On a Golden Platter)

Now that you understand what types of links are best for tier one, I’m going to show you my EXACT link building process.

It’s going to BLOW. YOUR. MIND.

Here’s my entire link building strategy…

Poke -> Pad -> Poke -> Pad -> Poke Again (if necessary) -> Keep Padding = Rank Forever

You’re probably like… “what is wrong with this dude, THAT’S IT?!”

Were you expecting some complex guru link building strategy? Sorry to disappoint, but my link building strategy is stupidly simple.

Step #1: Poke the site with a “Power” link
Step #2: Pad the site with a ton of unoptimized supporting links
Step #3: Wait and watch how the site reacts
Step #4: Poke the site with one or two more “Power” links
Step #5: Keep padding the site with supporting links
Step #6: Poke the site again IF NECESSARY.
Step #7: Keep padding the site while slowly decreasing link velocity

“Poke” Definition: a poke always comes from a “Power” link and uses a keyword-rich anchor text.

Obviously, this is the short version, but this is the gist of what I do. In essence, I’m super conservative when using “Power” links and really liberal when using “Supporting” links.

Simple right? Despite what some guru’s would like you to believe, link building isn’t hard.

I hope this helped you learn a thing or two, and make sure you drop a comment below if you have ANY questions whatsoever. Don’t be SHY. I’m a pretty nice guy.

P.S. part two of this three part series will show you how to build tier two links that not only work, but will keep your site safe.

Thanks for reading!

- Gotch

SEO Case Study #3: Rank a Site With One Exact Match Anchor?

The question is: is it possible to rank a website in a competitive niche with only one exact match anchor?

No matter what site or competition level I’m working in, I always keep my exact match anchors below 5%. But I wanted to see if I could rank a site without ever repeating a single keyword-based anchor text.

For Example:
If my website is about puppy toys, then I would link back to my site with “puppy toys” as the anchor text (one time), and nothing but variations such as “dog toys”, “best puppy toys”, and “doggy toys”.

And just to take things up another notch, I decided to conduct this experiment in a very competitive niche.

  • Niche: Pills (Can’t reveal what type or it could compromise things)
  • URL: an exact match .com – no idea how / why this was available!

Although I have an exact match of a very valuable keyword, I’m actually not targeting it quite yet. Instead, I’m going after a product within the niche.

Target Keyword(s):
Main Keyword (product name): 12,100 searches per month
Variations of Main Keyword: 8100, 1900, 1900

There’s obviously a ton of other variations of my main keyword, but I decided to target these four, which equates to around 24,000 searches per month.

Nitty Gritty Details of the Site

I’m extremely fortunate to have found this keyword because it’s the perfect site for emphasizing a problem and offering a solid solution. When the solution is easy, it makes sales easier. So, for this reason, I created content that is not only helpful, but will (almost) solve their problems. Obviously, to completely solve their “problem”, they will need to purchase the product I’m promoting.

Details About the Content:

I haven’t physically written a single article for this site. I have outsourced everything. Each article has costs me around $37 because I want quality content on the site.

  • Homepage: the homepage has a static 1,000-word article broadly talking about the problem (not the product)
  • Review: the product review is about 900 words. It’s a “first person” experience with a relatable story.
  • “Is it Safe” page: this is another page that specifically discusses the safety of the product. More of these will be added to decrease skepticism among the potential buyers. I also added a “Does Have Side Effects?” page.
  • (x6) blog posts: all five of these posts are between 500-600 words. Each article offers advice on the problem as whole, but always incorporates the target product as a solution without being overbearing.

Some Other On-Site Details:

  • I’m using a review theme from My Theme Shop
  • I have a custom logo
  • I have contact, affiliate disclaimer, privacy policy, and terms of service pages

Link Building

Now this is the fun part, but I think you’re going to be really surprised how little it took to actually rank this page.

Here’s what I used to get to the current position:

  • 15 high PR “guest posts”
  • 10 web 2.0s
  • 4 PDFs
  • 20 business listings
  • 1 press release distribution
  • 1 article from

Here are the metrics for the PR links:
PR 4, PA 37, DA 24, TF 26
PR 4, PA 29, DA 15, TF 19
PR 4, PA 19, DA 6, TF 6 (Bad metrics, but highly relevant)
PR 3, PA 31, DA 19, TF 24
PR 3, PA 29, DA 16, TF 17
PR 3, PA 28, DA 14, TF 12
PR 2, PA 35, DA 24, TF 32
PR 2, PA 30, DA 17, TF 16
PR 2, PA 29, DA 18, TF 6 (Bad TF, but highly relevant)
PR 2, PA 28, DA 14, TF 19
PR 2, PA 23, DA 10, TF 21
PR 1, PA 30, DA 17, TF 3 (Bad TF, but highly relevant)
PR 1, PA 21, DA 14, TF 1 (Bad TF, but highly relevant)

PR = PageRank from Google
PA = Page Authority from Moz
DA = Domain Authority from Moz
TF = Trust Flow from Majestic SEO

Every single link used 100% manually written 400 + word articles.

Anchor Text

Okay, so how did I diversify my anchor text with such a small amount of links?

Here’s what I did:

(x10) or almost 50% of the links have variations of the main keyword as the anchor. I literally only used the exact match keyword one time.

All the others have slight variations such as:

  • adding a dash
  • using “pill” instead of “pills”
  • using “try ___”
  • “does ___ work”
  • “___ like __”
  • “where to buy __”

The point is, is that I included a variation of the main keyword in nearly 50% of the anchors. How can I get away with this?

Because I have only used one exact match anchor!

The other 50% or so of my anchors are generic (click here, go here, read this review, etc) and naked links: Although it is about a 50/50 split, I will be diluting the keyword based anchors even more.

In the next few months, it will be more like a 90% (safe anchors) / 10% or less (keyword based anchors). This is a safety measure more than anything.

The truth is, I have been testing this technique on several of my websites and client’s websites over the past couple months and it’s producing insane results.

Not only does it keep your website safe from penalties, but you’re also increasing the amount of keywords that you’re able to rank for. So instead of only ranking for my product name, I’m ranking for almost every variation you can think of.

And the coolest part about never repeating keyword-based anchors, is that when your main keyword is “stuck” around the #2-#5 spots, you can hit it with another exact match anchor and it should shoot it to the top.

Now that you know exactly what I did with this site, what kind of results has 22 links and no repeating anchor text actually gotten me?

How Much Did This Cost?

This started out as a low-cost project because I was testing the water more than anything. But once I saw that it had huge potential, I started investing more money into it. The totals below are for everything on the site, not just the landing page that’s doing really well.

Here’s where my money went:

  • (x29) manually written 400 word articles for link building = $81.20
  • (x5) Premium articles for the website = $325.20
  • (x20) business submissions = $15
  • (x1) press release distribution = $79
  • Custom Logo = $49

$674.73 revenue
- $549.40 investment

= + $125.33 profit

Although I have spent a decent amount of money on the site, my time investment has been very small. In total, I have probably spent about 8 hours on the site. That includes on-page changes and submitting articles for links. I’m very happy with this project and I will be continually updating this case study with progress.

My goal is to get this website up to a steady $1,000 per month and then be able to sell it off for a nice sum.

To quickly conclude the results of this case study, you don’t need to go crazy with exact match anchors!

Treat every exact match anchor like a precious diamond and only use it when absolutely necessary.

I hope you enjoyed this information and please leave any questions you have below in the comment section, and if you saw even a tiny bit of value in this post, please share it :)

P.S. I’m launching the Anchor Text Bible on July 15th. Go sign up for the priority list before it fills up (only accepting the first 200 people).

Where to enter your email: