Kissmetrics Blog

A blog about analytics, marketing and testing

Built to optimize growth. Track, analyze and engage to get more customers.

Make the Most of Guest Blogging: Second-Tier Link Building

Link building is the website promotional strategy for acquiring direct inbound links to your site. It’s an important driver that helps your website rank higher in the search engines. Second-tier link building is a bit more complex: it’s an often ignored strategy for where you acquire links to webpages outside your domain that link to your pages.

In other words:

Link building Second-tier link building
You build link to… Your web pages and sites you own Someone else’s web pages that link to your properties

Second-tier link building is not a new topic; basically, it’s about promoting your promoters (linking to pages that link to you). While I understand that this tactic may sound too familiar to many fellow SEOs, let’s start with the disclaimer: this guide has nothing to do with the grey-hat approach to “tired” link building that’s about dominating top ten results using various low-quality profile pages and thus creating link wheels.

Instead, this is about bringing up your brand-relevant content that is hosted outside your domain.

How Second-Tier Link Building Relates to Guest Blogging

In my opinion, guest blogging has always been more of a relationship-building tactic than a link-profile-building method. That’s the main reason I prefer guest blogging over any other link building methods: Guest blogging is more about building relationships than links – and second-tier link building has been one of my ways to make it work.

Now that we have that covered, let’s get into the nitty-gritty!

Linking *TO* Your Guest Posts: Basics

extra link love

A guest post is a piece of content you write for someone else’s blog to be featured there and get your word out. A guest post contains an “About author” section where you can link back to your sites and projects. In exchange for the free content you provide to the blogger, you get increased visibility from his/her blog audience.

By linking *TO* your guest posts from your own available resources, you can achieve two important goals:

  1. Get appreciated by the blog owner (whose page you are thus promoting for free)
  2. Build a more powerful (“linked-to”) page that links to you from the byline

Let’s discuss these two goals in more detail:

1. Get Appreciated = Make the Most of Your Guest Blogging Contact

I’ve always said that a blogging contact is the most important benefit you get from your guest post:

  • Numerous contacts with website publishers are what will one day allow you to stop building links, because links will flow on their own.
  • Besides, bringing up your old guest blogging contacts will let you kick-start any of your new projects or get the word out for any of your business news.

Linking to your guest posts is one of the most effective ways to get blogger love and fond remembrance. That’s what I’ve been doing for ages, and the effort has been noticed:

linking to your guest post

So here’s what I do:

I keep a record of all my guest posts in our internal link-tracking tool and whenever I am writing a new guest post, I make sure to link to something I did previously (provided that makes sense). Since I usually blog on similar (or at least neighboring) topics, that’s fairly easy to do.

The good thing is that most bloggers will see and recognize that backlink via their WordPress pingback tracking tool, and most of them will appreciate and remember that! This means you will always be welcome at those blogs whenever you want to guest post again (or get some PR help).

2. Get Linked = Create a More Powerful Backlink Source

For all “proper” link builders who were not convinced with #1: Yes, by linking to your guest post, you bring it up in search engines and make it a more powerful link source for your own page (as it promotes your properties in the byline).

There is one thing to bear in mind here, though (and one that I usually see misunderstood): Avoid your guest posts competing with your own site in search results.

guest blogging warning

When writing a guest post, don’t include your most important keywords in its title. –> Don’t target the same terms in your guest post that you are targeting for your own sites. Simply put, don’t write about selling green apples if you are selling green apples. Instead, brainstorm guest posts – listing best recipes for cooking apples, apps to help you grow apples in your garden, health benefits of apples, etc.

Linking *FROM* Your Guest Posts

linking from your guest post

There’s another way guest blogging can be utilized for second-tier link building. When providing a guest post, you don’t want to link to your domain too much. Excessive self-linking makes you look link-greedy and may spoil your contacts instead of building them.

However, by utilizing second-tier link building, you can add a couple of additional links to your brand-relevant pages outside your domain. (You still don’t want to overdo this, of course.)

For reputation management, I may use the guest post byline section to link to:

  • My website third-party reviews;
  • My professional and personal social media accounts (Twitter, YouTube, Google Plus, etc.).

I occasionally utilize in-content links to bring up my older articles and guest posts as well (provided the links add to the value of the guest post).

Of course, the above should be done only if your guest post is huge and useful enough for all of those links so that it looks OK. Throwing together a quick 400-word guest post and adding all kinds of self-serving links won’t do.

Useful Tools

The tool How to use it for second-tier link building and guest blogging
Google Analytics Identify your most efficient guest posts in terms of the amount of traffic they refer to you. These are your best targets for second-tier links (here’s how I do that).
Rank Checker Don’t go nuts about keyword-optimizing your second-tier links, but it may be a good idea to use the rank checker to find out how well your guest post is already doing for some obvious terms.
Spreadsheets Spreadsheets are great for organizing your backlinks. Make sure to add a separate column for title and description to more easily find which guest posts to link to by a simple CTRL+F5 search

Are you utilizing guest blogging for second-tier link building? Please share your thoughts!

About the Author: Ann Smarty is the serial guest blogger running My Blog Guest, the free guest blogging and content sharing platform. Ann is also a proud branding and community manager for Internet Marketing Ninjas founded by Jim Boykin and based in Clifton Park.

  1. We will do this with our partners.

  2. Another very good post by Ann, I see you everywhere and it’s always very interesting many congrats.
    Regarding linking other content from your blog posts, it’s a very good strategy but I wonder, have you ever been refused to link such a resource by any blog owner?

    • Thanks for the kind words, Mathias! Like I said, I only link when it makes sense. I always make it clear that those links can be deleted. I am ok with that. I don’t think I ever had those deleted though as the links always flow very naturally in the content.

  3. Although linking to another guest post in method #1 might sound simple, but many blog owners doesn’t allow that. However, I agree that we should build links to our guest post instead of just keep building links to our own site. The second tier of link building is what many bloggers are not doing. Nonetheless, great tips there, Ann.

    • >>> …many blog owners doesn’t allow that

      I don’t think they are too many. I publish guest posts daily and I love it when they have various in-content links that add to the quality. I don’t care if these are the author’s other guest posts.
      But yes, it’s wise to read the blog guest posting guidelines / policies first

  4. It’s a good line to build links through guest blogging, but how can I get trusted by the owner. The most important is that there are not always many quality articles like yours that everyone can write.

  5. When write a guest post, make sure to pay attention to few factors: quality content, easy to read, teach something, attractive. Not focus to keyword optimization.

  6. This is especially good advice for the post-Penguin world we live in. Too many direct links, including spammy anchor text, can actually hurt your site. Now, more than ever, you need to focus on quality, diversity, and relevance. This includes a wide variety of backlinks, from multiple tiers of sites.

  7. Hi Ann,

    As always a very insightful post. I agree with you that guest blogging is about relationship building. If you want your guest blog to rank well in any case, I like to pick topics that are just a bit lateral of the topic of the site(s) that I am linking to. That way you avoid any conflict you allude to when you say “Avoid your guest posts competing with your own site in search results.”

    • Thanks, Jim, exactly. I call those “neighboring” topics: those that directly about your niche but could use your expertise :) For example, for “saving” niche (I am not good at finance) I wrote once a post about using *Google* shortcuts to save!

  8. This is not just the new method for optimizing guest post but, it is also helpful for the other types of links that naturally built.

  9. Thanks Ann for this post. I have heard of linking to your links before but paid little attention to it. It was I thought; “Why link to an article to boost its ranks instead of mine?” I guess I was wrong.

    With this and the way you have laid the plans out in the pictures and the spreadsheet should help. I just got another valuable information

    Thanks again.

  10. Hi,

    I have listened a lot about guest posting but i have never done it. I will do it now as you have explained above. :)

    Thank you :)

  11. Hi,

    I have listened a lot about guest posting but i have never done it but i will do it soon Thanks for this blog :)


  12. can we boost links from guest blogs by blasting them with gigs on fiverr? Does it bring any harms to your website?

  13. I fully appreciate the importance of building links towards your guest posts. However, I think many publishers fail to take advantage of this or put much emphasis on this is due to time and resources that it can take up.

  14. Ann does a great job and that is why Jim picked her up and moved her to NYC. Building links is still very relevant to SEO and even with social more now today.

  15. Thanks so much for this! And a question for you please? I’m a brand new blogger and have 4 guest posts published or scheduled. Two are for sites that could be direct competitors to mine (thought I wanted exposure to the industry readership). On my own site, am I better to link to my guest posts on those 2 competing sites, or not? Thank you!

  16. I would like to mention that instead of using spreadsheets to follow your backlinks or even backlinks to second-tier domains, you can use tools like Linkody. With Linkody you can manage your database of backlinks in the cloud and have them monitored 24/7.

  17. Talking of second-tier links, as my own website has only just gone live, I’m currently in the process of getting my details listed in niche and general business directories.
    I’ve noticed that many of these ask that you give their site a +1, a mention in a Tweet or a link from your site.
    I always try to reciprocate in some form, as whatever helps their SEO also helps mine.

  18. Matt Giovanisci Nov 27, 2012 at 5:22 pm

    I don’t like this approach for everyone.

    I had a company write a guest post for my blog, which was awesome. Then, he hired an SEO company to write a bunch of crappy 300-word articles and submit them to crappy wordpress sites (article directories) and they all linked to his guest post on my blog. I know this because I got a ton of emails of pingbacks. It all happened extremely fast.

    I contacted him immediately and told him to stop linking to my site from crappy wordpress blogs because I don’t want to be penalized by Google for having a bunch of crappy links pointing to my blog. I want strong, powerful links.

    Does anyone agree with what I did here? Should I have let him continue to build links to my blog this way?

  19. Hi,

    Glad to hear it Ann! Thanks for sharing this informative information with us.keep on writing.


  20. Link Building through guest blogging is one of the best strategies that anyone can improve their website’s ranking and drive potential traffic to the targeted website. All we need is make sure to write exclusive piece and publish it on quality websites, just instead of publishing crappy articles for back links.


  21. Irina Johnson Feb 22, 2015 at 11:19 pm

    Hey! Thanks for the article. Can you go into more depth about brand building?

  22. very nice article to build links through guest blogging.

  23. Great article for tier link building.. will be using it on my service , what links or platform are good for tier 3?

  24. Lynne Huysamen May 18, 2017 at 2:22 pm

    Thanks for a great article Ann, this has been very insightful. I publish parenting guest posts on my mommy blog and I was wondering if it would be worth my while getting some of my own guest posts published on other mommy blog. I can see now that it would be super helpful.

    Just one concern that I have had and that is that maybe someone might build a whole stack of tier 2 links to my websites. I’m not sure how to prevent that! Do you have any suggestions>

  25. In our experience, not all blog owners are allowing guest blogging. Why is that? Are they worried about SPAM?


Please use your real name and a corresponding social media profile when commenting. Otherwise, your comment may be deleted.

← Previous ArticleNext Article →