Backlinks are essential for SEO as they help search engines determine the authority and relevance of a website. Backlinks are categorized into different tiers based on their quality and value. Tier 3 backlinks are low-quality backlinks from websites with little to no authority or relevance to the site they are linking to.

What is tier 3 backlink?

Understanding backlink tiers

Backlinks can be categorized into 3 main tiers:

  • Tier 1 backlinks – High-quality backlinks from authoritative and relevant sites. These include backlinks from established media sites, educational institutions, and industry-specific websites.
  • Tier 2 backlinks – Moderately authoritative backlinks from niche blogs, web directories, and forums. The linking site should have some reputation in its field.
  • Tier 3 backlinks – Low-quality backlinks from low-authority sites, spammy directories, and irrelevant websites. These links have little SEO value.

Tier 3 backlinks come from a variety of low-quality sites:

  • Article directories – Sites that allow anyone to submit articles and gain backlinks. Most directories add little value.
  • Forum profiles – Backlinks from low-reputation forums don’t pass much equity.
  • Spammy directories – Directories with weak editorial policies that accept submissions from anyone.
  • Irrelevant websites – The website has no logical connection to the site being linked to.
  • Paid links – Backlinks bought from link farms have low authority and violate Google guidelines.

While low-quality in isolation, tier 3 links can play a supporting role in a good link building strategy when used judiciously along with higher tier backlinks. However, relying solely on tier 3 links is detrimental for SEO.

Why you should generally avoid tier 3 backlinks

Tier 3 backlinks have little SEO value on their own and can potentially harm your website if used excessively. Here are some of the risks of low-quality backlinks:

  • Low authority – Tier 3 sites have little relevance or reputation. Links from them pass minimal equity and do little to boost rankings.
  • Keyword stuffing – Irrelevant sites often contain excessive keywords to manipulate search engines. Getting backlinks from such sites can raise red flags.
  • Thin or duplicate content – Many low-quality sites republish duplicate or auto-generated content lacking uniqueness. This can dilute a website’s authority.
  • Spam risks – Heavily participating in tier 3 link building can get your website flagged as spam. Penalties can include lower rankings, removal from search results, or manual actions.
  • Limited anchor text – Tier 3 sites mostly use generic anchor text like ‘click here’ rather than keywords relevant to your content.

While some tier 3 links can be used safely as part of a diverse link profile, a website should aim to obtain most of its backlinks from tier 1 and 2 sources.

Safe ways to utilize tier 3 backlinks

If you do wish to use tier 3 links, here are some precautions you can take:

  • Limit tier 3 links – Keep tier 3 links below 10-20% of your total backlinks. The focus should be on building high-quality links.
  • Vary anchor text – Avoid over-optimizing with keywords. Use a mix of branded, generic, and partial keyword anchor text.
  • Diversify sources – Obtain links from a wide variety of sites and avoid patterns like getting multiple links from the same network.
  • Assess risks – Evaluate the risks of a link source before obtaining backlinks. Avoid obvious low-quality directories and link networks.
  • Monitor links – Use Google Search Console and analytics to identify and disavow toxic backlinks.
  • Focus on user value – Ensure linked content provides value to users instead of mainly targeting keywords.

With the right precautions, a small percentage of tier 3 links can be incorporated into a white hat SEO strategy. However, be wary of anyone promising rankings solely through massive volumes of low-quality links.

Signs of a tier 3 link farm or network

Some link building tactics like private blog networks violate Google’s quality guidelines. Here are some signs a link source is a tier 3 link farm or network to be avoided:

  • Irrelevant niche – The linking site’s topic has no logical relation to the website being linked to.
  • Keyword stuffing – Articles contain awkwardly high density of target keywords.
  • Thin content – Articles are short with little unique information.
  • Duplicate content – Much of the content is copied from other sources.
  • Affiliate links – The site contains product recommendations with affiliate links without clear disclosure.
  • Recently registered – The domain was registered very recently.
  • High outbound links – Articles have an unnaturally large number of outbound links including affiliate and advertisement links.

If you detect multiple such signals, the website is likely a low-quality link network created solely for manipulation rather than offering any real user value. Avoid accepting backlinks from such sources.

Best practices for tier 3 link building

If you do wish to utilize some tier 3 links for supporting your SEO, here are some best practices:

  • Thoroughly assess risks and reputation before obtaining links from any new website.
  • Disavow toxic links through Google Search Console if detected.
  • Limit forum participation to high-quality forums with an engaged community. Avoid over-optimization.
  • Write unique articles based on user intent for any article directories. Avoid duplicate or thin content.
  • Only use high-DR sites like Medium for guest posts. Focus on informative topics related to your website’s niche.
  • Make genuine contributions like commenting on blogs before requesting backlinks. Don’t spam links unnaturally.
  • Use a diverse anchor text profile including keywords, brand terms, URLs, and generic phrases like ‘click here’.
  • Avoid buying links or participating in networks exclusively created to trade links. Focus on editorially given links.

With the right safeguards, a small number of tier 3 links integrated with higher-quality links can contribute positively to an SEO strategy without posing significant risk. However, excessive low-quality links should be avoided.


Tier 3 backlinks from low-authority websites provide little SEO value on their own and can even potentially harm your rankings if used excessively. If incorporating such links, thoroughly vet sources, use a diverse and natural anchor text profile, and limit tier 3 links to less than 20% of your total backlink profile. Higher-tier links from reputable sources with relevant content should be the main focus of link building. Moderately, incorporating some tier 3 links can contribute positively but only with the necessary precautions. Avoid tactics like private blog networks that violate Google’s quality guidelines. Building a natural, high-value link profile driven by user intent is key for sustainable SEO success.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What percentage of tier 3 backlinks is safe to have?
A: Less than 20% of your total backlinks is a reasonable tier 3 percentage. The majority should be tier 1 and 2 high-quality links.

Q: Can tier 3 links ever be useful?
A: In moderation and with proper risk assessment, even tier 3 links can provide some SEO value by diversifying your backlink profile. But higher quality links should be the priority.

Q: Are forum profile links considered tier 3 backlinks?
A: Forum profiles on reputable forums count as tier 2 links. But profiles on low-authority forums with irrelevant niches would be tier 3 with little SEO value.

Q: Should I disavow all tier 3 backlinks?
A: Disavow only confirmed toxic or spammy links. Some tier 3 links from diverse sources are fine in moderation. Avoid a blanket disavowal.

Q: Is guest posting on tier 3 sites worthwhile?
A: Guest posts on high authority sites like Medium can add value. But posting on obvious link farms or directories should be avoided as it poses spam risks.

Q: Can article spinning generate good tier 3 links?
A: Article spinning produces duplicate content and tier 3 links. Create unique content manually for the best results. Automated approaches often lead to penalties.

Q: How often should I monitor my backlinks?
A: Monitor backlinks at least once a month using Search Console or a backlink analysis tool. Disavow any toxic links found. More frequent monitoring is better.

Q: What makes a backlink toxic or spammy?
A: Irrelevant niche, artificially high keywords density, thin content, duplicate content, affiliation spam, etc. Multiple low-quality signals indicate lack of editorial relevance.

Q: Can I build tier 3 links to a new website?
A: Focus first on building genuine tier 1 and 2 links based on merit. A few good links beats a high volume of poor-quality links for new sites.

Q: Is it bad to have only tier 3 backlinks?
A: Yes, a website with only tier 3 links likely violates Google’s quality standards. Prioritize building authoritative links, and limit low-quality links.

Q: Which tier 3 link building tactic is least risky?
A: Commenting on relevant blogs in your niche can build links safely if the interactions are genuine. Avoid obvious link schemes.

Q: Can I buy tier 3 backlinks from Fiverr?
A: Purchasing backlinks is not recommended, even if it is tier 3 sellers promising high volumes. Focus on building links editorially and organically.

Q: How do I evaluate the SEO tier of a link?
A: Check metrics like domain authority, page authority, trust flow, citation flow, etc. Assess site reputation, content quality, and topic relevance as well.

Q: What makes a backlink high quality or tier 1?
A: Authority, trust, relevant content, organic editorial links, etc. Links earned due to merit from reputable sites are high quality.

Q: Should I use nofollow on tier 3 links?
A: Using nofollow can be prudent for riskier links. However, nofollow prevents passing of SEO value. Use selectively based on an assessment of risks vs potential benefits.

Q: Can I build tier 3 links to my money site?
A: Avoid linking risky tier 3 sites directly to your money site. Use them sparingly for supporting niche sites or pages instead to limit potential downsides.

Q: What kind of sites are considered tier 2 for backlinks?
A: Examples of tier 2 sites are industry blogs, niche directories with editorial standards, local news sites, etc. They have some domain authority but are not huge Publications.

Q: How many tier 3 backlinks can trigger a penalty?
A: There is no definite number that automatically causes penalties. But having over 20% of total backlinks from tier 3 sites or participating heavily in shady networks can raise red flags.

Q: Can expired domains be used for tier 3 link building?
A: Only if the expired domain had quality content and reputation earlier on. But assess risks, as Google may still associate spam history with the domain.

Q: Should I build tier 3 links to inner pages or just homepages?
A: Linking to relevant inner pages is better for SEO. But make sure the page offers value to users and fits the source site’s context.

Q: What is the page authority of typical tier 3 websites?
A: Page authority below 15-20 is generally considered tier 3 caliber. But authority metrics alone don’t determine quality, so assess multiple factors.

Q: Is comment spamming on blogs considered a tier 3 tactic?
A: Yes, comment spamming is a common but risky tier 3 tactic. Make comments genuinely useful by engagement. Avoid overt promotional links.

Q: Can social bookmarks create tier 3 backlinks?
A: Yes, low-authority bookmarking sites are a source of tier 3 links. Their direct impact is minor, but can help diversify profiles.

Q: Should I include tier 3 links in my link reports?
A: Include them but categorize links by quality tiers. Prioritize building more tier 1 and 2 links over low-quality ones.

Q: How often should tier 3 links be disavowed?
A: Check quarterly for toxic links and disavow them. Avoid mass disavows unless you participated in large-scale tier 3 building.

Q: Can I build tier 3 links right after getting hit by a penalty?
A: No, focus on disavowing toxic links first. Then build high-quality content and links organically to recover your rankings sustainably.

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April 2024


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