Link Building Pyramid – Hierarchy of Link Building Needs

“Link Worthy Contents is the last thing you need to get links “

As a seo we all know how hard it is to get quality links for our sites. Link acquisition becomes even more difficult when we don’t follow any formalized process.

This blog post is an attempt to develop that formalized process and to make our jobs as link builders much easier. So without further delay, I present to you my ‘Link Building Pyramid':


Here I have represented ‘Hierarchy of ‘Link Building Needs’ in the form of  a pyramid with the most basic needs at the bottom.

I got inspiration of this pyramid approach from ‘Maslow’s hierarchy of needs’.  However unlike Maslow’s theory it has nothing to do with psychology. So you can chill :)



Resources are required to:

  • Gain domain knowledge
  • Develop/hire subject matter expertise
  • Develop networks, authority and link worthy contents.

That’s why I have chosen ‘Resources’ as the most basic need.

These resources can be:

  1. Top industry sites (from where you can acquire domain knowledge/expertise)
  2. Hardware, software, people, time, money, inclination, capacity etc required to run a link building campaign.

Say you have client who runs a web development company and his target audience is ‘Chiropractors’. His advertising goal is to get sign ups for his services from as many chiropractors as possible.


Now if you are not already familiar with ‘Chiropractic’ then you need to acquire domain knowledge so that later you can find and hire ‘Subject Matter Experts’.  You can start your domain knowledge hunt through sites like Wikipedia. According to Wikipedia:

Chiropractic is a health care discipline and profession that emphasizes diagnosis, treatment and prevention of mechanical disorders of the musculoskeletal system, especially the spine, under the hypothesis that these disorders affect general health via the nervous system.

 Now you have got the rough idea of what chiropractic is.

Generally every Wikipedia article has the ‘References’ and ‘External links’ sections at the bottom which can help in finding industry resources.

As you follow these resources link by link, you can expect to find even more resources and industry experts (aka subject matter experts, SMEs).

Generally large sum of money is required to afford these SMEs.

Time and inclination are required to socialize with potential linking partners.

Hardware, software and content development capabilities are required to develop link worthy contents.

In short, you need resources to run a successful link building campaign. You can’t expect to rule your industry with a shoe string budget.


Subject Matter Expertise (SME)

If your client is not a SME, then you have to hire one.

Since you are a SEO and not a SME, so acquiring basic knowledge of the domain (like chiropractic) is not good enough to network with chiropractors and establish your authority in the chiropractic industry (which will later help you in making your contents go viral and acquiring links).

You need to hire a person(s) who practice/study chiropractic and who can guide you with your contents, help in networking and establishing your authority in the chiropractic industry.

A chiropractor may charge anywhere from $50 to several hundred dollars per hour depending upon his level of expertise and industry recognition. So subject matter experts are expensive and that’s why ‘Link Building Services’ are even more expensive.

Without subject matter expertise you can’t socialize with professionals in your niche and thus can’t establish your authority or make your link worthy contents go viral.

In short, without SME your link building campaign can’t get off the ground.



It is the platform where you can demonstrate your subject matter expertise.

It can be industry events (conferences, seminars, workshops, trade shows, training sessions), industry forums, industry blogs, meet-up groups, social networks and other online/offline communities.

Network is required to establish authority and to build good relationship with your target audience and potential linking partners. 

Without network, you can’t make your contents go viral and thus probability of getting quality links diminishes significantly.

You can develop your network on your own site in the form of blogs, forums or groups and you can also take advantage of one of the largest networks on the net like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, MySpace and Orkut.

All these networks have ‘status update’ like feature which can be used intelligently to make your contents go viral among your target audience.

You can update your status to something like “found interesting article on para sailing:“. Such updates generally appear on the home page of your connections.

So if your timing is right, you can catch attention of lot of your target audience immediately.

However you need lot of connections/followers/fans, for this strategy to work in the first place. Consequently it makes sense to join and participate in at least all major industry events, forums, groups and communities.



You need authority so that your connections show interest in what you say and take your tweets seriously.

One of the best way to become authority in your industry is through contributions.

Become one of the top-notch contributor of your network.

Here theory of karma comes into picture: “What goes around, comes around“. More people you help, more they will like you and tweet/re-tweet whatever you say. Consequently faster your contents will go viral which will eventually help you in getting links to your site.


Link Worthy Contents

Although this is pretty obvious, you need link worthy contents to get back links.

People won’t promote a crap, no matter how authoritative you are or how big your network is. Conversely, your link worthy contents won’t get you many links if you don’t have network and authority . Finally link building is all about people.

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  • Jitendar

    awesome post Himanshu. Well done

    • seo himanshu

      Thanks jitender. How your job is going on?

  • Amit

    Turn this pyramid upside down and then you will see that ‘link worthy contents’ help in building authority. The Authority helps in building a network and establishing SME.

    • seo himanshu

      Link worthy contents can help in building authority but that authority won’t be recognized unless you have a network of decent size.

  • Tim

    Totally agree with you. Thanks for sharing.

  • PhilipSEO

    Finally, a post about links that doesn’t mention PR! Authority/trust is much more important. Yet PR does offer some loose indication as to the trust’s authority (the PR-10 sites are also the most trusted, and Google has indicated that link-crawling starts with those sites).

  • Mike Gracen

    Another great post Himanshu. Nice work!

  • seogoat

    I enjoyed reading your hypothesis and you’re a talented writer. This is all key to link acquisition. It’s definitely a new and more advanced angle to think about things. However I think it’s possible to build links without being recognised in a social network, but it does help. Why not focus on pushing your stories and ideas in to the mainstream media. If you get noticed by them, you don’t need a social network. Unfortunately, it’s not easy, but if you’re successful it’s extremely hard to replicate that type of link. And that’s probably one of the highest authority links you can possibly get.

    I enjoyed the video too.


    • seo himanshu

      Thanks buddy.

  • Bagesh Singh

    Hi himanshu I read your blog it realy nice. keep writing best of luck for your future :)

  • Nemesis

    Not bad article, but I really miss that you didn’t express your opinion, but ok you just have different approach

    • seo himanshu

      It is my opinion and my model.

  • webwolf

    I am reading this article second time today, you have to be more careful with content leakers. If I will fount it again I will send you a link

  • Rob

    Love the video! Powerful stats that relay the power of social media (and with an awesome soundtrack)!

  • http://Website seoboy

    like this hypothesis.

  • jerry6605

    Great video. I saw the two earlier versions in my MBA’s marketing class. It amazing how fast the content of the “Did You Know” videos themselves change.

  • Vinayak

    Hi! himanshu,I am new to blogging and seo part.
    I liked your article on link building pyramid.I have to work on this part as its important in SEO process.

  • http://Website seodesign

    This info will be good for conversion rate optimization. I have been using analytics for long time but never bothered to use event tracking until now.

  • Celinamac

    Thanks for your useful and intelligent guide. I also appreciate your writing style—comprehensive but clear!

    It’s tough to filter through the information in the internet. It’s just Saturday today and did not fee like writing so went to alltop.

    I usually stop after reading 5-8 blog posts…but I just went on and was glad to reach your blog and click it. I will be coming back for more!

    Great work and thanks for taking the time to teach these skills.

  • Mike Huber

    Nice post and I liked your 1,000 queries post as well. Mike

  • John Abrena

    Wow, I just read it now, and yeah it seems that everything is falling into their place. Great post Himanshu, gonna share this :)

  • Gregory Smith

    tons of awesome posts himanshu, killer seo blog!!

    • seohimanshu

      Thanks :)

  • piciulupte

    very good information