Over time, the requirements to rank a site have shifted.  While links remain a primary way to get sites ranked, it’s no longer about brute-forcing your site to the top of the SERPs.  The words “trust” and “authority” are being discussed as necessary components of the modern SEO strategy.

There’s a definite commonality between sites on the first page.  Page one is usually populated by sites with high DR and huge “trust”.  This trend is not subsiding.

As the years go on we can expect to see that the most effective SEO’s are the ones who are able to successfully imitate the trustworthy sites that Google clearly favors.

So how does one increase trust?

It can easily be seen that Google trusts sites with high Domain Authority (DA) or Domain Rating (DR).  Simply search in Google for anything and you’re going to see the front page occupied by at least a few links to sites like Wikipedia, Amazon, Facebook, Lifehacker, etc.

Google considers these sites to have “trust”, so content issued from these sites typically ranks easily.  Hence, it makes sense that you should increase your DA/DR with trustworthy links.

(Note: I don’t subscribe to the idea that simply increasing metrics will increase rankings.  But I can indeed see in the data that high DA/DR sites are Google’s sweethearts and are usually my toughest competitors.)

Domain Authority Stacking (DAS)

In early 2014, the folks over at Network Empire (Theme Zoom) released a ranking technique called Domain Authority Stacking (DAS), developed by Jimmy Kelley.  Since then, it’s been talked about and debated upon everywhere people discuss SEO.  Some people call it the holy grail while others call it BS marketing hype.

I became interested in DAS because it’s been discussed as an effective means to increase DA and rankings at the same time.  However, I couldn’t find any reviews or testimonials from people who either weren’t affiliated with Network Empire or selling a DAS product.  Perfect for a trust improvement case study.

How To Implement DAS

The technique developed by Jimmy Kelley is complex, to say the least, but there are some general principles as I understand it.

example stack

Example DAS Stack

    1. Create “stacks” of linked high DA properties from Web 2.0s, YouTube, etc
    2. These should be linked randomly with no apparent pattern on how they eventually lead to the money site
    3. Typically you want lower DA properties closer to the money site
    4. You want these DA properties to be linking to all pages of your silos. Not just your homepage.
    5. You can juice up these properties and increase their PA by hitting the far tiers with automated link tools such as GSA

Trust Tiering

I’ve borrowed some ideas from DAS and added some of my own to come up with a way to both increase the “trust” of a money site, while concurrently adding a considerable amount of juice.

The testcase I’m targeting is a live, money-generating, high competition affiliate site.  Readers might recognize this testcase from the Trust Pulling testcase I released a couple months ago.

In order to prepare this testcase, this site hadn’t been linked to with anything except nofollow, no power backlinks for a few months.

Over the course of the next two months, I built the monster you see below.

manually created tiers

The manually created tiers are connected in a very random nature, using various platforms, with varying DA.  The anchor text on the manual tiers linking to the higher levels is mostly branded and URL anchors.

As you can see, the properties have varying degrees of PA and TF, but the numbers here are unreliable.  Moz and Majestic metrics take a long time to propagate up tiers, but I can assure you that link juice is indeed flowing.  For example, the Facebook page with PA=1 ranks on page 2.

automatically generated tiers

Each of these manually created web 2.0s is backed up by 1-10 multi-tiered web 2.0 properties created by FCS Networker and juiced up by GSA.

To set this whole thing up took a lot of damn work.  Thank goodness for VAs.  To create the manual properties is an effort in itself as I made them high quality, fully custom, with original content.  The automatic properties take a while to “bake” and become suitable for linking.  So after all this effort, I was certainly anxious to see a positive result.


trust tiering results

In about 1 month, rankings increased for pretty much every keyword that my site targets.  Another interesting side effect which is most clearly illustrated with “Target Keyword #1” is that this technique seemed to take the dance out of the rankings.  Apparently the trust helped to stabilize its placement in the SERPs.


Metric increases weren’t phenomenal, with the exception of Topical TF which increased 25%.  I would like to have seen higher increases and I suspect that the next months will continue to show an increase due to Moz’s slowness to propagate up tiers.


As you can see, on this testcase, this technique certainly had a positive effect on the rankings.  This site has doubled in revenue and has entered the 5-figures per month zone.  Not only that, but it seems as if Google now trusts this site, as we see that dancing (a common sign that Google feels iffy about a site) has settled down.

Now that trust has been built for my site, the next step for me will be to start firing high-quality links at the site and continue to push up page #1.  From here on out, it’s just a matter of building more real links.

What kind of sites would I recommend this for?

Only high competition sites (either local or affiliate) that make you a lot of money.  Setting this up takes some serious work.  If you have a trained VA system that can help, then it’s feasible.  But on your own, it’s going to be a challenge to repeat on a regular basis.

Can Trust Tiers replace high-quality link building?

No. This technique is great for establishing trust for your site and gaining a marginal push in the rankings.  But you’d get better ROI with some powerful links from authoritative sites anyways.  So save yourself the time.



Article by

Matt Diggity

Matt is the founder of Diggity Marketing, LeadSpring, The Search Initiative, The Affiliate Lab, and the Chiang Mai SEO Conference. He actually does SEO too.