Jake and Ryan NSP3 – A Quality-Focused Backlink Strategy

By Jake Cain |

After some time away, we’re back with call #6 with Ryan Spadafora!

Admittedly, Ryan is coming along slower than the other 2 participants in Niche Site Project 3. In this call, things get heated when I call Ryan out for being a slacker.

I’m kidding.

As many of you know, Ryan is often working 2 jobs in addition to playing a full-time role of husband and dad. When you throw in the other day to day things that life brings, it’s tough to carve out time for content creation.

Honestly, I’m guessing many of you can relate to Ryan’s time-crunched reality – which is why he received so many votes from our readers to be selected as a student.

Building a profitable website around a full life is not easy!

The good news for Ryan is, even though he’s only published a handful of articles on his site – they are very good. Ryan is a little frustrated that his progress has been slow, but I encourage him to not forsake the quality of his writing because he’s getting impatient and just wants to publish as much as possible.

Ryan’s site will have a lot of evergreen content that will be relevant for years to come, so investing the extra time to make it excellent is a wise choice.

Today’s Call

Today I talk to Ryan about building backlinks for his site. In my own sites, I’ve had some pretty good luck with getting high quality backlinks – which to me is way more important than the quantity of links to my site.

As I mentioned, many of the ideas I share were things I originally learned from this post on Backlinko a few years ago. In the call, I share which ones work best for me, and how I put them into action.

Quick Overview

High quality links have SEO value, but links are ultimately about traffic. So even if you get a “no follow” link from a high traffic, relevant blog that doesn’t necessarily pass on “link juice” it is still a good link – because it drives traffic to you.

So I’m really only concerned about quality and relevance. If I can pick up a link from a really relevant blog that doesn’t have much domain authority (yet), I’ll happily take that link.

Typically, I start out by getting a handful of high quality, manually reviewed directories that I’ll submit my site to like Alltop. I also suggest taking a look for industry-specific directories as well, like the one I found for baseball in our call.

After that, I’ve really got 3 particular areas that I spend my time on:

Heads Up Emails

These are very simple. After you publish a post, send a quick email to everyone you quoted, linked to, or featured in some way and give them a “heads up.” I’ll usually keep it short and specific, so it feels personal (because it is.)

So I might say something like:

Hi Jeff,

Happy Monday to you! 

I’m writing to give you quick heads up that I just published a new article about proper stretching and I included one of your ideas about how to stretch your hamstring. I think your reverse toehold stretch technique is excellent! 

Anyway, just wanted to say “thanks” for sharing those tips. Here’s a link to the post if you want to check it out: 


Have a great day,


Heads up emails sometimes result in a backlink, many times get a social share, and almost always make a positive connection with another person in your industry – which is key for long term growth and becoming an “authority” in your niche.

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Broken Link Building

You’ve probably heard of broken link building by now, and it’s one that I like to use on my own sites.

As I show in the call, I use a Chrome extension called “Check My Links” and then do some different search queries to find pages of links, resources, blog rolls, favorite sites, etc. in my niche.

I’ll check that list for broken links, and if I find one I’ll send a nice email to the site owner and let them know.

This tends to work well because people are appreciative that you pointed out a problem on their site, so they are often more receptive to your link request than they would be if you just randomly emailed them and asked for a backlink.

Many times, you are emailing people who have established domains and sites with some authority – so you can really pick up high quality links using this method.

That email might look like this:

Hey Person, 

I hope all is well! I was checking out your list of favorite recipes today and wanted to give you a heads up that the link for a Banana Smoothie recipe isn’t working. 

Also, I’ve recently added my own recipe for a banana creme pie (really my grandma’s recipe) and I’d be honored if you’d consider adding it your list!


Either way, keep up the great work and have a nice weekend! 


You can write whatever kind of email you want, I just try to keep it short and really polite as a general rule.

Help a Reporter Out

This is another free strategy, and is probably the one I’ve personally had the most success with. I’ve been able to get links from really powerful news outlets for different sites, simply by responding to a journalist’s request for information.

Start by going to the HARO website and sign up to be on their email list (for free).

You’ll get 3 emails per business day, and I’d suggest scanning those emails for any queries that are relevant to your site or your industry. If you have some insight to add, respond back to the reporter and put together your best response.

As I shared with Ryan, I try to really nail it on my first response to them. If appropriate, I’ll share links to statistics and sources to support my answer. My thought is that if I’m the most helpful response they get, I’ve got a good chance of being included in the story.

HARO is an excellent way to get links that your competitors won’t be able to touch.

Frequency of Link Building

Near the end of the call, I shared some tips on how much time Ryan should spend on link building. At this point, Ryan should be focused almost completely on content building. However, I suggested that he sign up for HARO, send his “heads up” emails for the things he’s published, and do the one-time submissions like high quality directories as soon as possible.

I know backlinks matter and can really help, but I’ve also built successful sites where I did hardly any of this! My main focus is the keyword research and strategy, as well as creating excellent content that deserves to rank for those keywords.

So if you still have a new site with very little content like Ryan, I’d suggest spending the vast majority of your time building out the site instead of doing outreach – especially if you’re working 2 jobs and have a family 🙂 

Watch the Coaching Call

You can watch the coaching call below.  Or if you prefer to listen to the audio, you can download it here.

Stories & Projects | 29 comments

By Jake Cain

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Amazing concept about getting links from lower DA site that have quality content knowing they will grow over time. I had never considered that, and it’s amazing. Thank you.


Jake Cain

Thanks, Leo! Yes, if it’s a site with high quality content and low DA, I assume the only place to go is up – so I’ll look for a broken link, or even just a list of links I think I’d be a good fit for and send them an email.


Good info on link building. I haven’t had much success with HARO though. Seems like everyone on there just wants you to do their work and no guarantee they will even give you credit or use what you sent them.

Jake Cain

Hey Michael,

I’d say it depends on your topic whether or not HARO will work well for you. Some topics have tons of opportunities, from very legit media outlets.

Ian Hoyt

Paused the video, and went and did the directory idea immediately. Thanks for the idea.

Jake Cain

Cool – it won’t make or break your site, but there are definitely some directories that are worth the time it takes to submit.

Joseph Ho

Good info on link building, this is definitely very white hat and focusing on long term. Thank you very much for the information.

Jake Cain

Thanks, Joseph. Glad you liked it.

David Robinson

Excellent call to the both of you!

David Robinson

And welcome back 🙂

Jake Cain

Hi David – thank you! It feels good to be back.


I don’t know how Ryan does it with all those things going on. I have a full time job and am finding it hard as well so I’m with you bro! Keep up the good work!

Jake Cain

Yes – it’s tough. Although I work for Spencer full-time I still have sites and projects of my own that I need to find time for around a family and it is a tough balance. Many late nights! I’m confident Ryan will get there if he stays motivated and doesn’t quit.

Sergio Work

Thought I was getting less value from this project than from the others, until I heared those great and creative ideas to get natural backlinks! that’ll help a lot in the long run. I’m just gonna be unbeatable in my niche if I do what I have to do


Very smart and clear guide and Ideas. Thanks Jake Chain


very helpful guides , its give me many problem solve for my website ……… Thanking you

Med Yasser

Hi, Great Work , give me new idea 😀 thanks


Hi Jake,

When you are doing broken link building, do you send the emails using the site your trying to promote (ex. [email protected]) or do you use generic gmail etc.?


Jake Cain

Hey Mike,

Good question! I’ve done both, actually. I can’t say that I’ve noticed a big difference one way or the other.


Do you also do any guest posting? Also when you sign up for HARO, what do you put on the form if you have no company. I can not be left blank. I get hung up and the little things. 🙂



Hello Jake,

As far as broken backlink building goes… should I worry about the spam score? Thanks.


Jake Cain

Hi Bill, which Spam score are you referring to? I usually don’t cross check much outside of looking at the Domain authority (moz bar) and then just looking around to get a feel for whether or not it is a legit site and doesn’t look spammy at all.


99% of the sites are no follow. These days it is pretty hard to find an established site with a do follow link so it has become very difficult for newbies to get any quality do follow link.

Akshat Goel

Hey Jake,

Nice post. It really needs patience to rank for the keyword you want. Similar to Ryan I do the niche site business part time along with my full time job and two children. Life has been hard towards the entrepreneurial journey. Society pinches you so hard, specially here in India where culture asks you to spend time with relatives.


Hi jake,

The backlink part is really time-consuming and most important part of the niche as well as authority websites, we all know this. But when it comes to building quality links, we all find it truly difficult. Knew to all these and learnt allot from your guide. Thanks for sharing such useful guide.

Best Regards,

Jessica Ray

Appreciable”” “ake and Ryan NSP3” Great information on third party referencing. I haven’t had much accomplishment with HARO however. Appears like everybody on there simply needs you to do their work and no assurance they will even give you credit or utilize what you sent them.


It would be much much better if you guys choose Adsense rather than Amazon as it is the first option for any new internet marketeer …


Actually I was missed this on the published date but my bookmarks list was given me hint to read the fresh content on the blog.And yes “No-follow” links gives the traffic…I too grabbed couple of visitors from your blog by commenting.


Are you using any content builder plugin{for e.g. thrive or visiual composer} for building pleaset site or using plain theme and BTW which theme are you using ryan?

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