Podcast 5: Building a Real Business with Fraser Cain

By Spencer Haws |

I am very excited to present the podcast interview I did with Fraser Cain recently.  Fraser is an internet entrepreneur that I respect quite a bit for his approach to business and the success that he has had.

Fraser is the owner of, which he started back in 1999.  As revealed in the podcast, the site now receives up to 4 million visitors a month!  He goes into detail how he built the site from scratch, where the idea came from, and how successful it is today.

I also asked a lot of questions about search engine optimization for that site.  If any of you are familiar with Fraser, you will know that he does absolutely NO back linking to his site…yet he receives most of his traffic from the search engines!  How is this possible?  Well, you will have to listen to the podcast to find out.

Fraser's methods of dealing with the search engines, is something that anyone who is trying to build a business that gets traffic from Google should be paying attention to. In particular, we discussed some of the events related to the Penguin updates. How should you be building sites after the Penguin updates? We cover this in detail.

In addition, we discussed the advantages of owning a product based business (where you sell your own products) vs. an information based business.

Here are some the items of sites that we mentioned:

Warning! This podcast is very motivational and will make you want to go out and create something great!  I think the strategies that Fraser shares for building a real business are quite valuable and will be applicable for many years to come.

As always, I would love to hear your thoughts on the podcast below.

You can subscribe or leave feedback on iTunes right here.


Podcasts | 48 comments

By Spencer Haws

Spencer Haws is the founder of After getting a degree in Business Finance from BYU (2002) and an MBA from ASU (2007) he worked for 8 years in Business Banking and Finance at both Merril Lynch and Wells Fargo Bank.

While consulting with other small business owners as a business banker, Spencer finally had the desire to start his own business. He successfully built a portfolio of niche sites using SEO and online marketing that allowed him to quit his job in 2011. Since then he's been involved in dozens of online business ventures including: creating and exiting Long Tail Pro, running an Amazon FBA business for over 3 years and selling that business, founding, and co-founding You can learn more about Spencer here.

Want to learn step-by-step how I built my Niche Site Empire up to a full-time income?

Yes! I Love to Learn

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Sheyi @

I just downloaded the podcast and i am going to listen to it late at night. It so inspiring to see someone getting as much as 4mil visitors from google alone


Ryan Naylor

Though I haven’t listened to the podcast yet…that’s 4 million after 12 years.

Spencer Haws

Its been getting high traffic for many years though. I’d be happy with that 🙂


haha…i was just in the middle of listening to one of fraser cain’s podcasts when i got the email for this post. anyway, excited to hear more of his insights, so thanks for the interview!!

Spencer Haws

2 Fraser podcast in one day…sounds like a good day!


Awesome podcast Spencer. Fraser is a great guy and has a great story and a lot to share with us!

Spencer Haws

Thanks Shuck!

Fraser Cain

Thanks for the interview Spencer. It’s cool to have an outlet for our conversations. 🙂

Spencer Haws

Thanks for the great insights…always appreciated Fraser!

Vin @ Rank For Profit

4 million visitors a month is seriously impressive. I’d venture to say that the recurring mailing list is a big reason for the success of this site. I’m definitely more motivated to pump my mailing list even more after hearing this. Great stuff.


This is a great podcast and I enjoy your posts at warriorforum too. I do wonder something . In terms of recent penguin update- I had around 100 articles on a site and had a lot of natural links but did do a little bit via article directories (not sure if that could be an issue due to same anchor text).

My site wasn’t hit as hard as some but I am on page 2 for many words now rather than page 1. Do either of you think that more natural articles can make a difference? Since there are 100 articles on site it is a substantial site and it’s been around 4 years. I don’t want to start a new domain as i think that would be obvious. I know that the askthebuilder guy was hit and others with very good sites were effected. I’d love to get some advice on this. Thanks.

Fraser Cain

We don’t know what impact the manual linkbuilding had on your rankings, so we don’t know how much work it’s going to take to undo that damage.

We do know that Google considers all linkbuilding to be a violation of their Webmaster Guidelines, so as soon as you do any of it, you’re into danger territory. It all depends on whether or not they can (or choose) to catch and punish you.

If you’ve only done a few article directory links, I’d try to “unlinkbuild”. Reach out to the site owners and ask them to remove or no-follow all the off-niche or exact-match anchor text links.

In theory, as you remove the links, you’ll reach some kind of tipping point where the algorithmic penalty is removed, and your site floats back up to its natural rankings.

It’s also possible that creating lots more amazing content will help as well. Then just let the good outweigh the bad over time.

Steve Wyman

Hi Fraser

Wow what a site you have there at 6 years in and your stats (links, PR, ranking etc.) are very impressive.

More impressive is your content and info! I’ve sent you site on to a number of people I know that are interested in the field and did not know our site either! Were all gobsmacked by it.

Kudos and more kudos.

I wanted to add one thought to your commentary above. The only issue which many face is that even with removing the back links most “your site floats back up to its natural rankings” will mean that folks drift lower in the serps and no upwards.
I.e., their natural ranking will not improve by removing “bad links” as they only achieve rankings through “bad links”. In order to regain old ranking people will either have to engineer “good links” or take time and effort to create the type of content that generates a following such as your site has.
So I have a question. “How long did it take for your site to start to rank well given that you did not create “bad links”? Too often I as well as other have “internet” timescales in our planning where we expect results in days or weeks and in reality we should be building a real business over months and years i.e. as we do in the real world.
Apologise if you’ve answered this elsewhere as I never go to the warrior forum as too often, in the past, I’ve read poor ideas by people that just talk and don’t do. You appear to break that mould.
Steve Wyman

Fraser Cain

I always tell people, “never fear, wait a year.” If you start adding content to your website that matches what people are looking for, you’ll build up longtail traffic. If you stick at it, you’ll see a big impact after about a year of work.

You can then convert those visitors into email subscribers, etc.

Regarding the linkbuilding, people have received an algorithmic penalty because of the bad links they’ve built to their sites. This is actually holding down their natural rankings. In other words, they might have ranked purely on the content alone. Once you get enough bad links out of the way, that algorithmic penalty could lift.

In the past, links were seen as a boost. Now they’re holding your site down like an anchor.

Steve Wyman

I agree that in SOME cases the algo is holding down their natural ranking.

However the problem i tried to identify is that with the “bad” links removed the natural ranking of a recovered URL is such that little or no traffic now exists to those pages in many cases.

Its a complex subject as you know only to well. With a large aged authority sites these issues are of no matter (especially with pure white hat links). but for new sites its a battle.

I do very much take and like your 1 year idea. Its solid.

In the modern world we do all suffer from the need for instant results. And i from what my Niche should be..

Fraser Cain

You create a 13-year old site one year at a time. But you should always be on a firm footing as you move forward. All of the people hit by Penguin wanted to shortcut the process and create artificial backlinks to their sites. But if they had invested that time in creating a community and solving problems for people, they wouldn’t now be in the process of backlinking.

As soon as you embark on a path that directly contradicts with what Google wants you do to, your site is in the danger zone.


Hey Steve – its more like his website has been around for 13 years as he said it was started in 1999. But still the amount of traffic is amazing for no link building. However that is how it should be. Should get rewarded for great useful content. Then penalized otherwise like what Google is doing now to a lot of sites.


Fraser, thanks for your reply. I think you are saying that the article directories backlinks can be problematical as they are both same anchor text as well as also not closely related niches (despite the category being correct). I didn’t do a big blast with amr but just did about 20 of the top directories.

It seems that people used to say that they couldn’t punish someone for the types of backlinks as anyone could just go to fiverr and blast a competitor’s site with poor quality links. But it looks like that really can happen now.

Fraser Cain

Yes, we’re absolutely in the age of negative SEO. I sincerely hope Google figures out a way to prevent this kind of nasty behavior, but I suspect it’s going to get ugly for a while.


This is a great podcast! It’s very cool to hear from someone who lives or grew up in the same neighborhood as I did. Vancouver BC.

I do agree with all you’ve said about linkbuilding Fraser. I’ve been following Spencer and a lot of people for a long time now and a lot of them talked about linkbuilding strategies. Some really complicated and some very basic and it seemed like it was a bad idea from the beginning as it was “fake” links to your site. So one of the best sites I created I built with just good quality content and zero backlinking and it hasn’t been hit at all with any of these Google updates either. It just continues to generate great income.

I plan to do the same with another 2 websites hopefully. However managing a couple sites at a time can be hard. However not as hard as Spencers 200+ websites. That would be crazy. Good think I didn’t build so many myself. I am thinking a couple authority sites at most and just build them up for the next 5 years with content people want.

Also I’ll have to take your advice Fraser and start a product site as well. Seems like those are very profitable and you don’t have to rely on Google traffic which is great. That’ll be my next business venture after establishing my next two authority sites to hopefully 100 articles each minimum. Wish me luck. I am about 1/8th of the way there in about one month in. Haha. Lots of work left.

Thanks again Spencer / Fraser for the great podcast.

PS – Spencer I like the podcast intro. Great work there!

Spencer Haws

Thanks James, glad you enjoyed the pocast! Fraser makes some GREAT points – best of luck with your product/authority sites.

Steve Wyman

Hi Spencer

A truely usefull podcast. Thanks.

It so good the way you let the guest talk so much and share great info.

As a niche site publisher Ive not followed these strategies. They cannot be ingored though. The constant battering of microniche sites is painful 🙂

I found the talk insighfull and certainly does motivate one to work for the long term.

I struggle with writing and its my biggest draw back in starting sites.

thanks to you both.

Spencer Haws

Thanks Steve – glad you enjoyed the podcast.


Wow this is inspiring.
I have struggled with link building for a long time. I have followed Spencer and loved what he says but when it came to link building, paying 67 dollars and more a month. I just could not afford it and maybe I should have done it the free way, I just could not bring myself to doing it. And so I just went round and round in circles.

I love writing, I am creative, I can make content real quick and I am a busy stay at home mum with three kids, all I need is focus on one or two things and just do that over and over again and become an expert on it. I am encouraged and even freed from my fears. I can do it.

Fraser Cain

People have been linkbuilding because that’s the only option they thought they had – even though Google has been saying “don’t linkbuild”, for years now. If you go to major internet marketing forums, it’s all linkbuild, linkbuild, linkbuild.

But you can be perfectly successful without linkbuilding at all, just focus on your content and on-page factors.


Hi Spencer:

This is the best IM related podcast I have ever listen to..
Great insights and advice!
Fraser’s advice on Product Vs Info site also spot on!
Thanks for bringing Fraser to NP!

Spencer Haws

Thanks Gautam!

artikel ubuntu

so bad, my english is not good, especially when it come to listening.
can you make the text version,please?


i know freser on warrior forum and he just made a comment on nest thread that talk about building authority site with no backlink at all.

Kent F

Spencer – did you know there is a Spencer Hawes (I believe that is the spelling, but the E may be missing like your’s) that plays in the NBA? Kind of weird – that’s it from me today.

Spencer Haws

Yes, he keeps trying to steal my thunder!


thanks! ill be listening to this podcast later tonight, but at the rate your putting out podcasts, i feel like you are going to run out soon, and that will be upsetting. just my thoughts though

Spencer Haws

Glad you enjoy the podcasts! I have at least 3 more ready to go 🙂


Am I right in that the thinking is don’t bother with many back links and just concentrate on great, original content? This would make life SO much easier as it is nearly impossible to get genuine backlinks from high PR sites. Very few people want a blog or free content on their site if it means an outgoing link is part of the package.

Another question – is the money really in the list or has that method now run its course?

Could someone PLEASE answer these two questions as I am now totally confused, probably with most of everyone else trying to earn a living online.

Has Ask the Builder really been hit? That was one of the sites that Google showcased as an example of a successful adsense site. I do wish Google could make its mind up!


Hey Ruby –

I would say that concentrating on creating original great content that people really want and need is key. Stop backlinking 100% because if you create this great content people will just naturally backlink to you and that is what Google wants. Google should not punish you for that type of links. It’s the unnatural links we build that is the issue and why sites get penalized.

And there is money in lists and also some money in inline contextual ads. If you can generate as much traffic as Fraser or even a fraction you’ll make great money with inline ads. You can also make great money by selling products within your articles. However having an email list is great because you can blast targeted information to your audience and then upsell them on products as well that they may be interested in and that can make you some great money.

Fraser Cain

If you just write great content, news and opinion, that’s blogging. It has high value, but it’s incredibly difficult to monetize.

So you also need to research the keywords your market is using to find your site, and craft the appropriate content to match it.

Blogging + SEO = Win.


Good equation Fraser. That sounds about right. I would also add into the equation. Keyword Research.

Matt J

Loved this podcast! I came across some posts by Fraser on the Warrior Forum a while ago and became a huge fan.

I’m also from Vancouver and it’s really inspiring to see someone local who is having this level of success.

Fraser, next time you are in the city beers are on me!

Fraser Cain



Spencer and Fraser, thanks very for this podcast I really enjoyed listening to that – thanks for your time!

Matt Hagens


Loved the podcasts so far, but gotta say, this one is by far your best. I’ve heard the interviews with most of the other guests you’ve had on, but this interview totally takes the cake!

Great, great work.


Spencer Haws

Thanks Matt!

Quinton Hamp

Fraser, thanks for lending your time.

I really gleaned a lot of insight on how the news pieces and keyword pieces blend together on the same site.

I’ve always wondered if Google loves news sites a little more. It’s really inspiring me to try that blend on my site that got re-algo’d by the penguin.

Keep being an inspiration!


Thanks James. Very helpful. I love your site!


Glad my response was helpful Ruby. So like Fraser said its:

Blogging + SEO + Keyword Research = WIN!

Can’t really go wrong with that. Won’t get punished by Google and you’ll get more traffic. Just has to be really high quality content that people want / need. It can be hard to make a lot of money off the traffic unless its part of a topic that has high paying advertisers but that is why you can also write about products and sell those instead. That works well too.

Ramy Khuffash


I finally got round to listening to this and it was worth the wait. one of the best podcast episodes I’ve listened to and I listen to LOADS.

It comes at a perfect time because I’ve moved my focus from multiple projects into one big one I’m passionate about.

I also have adopted the “no link building” strategy since it all started to kick off with Google and I’ve seen amazing results with it so far!


If you’re reading these comments then I just want to thank you! Great words of wisdom!



Spencer Haws

Great Ramy! Glad you enjoyed the webinar…Fraser definitely has some great advice!


A great story of taking your passion and turning it into a viable business model. I absolutely love the trajectory Fraser has been going – from a one man with a niche hobby to a space and astronomy mogul who hires journalists.

I find Fraser’s approach fundamentally different from, for example, the guys from AdSense Flippers. The key difference for me is his respect for meaningful, authority content and skepticism of putting too much work into manipulating search engines. I’m just wondering which model will have more long-term success and I’m betting on Fraser, mostly because it makes him into an authority on the subject and foregrounds authenticity.

Great segment on product development, the passive income myth and the danger of cutting corners.

By far the most inspiring podcast by Spencer IMHO.

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