How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Link Building |

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Link Building

building backlinks like a badass

If you're a long-timer reader, you know I hate link building

In fact, I wrote an entire post about how I've grown an affiliate site to five figures a month without doing ANY link building

I'm here today to say that I'm joining the dark side- I'm going to start building backlinks in earnest.

I'm also going to document what I'm doing so that you can follow along and learn with me. 

Why Am I Giving In?

For a long time I've purely focused on on-page SEO and keyword research. This combination alone has produced massive results for me. What it looks like is finding low-competition buyer keywords (i.e. "best computer monitor") and producing 1,500+ word writeups.

(Check out my 'how to start an affiliate site' process if you want to copy my process.)

So there are a couple reasons why I want to learn how to build links. 

  1. I want to10x my affiliate sites by increasing their rankings, traffic and earnings.
  2. I want to buy sites from Flippa, build links to them, and extract maximum value from content sites that just need a couple links to achieve powerful rankings.

The frustrating thing with (1) is that there are some of my posts that 'should' be on page 1 for their primary keyword, but they're sitting in the middle of page 2. A lot of the page 1 content is thin e-commerce pages- so I just need some stronger domain authority to push my content above my competitors. 

Regarding (2), as I've matured as an 'online marketer', I've built up some strong cash reserves. I don't know much about investing, so instead of pouring money into a stock investment that I don't really understand or have a passion for, why not reinvest in my skill and passion- online businesses!

There are a lot of sites on Flippa that have decent content, modest earnings, and mediocre rankings. This means that they can be purchased pretty cheap- for example, a site earning $50 a month, a 2x yearly income valuation would make it a $1,200 purchase.

If I'm able to define an outreach process that my Virtual Assistants can help scale, I can purchase these 'value' sites and focus on strengthening them where they're weakest: their backlink profile. 


Starting off, I've decided to use the following tools: 

  1. GMass- a popular outreach tool that works within Gmail and utilizes Google Sheets to craft personalized, auto-followup outreach campaigns.
  2. I'm currently deciding between 2 email discovery services: and
  3. For email prospecting, i.e. finding the websites I want to get links from, I'm starting off by using LinkClump to copy links from the Google SERP- and using a Google Search Operator to filter the sites I'm targeting. 

Setting Up GMass

I recommend that you watch this video from AuthorityHacker on how to set up GMass

One thing you should do, and it's mentioned in the video, is to set up a DNS record that will function as a dedicated tracking domain for your email campaigns to prevent them getting blocked as spam. You can read the full explanation here

I contacted my hosting provider, sent them a link to the above GMass page, and they helped me configure a custom tracking domain. Then you just need to ping GMass and they'll automatically set you up- and you're good to go. (Read more here.)

Getting Started With Niche Sites

Use the strategies on this page in conjunction with my niche site process. Here it is in a nutshell:
  1. AuthorityHacker's Authority Site System (my review): a complete, step-by-step system to start growing your own highly profitable affiliate & authority niche site.
  2. A cloud-based on-page optimization tool: Surfer SEO makes your on-page SEO easier, faster, and more effective than ever using data-driven, real-time signals to rank in search engines.
  3. A reliable and fast hosting solution like SiteGround (my review)
  4. A brandable domain name from GoDaddy (my guide)
  5. A premium theme- I use GeneratePress but there are some cool niche themes on ThemeForest
  6. SEO Friendly Article Writing ($8-$12 / 1,000 words) from HireWriters (read: my HireWriters review)
  7. Powerful Backlinks from Authority.Builders (read: my Authority.Builders review)
  8. An automated social media drip campaign from MissingLettr
  9. An auto-responder to build your email list– ConvertKit is what I'm using (read: my ConvertKit review)
  10. Finally- you can always refer to my free step-by-step niche selection guide and all of my free niche reports for inspiration


12/24/17: I decided to try outreaching to affiliate sites in the 'kitchen' niche, with the goal of getting them to link to a review post I did on a popular kitchen product. 

I used a snippet from the Amazon affiliate disclaimer: "participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program" and the keyword "kitchen" and found a slew of sites that looked like affiliate sites in the "kitchen" niche. 

I then used the LinkClumper tool to grab all of the links.

Pro tip: change your settings to show 100 results per page- it's much easier to grab all the results that way. 

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Ryan Nelson

​Ryan Nelson is a NYC-based Industrial-Organizational Psychologist and a full-stack online marketer. He created to help people discover and build profitable, content-focused online businesses.

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