Garrett French is the king of building highly effective link prospecting tools. As I’ve learned from speaking with him on multiple occasions and having him on SEOchat, this guy knows his stuff. That’s why I was very excited to hear about his two newest tools (the Outbound Link Scraper and Contact Finder tools) and anxious to test them out.
I first heard about these two tools when I read a stellar review from Doc Sheldon last week. I tweeted out a link to his review and within a few minutes Garrett contacted me offering me a free trial account. I was on vacation, but immediately accepted and figured I’d play with them when I got back.
I started diving into the tools on Tuesday of last week. After a few days of testing, I am pleased to say that they are two of the slickest tools I’ve used in a long time and they saved me loads of time when prospecting for links. Because of this, I wanted to write a post on how I used each of the tools to plug into my current SEO strategies and how I found just over 400 qualified prospects in about eight minutes. Let’s get started.
Outbound Link Scraper Tool
The Citation Labs Outbound Link Scraper tool is pretty straightforward. In a nutshell, you give it a URL and it scrapes all outbound links on the given page and returns them to you in a csv file.
The way I used it for my tests is by doing a few searches in Google for lists of [insert your niche here] blogs. For example, I searched for list of weight loss blogs. Google returned hundreds of pages of results and I was able to quickly go through and grab the URLs that looked relevant to what I was searching for. I then took those URLs and dumped them into the tool and it scraped all the outbound links and gave me a nice list of legitimate weight loss blogs. This took me about five minutes and produced around 2,200 URLs. Pretty awesome huh? Onward to the next tool…
The Contact Finder is the tool that really got me excited because it can be very time consuming to harvest contact information by manually going from site to site, especially if you have a few thousand sites to go through like I did from the exercise above.
With the Contact Finder, I took my list of weight loss blogs and added them to the tool. Next I needed to specify what anchor text I wanted the tool to look for on the website (an about us or contact us page) and then look for and scrape the contact information (email address). The default set up is a regular expression to match against anchor texts. The Regular expression is ^(Contact|About) which means that is must start with “contact” or “about” and the default limit is a maximum of three words.
Instead of running with the default, I decided to do some tweaking of my own and have the tool search for anchor texts that start with “guest”. What I was trying to pinpoint are blogs that accept gust blog posts, guest authors, or guest article submissions. Doing this would guarantee that the contact info I harvest will be for websites that say they want guest content contributions. I find that these are typically easy wins and have high email response rates. This took me about three minutes and produced around 400 email addresses. Even more awesome huh? Onward to the last part of the process…
Guest Blog Outreach
Once I had my list of email addresses, I needed to email them to see if they were even interested in the type of content I had to offer. I’m all about building efficiencies, so I took my list and added them to my email marketing software so I could mass email everyone without having to send 400 individual emails. Brilliant, huh? The process took me about ten minutes.
I know many SEOs probably wouldn’t feel good about the mass email approach, but I did for two reasons. First, these are sites that have told me “Hey Greg, we will accept your content so send it right over” so they are already open to an email from me, and second, my offer was tailored specifically to their niche, weight loss.
So, I did the whole mass email thing and in less than 24 hours, I had 61 positive responses. People, that’s a 15% response rate. Booyeah! Obviously, as you get more niche or head to other less saturated verticals, you will have fewer link prospects, harvest fewer emails, and fewer positive responses, but this test has me very optimistic that these tools can streamline a lot of what we are doing for our client in terms of guest blogging and in quickly pushing a lot more content out for them.
I guess the only problem these tools have created for me is the fact that I now have to create 61 pieces of content to have published. I’m not complaining because it’s a good problem to have, but creating that much quality content will take some serious time or cash out of pocket to get it done.
In summary, these tools are awesome and I would highly recommend them to any SEO or SEO agency looking to get more efficient with link prospecting. They do cost some money, but not as much as you would think for such amazing tools. It's all based on bandwidth and the pricing scale is as follows:
$10 – 100MB
$20 – 250MB
$30 – 500MB
$50 – 100MB
I would love to hear about other successes out there and how others are using this tool differently than I am. Please share in the comments below.
Post Update: So this post got a lot of buzz and generated a lot of discussion around if harvesting emails and "bulk" emailing them is ethical or even legal. I need to be clear that this test was run on a personal project of mine and that we at SEO.com in no way bulk email link prospects. Our team members adhere to a very strict one email at a time policy when doing link outreach. I've been asked several times over the last few days if we can get an email marketing software and my answer was and always will be, absolutely not. Nothing beats manual outreach and customizing emails to website owners. You will always get a higher response rate and you will keep your or your client's brand protected (which is what we strive to do every day for each of our clients).
Disclosure: I'm not getting paid to review these tools and not getting paid to send business Garrett's way. I love these tools and like I said above, I highly recommend them! You can get started by heading over to Citations Labs now.