Most of you probably understand that a key part of SEO revolves around building good quality links to your website. Now, the majority of link building methods involve outreach at one point or another.
One of the stumbling blocks that many people find is actually gathering contact information to be able to speak with the right people.
There are loads of automated tools that can help with this process, some good , some not so good. I'm going to talk to you about the process that I take to find contact information and the different tools that I use along the way.
The first thing I always do once I have a list of target websites is to use a couple of automated tools to find any contact information. The first tool that I'll use, and possibly the best automated contact data extraction tool, is BuzzStream.
As far as link building tools go, BuzzStream is one of the best in the industry. Through uploading a list of around 100 prospects, I usually get between 25-40% of full email addresses, social media profiles and contact names. This saves a TON of time when you're going through large lists of prospects. Along with this, BuzzStream has a whole lead of extra features that I'm not even going to touch upon in this post (go have a chat with Matt Gratt and Paul May for a full overview).
Another tool that I've recently been using is RankCracker (from Matthew Woodward). Like BuzzStream, this tool has a ton of other link building features that you can use, but it's also great at grabbing a few emails addresses along the way. You can check out my tutorial on how to use it below:
Finally, you may want to check out this awesome tool from the team at MailTrack.io that will estimate a ton of variations of someone's email address - it's well worth checking out.
When you're trying to get contact information on a specific author or editor within a blog, their author bio can sometimes be a great place to find their email address.
Simply go into their blog and have a scout through one of their posts to see if they mention any contact information. You'd be surprised how many people actually do this. At a bare minimum you might be able to get their Twitter URL, which will come in handy for the next method.
One thing that BuzzStream has a much higher success rate with is finding social media profiles. If you have someone's Twitter URL then you might find that they've placed a contact email address within their Twitter bio.
If they don't have an email address within their bio, you can run an advanced search within Twitter to see if they've mentioned their email within a tweet.
A great way of finding these emails is to search for your target's Twitter handle and "an email". For example, From:matthewbarby "an email".
Email Permutator Spreadsheet & Rapportive
Rob Ousbey of Distilled put together an awesome Google Spreadsheet that helps to guess the email address of someone based on various permutations of their name and domain name.
You can check out the spreadsheet here.
Now, this method alone is ok, but you really need something to verify which is the correct email. This is where Rapportive comes in.
Once you've installed Rapportive, you can open up a new email within your gmail and past in one of the permutations of the email addresses that you've generated. Once you enter it, Rapportive will start working its magic and let you know if they recognise it as an official email address and pull up any information around it into the right-hand window pane.
Perfect for validating the emails that you've gathered without the need for sending an email to check.
Alongside this, you can use MailTester.com to ping the mailbox of an email address to check it is a working address.
FullContact Person API
The Person API from FullContact is a tool that I've fell in love with over the past few months. It does an incredibly job at gathering further data around online entities and is perfect for email harvesting.
You will have to pay $99 a month for full access to the API, but you can get a small amount of free calls to test it out. Not only that, but you can run the API directly from an Excel spreadsheet, so you don't need to worry about gettiing your hands dirty in code.
With the API you can plug in other data around your target to find their email address. This includes:
- Their phone number.
- Their Twitter handle.
- Their Facebook profile.
I won't go into all the detail of how to use the API because there's a ton of documentation on their website, but this really is an amazing tool to use.
Website Privacy Policies
The final method that I use, if I've exhausted all other options is to run an advanced search through Google.
I often find that this gives me some great results and it doesn't take very long either. Here's the footprint that I use:
"*@domain.com" full name
Replace the domain.com part of the footprint with their domain name and replace full name with their name. You'll be able to scan through the meta descriptions within the SERPs to see if any emails pop up.
- Start with an automated tool like BuzzStream.
- Look through author bios and Twitter bios/tweet history.
- Use the Email Permutator spreadsheet with Rapportive.
- Plug in other contact info into FullCOntact's Person API.
- Run a quick Google search with my footprint.