Back to Fluid Thinking
15 tools that make finding outreach leads easier
As a copywriter first and foremost, there’s nothing I love more than crafting a well thought-out post, getting in touch with a blogger and pitching it freelance-journalist style and then seeing that post up in lights for the world to marvel over/tear apart like the savage bunch of faceless online commenters they are.
That, of course, is the glamorous side of the blogger outreach process. Before that, however, comes an arduous process of actually finding bloggers to pitch to. If getting a post published is akin to starring as Robocop in a film (my lifelong dream) then finding outreach leads is the 11 hours spent having a crew put you into the costume.
You might lose 3lbs doing it too.
You might think that finding outreach leads is ridiculously easy, what with the internet being filled with more information than the human mind could even begin to comprehend.
In fact, the sheer amount of blogs and information online is what makes finding good quality outreach leads so hard. Firstly, you need to actually find leads, sifting through a veritable sea of information to dig out what is relevant. Then, you need to determine if that lead is worth keeping via a quality analysis.
Basically, finding outreach leads takes a long time. While entering certain search terms in Google can narrow down the never-ending quest for leads, sometimes it’s best to call in some automated help from tools. Much like how the city of Detroit called upon the help of Robocop (last reference, I promise).
So, without further ado, here are some of the most useful outreach lead tools around, organised roughly by function and type. They’ll save you time, effort and maybe even slow down the aging process too.
NOTE: I use Chrome, so many of the extensions and tools I’ll be discussing are based on experiences with Chrome.
Measuring the quality of a blog marked for outreach is essential, as posting on a blog in a prime Penguin/Panda smacking position can have a detrimental effect on your site. While nothing is going to beat human judgement, these tools are a great way of getting a quick overview of whether or not a blog is worth pitching to.
Beautifully simple, MozBar is a small bar that pops up on the right hand side of your browser and gives you a quick glance at the page and domain authority of a blog, as well as the number of links (and the number of sources these links are from) pointing at the site. The Chrome extension also shows you a site’s metadata and a rough backlink profile based on Open Site Explorer data. Basically, all the data you need to make a decision on whether a lead is worth pursuing or not.
Any SEO worth their salt knows about Majestic SEO, so I’m probably preaching to the converted here.
For the uninitiated, Majestic SEO (and its related extension) provides you with an at-a-glance view of a site’s backlink profile, allowing you to spot any unusual linking profiles and giving you the information you need to make a judgement call on a site.
SEO Site Tools (Chrome Extension)
Another extension that should be in the arsenal of any SEO, SEO Site Tools provides an overview of a site from a links, social media and traffic perspective. The Page Rank display in the toolbar is also useful for getting a quick idea of what the quality of a site might be like, although PR should never be your determining factor in whether to guest post on a site or not.
Searching Social Media
Topsy is a social insights tool that allows you to search social media for the most relevant tweets and influential tweets related to your niche. It’s a beautifully simple tool that can instantly tell you what people are talking about, what kind of content they’re tweeting and who is influential in that niche.
As an example, let’s have a quick look at what’s going on at my ever-beloved footballing shambles Newcastle United, using the #nufc hashtag:
Immediately we can see what’s currently going on with Newcastle United (a friendly match and utter failure in signing strikers), influential tweeters along with their retweets and replies (including two North East journalists and a Newcastle player) and a set of images that have been getting a lot of engagement (including the WORST tattoo you’ll ever see).
Followerwonk is a tool created by Moz that essentially allows you to search the bios of every Twitter user in existence via keyword, interests and so on. It also allows you to analyse, track and sort followers, but for now we’re going to focus on the search bios feature.
Searching for bios on Followerwonk is a great way of finding outreach leads AND determining whether a blog is active; simply stick your keywords into the search bar and hit enter (or ‘do it’, as it were). Obviously, this brings up thousands of results, so you can also narrow down your search by location, name, URL and even the amount of followers a user has (which is extremely useful for determining how influential a blogger is).
You do have to click through to a profile to get URLs, but this is a small price to pay for being able to search Twitter’s entire userbase.
If that still seems like too much effort, you can export this data as a CSV and use the next tool to extract URLs…
Screaming Frog Spider Tool
Admittedly not the first thing that comes to mind when hunting for outreach leads, Screaming Frog (a spider tool that crawls URLs in a similar manner to GoogleBot) actually be used to brilliant effect in combination with Followerwonk.
As outlined by our Head of SEO Mithul in this ridiculously useful post on ways to use Screaming Frog (if you’re a Screaming Frog amateur/sceptic, I’d recommend checking it out), Screaming Frog allows you to crawl URLs gained from Followerwonk for sites that accept guest posts by hunting for keywords like ‘guest post’ and so on.
While this approach does eradicate blogs that don’t advertise the fact they accept posts (and overlooking the fact that sites that do advertise the fact they accept posts generally tend to be lower in quality), it’s a great way of getting quick leads from Followerwonk.
Check out Mithul’s full post for more details on how to use Screaming Frog for blogger outreach purposes!
Blogger Outreach Software/Dashboards
BuzzStream produce a series of software that allows users to find outreach leads, including this very useful lead generator tool (which is free). Paid subscribers, however, can get their hands on automated link building tools, which essentially scour the web for certain keywords and niches and digs up blogs and leads. You can sort these leads and searches into manageable campaigns.
Basically, BuzzStream takes much of the donkey work out of link building so you can focus more on creating your content – although you do have to pay for the privilege.
InkyBee offers more or less the same service as BuzzStream and is again a great way of automating some daily leads. I’m currently using InkyBee on a trial basis and I love it – I’ve got a number of searches running daily on various keywords, all of which are delivered lovingly to my inbox. On a bad day, I’ll still get at least one new lead to work with.
If there’s one complaint to make, it’s that InkyBee occasionally turns up some dud blogs for certain niches although some of the blame can be placed on the fact that the niches in which these duds are returned aren’t exactly ripe with award-winning blogs.
Either way, it’s another paid offering but one that I’d consider well worth it.
Link InkyBee and BuzzStream, BlogDash provides you with hundreds of leads at a cost. Rather than being automated, however, BlogDash allows you to search a massive database of bloggers, journalists and other contacts while providing you with a wealth of metrics about them. The tool also aids with the creation of content, engaging with bloggers by tweeting them and responding to posts directly from the BlogDash dashboard and even helps with the crafting of a pitch.
Anyone who has been to a UK search or social conference over the past year or so is bound to have encountered Linkdex at some point. Unfortunately, I’ve yet to have the chance to try the tool but the demos I’ve seen seem to provide an absolute goldmine of potential leads by industry. Outreach is only one part of the Linkdex package, but it seems to be an area in which the tool flourishes.
Crucially, Linkdex doesn’t just give you a URL and metrics and send you on your way. It also provides you with a visual indication of how that blog links to other authors and influencers in your field, providing you with a mapped network of bloggers and allowing you to go directly to the big influencers if you see fit.
It’s advanced stuff, but it looks pretty incredible. If you’ve used Linkdex, I’d love to hear how you found it.
Another automated lead generator, I’ve unfortunately not had the chance to try GroupHigh out so therefore can’t offer an opinion on it. That said, choosing the right outreach tool for you does require a degree of playing around to get used to interface designs (and decide whether you like them) and judge the quality of results the tool returns, so I’d recommend trying it out if you aren’t sure which tool is right for you.
Blogger Linkup is a thrice weekly newsletter that does exactly what it says in the subject line; links up bloggers. Bloggers submit their blogs to Cathy Stucker, who runs the newsletter, who then includes it in the mail-out for us outreach lot to pore over.
That sounds like a recipe for terrible blogs looking to make a bit of ad money, and it sometimes is, but there are strict quality guidelines to get onto the newsletter so in general, most of the leads provided are of a good enough quality. Just don’t expect anything award-winning.
To get the most out of Blogger Linkup, I’d highly recommend checking out this post from PointBlankSEO, which introduces a method of managing the daunting number of leads provided by BLU using just Excel, Gmail and Evernote. Lovely stuff.
HARO (Help A Reporter Out)
Currently the hottest website on the SEO planet, HARO connects reporters looking for information to the people who can provide that information in exchange for a nice juicy backlink.
The format is similar to BLU, except you don’t actually have to provide full posts. Instead, you (or whomever your client is) provides quotes, anecdotes and other materials for reporters to use. It then appears as something along the lines of ‘this blog post is really quite long, isn’t it?’, said Chris Smith, SEO copywriter at Fluid Creativity.
In short, it’s a natural way of getting backlinks AND getting some free exposure on a website that people are actually reading.
Getting Posts Published Directly
Of course, you can always skip the meticulous process of crafting a pitch and connecting with bloggers by using tools that provide bloggers with content for publication directly. These tools are quick and easy, and good for a few quick wins.
I reviewed PostJoint on this very blog not long ago and I have to say that my opinions on it haven’t changed greatly. If you’re not familiar, you post your content onto PostJoint via a WYSIWYG editor, where it is sent off for approval by PostJoint editors. Once approved, potential hosts then browse your content and make a publication offer if they like what they see.
If the likes of the Huffington Post were on PostJoint, it’d probably be the only outreach tool anyone would ever need. Unfortunately, the quality of the blogs currently looking for content on the platform can vary wildly. Like I said though, if you’re looking for quick wins and the odd diamond then it’s well worth it. Plus, it’s completely free!
Ah, MyBlogGuest. When I think about MyBlogGuest, I often think about my local pub; it’s welcoming and it gets the job done even if the quality of the bee…I mean, blogs looking for content isn’t always great.
Like PostJoint, MyBlogGuest is an excellent supplement to an outreach campaign and a quick trawl through the various categories on the site can turn up a surprisingly decent amount of leads. Again, don’t expect the world when hunting for leads on MyBlogGuest but for a free service, it’s very good indeed.
So those are just some of the tools you can use to make finding outreach leads that little bit easier. I’m sure I’ve missed plenty, so if you’re using any that you think should be on the list, let us know on Twitter @fluidcreativity, on Facebook or leave a comment below!