Link builder, there remain deep wells of link prospect opportunity… Even if you’ve queried every last prospect from Google and snatched every last link from your competitors’ backlink profile. If you can make the right offer and have a ready team for outreach then list-scrape prospecting could add a steady stream of powerful links to your portfolio.

TL;DR: List Scraping in a Nutshell

It’s dead simple.

  1. Find lovingly-crafted lists of websites.
  2. Brainstorm a valuable, relevant pitch (this is the only hard part).
  3. Scrape the lists.
  4. Remove any non-prospects
  5. Scrape contact information.
  6. Outreach to sites with available contact info.

Oh, and yes, you can use my new OBL scraper + Contact Finder tools to better automate this approach :)

List-Scrape Prospecting Defined

Prospectors, we have the great fortune to live in an age in which webmasters aggregate and publish large lists of outbound links. It’s as simple as searching Google for lists of XYZ kinds of sites, handpicking pages with a high volume of outbound links and scraping them.

Often these lists are created in directory format for adsense earnings. For example: List of Breweries in the United States. Sometimes these lists are created by passionate curators – see this List of Orchestras. Here’s a fantastic list of US hospitals, by state. And of course there are the top 100+ blog lists – check out this beaut: Top 200 Church Blogs.

List Hunting

In hunting for lists I’ve found it best to let Google’s suggest function do the thinking for me. Here are some queries that have worked well for me:

  • list of {institution}s
  • list of US {institution}s
  • list of {a,b,c,etc…} websites
  • list of {a,b,c,etc…} blogs
  • top 10 {a,b,c,etc…} websites
  • top 100 {a,b,c,etc…} blogs

I also highly recommend including the Ubersuggest tool in your searches for lists.

Try searches like:

  • list of lists
  • list of websites
  • list of sites
  • list of websites for
  • list of sites for

There are more, and your markets will probably have different names for “lists.” Directories, for example. Resources, too. You’re hunting for lists but they’re not always so simply and directly named.

Aligning Your Pitch with the Available List

If you’re genuinely interested in building a campaign around list scraping that you determine your pitch AFTER you’ve found a list that could work. It’s usually less viable to start with an asset and decide to go look for lists of relevant prospects. It can happen, for sure, and you should at least look, but stay open to working with the huge lists that already exist.

Think of these lists of sites as a target market and start your brainstorming from there…

What content would all the small-town hospital webmasters in the US crack open their CMSes and add to their websites? What critical widget’s missing from the art museums of the world? Oh, you’ve got a killer offer for these 400 recipe and cooking sites?

And remember – in the approach you don’t stop with one list. You find ALL the available lists of a target type and combining them. List scraping has the potential to be highly thorough!

One last note – be careful! This approach can cross very, very quickly into spam if you’re aggressive in your outreach and don’t line up the interests of your prospects, their audience and you.

A Note on Blog List Scraping

I’ve found that list-scraping is faster than scraping Google for popular blog subject areas (health, fitness, etc…) with hundreds or thousands of blogs.

For example, search for [fitness blogs]. I see the following pages in the top 10:
20-plus Amazing Fitness Blogs to Inspire You
Top 20 Fitness Blogs
Top 100 health and fitness blogs

Now start looking for some fitness blog lists [list of fitness blogs] and we can throw several more lists on the pile:

Favorite Fitness Blogs
Top 100 Diet and Fitness Blogs
5 Best Fitness Blogs on the Internet
List of Weight Loss, Health and Fitness Blogs

From those 8 urls, I found ~300 fitness blogs. Even if not all of them are qualified, I can’t imagine a single query in Google that would bring back 300 relevant results.

Spray and Pray?

My esteemed search marketing colleague Ken Lyons referred to this method of prospecting and outreach as the “spray and pray” approach. It is. In an email exchange, Ross Hudgens called it “cold outreach.” Yes – it’s cold, quite cold. Not at all what Paul May discusses in this interview on relationship link building.

Here are some things I believe that can help your response rates in this approach:

  • Timeliness of your message
  • Aligning your offer with the needs of the publishers
  • Clearly demonstrating an understanding and concern for the publisher’s audience
  • Recognizeable, authoritative brand

And lastly, here are some resources for blogger/influencer outreach that you will largely be disregarding though could borrow some tips from:

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