Last month, a guest post by Chris Laursen caught my eye. It was about link building tactics for eCommerce that do not require quality content. One prospecting tactics Cris used was uncovering backlink profiles of closed businesses. I’ve decided to test something slightly different. Rather than look at closed businesses, the goal will be to steal backlinks from an active competitor.
In theory, webmasters should want to refer their readers to a place where they can actually buy the mentioned product right? That’s why I decided to uncover how many broken links to products page and links to products that are out of stock I can find for one company. If the results are satisfactory, I might test out outreach with a real competitor of mine.
I decided to run my prospecting test with SSENSE. Why them? I have a friend that works there and I don’t want to warn my competitors that I’m planning to steal backlinks from them.
Getting Those Dirty Leads
I was pleasantly surprised to see that SSENSE has a great URL structure. By specifying that the page is a product page in the URL, I’ll be able use search for backlinks using the prefix in Ahref.
Of course, it also means I’ll only be checking the Men’s section. By checking only one backlink per domain, I’ve gotten 1510 results. Not bad!
If You Don’t Got That Prefix
If SSENSE had a flat URL structure (
http://www.domain.com/product-name), I would have needed to figure out a unique footprint associated to the product pages, scape the Link URLs for it, remove the fat and continue to the next step.
Find Those 404 Errors
I’m going to assume that my fake eCommerce store carries an identical inventory to SSENSE. If that wasn’t case, I might be interested in cutting out various brands or item categories.
Some people might be tempted to this:
Doing a such a check with SeoTools for Excel isn’t 100% wrong. It would just be a waste of time because there are definitely duplicate URLs in that Ahref export. In this case, I was able to reduce the list by 1/3 by copying the Link URLs to another sheet and removing duplicates. Not to shabby.
If you got some free tools that do reliable HTTP status checks really fast, I’d love hear about them in the comments because it’s annoying to wait for this check to end.
Once that’s done, copy and overwrite the column by pasting the results as values rather than formulas. This is a habit I have developed when dealing with large columns of function and it can really save you headaches.
For some weird reason, SSENSE redirects users to their 404 page. These redirections only account for less than 10% of all 301 redirects. The other redirects were due to a change in the URL structure. They were not redirecting sold out products to their home page or related pages.
Using VLOOKUP, I was able to confirm that there was only one domain per 404 error. In any case, that’s still 9 potential links to steal if you’re carrying the product or something extremely similar!
Discover What’s Out of Stock
While I was waiting for the HTTP status check to finish, I confirmed that sold out products pages aren’t redirected and are easily identifiable.
Because SSENCE has implemented rich snippets for products, it’s really easy to scrape their product availability using xPath.
If you’re using SeoTools for Excel, don’t be tricked into using
=XPathOnUrl(H2,"//meta[@itemprop='availability']/@content"). That function will not give you the content of the meta tag, it will only confirm that it exists. You must use
=XPathOnUrl(H3,"//meta[@itemprop='availability']","content") instead to see the actual contents.
Once again, there’s a bit of wait.
Out of all the valid URLs, over 75% were out of stock! If I were SSENSE, I’d be checking to see how much referral traffic the product pages are getting…
However, that’s good news for the people who still have those products in stock and want to steal those links.
If product rich snippets aren’t implemented, you could always use ScrapeBox to check if “Sold Out” is present on the page.
What’s Left To Do
Before even beginning to harvest emails, you’ll just need make sure you have the item in stock.
The only roadblock I can see is that some of these backlinks are in articles about SSENSE. Therefore, it may be hard to pitch a replacement link. However, if you have the product in stock and a good price, you may still be able to get a link on the same page if the webmaster is open to it.
I’m still amazed that over 1000 external links were to out of stock products.
If you’ve tried this method, I’d love to hear what your results where.