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How To Guide: Validate Email Addresses
Aug
27

How to Verify Email Addresses

You may not realize it, but you probably verify email addresses every day. Whenever you get an email address and send an email to it, you’ve verified that email address.

This works just fine when we get an email address from a friend or get one from a company website.

But if you purchase an email list, or scrape emails from the web, verifying those email addresses may not be so simple. However, if you’ve collected emails in bulk, verifying them before you use them is even more important.

If you’re sending sensitive information, or running email marketing campaigns, having invalid email addresses can be bad news.

Also, almost 10% of email addresses entered on forms are invalid. This comes from typos, invalid syntax (like a missing “@” sign), or people entering fake emails to get to gated content without giving up their inbox.

So it’s best to check email addresses before you use them.

Unfortunately, email addresses are slippery things since they’re so easy to create. The fact that there’s a nearly infinite number of possible email addresses makes this even worse. People often have multiple email addresses. Scammers can have thousands.

Fortunately, there are a few methods businesses and individuals can use to verify email addresses.

Here’s what you need to know:

What is Email Address Verification?

First, it’s important to understand what you’re doing when you verify email addresses.

Verifying an email address is simply making sure that the email address exists and can receive emails. But verifying an email address doesn’t tell you who owns that email. You’ll need to do a reverse email lookup to discover that information. We’ll cover reverse email lookups later on in this post.

You should verify email addresses before you use them for anything. Doing a reverse email lookup on an invalid email is a waste of time. Sending marketing emails to invalid emails can hurt your email deliverability.

In short, sending emails to unverified email addresses isn’t worth it.

How to Verify Email Addresses

Since it’s important, it’s worth it to know how to do it. This is true even if you end up just using an email verification service.

But doing it yourself is can be pretty easy, depending on how many email addresses you need to verify and how vital it is that you’re discreet.

Let’s dig into checking email addresses yourself!

Send an Email to The Email Address

The first way to verify email addresses is the simplest. In fact, you’ve probably done this already:

Just send an email to the email address you’re verifying.

Just send emails to verify email addresses!

If the email address doesn’t exist, the email domain will send an automated email telling you as much. Some techies call this a “bounce email.”

You'll get a "bounce email" if the email is invalid or doesn't exist.

Notice that the bounce message says that the email can’t be found or that it’s unable to receive messages. So it’s possible that the email does exist, but the inbox is full or the account is disabled. Either way, sending more emails to an email address like this won’t work.

If the address is valid, you simply won’t get an automated bounce email.

A few things to consider if you’re using this method of email verification:

  1. It’s best not to use your business or professional email if you’re verifying a lot of emails this way. Sending a bunch of emails to invalid addresses could get your email blacklisted.
  2. If being inconspicuous is important, this method probably isn’t for you. If you do hit a valid email address, the person who owns that address will see your email. You can create a dummy email account for checking email addresses. However, there are better options for verifying email addresses without being noticed.
  3. Occasionally, email domains will have an email catch all. This means that they don’t return bounce emails for invalid email addresses. This is very rare. But it can give false positives if you’re checking emails with test messages.

There are other methods, if you’d rather not check email addresses this way. Some are more technical than others.

Ping the Email Address to Verify It

This method of verifying email addresses is a bit more technical and time intensive. But the email owner won’t know you did it.

So this technique can work well for people who only need to check a few addresses and also need confidentiality.

First, you’ll need to enable the Telnet client in Windows or install it for Mac. From there, just open a command prompt. Mac users can use the Mac OS terminal.

Here, all you need to do is check the mail exchange (MX) records of the email domain.

To check the MX records, type this command into the command prompt or Mac OS terminal:

nslookup -type=mx [domain name]

Replace [domain name] with whichever domain the email is located on. If you’re checking jamesmiller@searchbug.com, the command would look like this:

nslookup -type= searchbug.com

This command will probably return a few results. There may be more. There may be fewer. But your results should look something like this:

An MX records search will usually get you a few results.

From here, choose one of the servers listed in the MX records. Usually, one without an “ALT” tag is best.

Now, use these four commands to connect to the server and simulate sending an email:

telnet [server] 25

Hello

mail from: [dummy email]

rcpt to : [email you want to verify]

So, for my mock Searchbug address, the commands would look like this:

telnet ASPMX.L.GOOGLE.com 25

Hello

mail from: gotyousogood@searchbug.com

rcpt to: jamesmiller@searchbug.com

If the email address exists, you’ll get a response like, “OK.” If the email is invalid, the server will return a 550 error like:

The email account that you tried to reach does not exist.”

Or…

The email account that you tried to reach is disabled.”

That’s it. This is a good way to verify an email address without alerting whoever owns the email.

However, it’s best not to use this method for mass email verification. Doing this too much can get your IP address blacklisted. That means that email domains might stop accepting emails from your IP address.

If you have a lot of email addresses to verify, or if you’re not comfortable messing with the terminal or command prompt, it may be best to try a different method.

Use an Email Verification Tool

Email verification tools are often free. They also work without exposing you to the email address owner.

Email verification tools are also accurate. False positives are possible, especially with popular email domains like Yahoo!. However, these are uncommon. As you can see, Searchbug easily spotted my mock email address.

Searchbug found that my fake email address wasn't real with a simple email address validation check.

This is the fastest method. Most tools only allow validation of one email address at a time. Email validation services are subject to the same IP blacklisting rules as you are. So they try not to get their IP addresses blacklisted either.

However, it only takes a few seconds to validate an email address this way. That’s far faster than sending emails or pinging email servers.

But, if you have just a bit of information related to an email address, you can use batch processing to get valid emails.

Use Batch Append to Verify Email Addresses

If you have a lot of emails to verify, and have one other piece of information for each email address, you can use batch processing to validate email addresses.

Use batch append services to verify email addresses in bulk.

You can use these pieces of information to validate email addresses in bulk:

  • Name
  • Address
  • Phone number

Here’s how to do it:

Build a TXT, CSV, or Excel file with just the information other than the email addresses. For example, a list of names and addresses would be perfect.

Use associated information to pseudo verify email addresses

 

Upload your bulk file to a batch processing service, and request that they append emails. This will give you a list of emails that have been matched to the names and addresses. You can double check these emails against your original list of emails.

This isn’t perfect validation. However, this cross checks the emails against two sources. Then you can use a true email validator to check the emails that don’t match.

This is a great way to verify email addresses in bulk. It’s especially effective for businesses that are just trying to minimize the number of emails they send to invalid email addresses.

But there’s one more way to check an email address.

Use Reverse Email Lookup

This isn’t quite the same as true email address validation. This won’t tell you if the email address exists or not. But it’s useful if you want to find out who an email address belongs to.

This is a kind of “soft validation” because most invalid emails aren’t assigned to anyone. It’s also handy if you have an email that you suspect may belong to someone, but need to make sure before you fire off any email messages.

In this case, you’d just take the email addresses, and use them to get names and addresses. That will tell you who owns the email addresses you have. This checks the email addresses you already have against a secondary source so you can be reasonably sure you know who’s on the other end of the email wire.

Verify email addresses by cross checking them against associated information.

This method can also be used with batch append services. So you can use it if you have huge lists of emails to match with names.

So, to sum up, there are a handful of ways to validate email addresses. Sending emails or pinging email servers can work if you need to be sure an email exists.

Batch append and reverse email address lookup can serve as soft email validation. They can tell you if the email has a name and other personal information attached to it, which usually signals that the email address is valid. These methods can be especially effective when they’re paired with true email validation to clean up inconsistencies.

Check out our email validator and our batch append services to find out which method works best for you. Then leave a comment and let us know how it worked!

 

How To Guide: Reverse Address Lookup
Aug
13

How to Do a Free Reverse Address Lookup (and What to Do if It Doesn’t Work)

Reverse address lookup is a super useful tool for most businesses.

Having an address for a lead or business contact opens up a lot of possibilities for marketing and follow up conversations.

If you have addresses for your entire customer base, you can do even more advanced analytics and make your advertising more targeted.

So, knowing how to do a reverse address lookup is a good skill to have in your pocket. We’ll show you how to do it in this post.

But, before we get into the meat of doing reverse address lookups, let’s cover the basics.

What is Reverse Address Lookup?

Reverse address lookup is simply using a street address to find out the name and phone number of the person that lives or works there, or who owns the property at that address.

Doing a reverse address lookup will get different results based on what sort of address you’re reversing.

Reverse IP address lookup is available, but it’s a different service. We’ll focus on physical addresses here…

How Accurate is Reverse Address Lookup?

Reverse address lookups are generally more accurate for single family residences or detached houses. If the address is a large apartment building or an office building with a lot of offices, the information can be spotty.

The trouble with apartments and office buildings is that people often leave out part of the address when they fill out official documents or public records.

This information can include:

  • The apartment number.
  • A fraction if there are two apartments in the same unit.
  • The office number or letter.

People sometimes do this out of convenience or because they don’t want to be found. Either way, these incomplete addresses make their way into marketing company databases or get used in organizational algorithms.

Whether you’re purchasing address lists, gathering them from customer registrations, scraping them from the internet, or using some other method of address collection, it’s critical that you verify the addresses are valid.

Even if you paid for the addresses, that doesn’t mean they’re correct or current.

You don’t want to waste time trying to find the name, phone number, or email address associated with a physical address that’s invalid. The most accurate and free way to validate addresses is to use the USPS Zip Code Lookup.

USPS Zip Code lookup helps you verify addresses before you search for them.

You can only lookup one address at a time using the USPS website. But it’s effective and it’s free. If you want bulk address validation, you may have to pay a bit for it.  

Once you know that an address is valid, you can do a reverse address lookup to find more information about that address.

How to Do a Reverse Address Lookup

How you go about doing a reverse address lookup comes down to how much time and money you’re willing to invest in finding address information.

While it’s possible to do a successful reverse address lookup for free, it could take you a significant chunk of time.

So reversing addresses yourself may not be a viable option if you’ve got a lot of addresses to lookup.

But if a free reverse address lookup makes sense for you, here’s how to do it:

Check Search Engines

The first place to look is search engines. Simply type the address into Google, Bing, Yahoo! or any other search engine. This won’t reliably turn up the information you need, but you might get lucky.

Go to Google first in your reverse address lookup

For private residences, the success rate using this method is rather low. But an internet search works quite well if the address belongs to a business. Businesses publicize their addresses so people can find them.

Reverse address lookup business results

If the address appears to be a business, double check to verify the right business is listed. Sometimes, the first results aren’t the actual business at that address, as you can see in the image below.

Sometimes the internet search results for a business reverse address lookup are incorrect.

Also, the information you find may be outdated or inaccurate. Be careful using information you find this way.

Search social networking sites

A standard internet search sometimes turns up information from social networks. But the best way to search the massive repository of information on social networks is by using the search function in the social networking apps themselves.

Check Facebook and other social networks in your reverse address search.

If someone has their address openly displayed on their Facebook or LinkedIn page, it should turn up when you search for that address.

Also check the less popular networking sites like MySpace. Although MySpace is mostly a ghost town now, there may be some address information left on an abandoned MySpace page.

Searching review sites like Yelp and Google reviews is a good way to find out if the address your reversing belongs to a business. Most businesses have their address listed on these pages so they can get reviews.

Remember, that just like information from search engines, anything you find on social networks may be old or incorrect information. Be cautious with this data as well.

Use a free online address lookup

Free online address lookup tools tend to be more reliable than internet searches in terms of finding some information. However, free online address lookups can’t guarantee the accuracy of the information they find.

Free address search tools rely mostly on information from the white pages and yellow pages. This information is publicly available. Most of it is used by police departments or published in libraries. That’s why information from these sources isn’t reliably found using a simple Google search.

Use a free reverse address lookup tool if you haven't found anything on the web.

 

Note: the white pages and yellow pages are public information for free use. Never pay for an online address search that relies only on these sources.

You’re less likely to come away from a free address lookup empty handed. But it’s probably unwise to hire a process service or pay to have something delivered to an address you found using a free address lookup tool.

Use a premium records search

If the free reverse address lookup methods don’t work for you, it may be time to invest a few dollars into your search.

A premium records search scours unpublished records like court proceeding records and marriage applications for information. All this information is publicly available but usually doesn’t show up in an internet search or free reverse address lookup.

Premium records searches are a good way to find names, phone numbers, email addresses, and aliases connected with an address. Premium records searches are also relatively inexpensive. But the information may not be 100% accurate.

You can also do bulk premium records searches, also called batch appends, if you have a list of addresses to check.

Reverse address lookup batch append.

You can simply upload a TXT, CSV, or Excel file with the addresses you need information for. Good services allow you to choose the information you need to gather.

Reverse address batch append information options.

It’s not entirely free. But a premium records search is a good compromise if you need to find decent information without investing a lot of time and money. Batch append services are usually reliable enough for businesses to use with purchased lists of leads or for completing customer profiles.

Note: some companies offer inexpensive non-recurring people search memberships. However, be wary of any people search company that wants you to sign up for a monthly subscription without knowing if they actually found the information you’re looking for.

A good reverse address lookup provider also won’t charge you if they don’t find any information.

Hire a professional

This is the best option if you:

  1. Need the most accurate information possible.
  2. Are willing to pay for it.

Hiring a private investigator is best when you need well-verified information. It’s also the most expensive and takes the longest.

To find information, a private investigator will usually do what’s called a utility search or a utility billing contact information search. The best way to get information about an address is to find out who pays the utility bills at that address.

This might point to a landlord. However, private investigators can often get tenant information with a bit more investigative work.

Finding information this way is usually very reliable. But beware of any private investigator who doesn’t offer at least a partial refund if they fail to find information for you.

All the same principles apply to doing a reverse address lookup for a PO box or a private or personal mailbox (PMB, like a UPS store box). You can try to find the information inexpensively or for free. But if you absolutely need verified information about the real address, it’s best to pay for an assisted search.

And one last thing…

Is a Reverse Address Lookup Legal?

In short, yes, using an address to find information is legal.

However, there may be protections for the way you use that information, depending on your business.

Protections provided by the government are fairly minimal in the United States. But there may be limitations or restrictions for using personal information in the terms of service for some businesses, such as Amazon sellers.

It may be perfectly legal to get information using a reverse address lookup. But check to be sure that you’re not breaking any rules when you use the information you find.

So, that’s it. If you’re trying to find information based on an address, these are your options.

The reverse address lookup method you use depends on how vital it is that you get accurate information. Searching the web or playing with free online address lookup tools can be entertaining. And a premium records search is accurate enough for many commercial business uses.

When you really need dependable information, though, you’ll probably have to invest in some professional services.

Leave a comment and let us know how you find address information, or check out our people finding tools if you need to do a reverse address lookup now.

Jul
12

Find Anyone Online, or Anything

find anything onlineAre you looking for information about your 20-year high school reunion?
What about financial information about a company you want to do business with?
Do you want to know who lived in the house you’re about to buy?

Never before has it been so easy and so accessible as it is now to get information on just about anything you can imagine. You can just type your search query into your favorite online search engine and within seconds, you’ll get pages and pages returned to you that is chock full of information.

 Find Anyone Online & Anything Online Via Searches

Online searching is not at all hard to do or difficult to get into. We’ll not only show you how to find anyone online, but anything.

Online searches can be limiting in some aspects, especially when you’re directed only to a company or business’ landing page. Those landing pages sometimes only have general information like contact information or a short blurb about the company’s objective or mission. In some situations, you want or need more information than what is on the main page, and for that, you’ll need to launch a more detailed, comprehensive search.

Companies that specialize in gathering detailed company information collect that information from a variety of sources, which can include private and/or public sources. There is not one main source that is used, but sometimes there are collections of sources investigated that help to compile the information. For instance:

  •  Public records and information may be obtained from courthouse records, deeds and/or property records. From such sources, individuals can glean information about previous private property owners or property purchases.
  • Archived educational records can be obtained from the school source or from database management software. This is what a lot of businesses and individuals use to plan school reunions or find classmates.

Online Via SearchesSometimes, all that’s needed to locate information is a small tidbit of information about the source. To locate particular information about a source so as to get more information, it’s helpful to have handy as much information as possible. For instance:

  • For information about a company’s Board of Directors or a particular board member, you’ll need to have the company’s name, or perhaps the year(s) that you think the executive served with the company.
  • Interested in opening your own franchise? Check the information online about the company’s locations to see if they have a franchise in your state or area, or perhaps would be willing to start one.
  • What is the average home selling price for the houses on your cul-de-sac? Online searches will return information that gives you the average purchase price, home and property appreciation statistics or the average selling prices for the homes in the last 5 years.
  • Even if you’re interested in genealogy and tracing your family’s history, you can use online sources to locate information about your family’s name and heritage. Or, you can even find long lost family members or extended family that you may not have even known about!
  • Although it’s hard to imagine, there ARE people who have money that they don’t know about. Online searches by state or last name can return information about uncashed checks, money inheritances, 401k or retirement money that’s unclaimed.

In general, the more information that you can supply, the better the returned searches will be. However, even if you only have limited information, you can still get good, quality information from reliable sources.

Also, remember to always use a trusted and reliable source to get good search information. While many would argue that information is free, it takes money and expenses to compile good information, and that is what individuals are paying for. It takes time to scour public records, to key in database information and also to write the software that culls in this same information.

This information is not something that an average person can generally get on their own, so search companies are the ideal resource to use. Besides, most reputable companies will offer you a trial subscription to test their services before you make a full, long-term commitment. This works out ideally for the search company and the user. Go ahead, try to find anyone online, or anything.

Feb
26

Databases for Freelance Writing

In many cases, the lives of freelance writers used to involve a great deal of travel, roaming around in search of stories to investigate and subjects to profile for various magazines and journals. Of course, some freelancers today still enjoy that sort of a lifestyle. But more and more, freelancing involves simply turning on a computer to find business websites, online publications and individuals who are looking to pay writers for articles and other content, this is where databases for freelance writing comes in.

Cartoon for Databases for Freelance Writers ArtilceMany times freelancers bid against one another for these jobs, and of course, the lowest bid often receives the assignment. And once a piece has been assigned to a freelancer, her or his next step might be to use a search engine to conduct necessary research. She or he composes the piece, emails it to whoever asked for it, and at last gets paid, usually through an electronic payment service such as PayPal. Finding enough work to make a living is probably the most daunting challenge here, but databases for freelance writers can help.

What Kinds of Databases Exist for Freelance Writing?

Many databases for freelance writing now exist to provide comprehensive lists of those individuals and companies seeking, well.. freelance writers. (Some of these assignments are ongoing; others represent one-time-only affairs.) Many of the writers’ databases for freelance writing are free to use, though some require membership fees. Those fees are often modest, however, and many freelancers find that paid databases are worth their price of admission many times over.

For those freelancers who write fiction or literary nonfiction, there are also databases which list the publications which review and publish such works. On these databases the individual publications state how many words each submission should be, what kind of style the editors are looking for, whether there are any restrictions on what an author can write (no profanity, for instance), and how much, if anything, the writer will be paid should his or her piece be published. Fortunately, most of these databases are searchable, allowing you to quickly match up the content and style of your work with the publications most likely be interested in it.

Remember that, as a freelance writer, joining a database that lists paid assignments will not in itself guarantee a full schedule of work. Rather, you need to use these databases skillfully. Check them regularly – as often as you can, in fact. Be sure not to bid for articles on topics which you know nothing about. These projects will require lots of extra research, and you’re not compensated for time spent doing research. Always, always turn in your best work, too, or else your reputation as a writer will plummet, and with it your prospects of future work. And have on hand an updated, properly-formatted resume to submit at a moment’s notice; saving a cover letter template on your computer is a smart thing to do as well.

Databases for freelance writing can also be useful for anyone in  search of a talented writer. Let’s say you’re a dentist, and in order to improve your Internet search engine rankings you want to add a number of articles about dental health to your business website. All you have to do is go to a directory of writers, such as the one FreelanceSuccess.com has – most of these directories are free to peruse – and search for writers who have listed ‘dentistry’ or ‘dental hygiene’ among their areas of expertise. You might be able to search according to how much a writer expects for compensation, or by the states and cities in which writers live, or even by freelancers’ last names (in case you’ve received a hot tip about a certain writer). Many of these databases are updated quite often, perhaps weekly.

In some instances, a professional organization will maintain a list of freelance writers who are experts in topics relating to their field. For example, the National Education Writers Association keeps an updated list of writers who are knowledgeable about education, and knowledgeable about general issues relating to children and teenagers. On their website, ewa.org, you can sign up to locate such a writer.