When it comes to SEO, links are known to be an important ranking signal. Google uses links as one way to determine how relevant your website is. The more highly authoritative sites link back to you, the better. But how do you earn quality backlinks?
“HARO”, i.e. Help A Reporter Out, is a popular online service by Cision for journalists to collect feedback from the public. HARO offers journalists a strong database of sources for upcoming stories and everyday opportunities for sources to earn worthwhile media coverage. Although HARO is used mainly by reporters searching for subject matter experts, PR professionals also use it for content marketing and building backlinks.
In this article, I’ll discuss what HARO is, how it works, and 8 tips for using HARO effectively for SEO. Let’s dive in.
What is Help a Reporter Out (HARO)?
Help a Reporter Out (HARO) is a service that connects journalists with sources for their stories. It helps publishers find credible contributors, gather quotes, and land valuable media coverage for brands and individuals with their articles and press releases.
How Does HARO Work?
Both journalists and content contributors can benefit from HARO. Journalists get help with content creation, and sources get backlinks and PR from reputable websites.
Here’s how HARO works…
Reporters, journalists, and media outlets can sign up for HARO and submit requests for sources, which then get pushed out to HARO’s wider email list.
Essentially, reporters send out a request for information or sources on a particular topic, and then individuals and organizations who are interested in being interviewed or quoted as a source can respond to the request. The reporter can then review the responses and choose the sources that best fit their needs.
HARO is free for sources to use, and reporters can subscribe to receive email alerts about new requests that match their areas of expertise. The service is especially useful for reporters who are working on tight deadlines and need to find sources quickly, or for experts and organizations who want to get their message out to a wider audience through the media.
If you are interested in becoming a “source” or contributor, you take a different path to sign up for HARO.
You can start by signing up for the Basic Subscription package. You’ll submit your primary contact information and then will be added to HARO’s email list.
After that, you’ll receive an email that says that you’ll receive 3 emails per day from Monday to Friday. These emails come from journalists and contain relevant queries on various topics.
You can opt-in to receive queries from the following industries:
- lifestyle and fitness
- public policy and government
- business and finance
Journalist requests will typically include the primary topic, the point of contact’s name, the name of the publication, a description of the project/article, and the submission deadline.
In order to be considered as a source, you should reply to the requests you are most interested in/qualified for. Journalists then decide which responses they want to use. Once they’ve decided, they’ll respond to you if they find your response matches their requirements. Finally, you’ll get featured in their publication!
Here is an example:
Remember: there is no guarantee that your query will be selected, regardless of your in-depth knowledge of the subject.
How Can HARO Help with SEO?
HARO can be a useful tool for helping to improve your SEO by providing an opportunity for you to be featured in news articles and other media outlets.
Being featured in a news article or other media outlet can be beneficial for your website’s search engine optimization (SEO) because it can help to increase the credibility and authority of your site. By being featured in a reputable publication, you can increase users’ trust in your brand.
When a reputable news outlet or other authoritative source links to your website, it can signal to search engines that your site is a trustworthy and informative resource on a particular topic. The domain authority of the other website can essentially provide a boost to your own website.
Backlinks can help your site to rank higher in search engine results, which can lead to more traffic and visibility for your business or organization.
Is HARO Worth It?
It’s important to note that being featured in a news article or other media outlet is just one aspect of SEO, and there are many other factors that can impact your site’s ranking in search results.
To get the most benefit from HARO, it’s important to have a well-designed and informative website, and to use best practices for SEO, such as creating high-quality content and using relevant keywords in your website’s content and metadata.
Consider your goals
Your decision to use HARO as a link-building technique will depend on your goals. If you’re a small business, HARO is frequently cited as one of the most effective methods to build your backlink profile which is an essential component of a high-performing SEO strategy.
Be discerning of the publications
It wouldn’t sound too honest to say HARO is without its downsides. The most significant disadvantage of HARO is that too many websites and SEO agencies nowadays use HARO as part of strategies for their clients. Anyone can easily sign up to HARO as a source which gives more room for illegitimate websites looking for an immediate win.
Mind the competition
Furthermore, your submission may be neglected because of the high number of responses. This could mean a serious time commitment from your end to writing a pitch for nothing in return. There can be a lot of competition when it comes to the more desirable publication placements.
Despite the above drawbacks, you can still use HARO to its maximum potential. Learn how below!
8 Tips for Using HARO Effectively for SEO
HARO allows you to connect with highly authoritative platforms and websites and receive top-quality links and organic referral traffic.
The challenging part is that journalists receive dozens of replies which makes your chance of getting attention slim. Nevertheless, here are 4 tips you can immediately apply to your HARO replies!
1. Be selective
Not every request for sources is relevant to your expertise or interests. Only respond to requests that are a good fit for your knowledge and experience.
2. Be timely
Reporters often have tight deadlines, so it’s important to respond to requests as soon as possible. Make sure to check your email regularly and respond promptly to any requests that you’re interested in.
3. Keep your pitch short and concise
While responding to HARO queries, get straight to answering the question. Stay away from adding pieces of information that don’t add any value and come across as off-topic.
Vague and generic statements are a great way to lose your readers. You don’t want that to happen, do you? Instead, aim to offer as much information as the shortest answer. That’s it.
Cut the wordy expressions and superfluous writing. I recommend keeping HARO responses short and laser-focused on the journalist’s request.
4. Be unique
What could possibly be worse than a wordy reply? Undoubtedly, a generic response.
The solution? Choose an angle and be original. Tap into your personal experience and share some lessons learned from your past experience, if relevant. A unique angle could be what helps you stand out from the other replies.
Reporters receive tens, if not hundreds of responses from sources that wish to get featured. Bringing a unique angle to your answer can communicate complex and technical topics with greater impact and nuance. The fun part? Once you come up with a good angle, responding to a HARO query becomes exciting, since you know what to put in and what to remove. After all, what matters is the insightfulness of your response, not the length.
5. Establish your credibility from the get-go
Don’t make reporters go out of their way to verify your expertise and credibility. Show that you are who you are and you know what you write about.
Include important information like your current job title, the organization you work for, relevant qualifications, news articles you contributed to, and the website link you want to be referenced if your answer is published.
Once you’re successful in showing that you have a high level of knowledge and skill in a particular field, you’ll be seen as a subject matter expert. Building your credibility from the beginning is the basis of evaluation as your answer to a HARO query creates real value for the intended reader.
6. Don’t get salesy in your answer
HARO is all about receiving information. Valuable information, to be exact.
Refrain from selling in your reply. Your HARO responses should serve to highlight your credibility, not pitch the publisher on your services or promote your own brand/products.
Unless you’re specifically asked if you have working experience with, say, a particular CMS solution for SEO, you shouldn’t rehash much of anything beyond your company name and how your experience lends credibility to your response.
7. Follow up
If you don’t hear back from a reporter after you’ve responded to a request, it’s okay to follow up once or twice to see if they have any further questions or need additional information. However, be sure not to be too pushy or persistent.
8. Keep track of your responses
It can be helpful to keep a record of the requests that you’ve responded to and the status of each one. This can help you to stay organized and avoid duplicating your efforts.
By following these tips, you can increase your chances of being selected as a source and attracting backlinks and traffic to your website.
Final Thoughts on Using HARO for SEO
Every website wants to secure backlinks from high-authority websites. One of the well-known tactics to earn backlinks is using HARO, a service that allows you to connect directly with journalists and media outlets online.
HARO is one of the more organic backlink-building methods because it relies on genuine responses and high-authority publications. There can be a lot of competition, but the payoff is worth it.
Have you used HARO for SEO? Let me know in the comments below.