If you’ve been involved in SEO for any length of time, you’ve probably heard of HARO (Help a Reporter Out). At first glance, you may have thought it was just a resource for getting press mentions and considered it irrelevant to link building.
But HARO can actually be a powerful link-building tool – if you know how to use it correctly. In this post, we’ll introduce you to the basics of HARO link building and show you how to get the most out of this resource.
What Is HARO?
HARO is a platform that connects journalists with sources for their stories. Journalists post their story pitches on the platform, and sources can respond with relevant information, quotes, or other contributions. These journalists can be working for major publications or smaller niche sites – which means there’s the potential to get some high-quality links.
How Does HARO Work for Link Building?
As a link builder, what you’re interested in is the fact that journalists often (or almost always) include links to sources in their articles. That makes it a win-win situation – the journalist gets a quote or information for their article, and you get a link to your site, which is great for SEO.
Of course, it’s not quite that simple. You still need to put in some effort to make sure your response is selected and that you’re providing something valuable to the journalist. That’s especially since HARO requests are sent to hundreds or even thousands of potential sources in HARO’s daily emails, so the competition can be stiff.
How to Make the Most of HARO for Link Building
Should you just give up because of the competition? Absolutely not! With a little effort, you can make HARO work for you and your link-building efforts. Here are a few tips to boost your chances of success:
1. Be On Top Of Your Inbox
The first and most important step is to make sure you’re actually reading the HARO emails when they come in. Journalists are on tight deadlines, so they often need information quickly. That means if you want your response to be selected, you need to be one of the first to reply. If your name is at the top of the list, you’re more likely to be chosen.
Ideally, you should check your inbox multiple times a day, but we understand that’s not always possible. If you can’t do that, try setting up an email filter, so the messages go straight to their own folder in your inbox. That way, you can check it as often as you can and never miss an opportunity.
2. Be Selective in the Inquiries You Respond To
After just a few days of subscribing to HARO, you’ll start to get a feel for the kinds of requests that come in. You’ll also see that some are more relevant to your site than others.
For instance, if you run a pet store, you’re not going to respond to a request about the best travel destinations for solo female travelers. But if the request is about the best gifts for pet lovers, that’s something you could definitely provide input on.
The key here is to be selective in the requests you respond to. You don’t want to waste your time responding to totally irrelevant requests – especially since journalists often receive hundreds of responses. By being selective, you can focus your efforts on the requests that are most likely to result in a link.
3. Keep Your Response Short and Sweet
Next, when you do reply to a request, make sure your response is short, sweet, and to the point. You shouldn’t go over 200 words – and the shorter, the better. Journalists are just looking for some insights, not a long, drawn-out response. That’s unless, of course, they specifically ask for a longer contribution.
You should also avoid going off on tangents or trying to sell your products or services. If you attempt to drop links to your site or all your social media profiles, your response will likely be ignored because it looks like you’re just trying to promote yourself.
4. Make Your Contribution Valuable and Actionable
Apart from length, the most important thing to keep in mind is that your contribution needs to be valuable and actionable. That means it should provide some insights that the reader can actually use.
For instance, if you’re responding to a request about eco-friendly living, you might want to share some tips on how to save energy around the home that can’t be found just anywhere. You should also focus on providing unique insights into yourself and your experience. If you have some interesting data or stories to share, that’s even better!
Similarly, if you’re responding to a request about keyword research tools, you might want to share some tips on how you use those tools to get the most out of them. Your use case might be different from others, so your insights will be valuable to the reader.
In contrast, generic comments or tips that can be found anywhere won’t do you any good. Journalists are looking for original, valuable insights – not regurgitated information that’s readily available online.
5. Avoid Fluff at All Costs
Finally, you want to avoid what we like to call “fluff.” This is the kind of information that’s not really useful or interesting, but it’s included just for the sake of filling up space.
For instance, let’s say you’re asked to contribute your thoughts on the best summer beauty products. A fluff response might be something like, “Oh, the summer days, they’re just so hot, you know? I just can’t stand it when my makeup starts running down my face. But with this new setting spray, my makeup stays put all day long!”
While that response might be polite and somewhat relevant, it doesn’t really provide any valuable insights. And chances are, the journalist will quickly move on to the next response. That’s as opposed to a response that actually talks about the products and what makes them great for summertime.
Should You Do HARO Yourself Or Seek a HARO Link-Building Service?
Now that you know a little more about how HARO works, it’s time to decide whether or not you want to use the platform yourself or seek out a HARO link-building service.
If you do decide to use HARO, you’ll need to be prepared to put in the time and effort. Remember, you’ll need to scour the requests daily, respond to the relevant ones, and hope your response is selected.
It can be a lot of work – but if you’re up for it, it’s definitely worth giving it a shot. After all, you could potentially score some high-quality backlinks from some big-name publications.
On the other hand, if you don’t have the time or energy to put into it, it’s best to seek out a HARO link-building service. That way, you can focus on running your business while someone else takes care of the nitty-gritty details.
The Benefits of Seeking a HARO Link-Building Service
There are a few key benefits to seeking out a HARO link-building service, as opposed to doing it yourself. Here are the main ones.
1. They Monitor the Requests for You
First and foremost, a HARO link-building service will monitor the requests for you. They’ll sift through them all and only send pitches that are relevant to your business or website. This saves you a ton of time, as you won’t need to scour the requests yourself every day.
Initially, monitoring your inbox won’t sound like a lot of work, but trust us – it quickly becomes a huge time-suck, which is why it’s best to leave it to the professionals.
2. They’re Quick to Respond
Even if you manage to monitor your inbox yourself, monitoring is only half the battle. You also need to be quick to respond if you want your response to be selected. Of course, you won’t always be able to do this, especially if you’re running a business.
A HARO link-building service, on the other hand, will always be quick to respond. After all, that’s their job! They understand that journalists are working on tight deadlines, so they make sure to get their pitches in as soon as possible.
3. They Use a Laser-Targeted Approach to Pitching
When you’re doing HARO yourself, chances are you’ll follow a scattergun approach to pitching. That is, you’ll respond to as many requests as possible in the hopes that one of your responses is selected.
With a HARO link-building service, on the other hand, you can be much more strategic about your pitches. The service will only pitch you to journalists who are likely to be interested in what you have to say – increasing your chances of being selected.
4. They’re Backed By Expertise
Because HARO is one of their core offerings, link-building services have a lot of experience and expertise when it comes to using the platform. They know how to craft responses that stand out, how to target the right journalists, and how to follow up in a way that’s both professional and effective.
In other words, they know what works – and what doesn’t. Accordingly, when it’s time to pitch, they’ll be able to put their knowledge to work and give you the best chance of success. That’s especially when it comes to ticking the right boxes regarding how your response should look and sound.
5. They Focus on Domain Authority
Finally, what’s the point of getting your website featured in a big-name publication if that publication doesn’t have a high domain authority? After all, if they don’t have much authority, your link likely won’t carry much weight.
That’s something you don’t need to worry about when you seek out a HARO link-building service, as they only pitch you to publications that have high domain authority. This means you can be sure that any links you do get will actually help improve your website’s SEO.
The Bottom Line: Is HARO Worth It?
When done correctly, HARO can be a great way to get high-quality backlinks from some big-name publications. However, it’s important to remember that HARO isn’t a magic bullet. It takes time, effort, and expertise to use the platform successfully – which is why many businesses choose to seek out a HARO link-building service.
A link-building service will take care of all the heavy lifting for you, from monitoring requests to pitching to journalists. All you need to do is sit back and wait for the links to come rolling in. At ShiftWeb, we offer a comprehensive HARO link-building service that can help you get the links you need to improve your website’s SEO. Contact us today to learn more!