HARO: Beginner’s Guide

HARO for link building jolly seo

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HARO is a free service that connects journalists looking for sources for their articles with business owners, CEOs, and professionals who can give interesting quotes. HARO covers a broad range of topics, from business and finance to lifestyle and fitness, so whatever your area of expertise, there will be a journalist wanting to cite you.

HARO is a win-win for both parties. The journalist gets an expert quote to spice up their article. You get media exposure that enhances your image and credibility. Plus you could land a high-authority backlink from the published article that will improve your SEO and boost your organic traffic.

What is HARO?

HARO was created in 2008 by public relations expert Peter Shankman. It started as a small Facebook group but has since expanded into a huge network connecting more than 800,000 sources with over 55,000 journalists. 

In its current form, HARO broadcasts emails three times a day from Monday to Friday to anyone who is signed up to their email list. Each email is a compilation of journalists’ requests for expert sources for their articles. 

HARO’s requests typically specify the expertise of the person they’d like to quote and include specific questions the journalist needs to be answered. Responses to the requests are submitted by email and should include the responder’s name, position, company, and links to their website and LinkedIn profile.

HARO v Regular PR

HARO gives you better odds than regular PR (public relations). With regular PR you’re sending unsolicited pitches to journalists’ already overflowing inboxes, hoping the journalist will be interested in what you have to say and then write about it. 

With HARO, you know precisely what the journalist is interested in as they are asking a clearly defined question. So if you have the necessary expertise and can craft a compelling answer you stand a good chance of being featured.  

For a journalist to post a query on HARO, their website must have an Alexa ranking of 1 million or less (it must rank in the top 1 million websites in the world). This means that HARO’s queries are all from reputable websites, including some of the biggest publications in the game, such as The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. With this kind of reach, HARO is a credible and viable alternative to regular PR.

How does HARO work for link building?

HARO is a powerful tool for improving your SEO for two reasons: high-quality backlinks and earned media.

High-quality backlinks

HARO is a source of high-quality backlinks, the type of links that will have the greatest positive impact on your SEO.

High-quality backlinks have three characteristics: natural, reputable, and relevant. 

  • Natural: The journalists’ websites freely choose to link to your website to credit your contribution, and not because you paid them to do so. 
  • Reputable: The queries featured in HARO are from established, well-respected publications. 
  • Relevant: If you are answering a query that relates to your professional expertise, the backlink to your website will be relevant to the topic of the query.

A good metric for assessing the quality of a backlink is the domain rating (DR) of the publication’s website. DR ranges from 0 to 100. The higher the DR, the more powerful the backlink for SEO. For example, Forbes.com has a DR of 94. 

You can check a website’s DR with ahref’s website authority checker.

ahrefs authority checker how to use HARO jolly SEO

Earned media

HARO is a source of earned media. When journalists mention your brand as they quote you in a published article, this is a form of earned media.

There are three types of media in marketing: paid, owned, and earned: 

  • Paid media: Ads and sponsored content. 
  • Owned media: Your website, emails, and social media content. 
  • Earned media: Mentions of your brand which are not paid for.

HARO counts as earned media because you are not paying the publications to mention your brand.

Earned media is arguably the most powerful form of the three types of media for three reasons:

  • Brand exposure: It builds awareness of what you do and brand recognition.
  • Social proof: People notice your brand being featured in other publications.
  • Credibility: Publications featuring you without you having to pay them.

How to use HARO

haro link building jolly SEO
  • Go to helpareporter.com
  • Click “Sign Up” and fill in your details in the form.

You have now created your HARO account.

  • Click on “My Account.”
  • Under “Account Options,” select “Source.”
  • Under “HARO Preferences”, select “Master HARO” to receive all queries, or select only the specific categories you’re interested in.

From now on, HARO will email you queries three times a day, at 5:35 a.m., 12:35 p.m., and 5:35 p.m. EST. This can quickly get overwhelming, so it is a good idea to set up a filter for HARO emails to bypass your inbox and be collected under a designated label.

This is an example of a HARO query in the “Business and Finance” category:

You won’t always be notified if your response to a query was used. A good way to track your successful pitches is to set up a Google Alert for your name. Now, when an article mentions your name, you will receive an email about it. 

Best Tips for Pitching With HARO

Follow these tips to give you the best chance of success on HARO:

  • Choose the right query: Pick queries that you are qualified to answer, are relevant to your business, and come from respected websites. HARO is highly competitive, and you will be wasting your time if you pitch queries indiscriminately. 
  • Respond quickly: Popular queries can attract up to three hundred responses, so it pays to be amongst the first to hit the journalist’s inbox. But if you do respond late, leave it until just before the deadline as it might just catch the journalist’s eye before they write their piece. 
  • Address the query: Don’t ramble on about how great you are, hoping to impress the journalist. You won’t. Read the query and answer it as accurately and concisely as you can. HARO’s guidelines recommend no more than 300 words per pitch. 
  • Write well: Journalists are looking for responses that they can copy and paste into their articles as expert quotes. So make sure you write in a way that is suitable for publication. Pay close attention to the grammar, style, and tone of your writing. 

Is HARO worth it?

Brand exposure, building high-quality backlinks, and driving traffic to your website are some of the key goals of any business. HARO does all three of these for zero cost, so it’s definitely worth it.

Having said that, HARO can be highly competitive. For popular queries, you could be competing with as many as three hundred other brands to be one of the few quoted in the published article. 

If you’re an excellent writer and can spare an hour or two a day, you could give pitching HARO queries a try.

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