Links from media sources can be some of the most authoritative and beneficial backlinks for your site. Luckily, you don’t have to know a reporter to score a media link. HARO can be an effective tool for acquiring links from major publications, even if you don’t know the editor. Read on to learn what HARO is, how it can help you get backlinks, and how you can mount your own HARO link building campaigns.
What Is HARO?
HARO (Help A Reporter Out) is a resource that connects reporters and journalists to the knowledgeable sources they need to complete their articles. Journalists, reporters, bloggers, and influencers use HARO to find sources and contributors for the stories they’re working on. At the same time, HARO allows public persons to share their expertise with contributions to these stories. Essentially, HARO makes it easier to connect with the biggest and best media outlets in your industry.
By signing up for the platform, which offers free and premium services, subject matter experts can contribute to proposed articles from journalists. In return, contributors can get a mention in the completed article — and sometimes high quality backlinks, too. It’s a win-win situation for both journalists and contributors.
Reporters at major publications like the New York Times, Forbes, Entrepreneur, Wall Street Journal, and more use HARO to find sources and contributors. By offering your expertise on the platform, you have a chance to score some high-quality media backlinks.
What makes these media backlinks so valuable? The fact that they come from such authoritative and reputable sites. One recent study into how HARO works found that 53% of the 2500 queries from reporters studied originated from websites that had a Domain Rating (DR) of 70 or above. Since backlinks are crucial for a successful SEO strategy, integrating HARO links into your digital marketing strategy can help you increase your organic search visibility and rank higher in search.
Keep in mind that some of these backlinks may be nofollow links. These won’t pass link equity, however, they may help send more referral traffic to your website.
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How HARO Works
HARO sends an email three times daily with queries and requests made by journalists and others. These emails usually come Monday to Friday at 5:35 am EST, 12:35 pm EST, and 5:35 pm EST. After registering to use the platform, set your profile to ‘source’ to begin receiving these emails.
Initially, you’ll be subscribed to the master list of industries and will receive queries on all kinds of topics. However, you can change this in your HARO preferences by checking and unchecking which fields you want to prioritize.
Once you receive these emails, scan the queries manually or use keyword filters to find the ones relevant to your expertise.
If you find a topic you’re knowledgeable about, craft a response in a document. Then, go to the HARO website and head to the ‘My Pitches’ section. Click on ‘Submit A New Pitch,’ and fill out the reporter’s email, copy/paste your pitch into the box, add a subject title, and submit it.
You may receive a response if a writer decides to use your contribution. You may also get a backlink from the site that publishes the article. Not every media outlet will choose to link to your site. However, even if they don’t, you’re building brand awareness.
Why Use HARO For Link Building?
Cold pitching articles or other types of contributions typically have a low response rate, especially when dealing with major publications. After all, editors and journalists are busy people. Instead of taking the time to send a pitch and write a whole story, HARO lets you more easily connect with journalists.
HARO’s system makes everyone’s life simpler by allowing reporters and journalists to request contributions directly. It filters out what journalists and editors need and don’t need, saving you from wasting your time pitching unwanted stories.
A HARO link building campaign can be especially beneficial for businesses, brands, and consultants looking for exposure and SEO backlinks, as well as for non-profits looking to gain exposure for their projects. Just be sure that even if you’re focused on building links, you follow HARO’s rules.
How To Get HARO Backlinks
Ready to try scoring some HARO backlinks for yourself? Here are the five steps to HARO link building.
1. Get Familiar With The Rules
Before creating an account, take some time to familiarize yourself with HARO’s rules.
The best place to start is with HARO’s ‘Rules For Sources’ page. Browse the most important rules for contributors, so you know exactly what HARO expects of you.
Be aware that you’ll only receive one warning for violating these rules. A second infraction will result in being banned from the platform.
Many people use HARO as part of their public relations strategy, while others focus primarily on backlinks. However, HARO’s rules strictly prohibit sources from requiring backlinks for their contribution. This means that while a journalist may include a link back to your site, you shouldn’t bargain for or demand one.
Does this negate HARO’s viability as a way to gain quality backlinks? I don’t think so, since even if you don’t get a backlink, you’ll receive a mention that will help boost your brand visibility and awareness.
2. Create An Account
After you’ve familiarized yourself with how HARO works and its rules, click on ‘SIGN UP’ to register as a source.
HARO will prompt you to choose from one of its four plans.
The basic plan provides you with three emails per day in addition to email support, should you need it. It’s an excellent place to start for beginners or if you just want to check out how the platform works.
However, if you plan to use HARO a lot, the paid plans can provide you with plenty of valuable features that can help you to screen HARO requests more efficiently, create profiles, see requests before other users, access phone support, and more.
Select the plan you want and complete registration to start receiving HARO emails.
3. Find Appropriate Requests
The only queries you should answer are those within your area of expertise. But how can you find them among a long list of possible articles?
If you’re a free HARO member, you’ll need to scan each email manually to find the appropriate queries and filter out the unwanted ones.
If you’re a paid member, you can automatically filter the email for the requests and queries you want. Depending on your membership level, you may also be able to search requests at any time.
Rather than wasting time responding to every request you come across, prioritize topics within your area of expertise. Journalists will look at your title and the business you represent to determine whether you’re a credible source, so it’s not helpful to submit pitches to every query. Use HARO’s keyword filtering tools to filter out the query you may not be qualified to contribute to, and respond only to those that you’re most likely to be accepted for.
4. Create HARO Pitches
Now that you’ve zeroed in on a query, it’s time to craft a pitch to get you noticed.
Aim to send out a well-thought-out response that authoritatively answers the query. Address the need in a way that makes the reporter’s life easy.
For example, if the query includes multiple questions, take time to answer each of them, not just one or two. Ideally, you want to provide the journalist with precisely what they’re looking for without distracting them with extra details. This will increase your chances of being selected as a contributor.
A short response of just a few lines will likely not be enough. However, you don’t want to go overboard with your response, either. Keep your HARO pitch concise and limited to a few hundred words. This will allow you to craft a pitch fast since responding to a query as quickly is always a good idea.
Check HARO emails as soon as they come in so you can create a timely pitch. Some inquiries have tight response times, so if you want the best chance to score some HARO backlinks, you’ll need to be expeditious. If you wait to submit your pitch, it will push you further down their inbox, and they’ll likely speak to someone else instead.
Don’t forget to include a bio and a link at the end of your pitch so the journalist can include them in the published article if they choose to. If you’re a free HARO member, you’ll need to add your bio to your replies manually. If you’re a paid member, your membership may allow you to create different profiles with individual bios that will automatically be added to the end of replies.
5. Help a Reporter Out
Once you submit your pitch, you may or may not receive a response. There’s no need to follow up on pitches if you don’t receive a response. Some top-tier publications receive countless pitches per week and simply don’t have the time to go over each pitch, much less respond to each one.
If someone selects your response, they may contact you to let you know they’ve used your contribution or will publish it in an upcoming article, but not always. Sometimes you may have to keep an eye out for yourself. Set up a Google Alert for your name if you want to receive notifications when someone publishes one of your contributions.
Find Quality Backlinking Opportunities
Patience is key to the HARO link-building method. A journalist may not use your first pitch, but if you incorporate these HARO link-building strategies into your marketing plan, you’ll eventually score valuable HARO backlinks and build your brand awareness.
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