As a business owner or marketer, you probably understand how crucial it is to have a strong link-building strategy. Since online competition is fierce, you can’t afford to miss out on promising growth opportunities that deliver results. Link building is surely one of them. It is one of the factors that determine the ranking of your website in Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs).
When search engines rank your site, they take into account the links that lead to your site. Your SEO health is determined based on the quality of links pointing to your site. When highly reputable and authoritative sites link to you, it becomes so much easier to rank your website and other content appearing on top of search results.
While there are so many ways to acquire links, HARO allows you to land high authority links with ease and uplevel your link-building game. In this post, we’ll define what HARO is, how it works, and how you can use and scale it to strengthen your online presence.
Let’s get started!
What is HARO?
You probably have used link-building tools like Ahrefs and Moz Link Explorer. While most link-building tools help you streamline your efforts, HARO offers an entirely unique way of getting quality links from big media.
HARO or Help a Reporter Out is a free service that connects journalists and PR sources. It is an incredible way to attract links from high authority publications such as New York Post and Forbes. Imagine how much boost your SEO strategy can get if journalists start mentioning your company or content in their publications.
Sounds interesting? It surely does because HARO allows you to pitch smarter and gain the media coverage your business needs to excel in a competitive environment. It is a community of 800,000 users who connect with journalists to achieve their link-building goals with ease.
How HARO Works
At this point, you might be thinking about how HARO really works and how you can be part of the HARO community. Let’s take a brief look at how this platform works!
HARO provides journalists and reporters with a database of sources that help them create great news stories. In other words, websites like Wall Street Journal use HARO to request expert insights for their stories. These requests are sent to bloggers, influencers, and other experts via email. When a journalist requests an expert opinion and they choose to use yours, you’ll get a backlink.
It’s beneficial for both the journalist and your business: journalists create stories backed up by real-time insights while you get high-quality links from high authority publications. All you need to do is register on HARO and be willing to help writers and journalists with whatever information they need to create value-rich stories.
Why do Journalists Use HARO
Hundreds of requests from journalists pass through HARO every day. Those requests encompass invitations to interviews and TV shows, search for products to be reviewed, and search for partners for media projects, to name a few. However, you need to watch out for requests for insights, quotes, and comments from experts.
Journalists value personal experience and understanding of the industry. This means you have to be an expert in something in order to help journalists improve the quality of their articles.
How to Sign Up on HARO as a Source
It takes a few minutes to register on HARO and start finding link-building opportunities. Here is what you need to do to join the platform:
- Sign up
Follow a simple sign-up process to get registered. Go to HARO’s homepage and click the signup button to fill-up the form. Be sure to select the right type of account. You can join the platform as a ‘source’ or a ‘journalist’.
After hitting the sign-up button, activate your account by clicking the certification link you received in the email.
- Set up your profile
The next step is to set up your profile by providing some general information. You can select the specific industries to receive relevant queries. Save and update your information and preferences to start receiving queries.
- Start responding to queries
Here we go, you’re all set to start responding to queries. When you open a query email, you’ll see an index with the query and the media requesting your thoughts. You can quickly identify the topic of a query in the subject line.
The most important piece of the puzzle in HARO link building is creating killer pitches. You have to spend some time mastering the art of writing perfect query responses. This is what the next part of this blog is all about.
How to Design Your HARO Pitch
Your pitch will do all the magic. Follow these tips to prepare impactful responses:
1. Read queries carefully
Make sure to carefully read the query before responding to it. Not every query is going to be an ideal opportunity. So be sure to read the requirements to determine whether or not you meet the criteria.
For instance, if they’re looking to get information from a tech startup and you’re a food blogger, your pitch will be discarded. On top, journalists might report you as spam. You don’t want to crowd their inbox and waste their time? When you respond to the right queries, it helps you and the journalists save time.
2. Write a catchy subject line
Start with a catchy title as you have only a few seconds to grab a reporter’s attention. Just like any other marketing email, you have to create a great first impression. The subject line can play a decisive role in encouraging or preventing a journalist from opening your email.
Imagine you have to meet a strict deadline and you got hundreds of emails to scan through? What are you going to do? You wouldn’t be able to waste time reading everything you receive. So, make sure you come up with an attractive subject line that reflects the interests of journalists.
In your subject line, include the name of the publication and HARO. Your goal is to make the reporter read your email.
3. Introduce yourself
To make your response personalized, address the journalist by their name in your greetings. After enthusiastic greetings, use the first paragraph to quickly explain how your expertise is relevant to what they’re looking for. You should start the intro paragraph with your name.
Mention your accomplishments to establish your credibility. For example, if you’ve been published on reputable platforms like Forbes or HBR, feel free to mention it. Here is a quick example:
“My name is Alex. I am a founder of (company/website name) that has been mentioned in (publication). I think I have a unique perspective to offer”.
4. Answer the query
After introducing yourself in a couple of sentences, get straight to the point and answer the query in the form of a quote. Explain exactly what the reporter is looking for. If a query asks more than one question, answer each of them in a concise fashion. Keep things as short as possible.
Journalists have to incorporate your information into their articles. So, write quotes with each sentence conveying a complete thought and each paragraph a complete idea. Don’t use lists or any other format that makes it difficult for journalists to quote your opinion.
Also, one sentence shouldn’t reference another: each sentence should be independent. In addition, structure your pitch in a way that makes it easy to skim through. Delete anything that can’t be used as a quote. Highlight key ideas to catch the journalists’ eye.
5. Tell something about yourself and your business
The next part of your pitch is where you can brag about yourself or your company. Mention anything that supports your credibility. You can also talk about your qualifications, how long you’ve been in business, or what makes you an industry leader.
6. Sum up
It might be a good idea to sum up your pitch with a call to action. If a journalist wants to reach out to you, they should be able to find your contact information, so add your email address, website, phone number, and social media handles to give them options to contact you on a platform that’s most convenient for them.
7. Don’t forget to proofread and edit your pitch
You must proofread and edit your work. Poorly written pitches are highly unlikely to make an impact. Simple tools can make your life easier. For example, Grammarly is an amazing tool that helps writers edit their content on the go.
Quick Note: HARO doesn’t allow email attachments to protect its community from malware and viruses.
How to Improve Your Acceptance Rate and Efficiency
There’s always room for improvement. If you’ve already used HARO as a source and didn’t get any backlinks, polish your pitch writing skills. Follow these tips to boost your acceptance rate:
1. Ask yourself the following questions
What does the journalist write about and who is the audience?
Spend a few minutes searching the name of the journalist on Google and what kind of stories or articles they publish. It is important to identify the audiences of a journalist so that you come up with an accurate response.
What will other experts answer to this request?
You want your information to stand out. Don’t you? So, try to figure out what others are likely to say in their responses. The objective here is to provide unique and original information that a journalist can’t help but include in their story.
What does the journalist expect to receive as a comment?
Don’t waste your time providing irrelevant information. Give them what they’re really looking for. Think of a finished article and try to give a comment that would complement it.
2. Stay relevant
Fluffy, off-topic content will be of no use. Journalists need sources because they want to improve the quality of their news. They can’t afford to entertain irrelevant quotations. Sometimes, people share a press release or pitch a product in their response. This is against HARO’s rules to share such information.
3. Respond immediately
Keep in mind that journalists receive hundreds of responses to their queries. Therefore, it’s critical to create a response that stands out. Scan your HARO emails daily to find more link-building opportunities. Finding the right queries and responding quickly is one of the success factors when it comes to HARO.
Quick turnaround is critical when responding to journalists. It would be an ideal situation if you respond within an hour after receiving the query. If you can’t reply within an hour, try to pitch before the deadline.
4. Filter queries to simplify the process
Let’s face it: you’ll receive plenty of irrelevant queries. It wouldn’t be a good idea to spend time reading every query in your inbox. When people read through too many queries, they end up being depressed. Solution?
Filter queries to make sure you only receive emails that you really want to act on. You can easily set up an email filter in Gmail to get the relevant emails.
Go to Gmail settings and click ‘Filters and Blocked Addresses’. Here you’ll see existing email filters. Scroll down and click ‘Click a New Filter’. Now fill in the form with your HARO email addresses and relevant keywords.
You can also add your location in keywords to receive location-based queries. Besides, Gmail allows you to set preferences and determine where you want your emails to appear.
5. Don’t reach out to journalists on their private accounts
It might sound enticing to follow up with journalists on social media or by email. I don’t think it’s a good idea to reach out to journalists on their private email or social media to drop your pitch or check the status of your pitch. In other words, don’t be pushy. Keep things simple. Focus on creating stunning pitches.
6. Build a solid online presence
As an expert, you should have a solid online presence. You probably have a website and social media profiles where you publish your content. Your online presence should present you as an industry leader and influential figure.
For example, a visually appealing website will surely attract reporters to consider your content. Most importantly, the pages on your website should be as informative as possible. Also, it’s important to have a professional LinkedIn account.
7. Be an expert
If you’re an expert specializing in a niche business, you’ll find it easy to find plenty of relevant HARO queries in your inbox. In addition, you’ll face less competition. For instance, a financial consultant from an accounting firm would be an ideal person to respond to finance-related queries. CEOs, founders, and commercial online services also receive a fair number of queries, but the competition is higher in those areas.
How to scale HARO link building
1. Hire and train writers
If you’re a busy entrepreneur, marketer, or SEO expert promoting several websites or businesses, consider hiring writers that specialize in creating content for several industries. It would be a good idea to hire highly experienced writers who understand specific industries.
It takes time for a writer to understand a business model and produce accurate content. This is why it’s important to train your writers. Writing HARO pitches is a bit technical, so tell your writers how they can provide information in quotes rather than answering a question if they were part of an interview.
Whether you want to create HARO pitches yourself or want to hire writers, it’s important to understand the nature of the competition. A journalist receives hundreds of responses. Yours must be different and unique.
2. Quality assurance
You’re not going to get feedback from journalists. The average time to publish a story is 20 days. Your writers would produce another hundred pitches by the time a story is published. They’ll forget what the published question was all about.
Also, it’s important to understand that even a good pitch can go unnoticed. In both cases, it may cause a problem. You need to make sure your writers are producing good pitches, and constantly proofread pitches to achieve the desired results.
3. Tracking wins / Monitor your performance
Most often, journalists do not report the publication. You have to keep track of what is being published and what’s not. You don’t have to manually search for publications. However, you can Google your name or the expert’s name to locate mentions.
Direct parsing of the sites is also a good practice. You can parse all new articles on the sites where you send pitches and look for references. While Google Alerts lets you track wins, you can’t rely on it since it usually triggers in one of ten cases.
While HARO is one of the most popular platforms to seek high-quality links, feel free to check out other platforms such as Qwoted, Quora, and Terkel. We hope this guide will help you develop, launch, and maintain an effective HARO link-building campaign for your business.