What is HARO?
HARO, or Help a Reporter Out, is an online service that connects journalists with sources.
HARO was originally created as an experiment by the founder, Peter Shankman, who wanted to find more expert sources for his press releases and articles.
He quickly learned about the lack of information available on topics he termed "white space."
Followers would say they had email addresses but no info or company names and phone numbers.
So Shankman set up a 30-day experiment: If you need help with anything at all (not just PR), please email me.
And then...HARO was born. HARO is an online service that provides PR professionals access to various types of media outlets such as blogs, newspapers, TV stations, etc.
PR professionals can use the service to find reporters interested in their clients' industries or topics.
Using HARO for link building is becoming an increasingly popular digital marketing strategy for SEO.
Depending on how many links you land and their quality, you can significantly boost rankings in search engines.
Here at Reporter Outreach, we're able to guarantee links for your site based on our decade of experience perfecting our strategy.
Here's how to use HARO for link building:
Sign up for a free Help a Reporter Out account.
Go to https://www.helpareporter.com and click on the white "Sign Up" button in the navigation at the top right corner of the page.
Fill out your information including your first and last name, your email address, phone number, company name, country, annual revenue (which is kept private), and a password, and then hit "Sign Up" at the bottom of the page.
Within seconds, you should receive an email from firstname.lastname@example.org requesting confirmation for your account.
Once you've confirmed your email account, you'll be able to log in and edit more details like adding your job title and links to your blog, LinkedIn, and Twitter accounts.
You can also select specific HARO media lists that you're interested in receiving. For example, if you're in the fitness industry, you can choose to only receive the "Lifestyle and Fitness" media list.
This can be helpful when you're trying to narrow down the media list from the hundreds of queries that are normally sent out in the master list. Although you may miss out on some queries if they're miscategorized.
Every day, three media lists are sent out. The morning list comes out at 5:36 AM EST, the afternoon list comes out at 12:36 PM EST, and the evening list comes out at 5:36 PM EST.
Each media list, on average, has about a hundred queries from reporters. The media lists are segmented into the following categories:
- Biotech and Healthcare
- Business and Finance
- Energy and Green Tech
- Entertainment and Media
- High Tech
- Lifestyle and Fitness
- Public Policy and Government
In each HARO query, the reporters typically list their name and media outlet, along with their deadline, questions, and any specific requirements to help guide your pitch.
These questions can be on anything related to the source's industry, the article they're writing about, or something they are passionate about.
The great thing about HARO is you can search through these media lists for reporters who are writing about specific topics related to your business or your expertise.
Once you find a reporter who is a good fit, you can send them a pitch introducing yourself and your business.
You should be prepared to answer any questions the reporter may have, and if you're successful, the reporter may request an interview or more information.
The benefits of HARO link building
When it comes to link building, there are a variety of strategies and methods you can use to improve your website's SEO including guest posting, creating share-worthy content, and doing competitor backlink analysis to find low-hanging fruit.
But the best strategy of all?
You guessed it - submitting HARO pitches to get the best high-quality backlinks from authoritative sources that are directly related to your industry.
One of the benefits of HARO links is that they improve your website's relevancy. They often come from well-established news sources and reputable bloggers, which provide relevant content to readers and boost your website's rankings in search engines.
Moreover, HARO allows you to leverage relationships with journalists and bloggers, opening the doors for more opportunities in the future.
This can be a great way to gain exposure for your brand and grow your web presence and domain rating organically.
HARO link building works so well because you're providing high-quality content to viewers that answers their questions.
Bottom line: Building links with HARO can help grow your brand's online presence and increase organic traffic.
Additional ways to improve SEO using HARO backlinks
There are several other ways that you can use HARO link building to improve your SEO. For example:
- After you've been published on several high authority websites, you can use these as reference points when you're doing outreach for guest post opportunities. Showing you've been published on high-value sites like Business Insider or Forbes will go a long way in convincing editors to take a look at your content.
- You can also use your published articles in future pitches when reaching out to reporters. Sharing relevant links to articles you've been featured in will give them confidence that your pitch has value.
- If you're developing awesome content on your eCommerce blog, for example, you can take this opportunity to share it with the reporter when you're submitting your pitch. For example, let's say you're a Tax Specialist responding to a query about tax return errors to avoid this year. If you have a piece of content on your blog related to this, you can link to that content using your desired anchor text to support what you're saying in your pitch. Oftentimes, reporters will end up linking to your content, because it means less work they have to do finding supporting evidence to back up claims.
- Lastly, take the guesswork out of it and connect with a HARO outreach service or SEO agency to respond quickly to relevant topics with well-crafted pitches.
Secure valuable media coverage with HARO outreach
If you're looking for some examples of businesses that have successfully used HARO, take a look at some of the following companies:
Atlantic.Net is a cloud hosting company that was established in 1994. They provide a range of services including HIPAA hosting, PCI hosting, Dedicated hosting, and more.
From connecting with a reporter on HARO, they were able to get featured on CMS Wire in a highly relevant article on hybrid cloud architecture. CMS Wire has a Domain Rating of 84 and monthly organic search traffic of 64K.
2. Muscle and Brawn
Muscle and Brawn is a health and fitness website that writes about topics like supplements, bodybuilding, workout tips, nutrition, and much more.
By utilizing HARO, they were able to get published on Ask Men in an article that cove. Ask Men has a Domain Rating of 81 and monthly organic search traffic of 592K.
3. Felix Homes
Felix Homes is a real estate brokerage that utilizes technology to improve the home buying and selling process. After getting started with HARO, they found themselves published on Yahoo for an article on the pros and cons of home warranties. Yahoo has a Domain Rating of 92 and monthly organic search traffic of 63M.
What to avoid doing in HARO
1. Don't respond to HARO requests without reading them thoroughly
When you're fielding requests from HARO, it's important to be diligent in your responses.
Don't just fire off a response without reading the full query.
You could be missing out on an opportunity, or worse, providing incorrect information to the reporter.
2. Don't submit a pitch that has been submitted previously
Reporters are vigilant about spotting duplicate queries from different sources - their inbox is usually flooded with pitches on the same topic at the same time - so they'll know if you're submitting something that has been sent to them already by someone else.
In addition, never resend the exact same pitch you just sent them for another story.
Think of how redundant and annoying this must sound to a reporter who is probably getting close to 100 HARO pitches per day...
3. Don't pitch your own products or services
When you're responding to a HARO request, it's important to remember that you're not supposed to be pitching your own products or services.
This is considered spammy and unprofessional behavior, and will likely get you blacklisted by reporters.
Instead, focus on providing useful information and insights that will help the reporter with their story.
For example, if a reporter is looking for expert advice on the best way to fix a faulty furnace, you could pitch them ideas from your own personal experience as an HVAC specialist, and that would be deemed credible.
But don't just send a pitch spamming your list of services.
4. Don't ignore HARO requests because you don't think they're from a legitimate outlet.
The reporters who use HARO are from reputable sources such as newspapers, magazines, and broadcast networks that reach millions of readers or viewers.
If one of these reporters contacts you with a request, take it seriously and respond promptly.
If a query is listed as "Anonymous", it doesn't mean it's a low-quality media outlet.
In fact, we got one of our clients featured in Fortune Magazine from an anonymous query.
Sometimes reporters list queries as anonymous because they don't want to receive hundreds of pitches because of the top-tier media outlet.
5. Don't use canned responses
When you're responding to HARO queries, it's important to personalize your responses as much as possible.
Reporters can tell when you've sent them a canned response, and they'll likely disregard it.
Instead, take the time to write a unique response for each query.
This will show that you've read the query and are genuinely interested in helping the reporter with their story.
According to Sanket Shah, CEO of InVideo:
- "When contacting reporters and journalists for media placement, the most crucial thing to avoid is sending them impersonal standard pitches. The number one reason they reject relevant pitches right away is a lack of personalization. Read the previous articles written by each reporter in detail. Learn more about their viewpoint, writing style, and methods of audience communication. Then, give each email a unique personal touch. Most people can spot a generic copy and paste right away. Give some background on your identity, and include a detailed overview that explains to the journalist why they should be interested in you."
6. Don't be vague in your responses
Many people send off their HARO response with an uninformative response that doesn't contain any actionable insight.
Reporters like clear, detailed responses.
Being vague gives the idea that you may not be a true expert on the subject matter.
The reason reporters like detailed responses is that it helps them provide a meaningful expert response to editors and readers, and will lead to more opportunities down the road if you do it well now.
7. Don't ignore questions from the HARO reporter.
Try to answer every question that the reporter posts in their query.
The more questions you're able to answer, the more likely it is they'll be able to grab quotable pieces of information to use in their story.
Being able to answer every question also shows you have real expertise to share.
8. Don't spam reporters with irrelevant information
When you're responding to HARO queries, be sure to only send information that is relevant to the topic at hand.
Don't send reporters irrelevant information that has nothing to do with their story.
This will only clutter their inbox and make it difficult for them to find the information they need.
9. Don't send the same pitch to multiple reporters
It's important to realize that when you're pitching to a reporter, they may be working on more than one story at a time.
If you respond with the same exact pitch to different reporters covering completely different stories, it will only lead to confusion and frustration.
Try your best not to spam reporters with your pitches, or you'll run into these problems.
This can create duplicate content issues, and if you end up getting published on multiple sites with the exact same wording, editors will likely remove your quote and add someone else with unique content.
According to digital marketing pro Kevin Miller:
- "Never use a copied or previously published pitch when reaching out to journalists looking for a source. Most media professionals need original content for their articles and will not accept a reused pitch when they’re easy to catch using online plagiarism tools.Journalists usually look for quotable transcripts of leaders’ and experts’ expertise to use as professional sources in their writing. By plagiarizing another pitch or reusing one that was already published, it devalues a source’s legitimacy and credibility. Write original thoughts using your own words and experiences to deliver valuable source material journalists will use."
10. Don't write long email responses
When responding to HARO queries, you need to keep things concise and clear if you want media outlets to take notice of your expert advice and insights.
In many cases, news writers have strict limits on what they can include in their articles so they will only report on the most crucial and compelling information.
If you include a running narrative in your response or go into too much detail, reporters will cut and paste only the relevant parts and remove anything not vital to their story.
Or they may not even read your pitch at all if it's too lengthy. Just keep in mind that reporters don't want overly-long email responses clogging up their inboxes with extra content.
Keep things short and concise whenever possible.
HARO link building in conjunction with other SEO strategies, you can improve your website's search engine ranking and web presence.
These high authority links often come from reliable sources like major media outlets or popular bloggers, which provide great content to HARO readers and help build your brand's online presence organically and gain more traffic to your site.
HARO provides an effective way for businesses and brands to achieve these goals through quality link building in their industry.
Contact us today if you want a HARO service for link building that delivers!
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