HARO Link Building: How to Add it to Your Strategy | Linkflow
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HARO Link Building: How to Add it to Your Strategy

July 26, 2023

PR coverage is one of the most important (and tricky) parts of SEO. Everyone wants it, and you have to be persistent, creative, and informed. That’s why HARO (Help A Reporter Out) is such a great tool — it connects reporters with sources quickly and efficiently.

As a part of a balanced and well-executed SEO strategy, HARO link building is a cheat code. It’s great for branding and helps you dominate search engines.

What is HARO SEO?

HARO is short for Help A Reporter Out. It’s a free platform that connects reporters with relevant sources for their stories. When you sign up, you’ll receive daily emails from HARO full of news topics and questions submitted by journalists looking for quotes or other content.

Briefly, HARO SEO follows these steps:

  • Sign up for HARO as a source
  • Monitor your emails for queries relevant to your industry/niche
  • Reply with an insightful, useful answer
  • Get featured in a story and get a link back to your website

When a journalist includes your content in their story, they’ll link to your site. This fetches you more referral traffic, better search engine rankings for your targeted keywords, a higher domain authority score, and improved brand visibility.

According to HARO themselves, more than 75,000 journalists and bloggers use the platform. Since many of them come from huge publications like Forbes, The Wall Street Journal, and TechCrunch, a link from them can boost your rankings significantly.

Using HARO for link building seems straightforward (because it is). That doesn’t mean it’s an easy feat.

  • You have to actually be good at what you do. HARO links don’t come easy if your answers are generic, irrelevant, low-quality, or otherwise lame.
  • You have to be fast — reporters need their sources quickly. The turnaround time for queries is often 48 hours or less. That means you need to act quickly when a query comes in that’s relevant to your industry.
  • Your business needs existing credibility. This could be in the form of related content, a niche-relevant product, a case study, or anything that would prove to a reporter that you know your stuff.
  • You’re up against fierce competition. A lot of people know about HARO link building. The platform has over 1 million sources. You are, quite literally, one in a million.

Journalists want to give their readers helpful sources that add context to their arguments. Their jobs depend on it.

So you have to build HARO links with purpose. A reporter is far likelier to use your content if they can read your pitch and think something like, “Oh, this person founded Company X, which sells Product Y. They’ve researched this space, so they clearly add value to my argument.”

If, after careful evaluation of your current product/content/brand, you’re able to add real value through your insights, you’re ready to build links using HARO. Let’s take a look at how it’s done.

1. Sign up for HARO as a source and pick the relevant categories.

haro seo screenshot

The first step is easy. All you have to do is create a free HARO profile and make sure it reflects your industry or niche accurately. Once you’ve set up your account, you can decide which categories to follow.

When choosing the categories, make sure they reflect your industry accurately. That way, only relevant HARO queries will come to you.

You’ll also have to create a bio. It will have simple content that describes your business or yourself in a few sentences.

For example:

Ben Yost is the COO and Co-Founder of Linkflow, an SEO agency specializing in link building and digital PR. Having successfully implemented comprehensive link building strategies for dozens of SaaS, ecommerce, and B2B tech clients, Ben, his Co-Founder, and their team of experts help companies grow their online presence.

Over the last three years, he’s helped grow Linkflow to a remote team of 12. In his free time, you’ll find him exploring the mountains in Patagonia or snowboarding in Ushuaia while he refuels from the hectic life of an entrepreneur.

Expertise

SEO, link building, remote work, digital PR

Publications

Wall Street Journal, Entrepreneur, TechCrunch

Media Experience

Digital (online)

Memberships

Community XYZ

2. Set up email notifications.

Once you’re signed up as a source, you can set how often HARO sends you emails. You can choose between 3 times a day or 5 times a week — it’s totally up to you. Just make sure to review the queries in your inbox and act fast when something relevant comes around.

3. Read the queries carefully and decide which ones to answer.

This is an important step. You don’t want to waste your time answering irrelevant questions, so take a few minutes to read each query thoroughly.

how haro link building queries work

On the HARO platform, you can search for relevant queries by keyword, industry, and publication. This makes it much easier to find the right questions for your answers.

You can also see the site, author, and topic type for each query. Beforehand, do some quick research on their background.

Example Haro Search

Once you refine your search, you’ll find all kinds of different HARO queries. Find ones that check all the boxes and meet your expertise.

If you think yours is the best angle for the story, go ahead and answer it!

4. Craft your response (pitch).

A HARO pitch is like any other pitch — it should be concise, relevant, and interesting. When you answer HARO queries, make sure your response:

  • is short and concise, but not too short (200-300 words is the sweet spot).
  • includes relevant information about your business/product/service that bolsters your credibility.
  • is interesting and informative.
  • contains a unique perspective or angle that isn’t being discussed elsewhere.

On the journalist’s side, HARO pitches generally look like this:

example haro pitch

Your HARO emails will include the following information:

  • Source’s name and contact information
  • Company or organization
  • Location (city and/or country)
  • Pitch title (subject line)
  • Body content (answer to the query)
  • A unique URL the journalist can cite if they choose to use your content

HARO already knows the first three pieces of info. The title, body content, and URL vary based on your HARO pitch.

5. Secure a link in the journalist’s article.

If a reporter uses your content in their article, they’ll give you credit by quoting/paraphrasing you and including a link back to your website. This is the most important step of the whole process because it’s how you get the link juice and benefit from HARO links.

In the example above from Mountain IQ, this is how it plays out in reality:

haro backlink example

In some cases, reporters may ask for permission before including your link in their article. It’s important to say “yes” — it’s the only way you can benefit from HARO link building.

If you use HARO to secure high-authority backlinks, the good news is it’s affordable. You can become a source for free, or you can subscribe to one of three paid packages for additional features. Paid packages range from $19 to $149 per month.

We strongly recommend a paid subscription. It enables you to set up a profile and get access to more queries, as well as additional features like automated searching.

It also lets you set up text alerts, so you can use the HARO service from your smartphone. At the airport? Having dinner with a family friend? Watching a new Netflix docuseries? Respond in real-time and secure media coverage faster.

HARO Alternatives

Acquiring links with HARO is a common strategy. But it isn’t the only way you can establish authority and rank higher on search engine results pages (SERPs). There are plenty of other tactics for building links and gaining visibility.

Terkel (now called Featured) is a platform similar to HARO in that it connects journalists with subject matter experts. However, it provides publishers with full blog posts rather than quotes and snippets.

featured screenshot

To become a subject matter expert on Featured, all you have to do is sign up. Then, you can submit insights that will go into the blog post the publisher receives.

Help a B2B Writer

help a b2b writer screenshot

Help a B2B Writer is pretty much the same as HARO, but it specializes in B2B and tech content. Rather than getting a bunch of requests that don’t interest you, Help a B2B Writer will help you take a targeted approach (and clean up your inbox).

PressPlugs

pressplugs screenshot

PressPlugs is a media tool for PR professionals, agencies, journalists, and businesses in the UK. Building links with PressPlugs works similarly — you answer queries, get featured in media outlets, and secure links back to your website.

You can use PressPlugs for free for 7 days, but it’s only worth it if you’re building a business in the UK or could benefit from UK-specific brand awareness. If not, opt for HARO or one of the other alternatives we’ve mentioned.

Traditional PR

Traditional PR can (and should) be a part of your SEO strategy. It’s all about building relationships with key journalists and industry influencers, and having them promote your business on their platform.

Examples of traditional PR include:

  • Working with influencers
  • Writing a byline for a reputable publication
  • Appearing on a relevant podcast
  • Organizing events
  • Initiating press tours
  • Guest blogging

Traditional PR is great for product launches, events, and other kinds of newsworthy content. You can also show yourself as an expert in interviews or podcasts — this is a great way to establish credibility for your business.

It’s worth noting that traditional PR has the potential to generate far more backlinks than HARO link building. However, it’s also much more time-consuming and labor-intensive. If you’re short on resources, HARO could be your best bet.

Backlinks are important for SEO. Plain and simple.

HARO is a great way to secure them. But even with HARO, it takes some finesse to get the backlinks you need without wasting time.

Pitch

Your pitch is the most important part of the process. You do not want to mess it up.

Lead with experience

Before getting into the nitty gritty of what you want to say, tell the reporter why they should listen to you. Examples:

  • An overview of your background and relevant credentials
  • How long you’ve been in the industry
  • What makes you an expert on the subject matter
  • An interesting story that underscores your unique perspective

You can also include a quick summary or explanation of your experience as it relates to the particular query at hand.

Start with the “why”

Why are you responding to this query? What is your goal with this pitch?

These are important questions to answer before you get started because they will help guide your response. You don’t want to waste time on a pitch that won’t benefit you in any way.

Be brief

The journalist has a deadline. They don’t want to read three paragraphs of fluff.

Lead with experience and start with the why, but keep your HARO pitch concise if you want them to actually read it.

Put yourself in their shoes

Remember, you’re pitching a story idea to a journalist. It’s not about self-promotion or shamelessly plugging your website. Your main goal is to help them craft an interesting article that resonates with their readership.

Keep that in mind when you’re writing your HARO pitch. Focus more on the story than anything else and provide meaningful insights that could help them develop a great article.

Don’t use a template

Seriously. It won’t save you any time or effort and it will actually hurt your chances of getting the response you want. Each pitch should be tailored to each query.

haro pitch template

HARO queries are specific. By the time you’ve customized a template for the query at hand, the whole thing is rewritten.

Plus, a lot of others will use the same (or a similar) template. If you want to stand out, the only way to do it is by writing a unique, well-thought-out pitch.

Speed

Like we mentioned, most HARO requests have a tight turnaround time. You don’t want to miss out on an opportunity because you took too long.

Set up frequent alerts

You can sign up for custom HARO alerts. This means you’ll get an email every time a query is posted that matches the topics and interests you’ve selected.

This will help you stay on top of opportunities as they arise and keep tabs on who else is responding to what queries.

Hire someone internally

If you’re serious about using HARO to build backlinks, you might want to hire someone (or appoint them to the task) internally.

Having someone available to write HARO emails, make timely responses, and secure backlinks for your website is invaluable.

All you have to do is teach them how to write subject lines and personalized messages that represent you and your business well.

Relationships

Working with major publications means you have tons of competition. Building relationships with journalists will ensure your success.

This is something you can do even if you’re not a HARO user. Connect with your contacts on LinkedIn, follow them on Twitter and other social media platforms, like their posts, comment on their articles — anything that will help you stay in the loop and build rapport.

Create helpful content on your website

Your company blog is a gold mine for building authority around a subject. If you do pique a journalist’s interest, they might want to read more insights from you.

If they can find even more context from your articles, you make their life easier — they don’t need to look elsewhere for the information. And you’ve given them a new perspective in other parts of their content.

Get involved with other industry leaders

You’ll start to notice a compounding effect from the relationships you build and content you curate. This is where traditional PR comes into play.

When you engage with other industry leaders, you’ll have multiple sources that can link back to your website. Reporters might even recognize you when they see your email come through their inbox.

Tracking

Finally, track and measure your HARO link building efforts. Not only will this help you determine what strategies are working for you, but it also serves as a great way to show ROI (return on investment) for the time and money you’ve allocated to your HARO campaigns.

Monitor HARO KPIs

Throughout your campaign, track the following KPIs to understand how well-received your pitches are:

  • Number of queries responded to
  • Query engagement/response rate
  • Average time to respond
  • Query response to placement ratio

Also, consider attributes of journalists who do respond. Zero in on the types of publications and reporters that are most likely to respond so you can focus on connecting with them.

Pay attention to your SEO performance

You can use Google Analytics and Ahrefs to track the SEO performance of your website. That way, you’ll know if your HARO link building efforts are paying off.

Track the following:

  • Search engine rankings for target keywords
  • Organic traffic from HARO-related sources
  • Referral traffic from publications you’ve been featured in
  • Backlinks from HARO-related sources
  • Overall domain authority of your website
  • Growth and performance changes over time

You can also use Ahrefs to find new keywords and look into news sites and media outlets, which you can use to inform future HARO query replies.

Why an SEO Agency Helps With HARO

If you’ve made it this far without realizing that, for a simple process, there are a lot of micro-factors that complicate things, trust us. You don’t want to do this alone.

Enlisting the help of HARO link building services means you don’t have to worry about:

  • hiring writers.
  • spending internal resources.
  • knowing who to contact.
  • building a network.
  • sending out the right pitch to the right journalist at the right time.
  • missing an important query.
  • making sure the journalist connects the dots between what you offer and how it can help their readers.

We can write fantastic pitches. We respond to critical requests ASAP. And we’ve got a whole network of contacts. We do this every day.

Perhaps most importantly, HARO is only one facet of ranking on search engines. You need a diversified link building package, an optimized website, and high-quality structured content for SEO to work in your favor.

As soon as you get started with HARO link building, you’re going to realize your search engine rankings depend on tons of factors (over 200, if you want to get technical).

Work with us, and we’ll build high-quality backlinks for you. But we’ll also handle the rest.

Brittney Fred, SEO Analyst
Brittney has been working in SEO and digital marketing for ten years and specializes in content strategy for the B2B SaaS industry. She is based in Denver, CO and absolutely fits the Denverite stereotype. You’re just as likely to find her hiking, snowboarding, or doing yoga as reading sci-fi or playing video games.