How to use HARO for SEO?
HelpAReporter.com (HARO) is a fantastic tool that can and should be utilized to get powerful, seemingly impossible links to get from long standing, established and super authoritative websites such as Forbes, Washington Post, Mashable, American Express, Cosmopolitan and other such luminaries.
We’ve cultivated an SOP for beginners, which helps you start on your HARO journey. It can take 20-30 emails to get your first link, but keep at it.
This is a brief guide and intro into how HARO can help you ‘SEO’ your site. Getting the type of links other people pay through the nose for.
Why HARO is good for SEO
It doesn’t cost money, only time
Yes, time = money but when you’re just starting out or can use your writing team, it comes at a significantly discounted cost that for example – hiring us to pitch Terkels for you
CISION, HARO’s parent company was created to connect journalists and freelance writers to expert sources. As with any good idea, it can be fashioned for other uses.
Yes, the HARO platform has paid options, but trust me using them is like setting fire to your bank account. The CMS is jumbled, disorganised and it seems not a lot of thought was put into that – not then, not now!
All the professional HARO operators I know don’t use it and they are sending thousands of emails a month – that should tell you something.
The Terkel platform UX and customer service is setting the standard right now.
Anyone can and should only sign up to HARO with a free account. A free account is all you need and it puts you on a level playing field with everyone else.
After all, backlink wins feel so much better when they are free.
Backlinks are recognisable and winnable
The websites themselves look unattainable, which when you get the link for you, or your boss it will win you some serious brownie points.
It’s a reverse process to what link builders are used to: usually it’s you and your keyboard trying to penetrate a writer at The New York Times with a carefully conceived, punchy subject line and a internal argument whether 2-3 paragraphs in the body is best; plus should you be edgy, straight to the point or super friendly. So many variables. So little time
The journalists put the requests out so they are expecting, scrap that, welcoming emails from you. This time you’ve been invited and the open rate will blow your socks off!
Builds relationships with journalists
After seeing a fair few HARO newsletters and scoring some link wins you will get to recognise journalists and in some cases get familiar with them.
A lot of them are freelance and write for various publications so if you build a healthy relationship with them you could be first in line for a comment next time they are writing a piece.
Try not to piss off a Haro Journalist though!
The link quality
They are almost always branded links which is good for your anchor text ratio and keeps it looking natural, as well as being a home page link which will help raise the authority of your whole site.
Now DR can be called an arbitrary metric to judge websites by, while some die by that ethos others state it’s piffle. However, that said, from 40 backlinks Haro Helpers went from 0 to 52 in 3 months. If you’re a link seller raising your DR by 10-20 points in a month or two can seriously benefit your pricing!
It’s natural, white hat, organic and most importantly Google friendly
In truth you’re helping a journalist out and the backlinks are a bonus, you don’t even ask for them. 90% of accepted comments will link to the website as accreditation and the majority of these will be follow links 🙂
As natural as they come and even if you had a Google manual inspection on these links you’d pass with flying colours. Whiter than White so to speak!
Some won’t link; some will nofollow link; some will link to your social media instead. You take them on the chin, after all a mixed link profile never done any harm.
Why shouldn’t you use HARO?
Linking out policies
As already mentioned some sites don’t link out and never will (for the foreseeable), bound by a company policy.
This shouldn’t stop you when building links for referral traffic or if you’re a savant of nofollow links. However, if you’re chasing the lure follow only then pick and choose your pitches carefully – we’ll be able to help with that.
There’s no place like home
If you’re trying to rank inner pages and don’t have a tonne of time or resources to spread around, you may need to look elsewhere to target those pages.
However, if you do have the time, home page links help raise the authority of your site generally. We’ve had particular success with affiliate sites, as they usually find it hard for people to link to their site – home pages or otherwise.
If you’re going after money terms, then HARO link building isn’t the way, great for an overall or authority link building strategy but not specific terms I’m afraid.
If you start asking for specific anchor text with your pitches, then the game is up and the journalist realises you’re not as altruistic as they first thought.
To HARO or not HARO
Despite many claims to the contrary and the purported diminishing effects of links, they will be around for a quite a few Google core updates yet
HARO links can cover 2, even 3 of the 3 pillars of SEO. The trust and authority being passed on from the powerful, well known websites linking to you. If you got the relevancy between the 2 sites down too, then these links are like digital gold dust.
The concept of ‘authority’ in SEO translates to success in the SERPs.
Akin to popularity, the more sites that link to your website the better, as in the more people that recommend a surgeon say, then the more highly he is thought of.
Trust comes into play here, and if the people recommending are physios, nurses, previous patients – then the recommendation carries authority and relevance.
A search engines main purpose is to deliver relevant results they ‘think’ the user is searching for. Websites gain a foothold in rankings by building up trust and recommendations (links) from already trusted websites enforces that.
The more authoritative, and credible links your website has from relevant and reputable sources, the more trustworthy your website is perceived as, and your website will be rewarded with keyword rankings and SERP visibility.
Every backlink from HARO helps to strengthen the overall authority and trust signals of your website.
The Challenges of HARO?
Anonymous Queries & Websites
A significant percentage of HARO requests don’t list the website they are writing for, meaning you may craft a Pulitzer winning pitch only to get a link from a website with a DR of 5! It happens.
Now, I’m of the mind that as long as it’s relevant that’s fine, but others are not so forgiving; plus you try getting one of my clients to hand over $500 for a DR5 link 🙁
HARO stipulate that only sites of certain Alexa ratings are allowed to pitch so the sites should all be a decent DR right? Wrong!
Upon receiving a link from a low DR site that didn’t meet their standards I asked them for clarification – the response – “we let some sites in as we have a relationship with that journalist” – so it is not full proof.
Some are honest journalists that are not allowed to name their client’s/companies sites, but be aware some are out to play the system.
It is a volume game
With volume comes time, and lots of it. You can only scale HARO link building so far before you need more hands and people on it.
It’s not a system that can be streamlined even if the rewards are worth the time.
So How Should You Use HARO For Your SEO?
Now it has been explained how HARO works and what you can get from it, and of course the work you need to put in; is it worth it.
Help A Reporter Out is a great resource and tool for building out your business’s branding, visibility and revenue.
HARO should be part of your link building strategy, even if its not the only one. It is underutilised at the moment, as you can find thousands of other services offering link building such as guest posting, content marketing,niche edits and resource links.
HARO should be a supplement to your link building goals as the conversion rate is relatively low (5-19 percent). But compared to outreach blasts, HARO can yield better results as long as you do it properly.
If you’re still not sure, read all about the dark side of Haro and Help a reporter out
Sign up to HARO and start working or Hire us to work on better links from Terkel 😉
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