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THE DARK SIDE OF HARO
I might be kinda biased but even I can admit that using HARO isn’t all bells and whistles. Help a reporter out platform has been around since 2007, and in that 14 years a few issues have crept in.
I’ve talked about how great it is and how you can use it to help your seo, but there are some hurdles you need to navigate and I want to help you become aware of them.
The Link Builders
Shock horror, not everyone on HARO is a journalist, a lot of them are savvy seos (is there any other kind?) and use the platform for link building – from the other side.
We, and others, use HARO to get our clients mentioned in articles and usually that comes with a juicy link, but others have deigned to get on the other side and look for links that way.
You can usually spot them a mile off, as they reply to your insights with a templated response saying something along the lines of
“Hey, great comment and we will really like to use this in the piece. Would you be willing to link to ‘this site’ if we feature your comment?”
Reciprocal link building or A to B to C linking it’s called, and you can bet your bottom dollar they don’t read your insights until/unless you agree to link to their site.
We’ve split tested this numerous times, and 100% of the time we stated we can’t link we never got a response, funny that! But when we say we can, or ‘it should be fine’ then they will use our quotes and then hassle us for a link. Don’t blame the player……
We have done this on select occasions to get a link and just ignored their follow up emails or fobbed them off for a future update.
However, sometimes they have threatened to remove our link, so I have gone back to them stating the T’s & C’s of HARO and they have backed down.
I won’t name names, but anyone familiar with HARO would have come across these sites.
The links from these sites aren’t useless but I would be cautious in advising someone to get too many links from the usual culprits.
Help A Reporter Out Customer Service
It’s not great, let’s be honest. Much like it’s platform it’s messy and combulated.
The few problems I have had with them have taken an age to resolve, or in most cases not been resolved at all.
I made a complaint about companies abusing the platform for reciprocal links but their actions were disappointing to say the least.
They even sent me a cease and desist letter once as I used HARO on my site, but suffice to say that went away quickly when I mention HARO bikes have the copyright here 😉
I’ve talked more about this on the how to use haro for seo article, but suffice to say most of the sites are very low DR, new or probably not worth your time – if you only pitch sporadically.
If you pitch a lot, then anonymous ones can throw up some topical gems and some good sites potentially. But I’d pick your battles wisely.
Some journalists respond (every time) to say thanks for sending your query. When you’re green to this you assume they are using your quotes, never to hear from them again 🙁
99% won’t thank you for your quotes, but 20-30% will tell you they used your quotes and send you the url. No news = Good news.
There are a few culprits that over time drop your links and/or change it to a nofollow/ugc. In no particular order you want to watch out for
- Reader’s Digest
- Fit Small Business
- Good Firms
- Fast Company
- Unfinished Man
- Outwit Trade
Info Gatherers & Idea Stealers
There’s a significant percentage of articles that are never published, most for good reasons such as the editor went in a different direction, put on hold indefinitely or some other reasonable excuse.
However, there are some people that use HARO for research purposes or to ‘borrow’ inside info from experts. Not surprisingly a lot of these are ANON queries. Asking such questions
The Big Boys
If you are a small business, low DR or just not well known then some journalists from the bigger sites will turn their nose up at you.
I kind of get it, but not really. As long as your answers are good enough you’re big enough right. Of course you should be an accredited expert especially if it’s the health, medical, finance or legal sector – as opinions can’t just be accepted as fact.
Bait & Switch
Journalists to get more responses will sometimes misrepresent the article they are writing for. Listing Forbes as the outlet, when it in fact goes on Fred’s Fishing Blog. Granted, this may be to get past the manual checks made by the Help a Reporter team – but usually it’s for the reason you think.
There are some caveats, as a lot of journalists are freelance and they write for multiple publications, so it could just be a case of them filling in the wrong website. Other excuses could be that the editor of the publication decides not to run with it so the journalist will pitch it to other publications.
It’s too easy to pretend your callout is for a major website, and this is something the Help A Reporter team needs to look at. The Alexa ranking system is outdated (update 10/2/22, they are closing as of 1 May 2020), and this needs an overhaul too. DR/DA/TF and Alexa are all metrics that should be taken with context, but they are barriers to entry for upcoming sites and it encourages journalists and website owners to be disingenuous to just get their questions listed.
Home Page Links
90% of links you get from HARO are branded and to your home page. Now, while that is fantastic, it doesn’t drive certain keywords or traffic to your money pages, so you have to take that into consideration if you spend a lot of time or resources on HARO.
I say that HARO links is the tide that raises all boats, wherein you will see a rise in keywords across your whole site rather than certain keywords. Across all our clients we have even seen them start ranking for a lot more keywords once they hit 20-25 haro backlinks.
If you have the budget, staff, time for HARO links and other types of link building then that it something you should do. We offer the service for people who have the budget, but not the time, expertise or resources to do it yourself.
Other Link Building Services Are Available
Guest blogging, niche edits, citations (site specific), tools, testimonials are just a few of the tactics you can use to get backlinks to your site. If anyone offers that service feel free to get in touch with an affiliate link 😉
We’ve written a comprehensive list of HARO alternatives to check out.
Jon Cooper formerly of Point Blank SEO combined with Brian Dean and you can find his OG best backlinking guide I have ever seen on their site.
Haro is Holistic
Let’s get it straight, HARO link building is a fantastic way to drive organic and referral traffic to your site, as well as enhance the keywords across your site and improve your branding and get your name out there amongst whole profile sites.
If you want to do them yourself you can check out our HARO cheatsheet for some top tips.