Haro Link Building
You’ve probably noticed that directing organic traffic to your website can be a job. Increasing traffic is really a result of both on-page SEO factors and off-page SEO initiatives, including link building. Regardless of the type of content you have on your page, earning links will improve your ranking on search engine result pages (SERPs) which will go a long way toward building your brand.
But, what does HARO have to do with how many links you’re able to build for your website? HARO link building is a strategic way of using a free service to build strong backlinks from authoritative sites. In this post, we’re going to explain:
- What backlinking is,
- How backlinking works
- What you should look for in a quality backlink
- HARO – what it is and how you can use it strategically for link building
- Pros and cons of HARO link building
- Pricing for HARO link building
- Best practices for using HARO to generate backlinks.
We’ve also included a DIY template for HARO pitches at the end!
What is a Backlink?
Backlinks are links from other websites that direct traffic to your page. They’re also one of those critical few things that can generally boost your website’s SEO performance.
But how do inbound links achieve that?
How Backlinking Works
For search engines like Google, inbound links work like trust signals. In a sense, these links work like citations in scientific research.
However, the relationship here involves two websites: one that has an inbound link and one that has an outbound link. This flow of value to the linked website from the source is what we know as PageRank.
Backlinks also act as a review of some sort. For example, if you find a book cited many times in a research article, you likely assume that that book must be a valuable asset.
Similarly, when authoritative and relevant pages point to your website, Google automatically has increased trust in your content. Therefore, your overall search ranking receives a boost.
The Anatomy of a Backlink
An excellent backlink is worth its weight in gold (or, PageRank…), but it’s important to look at what exactly a notable backlink consists of.
First, there is a linking site’s Domain Authority. Domain Authority was developed by Moz and is a ranking score that determines how likely a website is to rank in SERPs.
Next, there’s a site’s Page Authority. Essentially, obtaining a link from a site’s home page or one of its landing pages is going to rank better than a link found on an orphan page.
Ahrefs also offers a similar look at these metrics, using domain rating (DR) and URL rating (UR) to estimate the sitewide and page-level authority of a site. These metrics are starting to surpass DA/PA from Moz as the “standard” measure in the industry, as they are more timely and accurate.
Then, there’s Co-Citation. This is when two links (say, A & B) coexist on a website (C). The value of C gets passed on to both A and B. Furthermore, a relationship ends up forming between A and B simply for existing together on C.
Finally, there’s anchor text. These are the actual words used in the reading material that are linked back to your site.
Factors for Obtaining Quality Links
Although factors that determine quality backlinks can differ, there are a few significant factors that tend to yield such links with a high success rate. These include:
- Authority. One high-authority website’s backlink gives a better SEO boost than links from 20 weak sites. Ahrefs’s DR tool helps you check a website’s “authority”
- DoFollow. Although not all HARO backlinks are DoFollow, the biggest SEO boost is gained from the ones that are. No-follow links can be great for referral traffic though.
- Positioning. The best position for a backlink is in the body of the article. Resist placing it at the footer note or the sidebar.
- Scarcity. The links are of better value when there are fewer on the referring site. You should avoid link farms and spammy directories.
How Can HARO Help Build Links?
HARO stands for “help a reporter out.” Every day, journalists and reporters from top media platforms use HARO to get information (and especially quotes) from industry experts–such as yourself.
The flip side to this is that HARO provides an opportunity for you to then build links and drive traffic back to your site. When a high-performing site points its readers back to your site (with a link), you benefit not only by being quoted as a reliable source with connections to that high-performing site but also from the SEO advantages this strategy has.
HARO emails are delivered to your inbox three times a day at around 5:30 am, 12:30 pm, and 5:30 pm (EST). Depending on the HARO queries you’ve signed up to receive, you may also receive niche-specific emails. If you can check all the boxes the reporter has listed for qualification, you can reply. You’re free to respond to as many HARO requests as you’d like.
The HARO Strategy for Backlinks
Any backlink campaign you launch is almost always a guessing game. That is, you are either successful or not, but you have no way of knowing this in advance.
With HARO requests, as mentioned above, reporters and journalists seek an expert and specifically want to link back to that expert’s website. Once a journalist has posted a query seeking a thought leader in a particular space, everyday experts in that industry (you) may reply offering to help the reporter with their piece.
In turn, the reporter responds to the expert’s “pitch” with any additional questions they may have and information as to when the piece will be published. It’s common for a reporter to email the expert again to share a link to the piece once it’s been published.
In the end, both the experts and reporters benefit. The expert gets high-quality backlinks and (eventually) more brand awareness and the reporter receives quality content from an expert in that industry.
The Pros and Cons Of HARO for Link Building
While HARO is a viable option for obtaining backlinks, it does have its pros and cons.
- It is a great resource for experts seeking brand awareness and journalists looking for content.
- You can land major media links for much less than a dedicated PR firm would charge.
- Haro links are not “paid” links, so you steer clear of that highly-debated issue.
- Not all sources and journalists using HARO are worth your time. A customized link-building campaign would stick to quality sites that are relevant for your brand and would only consider sites with DA or a DR appropriate for your campaign. Unfortunately, HARO offers no such guarantee.
- There are slow and inconsistent responses from reporters.
- Some reporters post queries as anonymous, making it challenging to work with them.
- Doesn’t scale well – Unlike custom link outreach (which builds links from a variety of methods), HARO by itself isn’t very scalable if you need multiple links every month.
Typical HARO Link Prices
Although HARO link building can result in quality backlinks, you’re not guaranteed excellent results 100% of the time. However, an average of four links each month is a reasonable outcome.
For companies that offer this service using a pay-per-link model, the cost per link ranges from $450 to $850 per link.
HARO Backlink Criteria
As you choose media outlets to respond to on HARO, these are some things you’ll want to look into both before and during your pitching process:
- Ahrefs Domain Rating (DR) above 50
- Moz spam score below 15
- DoFollow attribute
Businesses That Benefit from HARO Link Building
HARO is a great resource for building links. Responding to relevant queries in the HARO emails can result in an overall win-win situation for both the reporter and the expert responding. From small-scale businesses to information technology firms, HARO is very useful. That said, there are exceptions to this.
HARO linking isn’t as effective in niches such as gambling, adult content, dating, pharma, etc.
Best Practices for HARO Link Building
While HARO can be a useful resource for building links, it’s important to follow HARO pitching best practices to increase the likelihood of your pitch being well-received and your content used.
You stand a much greater chance of having your pitch reviewed (and, ideally, selected)
Only Pitch to High DR Sites
Check the website’s Domain Rating before doing anything else. If it’s not at least a 50, keep scrolling for other opportunities.
Meet the Journalist’s Requirements
Most times, the journalist makes a very detailed and precise query. Typically, this includes things such as word count, specific words to use in your pitch, etc. At that point, it’s up to you to respond appropriately.
However, there are cases where reporters aren’t very clear at all as to what they want. In such cases, you should spend a few minutes browsing the journalist’s website (or the one they represent) and content on their page. That way, you get an idea of what they need.
If the reporter isn’t very clear about what they expect, here are some basic guidelines you can follow and things you’ll want to be sure to include:
- Include your name, a headshot photo (usually 200×200 pixels), your position, and a link to your LinkedIn profile.
- The body of your pitch should contain a max of 200 words.
- Include a link to your company’s website.
Finally, you should avoid promoting your product or yourself in your HARO pitch.
In most cases, the CEO or a manager of your organization is the best representative. Many HARO queries will even have this as one of their requirements.
You’ll also want to use an email registered with the domain you represent. For example, use [email protected], not [email protected]
In most cases, reporters aren’t going to want to download images. Many times, they’ll specifically state to embed a headshot-style photo but even if they don’t, you can cut down on the back-and-forth by embedding at the outset.
Ideally, your image should be around 200×200 pixels. If a reporter is interested in including you, they may request that you attach a high-resolution image but to start, you should only send an embedded picture.
Avoid Common Responses
Your response must not be obvious. Otherwise, why would they need you?
On most occasions, every query receives about 100 answers. If you’re going to stand out in a sea of responses, you’ll need to sound unique.
Answer Each Question Separately
If a reporter asks a couple of questions in one HARO query, they often have a structure or several articles at hand. To pitch to queries like this, there are a couple of things you can do:
- Answer one-by-one. You can answer each question separately as its own response, rather than roll several replies into one. Be sure to answer thoroughly yet concisely.
- Ignore questions. Another way to address queries in a HARO email that have multiple questions is to pick the questions you prefer to answer. Keep in mind that if the reporter asked the question, he or she likely needs a reply to that question, though, and choosing to avoid some questions may move you to the bottom of the reporter’s picks. However, if you have an amazing response to the other questions in the query, it’s possible the reporter will reach out to you anyway.
Ensure Your Pitch is Ready for Publication
Most journalists won’t have the time to proofread or edit your work, so your pitch should be ready for use straight away. Always do your editing and proofreading before submitting it to the reporter.
Replies submitted after the stated deadline likely end up in a pile of unused submissions. Reporters are on a time crunch, which means they have to have their pieces ready for publication by a certain date. They’ll usually provide a deadline that’s a few days prior to publication because there are other steps they must take before publishing. If you send a pitch after the stated deadline, you are essentially way behind in the process as they’ve already moved on to the next steps.
Review the Reporter’s Previous Content
If you have the reporter’s name before you submit your pitch, you can check the previous articles on the reporter’s social media or the media outlet’s website before submitting your pitch.
Alternatives to HARO for Link Building
Like every other business, there are going to be competitors, and HARO is no exception. Some alternatives include:
This is another free source tool for building relevant link opportunities. Qwoted helps connect journalists with sources who have expertise in their fields.
Qwoted is similar to HARO in terms of the value proposition but with Qwoted, you can evade PR spam in your email inbox because they approve account signups individually. This means you can be assured that the journalists you’re replying to are legit and journalists can be certain that you are an actual human and not some bot.
NinjaOutreach is a complete CRM that connects writers with experts. Unlike HARO, it also includes features that are typical for a CRM, such as management, reporting, and analysis tools. It’s particularly helpful for influencers who’d like to connect with journalists since the platform is saturated with both and allows users to find people/queries by performing keyword searches.
Like the others, ProfNet also connects journalists to experts. Interestingly, both HARO and ProfNet are from the same parent company, Cision.
However, ProfNet is primarily useful for PR professionals looking for the perfect pitch opportunities to journalists. In other words, ProfNet is to press releases as HARO is to stories.
Terkel is most suitable for expert insights on community-related content.
Terkel has big-time partners like KEAP, the University Of Arizona, and SCORE. As a result, you are more likely to land big publications.
Template for HARO Pitches
Submitting a pitch in response to HARO is a good strategy to build backlinks. If you want quality placements, however, you’ll need to follow the best practices outlined above.
Some SEO agencies offer a pay-per-link HARO link-building service, but this can be pricey.
Instead, consider submitting a pitch of your own. We’ve included a free template for replying to HARO queries that has secured quality links from sites with a DR of 50+ on more than one occasion.
Immediately, start the pitch off with your qualifications and your familiarity with the topic. This is especially important if there were requirements–such as being a licensed therapist or the CEO of an ed-tech organization–that you must meet in order to be considered. This will show that you not only read the query and its requirements but also that you’re qualified to respond, and the reporter will know that right away.
The topic for the query is found in the body of the query while the requirements for replying are usually at the bottom of the reporter’s query. Make sure you read the whole query and don’t reply unless you are qualified.
As the CEO of an organization in the early education space, I’m very familiar with social-emotional learning (SEL) in the classroom
Here, you want to succinctly elaborate on what you know about the topic at hand. Bullets are great in the body, especially if the reporter had more than one question.
Some of the best ways teachers can implement SEL in the classroom include doing things like:
- Asking students how they’re doing. Greet them when they come in and let them know you’re really interested in how they’re feeling/doing.
- Talk to students and connect with them while teaching. Whether it’s a storytime or a history lesson, use every opportunity that arises and where appropriate to check in with students and see how they’re feeling and what connections they can make.
- Let them TALK. It’s sometimes difficult for teachers to deviate from the lesson plans (due to time constraints) and allow students to talk, but if “talk time” is planned into the day’s lesson, it can happen naturally and flow smoothly with the lesson.
When you finish your HARO pitch, include anything you think the reporter might need (such as a link to your LinkedIn profile and an embedded profile pic). If the reporter requires a bio, your closing section is the perfect spot for that.
Email subject line: [choose something catchy here or use HARO: (topic) ]
As the [insert qualifications] of an organization in the [industry] space, I’m very familiar with [reporter’s topic(s)] because it’s something I [verb] on a daily basis.
My answers to your questions are below:
[Include bulleted answers to every question the reporter asked in the query.]
I’d be happy to answer any other questions about [reporter’s topic(s)]. I’m available for follow-up and may be able to help you on other related topics as well!
Bio: [include a short bio and a link to your LinkedIn]
**If the reporter requested it, embed a headshot that is 200 x 200 pixels.**
If you don’t have the time to submit pitches yourself and don’t want to engage a pay-per-link service, we can help.
As part of our custom link outreach, we can respond to HARO queries for your company. Since it is an hourly service, you can end up with some strong links for a great price.
Remember, diversity is key, so we use this as one of many tactics to help you secure links that move the needle.