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If you’re a blogger or content marketer in the SEO or link-building space, you’ve undoubtedly come across HARO.
Help a Reporter Out (HARO) is an online database that connects journalists with industry professionals to get expert quotes for their content, which could be a blog post, round-up, or even a news article. In return, they will be credited and even receive a link to their website.
And with backlinks being among the top 3 Google ranking factors, it’s no wonder that HARO is such a popular offsite SEO tool for many professionals.
In this article, you’ll learn how HARO works, the key benefits of using it in your business, and the steps to respond to queries.
Let’s get to it!
Help a Reporter Out (HARO) is a website/service that journalists, reporters, and bloggers use to gather quotes for their content.
For example, a Yahoo News reporter could post their question on the platform, and then experts respond (submit pitches). In return, the expert with the best response gets a backlink.
HARO’s press coverage involves the possibility of:
So, if you’re a thought leader in your niche, you simply sign up on HARO as a source.
You’ll receive questions from reporters, Monday-Friday, in your email box. But using HARO solely for building backlinks violates the service’s rules. So instead, your priority should be to contribute high-quality content that brings value to the audience.
It depends on your goals and the amount of time you’re willing to spend. If you have a whole team or even one person willing to work with HARO, then it’s worth a try. However, if you have a small team and your goals require guaranteed results, I don’t recommend relying on HARO and spending too much time on it.
For example, if you have a new website and your goal is to build links, HARO is not a good tactic. Instead, focus on email outreach and link building through guest posts. You can read my in-depth guide on the topic right here.
The same goes for Public Relations – HARO is a great tool, but you’ll need more than that to end up in good news stories and establish relationships with media outlets.
There are much more effective link building services and methods out there, and you can consider SEO consultants like myself to help with your link acquisition strategy. Get in touch!
Help a Reporter Out has both free and paid subscriptions. You can start by signing up for a free subscription, where you’ll receive the HARO emails. Then, in the future, you can subscribe to paid plans for advanced business features like customizing your profile, getting text and keyword alerts, etc.
The screenshot below shows each subscription’s features.
This website is used by many different outlets, including brands such as Forbes, The Penny Hoarder, Business Insider, Homes and Gardens, etc.
While it’s not always guaranteed that you will be featured in their expert round-ups, HARO is the easiest way to gain access to their journalists by impressing them with good content and professional advice.
Here are the benefits summarized:
Of course, there are also some disadvantages to using this platform. Here are the main ones:
Submitting HARO queries starts with signing up as a source, receiving query emails, choosing the best fit query, and personalizing your pitches to stand out from the competition.
Read on for a further breakdown of the steps.
To get started with HARO, click the link www.helpareporter.com, then click “I’m a source.”
After selecting “I’m source” and hitting the sign-up button, you’ll get to the basic subscription page, which is preferable for small business owners.
Fill out the form with the relevant information and click sign up.
During the set-up of your profile, you will have the option to choose how many
HARO emails per day you want to receive and the main topics.
This is how the email looks:
And this is how the individual request looks:
In the top part, you can find the contact info, the site, and most importantly, the deadline for this media request.
By ensuring everything is in line with your niche and expertise, you have a better chance of being used as a source and getting a relevant backlink. Journalists usually list their requirements in the query itself.
For example, they might be looking for professional chefs in the New York area or people with hands-on email marketing experience.
Before you start writing, make sure you fulfill all of those requirements. Otherwise, reporters will ignore you.
You also need to pay attention to the different categories.
Zestard Technologies found that general categories receive the highest queries while sports receive the lowest. Breaking it down, the categories and subcategories that receive the highest query number are:
High Tech: Networking, Cyber Security, DevOps.
This means that responding to a niche category increases your chances of standing out from the crowd and getting a positive response.
To personalize your pitches, ensure you have good information about the news site and reporter. Then, visit their website to learn about its metrics using Ahrefs or other google ranking tools. (Note that a reporter may keep their website anonymous; in this case, you’d have to focus on their query requirements only).
There are two crucial Ahrefs metrics you should focus on:
If the metrics are high and the query is in your niche, research the author too. Go through a few articles by the author to see if they link to their sources. They probably won’t link to your site if there are no links in their articles.
Finally, check how the website has featured HARO pitches before – it’s mostly an article with a collection of quotes.
When submitting a HARO pitch, you can either log in to the platform to submit the pitch or send a regular email through your client – Gmail, Yahoo, Outlook, etc. The HARO email usually looks like this: query…@helpareporter.net.
Submitting via email is faster. But HARO automatically removes all formatting from your pitch, so the journalist will receive a wall of text that can be a bit hard to read. You can make it easier for them by numbering your paragraphs and answers and not placing any hyperlinks, including your email signature.
Alternatively, submit your pitch through HARO.
First, go to My Pitches, then select Submit a New Pitch.
Submitting through the platform allows you to see what your pitch will look like (in terms of formatting) when the reporter receives it.
When responding to a HARO query, research the journalist and their website, cover everything in the query, and add something unique to make your pitch stand out (e.g., an experience that makes you a pro in the question, your unique insight, etc.).
From Milosz, who has a series of successful HARO links, you need to prioritize your niche queries and avoid queries that you have little knowledge of because reporters look for the following in sources:
Below are the steps Milosz uses to respond to a HARO query:
Below is a sample of his winning response script:
There are four questions that reporters use to determine if a pitch is worth their attention, so ensure that you address them:
Below are more tips for using HARO.
HARO is an excellent public relations and SEO tool, but you shouldn’t solely rely on it for your company’s PR or link-building strategy. Instead, let it become a part of the whole. As a business owner, this tool gives you an amazing opportunity to build the credibility of your brand, as long as you have the patience for it.
And remember, just as any excellent outreach strategy, personalization and value are the keys to success.
Best of luck as you wait to reach out to the world!
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