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Using HARO for SEO Backlinks

Avatar for John Locke

John Locke is a SEO consultant from Sacramento, CA. He helps manufacturing businesses rank higher through his web agency, Lockedown Design & SEO.

Google has said publicly that two of the most important SEO ranking factors are the content of your website and the link profile of your website.

Links from other websites to yours have been as a proxy for site authority and relevance by search engines for many years.

In order for incoming links to have the greatest positive effect on your SEO, they need to come from web pages that are trustworthy, and topically related to your industry.

When links are sourced from dubious methods, these usually have a much lesser, or even negative effect (aka “black hat links”).

Most businesses quickly run out of places they can get high-quality, natural links (aka “white hat links”).

What I’d like to share with you today is a service I use to acquire completely natural, topically-relevant, white-hat links for my own site and clients sites. This service is called Help A Reporter Out, or HARO, for short.

How HARO Works

If you go to HelpAReporter.com, you can sign up as either a reporter, or a source.

To contribute, or “pitch”, to different journalists and writers, you’ll want to sign up as a source.

HARO homepageThe HARO homepage.

After you fill out some information, you can sign up to receive different email lists. These emails lists go out three times a day, Monday through Friday. The Morning edition comes right before 6am EST, the Afternoon Edition arrives before 1pm EST, and the Evening edition usually shows up directly before 6pm EST.

Each email list will contain a number of inquiries from reporters or copywriters, who need input or quotes for specific stories they are writing. By responding to these inquiries, you can get brand mentions and links back to your website.

Different Email Lists You Can Sign Up For

The Master HARO list contains all the outgoing queries for each edition. The categories included are: Biotech and Healthcare, Business and Finance, Education, Entertainment and Media, Energy and Greentech, General, High Tech, Lifestyle and Fitness, Public Policy and Government, Sports, and Travel.

In addition to the Master HARO List, you can also sign up for these standalone lists: Business and Finance, High Tech, Lifestyle and Fitness, General, Giftbag, Travel, and UK.

HARO listsThese are the different email lists you can sign up for on HARO.

Responding to HARO Queries

Each email is formatted with a list of the different queries that you can pitch to. Each HARO query has a one-time use email address that you reply to, the name of the person writing the article, and the name of the publication where the article will appear. Sometimes the publication name will simply say “Anonymous”, but more often than not, the publication will be named.

Pay close attention to the information the reporter is looking for. The copywriters are looking for subject matter experts, so only reply to queries that fit your industry expertise.

Sometimes the writer will ask for something very specific — 250 to 300 words, 5 to 7 sentences, or a single quote. Whatever they are asking for, be sure to give it to them.

Here’s something very critical to understand about HARO queries. The reporters submitting these are trying to hit a writing deadline, so putting off your HARO responses until the end of the work day is not a good idea.

The quicker you respond to these queries, the more likely it is you’ll be included in the finalized article. Internet writers have to push out a lot of content each week, so time is of the essence when replying with your HARO pitches.

As soon as you see the HARO Edition in your Inbox, either reply, or forward it to your marketing department. Get that response submitted. Even better, have a person in your organization who looks specifically for HARO queries you can reply to.

HARO Links Are a Numbers Game

Another thing to know ahead of time: you’re not going to get every pitch published.

In fact, the majority of queries you reply to, probably won’t be published. This is a numbers game. You must reply to enough of these to get links. Unless you’re already a celebrity in your industry, expect somewhere between a 10 and 30 percent success rate.

Replying to HARO queries is a long-term strategy for building links. This isn’t something that you can do for a week and expect to get 50 links to your website.

You might get 10 or 20 links over a long period of time, but it’s well worth it. Getting links and brand mentions in top-notch online publications will improve your SEO.

Summary: Using HARO to Build Links and Brand Mentions

If you’re looking for a completely “white-hat” method for building links to your website, signing up for HARO, and replying to relevant queries is a great strategy.

Links are most beneficial for your SEO when they come from topical, credible sources. HARO is used by some of the largest blogs and industry news sites on the planet, so this is something that should be part of your link building strategy.

Avatar for John Locke

John Locke is a SEO consultant from Sacramento, CA. He helps manufacturing businesses rank higher through his web agency, Lockedown Design & SEO.

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