HARO (Help A Reporter Out) is a service that allows journalists working in traditional and new media to find authoritative sources for their articles easily. It is a popular Digital PR technique used by expert bloggers and publishers. When a journalist links to them as a source, it boosts their page's credibility, an important part of Google's search algorithm.
So what is HARO used for in SEO, and how could you benefit from it? How do you write a HARO pitch, and how effective are HARO link-building services?
We've put together this guide to answer all your questions on the HARO technique.
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Table of Contents
- What is HARO Used For?
- What is a HARO Request?
- DIY vs. DFY HARO SEO
- What to Look for in a HARO Link Building Service
- Best HARO Link Building Service
What is HARO Used For?
HARO outreach is a service used by journalists and businesses (with 73% of journalists going online to find press releases). Journalists use the service to source high-quality information for their articles. Businesses and websites help provide this information, and in exchange, they can request that the journalist include a backlink to their website.
Businesses can utilize HARO providers to submit pitches directly to journalists. For businesses, the benefits of working with a quality HARO provider include:
- Greater exposure for your services through link-building
- An organic way to build strong backlinks from highly-trusted providers
- A trusted provider lists your business, which is more attractive to journalists than if you try DIY link-building like the skyscraper technique (see below for DIY vs. DFY)
- Useful services such as helping you create a strong pitch, as quality providers understand what journalists want from a source
What is HARO Link-Building Service?
Good HARO providers offer link-building services as a way to improve a business’s standing in Google’s page-ranking algorithm.
When a high-profile source such as Stanford University links back to your page, Google recognizes that you’ve been quoted as an authority by a website it already trusts. As a result, this makes your site appear more trustworthy to Google, and so it boosts your ranking and visibility.
Authoritative Pitch = Better Authority Links
If you'd like to benefit from the HARO link-building service by using your expertise to attract journalists, you'll need to show that you're the source for the job. A journalist's reputation is defined by their work, and the authority of their sources is a big factor.
This means that linking to a faceless site with unclear intentions is not something a journalist will usually consider. Equally, in most cases, a source must also make a strong HARO pitch if they are to be considered by a journalist.
For this reason, an important component of a successful HARO SEO campaign is ensuring that your site has a well-defined persona that readers will trust. Working with a HARO provider is the best way to ensure your web presence is attractive to journalists and that you say the right things to help them understand why they should link to your site.
“Done for You” HARO Outreach
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- Promote your money-generating pages to the press
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What is a HARO Request?
A HARO request is when a journalist contacts a platform that uses the HARO technique with an information need. The journalist requests information on a certain subject from an authoritative source. The request can be made either to an individual expert or a platform that facilitates interactions between journalists and expert sources.
The requests are time-sensitive, as journalists have deadlines to meet. However, the fundamentals of HARO outreach are the same that have always set the standard for authority sourcing in journalism.
How Does HARO Outreach Work?
HARO outreach works on a system of mutual benefit. The journalist acquires an expert source for their article, while the source (if desired and justifiable) can request that the journalist links back to the source's webpage.
Working with a HARO expert that uses effective outreach enables businesses to more effectively grow their digital presence. By having their blog posts and content referenced by journalists from respected publications, these businesses enjoy greater exposure. This is the basis of the HARO link-building service and why it is often coveted by Digital PR agencies.
DIY vs. DFY HARO SEO
One way to engage with journalists and engage in link-building is to sing up for HARO and do it yourself (DIY). This removes the middle-man from the operation, which some business owners or expert bloggers consider desirable. However, you will have to write your own HARO pitch yourself.
Another option is a DFY (done-for-you) service, which boosts your search rankings by producing a strong pitch for you. It means people are also far more likely to contact you because you are vetted by a trusted and established platform. It's more common for journalists to reach out to these services looking for authorities on topics they're interested in.
Challenges of DIY vs. DFY
Using DIY seems like the natural approach for many businesses interested in HARO link-building. This is because you won't have to pay any fees to a third party for marketing.
However, the DIY method comes with several downfalls you have to consider:
- You must write your own HARO pitch every time. You don't just have to create a description of yourself on HARO. You'll have to write a HARO pitch marketing yourself for every single case.
- Low visibility. There are thousands of people subscribed to HARO seeing all of the same requests. This is great for journalists but means that you're likely to be lost in the weeds without a proper pitch and consistent approach.
- A trusted platform does not vet you. Journalists are far more likely to find you if you work with a platform that vets your brand and effectively markets your knowledge than if you're just a standalone presence.
What to Look for in a HARO Link Building Service
When you think about working with a HARO link building service, you should consider the following:
1. Pay for Performance
Nothing is guaranteed when it comes to HARO SEO services. Sometimes there just aren't enough journalists asking about your area of expertise.
This is an occupational hazard with DIY HARO outreach. However, when working with an outreach provider, a trustworthy provider will only ask you to pay for the performance it delivers. This means that you're not spending extra money when inquiries are slow, but you can capitalize on the provider's strong service at peak times.
2. Month-to-Month Contracts
A month-to-month contract means that you control when you pay for services. On the other hand, an annual contract could commit you to a massive investment without guaranteeing results.
3. Native English Writers
Your HARO pitch needs to be flawless. For this reason, you should only work with a provider that has native English writers working on your bid.
4. Promises Quality to Journalists
Your provider should offer journalists the same level of excellence it affords you. You should only work with a provider that quality-checks every link you provide to ensure its clients are satisfied on both ends. If a provider short-changed 50% of its user base, would you trust it?
A provider should specify its minimum budget and allow you to set your maximum monthly budget. For example, a HARO link builder might have a minimum budget of $3,000 (which is well below the typical average for a link-building service). It should do its utmost to hit your maximum budget, and if it doesn't, it should always allow you to pay less.
Best HARO Link Building Service
There are no shortage of link building services out on the web. And here's a not-to-secret secret: they are not all created equally. If you read our post on Digital PR, you'll come to learn some of the hardships that we experienced with hiring link building services in the past.
Based on our experience, and some costly mistakes, we've identified a handful of the best HARO link building services, including those that offer HARO outreach. Our top recommendation is Dofollow.io. Here's why we love Dofollow:
- They prioritize quality over everything
- Performance-based pricing
- Only uses native English writers for your pitch
- They are widely trusted by journalists at world-leading publications
Dofollow uses their connections to real journalists to get your brand mentioned in relevant, highly respected media outlets. This not only gets you a powerful backlink but increases brand awareness and trust as well.
While they are not “cheap”, that's actually a good thing. The old adage of “you get what you pay for” rings especially true when it comes to link building services.