With Google’s neverending algorithm updates, the drums of their ongoing war on link spam are getting louder — and closer.
Given how difficult it is to get a link with HARO, it’s important that they count. So are they compliant with the guidelines laid out in Google’s Search Essentials? Are they actually editorial and will they stand the test of time?
Let’s find out.
What are HARO links?
HARO links are backlinks (or inbound links) to your website obtained through the Help a Reporter Out (HARO) platform.
The platform operates much like a marketplace of ideas. Journalists signed up to the platform send requests to sources — i.e. you — who have registered their interest.
In return for a timely and insightful comment, the source may be attributed credit via a link to their website.
From the website owner’s point of view, HARO links are highly sought after because they are considered to be editorial in nature, meaning they come from a third-party source and are not paid (a practice that’s in breach of HARO’s guidelines for journalists using the platform).
Editorial links such as those secured via HARO are valued by search engines because the high-quality domains journalists typically contribute to tend to be closer to seed sites and are therefore more likely to be considered trusted authorities.
Links from these domains confer a certain algorithmic benefit — a core part of EEAT — to the target and are less likely to be devalued in subsequent algorithmic updates.
What are editorial links?
Editorial links, also known as natural links, are links to your website placed within content that was created by someone else and without your influence.
Search engines consider editorial links to be more valuable because they represent a genuine third-party endorsement.
For example, if a blogger writes an article about the best HARO link building services and includes a link to Forte Analytica’s website as an example of great service, that link would be typically considered editorial (assuming that’s how they have been producing content for the rest of their website).
HARO links are not the only type of editorial link. For example, a link from a news website, hobbyist blog, or trade publication could be considered editorial (again, assuming they have not been compromised by selling links).
The editorial nature of HARO links
Are HARO links editorial? In my experience, yes. For some, though, the answer is not a straightforward one.
On the one hand, HARO links are placed within content created by someone else, which makes them similar to other types of editorial links. Additionally, HARO links are not paid for directly by the website owner, which is another factor contributing to their editorial nature.
However, some argue that HARO links cannot be considered truly editorial because they are obtained through a submission process, rather than being naturally placed within content.
According to this argument, the act of submitting a response to a journalist’s request for sources is a form of self-promotion, which detracts from the true editorial nature of the link.
Despite these arguments, the prevailing view is that HARO links are indeed editorial in nature. The fact that a third-party source (the journalist) chooses to include your contribution (and therefore your link) in their content indicates that your contribution is valuable and relevant. This is the same principle that applies to other types of editorial links.
After all, this is why we all try to make link inserts/niche edits or guest posts look like editorial links.
Are HARO links good for SEO?
Assuming that HARO links are indeed editorial in nature, the next question to consider is whether they are effective for SEO. The answer to this question is a resounding yes.
Studies have shown that the quality and quantity of backlinks to a website are some of the most important factors in determining its search engine ranking.
In other words, the more high-quality and relevant backlinks you have pointing to your website, the higher your website is likely to rank in search engine results pages (SERPs).
HARO links are valuable for SEO because they are high-quality and editorial in nature. They can have a powerful impact on your search engine ranking over time.
HARO links may also assist in establishing an entity, which is of growing importance as generative AI impacts SEO.
How much does HARO cost?
HARO has both free and paid plans, depending on your needs. The free plan allows responders to receive journalist requests daily. Paid members get early access to HARO emails, although the jury is out on how much this is of benefit.
What is the typical quality of HARO backlinks?
In general, HARO links are considered to be high-quality and editorial in nature. Often, HARO is the accessible only way to get a link from a website without substantial investment in PR. That being said, the quality of HARO backlinks can vary, depending on the publication and the journalist who uses your contribution.