One strategy you may have heard of to improve your website’s ranking on search engine results pages (SERPs) is using HARO, or Help a Reporter Out, to get backlinks from high-authority sources.
While HARO can be an effective way of building backlinks — and thereby rankings — it’s not without its challenges.
So before you jump in and reply to every HARO request that comes your way, take a few minutes to get familiar with some of the most common challenges of using HARO for SEO, and what you can do to mitigate them.
What are the benefits of HARO for SEO?
Using HARO to get backlinks from high-authority sources can have several benefits for your SEO efforts. These benefits include:
- Improving your website’s authority. Build a more defensible position. Ride out Google updates.
- Building your website’s backlink profile. Rank higher and faster for more keywords.
- Become a credible source in your industry. Establish social proof you can use to improve conversions.
Potential challenges of using HARO for SEO
While HARO can be an effective tool for improving your SEO efforts, there are some potential challenges you may encounter — especially if you’ve niched down.
Getting relevant queries
One of the biggest challenges of using HARO for SEO is getting relevant queries that match your website’s niche.
There is a regular stream of requests in food, travel, finance, and health, for example. But if you’re selling ball bearings, you could spend a lot of time scanning for requests that are relevant.
Managing the volume of queries
The volume of queries you receive puts a lot of people off, especially if you wear a lot of hats.
It’s not unusual for there to be hundreds of queries over the course of a day, and it can be overwhelming to sift through them all to find relevant opportunities.
Competition from other sources
HARO is a popular platform, so there’s a lot of competition from other sources looking to get backlinks and citations from high-authority publications.
You need to be quick to respond to queries and offer unique insights to increase your chances of getting featured in an article.
Many people find this aspect of HARO too much work and unsustainable after a few days’ effort.
An unknown ROI
Responding to queries is — at best — a very time-consuming process. You need to make sure you’re regularly checking your account for new queries, responding to relevant queries in a timely manner, and managing your follow-up communications with journalists.
The problem is there is no guarantee of your response being included in the journalist’s writeup. This unknown ROI can be extremely demoralising.
Mitigating the challenges of using HARO for SEO
There are steps you can take to mitigate HARO’s challenges.
Limit responses to relevant queries
Focus on finding queries that are relevant to your industry and expertise. You can use filters to narrow down the queries you receive to the ones that are most relevant to your website.
Set aside a specific time for HARO
Monitor your inbox for HARO requests and block out some time each day to respond to relevant queries quickly.
Don’t beat yourself up if you need some time to respond or you will begin to wonder if HARO is really worth it.
Craft strong pitches
To stand out from other sources, you need to craft strong, unique pitches that offer valuable insights to journalists.
Make sure your pitches are well-written, on-topic, and demonstrate your expertise in your industry.
Rather than regurgitating them here, read our guide to writing a better HARO response.
Set up email templates
Most email platforms support templated responses, which are a huge time-saver for HARO.
A good template would include your opening introduction and plenty of background information about yourself, with links to find more information.
Follow up if more detail is requested
If a journalist comes back to you with a request for more information, treat it as a high-priority task. A few additional minutes of your time could secure you a valuable link.
Tip: This can help build a relationship with the journalist, who might email you directly in the future for help on upcoming articles.
How do I increase my chances of getting featured in a journalist’s article?
To increase your chances of getting featured in a journalist’s article, make sure your HARO responses are well-written, on-topic, and offer valuable insights to the journalist.