HARO Link Building: How It Works and Helpful Tips to Get Started

by | Mar 24, 2021

woman sitting at desk, haro linkbuilding post header

Have you ever noticed how some small businesses and bloggers are quoted on big media sites? If so, you’ve probably wondered how in the world they made it happen. They very well could have used HARO to score these enviable placements.

HARO (Help a Reporter Out) is a link-building opportunity for marketers and business owners to acquire high-authority links from online publications. It can also get your name in front of highly respected media outlets and their audiences.

haro linkbuilding definition quote

If you’ve worked in marketing for a while, you know how challenging link building can be. You also know internal and external links are essential pieces of the online marketing puzzle. Without them, competitor websites can outperform yours. And you can sink into the depths of SERP (search engine results page) rankings. Your website will never reach its full potential.

Fortunately, using smart link acquisition strategies can give you the opposite results. Today, we’re covering what HARO is, how the platform works, how you can be a “source” to build links to your website, and tips for choosing the right queries and pitching great responses. Let’s get started!

What is HARO?

HARO connects journalists looking for advice, opinions, and first-hand information with subject matter experts. Over 55,000 bloggers and reporters and over 800,000 source users are already taking advantage of the online service. The platform distributes more than 50,000 journalist queries every year, giving businesses the chance to pitch responses to respected media outlets.

HARO is an excellent opportunity to share your story and industry expertise with a larger audience and gain authoritative backlinks to your website. By finding and answering relevant queries in your niche, you can help journalists while simultaneously gaining domain authority and publicity for your business. They get free research, and you get quality backlinks (and a whole lot more). It’s a win-win for everyone.

haro linkbuilding opportunities

Top media outlets utilize HARO, including TIME, Wall Street Journal, Fox News, Reuters, Chicago Tribune, and many more.

How Does HARO Work?

The HARO process is very straightforward. If you want to share your expertise with bloggers and journalists looking for answers through the platform, start by subscribing. At signup, you can choose either a free or paid subscription. HARO will instantly begin sending you emails of source requests on weekdays.

Check these emails promptly as you receive them. Look for queries that are relevant to your specific industry and experience. When you spot a suitable query, you can respond with a pitch. If the journalist likes your response, they can reach out to you directly.

HARO has separate sets of rules for sources and journalists. Ensure you understand the guidelines before sending your first pitch.

Why Do Marketers and Business Owners Use HARO for Link Building?

HARO is easily accessible to anyone, giving businesses of all shapes and sizes an opportunity to score quality backlinks from some of the world’s top sites. Backlinks can increase traffic to your website and boost your domain authority to improve your SERP rankings.

haro linkbuilding tips

The more credible, authoritative backlinks you have, the more trustworthy Google will deem your website. As your website continues gaining momentum online by building authority and trust signals, it will rank higher in the SERPs. And when your rankings go up on search engines, more people find your business and land on your website.

Instead of trying to build backlinks by reaching out to people and businesses – hoping they’ll notice your emails and respond positively – you can find individuals already seeking your advice. Just like inbound marketing, where you give consumers the answers they’re looking for, HARO connects you with individuals researching specific topics you can weigh into.

When you respond to relevant queries from writers on HARO, you’re simply sharing your knowledge. Providing quality information gives journalists more social proof to boost their article’s credibility and authenticity. If they use your information and link to your website in their piece, you’ll gain a natural backlink that shouldn’t trigger any spam warnings online. That’s a link you might never achieve using other methods!

Tips for Choosing HARO Queries

After you create your HARO account, it’s time to start filtering through queries to find relevant categories and topics. You can update your profile so you only receive queries in relevant categories to avoid being bombarded with topics outside your niche. Choose from the following categories:

  • Master HARO (queries from all categories)
  • High tech
  • Sports
  • Energy and green tech
  • General
  • Travel
  • UK
  • Giftbag
  • Education
  • Lifestyle and fitness
  • Biotech and healthcare
  • Business and finance
  • Public policy and government
  • Entertainment and media

You’ll receive three emails a day, Monday through Friday. It’s essential to look through new queries as soon as you receive them and to respond promptly – or you could miss your shot.

Don’t respond to every HARO request you see. Instead, choose the queries that are the most relevant to your business. You’ll know which ones are worth your time and energy by establishing your goals upfront. Find queries you can address with industry knowledge and by offering real value to readers.

HARO emails schedule

After you find a list of queries you’d like to pitch to, you need to filter them down by researching the companies who sent them. Check out the linked website to ensure it has a high domain authority and solid reputation. Only write for companies that are genuinely relevant to your niche so you have a similar target market and can gain traction in your field.

Also look at how the publication quotes people. Do they include a short quote or a more extensive feature? What’s the tone and writing style? Try to match it in your pitch.

Here’s an example of a real HARO query from the business and finance category.

HARO query example


Tips for Writing HARO Responses

Here are some tips to help you respond to HARO queries like a pro.

  • Respond quickly. Time is of the essence!
  • Ensure you write the reporter’s name correctly.
  • Briefly mention why you’re qualified to respond.
  • Include a bio as you’d like it to appear in the article if you’re featured.
  • Be concise while answering the question as clearly and thoroughly as you can in a couple of paragraphs.
  • Stay on topic and avoid fluff.
  • Try including bullet points so reporters can scan your content quickly and easily.
  • Don’t write more than two to three paragraphs (or 200 words) in your response.
  • Include actionable tips and intriguing insight.
  • Make sure your response is error-free (edit your work before sending!).
  • Send a unique and creative response that provides value the reporter can’t find elsewhere. This will help you stand out among competitors.
  • Include a call to action at the end that includes your contact information and encourages the journalist to reach out to you again in the future.
  • Include a downloadable version (a link instead of an attachment) of your headshot, bio, and logo.
  • Follow all instructions precisely, or your pitch could be discarded.

Start saving a library of responses so you can quickly send new pitches on similar topics. Then all you’ll have to do is tweak the replies to address new reporters and send unique content. You’ll get faster with practice.

After journalists and bloggers start featuring you in their articles, consider using a program like Ahrefs along with Google Alerts to track your HARO backlink ROI.

tips for writing HARO responses

Here’s an example of a HARO pitch for Business Insider. The query was about how to become a 6-figure copywriter, and it landed me the feature!

Hello Robin,

I’ve been a 6 figure copywriter for over three years, and I started freelancing in 2015. Last year, I even made 6 figures not only after expenses but after taxes as well.

My tips are…

Find a profitable niche you enjoy – While I could have chosen any other of my personal interests, I decided to niche down in SaaS (software as a service) and marketing technology. Working with more profitable businesses allows me to charge professional rates for my services. This would have been hard working with small businesses. Plus, I truly love the B2B tech industry.

Outsource a predictable lead generation system to a virtual assistant – When I stopped having my VA run my Twitter and Instagram and instead outsourced email outreach to her, my leads skyrocketed! I now teach other freelancers how to outsource email outreach.

Brand yourself – It’s essential to stand out online. Your brand doesn’t have to be fancy, complicated, or expensive. For me it’s just my tagline “B2B SaaS copywriter” and using bold black font, plenty of white space, and the color green! Doing something is better than nothing. Keep it simple to start, and keep your brand consistent everywhere.

Please let me know if you want any edits!

Dayana Mayfield

This HARO response landed me a feature in Business Insider!

business insider feature from haro response

Build a Strong HARO Backlink Building Strategy for Your Business

Are you ready to start earning quality backlinks for your business to boost your SEO and PR? Pitch & Profit can help. Increase your visibility online by incorporating smart link-building strategies that work. Whether you’ve been in business for years or you’re a new blogger or startup, we’d love to help you take your business to the next level.

seo pr checklist

Dayana Mayfield loves publicity and content marketing and how they work together. She's been featured in Business Insider, Forbes, YFS Magazine, Thrive Global, StartupNation, and countless co-marketing opportunities. Her story pitches have landed startup founders and small businesses in dozens of online publications. Grab her SEO + PR checklist to learn how to rank your small business in Google search using digital PR --> pitch.st/checklist


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