If you work with SEO, content marketing or a similar niche, then chances are that you’ve heard about HARO. If not, HARO stands for “help a reporter out,” which is absolutely what it sounds like. On this innovative platform, journalists and a variety of other writers can post queries reflecting research that is needed for an article or blog post.
Then, something golden happens. Experts on that subject matter can provide quotes, information, helpful tips or whatever else is requested.
But, why is this such an advantageous exchange — for both parties involved? Let’s take a closer look at the inner workings of HARO, and how you can effectively harness its power for mutual collaborations, networking, brand recognition and much more.
How It Works
As mentioned, the basis of HARO is to provide a benefit to both participants: the reporter and the responder to the query.
For the writer, gathering data is not always an easy feat. If you’ve ever been on this end of rounding up quotes or expert opinions, you’ll definitely agree that the task is often much more difficult than one would anticipate. Wouldn’t it be positively life-changing if a writer could simply post a query, and then receive numerous well-written quotes and tips at their disposal? You guessed it — that’s where HARO steps in!
For the expert, does it sound like a fair deal to provide a little information for a name drop and even a backlink to your site or preferred social media platform? With many sites now charging exuberant fees for guest posts and contributor acceptance becoming stricter by the day, doesn’t a little free exposure seem like a win-win?
The idea is brilliant. Whenever a service can benefit both sides of the fence, without costing anything but time, it should be heralded.
But sadly, many organizations just don’t understand how to appropriately utilize HARO to their unique advantage, and are missing out on tons of exposure every day. So, let’s explore a few tips on how to make HARO work for you, instead of the other way around.
Sign Up and Select Your Preferences
You can quickly sign up for HARO and get started within minutes. Be sure to utilize your business email, as that your replies must come from the registered email address. You’ll want to represent yourself in a professional manner. And if you think that journalists aren’t paying attention to that, they are, and there’s a really good reason for that. We’ll discuss it more in detail later on in this post.
Next, always check the box for the Master HARO, because you never know when a reporter may categorize their query under a different topic. This immediately gives you the jump over other organizations who are too selective. After all, if you are a professional HARO writer, you will think outside of the box, and you’ll want to reach a broader audience. Yep, it’s called building a brand.
Be sure to check your email for the confirmation, and click on the link to get started. Now, you’re in business!
Write a Creative Template
Once you’re all set up, you’ll need to craft a compelling template for your queries, which can easily be altered to target specific markets, insert quotes and showcase your expertise. This can save you time when you are replying to multiple queries a day.
Always include pertinent information that will save the journalist time in responding back for additional answers. This could give a reason to move on to the next query. Never, under any circumstances, explain why your company is a perfect fit to supply a quote, and for the reporter to please reach out to you for additional information. You’ll be waiting a long time. For some reasons, this was initially so commonplace in HARO that reporters and journalists began specifically listing in their queries to avoid just that. Think about it this way, HARO is supposed to save everyone time. Provide the requested information immediately, so all that’s left is to approve your quote, give you a great backlink and the rest is history. Is this starting to make more sense?
You’ll also want to ensure that you include quotes that can easily be copy and pasted into an article. Separate these quotes into paragraphs, in case there is a specific word count. A journalist is more likely to accept a response that is ready to go, and setting up your reply so that it’s simple to grab one or two quotes can be extremely intuitive. Proofread for any misspellings that may not have been triggered. The worst thing possible is to send a HARO response that’s riddled with errors, so think about running it through an app like Grammarly, just to be safe.
And did I mention hat your content has to be original? Imagine that you’re on the other side of this, sifting through emails after email, all providing the same so-called “unique” tip. You have to stand out, so much so that it’s a good idea to give a little teaser to your quote in the subject line. If you’re providing an SEO tip, don’t bother explaining that you need to use keywords. Instead, try something like optimizing your images. Can you see the difference?
Additionally, always include as many social media links as possible. You never know when you may be tagged in a social media campaign for the post. I’m telling you, the exposure with HARO knows no bounds!
I was so excited to see your query on HARO today that I had to respond right away! I know you must have a number of emails flooding in, so I’ll get directly to the point, and hopefully I can provide you with something both unique and beneficial.
My name is ___, and I work with ___, (short description of company and CEO).
(Social Media Links)
(Bio 50-100 Words Max)
HARO queries will be compiled into three editions: morning, afternoon and evening on Monday through Friday. This is ideal, because there’s always a fresh list of opportunities to fit anyone’s schedule or time zone.
Be sure to look at and reply to daily HARO roundups as soon as possible. Journalists are all on a deadline, and chances are that they may not even read later replies to their query, even if the date on the query isn’t for a few days. If they find the quotes they’re after in the first 30 emails, your quote sitting down at #77 may be lost forever.
When you get started, always target the most relevant queries to your brand first. Next, look for more out-of-the-box queries that could provide an opportunity for exposure to a different audience.
And always, always reply with a branded email address (firstname.lastname@example.org). Journalists will want to know that they are dealing with a professional, and not just someone building a few links for a friend.
Now, we’re at the best part. There’s nothing quite like receiving your first acceptance email from HARO. It’s also exciting because you know if you were successful once, you can definitely do it again.
When a query is accepted, respond immediately with a quick note of thanks. Once the journalist sends the published link, let them know the avenues where it will be shared on your end, as this added exposure can up the chances of being utilized as an expert for another article.
If the acceptance response comes from the editor or content manager, let them know that you are available for any additional assistance, as well as guest posts on a variety of topics that would fit well within their niche. Some sites looking for content submissions may automatically include this information, which is priceless!
Track Your Success
Keep careful track of all of your published links, as well as those that are pending. Once you have had ample time to “experiment” with HARO, it will be important to see the progress that you’ve made, so you can determine whether to make this a part of your daily work routine.
The best way to monitor for positive outcomes is, surprisingly, by counting the links that have been published. Also, keep in mind that you are building name recognition with journalists and content managers who are constantly searching for experts to contribute to articles. Additionally, a link and good communication could lead to repeat exposure and even larger opportunities.
Writing and gaining exposure from content isn’t as simple as it once was when the “golden age” of content marketing began. Now we must contend with understanding Google tools, working with SEO and, more than likely, doing it all remotely.
When platforms are available to create opportunities for exposure and provide reporters with research that is often difficult to come by from reputable sources, there’s no reason not to jump in with both feet. Now that you have a game plan, you’ll be seeing the positive effects of utilizing HARO much sooner than you think. Go out and get those links!
PRO TIP: If you can’t devote the time that you need to HARO, it’s actually becoming a service that many agencies now offer, including here at Flow SEO. Here are a few examples of successful links that we’ve placed on high-quality sites.