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SEO for Growth

How to Use Haro for SEO & Link Building

Learn how to use HARO (Help a Reporter Out) to provide valuable expertise to those who need it, while earning credible backlinks, brand mentions and organic traffic for your brand.

9 mins read time
Devan Randolph
Devan Randolph

Feb 09, 2021

In a world with so many voices, stories, and ideas, it can be hard to have your own voice heard. Marketers know that in order to have any success reaching people, there are two necessary ingredients: positive PR and ample online exposure.

These two factors can make the difference between generating credibility and organic traffic…or being seen as an untrustworthy source struggling to find leads. There are a number of useful and effective ways to garner more visibility for your website, brand and blog, but there’s one strategy that rises above the rest: link building with HARO.

If you’re looking for a largely underutilized link building tactic to add to your SEO strategy, HARO might be the perfect solution. Let’s explore.

Understanding HARO

What is HARO anyway? This quippy title is actually a clever acronym meaning “Help A Reporter Out,” and it began as a simple idea back in 2008.

Created by Peter Shankman, a PR aficionado and businessman, HARO is an online service that connects journalists and media members to help them gather feedback, engage credible expert sources, and collect quotes to create new content for articles, blogs, and press releases. Shankman was inspired to create HARO after finding that he would receive a consistent stream of requests from reporters, editors, and publications looking for stories and sources on all sorts of topics. While able to connect with some of these requests, it was nearly impossible to connect with each and every one. To remedy this problem, HARO was created.

A platform that could handle the scale of requests and information passing between members of the press, HARO has grown into a database that’s useful to journalists and writers seeking quotes, and anyone looking to get their name (and a link to their site) out there.

Today, thousands of media outlets (including The New York Times, TIME Magazine, and ABC) use HARO to find expert sources to bolster their content.

If you see yourself as an expert in certain topics and you’re looking to grow organic traffic and leads, take HARO for a spin for untapped success. Here at First Page, we look for opportunities and HARO requests where we can share our expertise in all things inbound marketing and we focus on providing as much value as possible in every response we submit.

How Can HARO Help SEO?

A big part of SEO is understanding what your target audience is saying and identifying their search intent. HARO is a place where users can connect with top names from highly credible websites. It offers users a goldmine of information and opportunity to land top-quality links and organic referral traffic. It’s really one of the safer, more trustworthy, and cost-effective (free) ways to build natural backlinks.

To bolster your own SEO efforts, consider investing 30 minutes to an hour each day sifting through HARO’s daily requests emails. Look for queries you can answer that align with your expertise (e.g., at First Page, we’d respond to queries about SEO, inbound marketing, and similar topics).

It’s no guarantee that any of your responses will be cited in a published piece, but when this does happen, you’ll earn a link from a website with good-to-great domain authority. This link can lead to the following for your brand:

  • Greater awareness and visibility

  • More citations (brand mentions)

  • More referral traffic from readers on that website clicking the link to yours

  • A valuable backlink – the top two ranking factors are content and links

  • An opportunity to nurture an ongoing working relationship with the website that cited you

Digital Marketing Insights

As we learn more about how HARO can help your SEO strategy, what does it mean for digital marketing?

HARO is a platform for brands of all types, so there’s a lot to sift through. Of course, some topics are higher profile than others. And some niches have a larger following, while others don’t get as much attention.

How can you know if HARO is the right platform for link building and PR for you? Let’s start with some interesting findings from a recent HARO study:

  • Only about 33% of queries are published; this is three in every 10 queries accepted and published, on average

  • Business & finance is the category with the highest number of queries

  • The biotech and high tech categories, have the fourth and sixth most queries, respectively

  • Queries with a domain rating (DR) of 50 or higher (on a 100-point scale) are considered more authoritative by search engines, so a backlink from these sites are the most valuable for SEO

  • 68% of all 1,500 queries in the study held a domain rating of 50 or above

  • 89% of all published queries held a DR of 50 or above

  • Of 1,500 studied queries, 69% received 1,000 organic site visitors each month. Queries for websites with 1,000+ monthly organic visitors are considered more trustworthy and authoritative

  • Of the published queries, 87% of the websites had 1,000+ monthly organic visitors

  • More than half of all published articles used a do-follow link (follow is great for SEO; nofollow isn’t as good)


Steps for Using HARO for SEO

All in all, HARO is one of the best resources for link building. The practice can be tricky at first, and you need to be quick to respond to the queries, but it’s a useful technique that can pay off big with the right links.

To get the ball rolling, follow these steps:

  1. Sign up as a source on HARO.

  2. Choose the categories you feel most confident about contributing to. Some categories include:

    • High Tech

    • Business and Finance

    • Energy and Tech

    • Travel

    • Healthcare

    • Lifestyle and Fitness

    • Education

    • Entertainment and Media

  3. Keep an eye on your inbox for email queries (sent three times per day) from journalists and bloggers.

  4. Reply to the requests that you feel your brand is an expert in. At First Page, we wouldn’t waste our time responding to queries about lifestyle, for instance, because there are likely plenty other people who use HARO that are lifestyle experts.

  5. Wait a few weeks. You just might get your brand’s name and a link on a highly trafficked site.


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Devan Randolph

Devan earned her BA at Temple University and started her career in PR. She has since worked with clients to strengthen their SEO strategy. Outside of work, you can find her traveling.

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