Respond to a HARO Inquiry to Increase Your Traffic

Published by
James Parsons
on September 22, 2014
Posted in Traffic Generation

What would you give, how much would you pay, for ready access to stories, quotes and opinions from high profile experts, company CEOs and thought leaders in your industry?  Access you could use at any time?  Information guaranteed to be unique and valuable, vetted by experts and publication-ready?

Turn it around.  What would you give to be one of those thought leaders, those recognized experts, with nearly guaranteed publicity through reporters and writers in your industry?  For high quality backlinks from professional, related sites with high quality content?

What if you found out both sides were packed full of users, and all you needed to do was sign up for a single website?  Welcome to HARO.

What is HARO?

HARO stands for Help A Reporter Out.  It’s a site designed to hook up two types of people.  On one hand, you have the sources.  Sources are people in positions of authority and recognition.  People who own companies, who run high profile blogs and who have thoughts and opinions that matter.  People who, because of their situation, have access to information they want distributed elsewhere.

On the other hand, you have the reporters.  These are the writers, journalists and content creators who may not have a reputation of their own, but who have a blog or a column in a publication.  These writers are looking for information and sources to put them ahead and give them unique information to broadcast.

HARO strives to connect these two groupsReporters sign up and write queries for what they need.  As a reporter, you could say you need personal experiences with marketing on Tumblr, and submit the query.  Throughout the day, every weekday, sources receive emails with these queries.  If one catches their eye, they can respond to the reporter and give them the inside scoop.

HARO as a Source

HARO-as-a-Source

If you believe you’re in a position of authority as a thought leader and business owner in your niche, you may be able to leverage HARO as a source.  Reporters can draw on your information to create unique articles which will then link back to your site as the source of that information.  You earn publicity and traffic from a quality website, and you further your reputation as a thought leader.

HARO sources require an account on one of four tier levels.  The most basic level is free, which gives you little more than a handful of queries each day and basic email support.  The standard level is $19 per month and allows you to set up keyword alerts, build a profile, include mobile integration and access to the database for searching for past active queries.  The advanced package is $49 monthly and includes more alerts, more profiles and an early delivery for alerts so you get a head start on other users.  The premium package costs $149 a month and gives you unlimited keyword alerts, unlimited profiles, phone support and all the benefits of the other tiers.

There are a few drawbacks to using HARO as a source.  For one thing, if your business is a narrow niche with low appeal, you may not find reporters looking for your expertise.  You can always try to pitch if you want, but you may not find much interest.  Secondly, a HARO reporter is not actually required to link to you as the source.  Most do, out of courtesy and for validation, but it’s not required.  Third, there have been issues in the past with HARO articles posted in multiple locations, triggering duplicate content penalties.

One potential benefit of HARO, beyond the obvious backlinks and reputation, comes from the connections you gain with reporters.  If a reporter writes an article using your information and it’s a big hit, that reporter is more likely to come back to you as a quality source.  You can strike up a relationship outside of the site.  HARO is great for contacts that way.

Using HARO Effectively

Using-HARO-EffectivelyOne potential issue with using HARO, particularly if you’re using a lower tier inexpensive plan and thus don’t have the benefit of the database searching, early access and keyword alerts, is putting the quotes to use.  If you take too much time deciding which to respond to, others may undercut you and gain the attention of the reporter before you can.  If you fly off the cuff, you may end up with links coming from sites that aren’t precisely aligned with your industry, which aren’t nearly as valuable.  How can you set down a process to combine speed and efficiency?

  • Examine the site behind the reporter.  If you want, you can consider PageRank, Alexa Rank and other metrics.  Primarily, however, you want to know two things.  First, does the site in question have anything to do with your industry, or is it an unrelated or unfocused blog?  Second, if you were to add a link to that site in return, would it look good to potential customers?
  • Automatically ignore any anonymous queries.  You’re not going to get anything of value out of a reporter who is too leery of the site to even give out their website information.  If you can’t see where they publish, assume the worst and move on.
  • Respond quickly.  Many reporters use HARO because they’re pressed for time and don’t have the time available to go through the standard contact channels with their preferred sources.  They want something quick and readily provided so they can get their content written and submitted to their publishers as quickly as possible.  Additionally, if you take too long scanning through queries, you run the risk of another industry professional – possibly a competitor – taking the reporter’s attention in your place.
  • Be quick, accurate and informative in your response.  The less the reporter has to ask follow-up questions, parse your information, find examples and generally put in more work, the less they’re going to want to accept your pitch.  Bullet points, short paragraphs, supporting links and ready quotes are all beneficial.  Always assume the reporter doesn’t have time for a follow-up interview.  If they can’t use what you give them to answer all of their questions, they won’t use you at all.
  • Be an expert.  If you’re not sure of the answers to the questions the reporter is asking, you don’t have the position of authority they want, and they’ll turn to someone else.  A quick bio and link to your site makes it much easier for them to trust your information.
  • Don’t be a marketer.  If you avoid the question at hand and ask the reporter to write about your service, you’re going to be ignored or blacklisted entirely.  Reporters are there for information, not for assignments.
  • Follow up on the reporter’s piece once it goes live.  It’s a good idea to thank the reporter for their link – assuming they linked to you – and you can probably spare the chance to post a reciprocal link on your own blog.  “Hey, audience, this is a place that quoted me for my authority; check it out!”

Follow-up-on-the-reporters-piece

As a final note, you can also use HARO as a reporter, if you want to network with other industry thought leaders and gain their information for your own blog.  Think of it like a shortcut to professional networking.  You can find some excellent tips for using HARO on the reporter side of things from Search Engine Watch.

Written by James Parsons

James Parsons

James is a content marketing and SEO professional who enjoys the challenge of driving sales through blogging while creating awesome and useful content.

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