Pros and Cons of HARO (Help A Reporter Out) for Link Building

  • Help a reporter out uses the acronym HARO and is owned by Cision.
  • It’s a white-hat free earned media using backlinks.
  • Link building from high DR/DA sites boosts SEO and SERP.
  • Journalists and content writers post their queries on HARO, expecting expert replies.
  • Experts receive a newsletter 3x per day (M-F) and choose relevant queries to respond to.
  • Experts get their websites linked, and publications have expert input, increasing their subject authority. 

If you work in SEO, you should be using HARO, help a reporter out, to gain free, quality backlinks. 

HARO is a platform where websites can win backlinks from high-performing websites, but it’s not all gold and sparkles. There are disadvantages to using help a reporter out. 

In this article, we outline the good and the bad, the pros and cons of help a reporter out. We’re a digital marketing agency with a lot of experience using HARO; learn from our observations to avoid wasting precious time.

What is HARO (help a reporter out)?

HARO is a platform created to help journalists get relevant expert input for their articles in a fraction of the time. However, SEO experts realized how easy it was to get a backlink in a high-performing online publication like Forbes or the Wall Street Journal via the platform.

CEOs, CMOs, and CTOs suddenly signed up for the HARO newsletter, published and sent directly to your inbox three times a day, Monday to Friday. If they found a query relevant to their expertise, they could respond and have a good chance of getting published.

Growing in popularity, it’s now a tricky game for executives to win placements–the pool of experts is saturated. 

PROs of Help A Reporter Out:

  • Free earned media from high DR sites
  • Direct source of experts for your content
  • Frequent publications – many opportunities 

Free earned media from high DR sites

Digital marketers, website owners, and budding SEO specialists have received numerous messages selling links. Buying backlinks is like buying followers on social media–they’re empty and worthless. 

Help a reporter out offers these professionals the opportunity to be placed in high-ranking publications in exchange for their expert input on a subject proffered by the journalist. Best part is it’s all above board, or, as the pros decry it–white hat

Direct source of experts for your content

On the other side, HARO makes sourcing easier for journalists and bloggers. They log in to their Cision account, post a query, and wait for the replies to pour in. 

Traditionally, journalists hunted down experts—a time-consuming part of their work. They scoured the internet, made connections, and maintained relationships to build a repertoire of experts. 

Frequent publications – many opportunities 

Three newsletters are published and delivered to your inbox every weekday, so you can easily win five links in one month. The value of these links is so high that specialized link-building companies now exist. 

Each newsletter is divided into different categories facilitating your search for relevant queries and reducing the time spent on the task. 

CONs of help a reporter out:

  • Are you speaking with an expert?
  • Too many websites want to take advantage.
  • Questionable queries.

Are you speaking with an expert?

Cision HARO Sign up page

Anyone can easily sign up to HARO as a source without vetting. This opens up the floor for illegitimate websites looking for a quick win. For example, fake websites built to make money off adverts can boost their SEO and SERP using help a reporter out. 

As a journalist or blogger, social proof is the quickest way to weed out any fake accounts. Ask for links to their LinkedIn and see how active they are. 

Too many websites want to take advantage.

The golden era of HARO has passed. Now everyone knows about it, so everyone is using it. Journalists easily receive over 100 replies per query and will often just choose the first ones that come in (that are legitimate).

You need to shape your pitch to align with Google’s algorithm EAT (Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness)–show the journalist that you are a sure source. You might even want to set an alarm to coincide with the newsletter release to ensure you’re early with your pitch. 

Questionable queries.

It’s not just sources you have to look out for; some questionable queries are floating around, too. Just stick to your niche, and if you’re in doubt about a query or publication, do a quick boolean search of the journalist and publication. 

This nifty free Website “Authority” Checker from Ahrefs will be able to tell you quickly the publication’s domain rating (DR). Generally, anything over 50DR will bring a lot of traffic to your website. 

HARO alternatives?

If you don’t want to use the HARO platform, there are other ways to gain placements as part of your link-building strategy. 

LinkedIn: a social media platform used by professionals with direct messaging options. 

Help a B2B Writer: inspired by HARO, this platform specializes in B2B publications and expert sources. 

Terkel: rather than ask for expert input, they post questions seeking answers. A more straightforward platform to use and digest. 

LinkSourcery: a platform that organizes queries from different sources on the internet, including many features, like DR, probability, and so on. 

HARO, the not-to-be-forgotten pioneer

Just like every other Saas, HARO has its ups and downs. But thanks to them, many more platforms have sprouted up. Off-page SEO link building has boomed as a specialty, with about 116,000 experts (see image) on LinkedIn now offering the service as part of their repertoire.

Link Building on LinkedIn

However, HARO should be just one aspect of your link-building strategy. It’s effective, you can build genuine relationships with journalists, but it’s not the be-all and end-all of a digital marketer’s job. 

If your company wishes to up your SEO game but lacks the expertise, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. Link building is part of our SEO Package. 
When you work with Redefine Marketing Group, we’ll craft a one-of-a-kind campaign that’s intended to solve your problems and bring qualified traffic to your site.

Author avatar
Jason Martinez
Jason is a Cal Poly Pomona Alum, extreme fan of marketing, and social media advocate. As a Brand Marketing Manager at Redefine Marketing Group, he is responsible for the development and execution of strategy for reputation management, link building, and social media marketing for both the agency and its clients.
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