If you’ve ever run a successful SEO campaign before, you’ll know that building high-quality backlinks to your site is critical. If you want to win organic search traffic via SEO, you need to be sure that all 3 pillars of your campaign—technical SEO, content marketing, and backlinks—are executed on correctly.
It’s easy to use an off the shelf platform like Carrot to ensure your site is technically sound, and it’s relatively simple to write and publish high value content to your site. The biggest challenge most people have involves link building.
While many methods are highly complex, and others feel uncomfortable or unethical, one stands out as a clear winner.
You can earn backlinks from some of the highest authority websites without having to write long articles, building an extensive network of industry influencers, or speaking on endless numbers of podcasts.
In my experience, this single strategy wins out against the rest, bringing the highest ROI of all link building methods, landing links in key media outlets and major publications such as Forbes, New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Yahoo Finance.
In this article, I’ll explain the HARO link building process, and how you can use HARO for your real estate SEO campaign.
Introduction to Help a Reporter Out
Help A Reporter Out, or HARO for short, is a simple platform that connects journalists and content producers that with expert sources, to give their content more credibility, and deeper insights.
Every day, hundreds of HARO queries are sent out from journalists, asking experts to provide input into their content. Most of this input is in the form of a quote, but it can also involve TV or radio interviews as well.
Why You Should Use HARO for Link Building
Building links with HARO outreach involves finding journalists looking for relevant sources for their articles. Unlike other forms of outreach (like guest posting), these journalists need a source, and they want to hear from you.
In exchange for your valuable quote, they will credit you, typically with a
nofollow backlink to your site.
Yes, that’s right. SEOs like yourself can use HARO pitches to secure backlinks from websites with tons of link equity, for free!
Your quotes are often syndicated in other publications across the internet, shared on social media, and included in other related press mentions, all of which can boost the power of your links further.
It also helps with improved brand visibility as both your personal and business name become cited sources. This adds trust when potential clients or sellers look to find an agent, agency or investor to work with.
The end result is, you get hard-to-get links from credible news sources, bringing traffic from the journalist’s article, a high-quality backlink to your website, better search engine rankings to your content, and most importantly, more leads for your business.
Other Benefits of Using Help a Reporter Out
As I mentioned above, backlinks are just one of the many benefits. Many people think of this practise as “HARO SEO”, but the benefits really don’t end there.
While I’ve had my fair share of success through SEO, I’ll be the first to admit that the industry can have a limited view of things at times.
Many of the articles you’ll be mentioned in includes multiple experts from your industry, meaning you get to “rub elbows” with respected experts from the property, or finance industry.
This gives the added benefits of:
- boosting your personal credibility,
- improving your brand’s reputation,
- getting exposure your LinkedIn or X profile,
- giving you an icebreaker to introduce yourself to experts in your field…
- “Hey Brian, I noticed we were both quoted in this article. I like what you had to say about the impact of rising interest rates. Want to hop on a call to talk this over at some point?”
- developing another traffic source for your website—referrals—clicks from people that read the article you’re mentioned in, who later click through to your site
How To Register With HARO
Getting your first backlink starts by dropping what you’re doing right now and jumping over to HARO. Select “I’m a Source.”
Scroll down and click the “Subscribe Now” button.
Once you fill out the form with your company’s information, you’ll be registered to receive three emails a day with a list of authors looking for contributions to their articles. It’s that easy!
How To Get Your First Backlink With HARO
Great! You’re getting the daily HARO emails, but what now?
To begin with, you need to start filtering. You’re going to get a lot of queries that simply aren’t a good fit for your business, or your own personal experiences.
Focus on Relevancy
The trick is to focus on topics that directly relate to your area of expertise, like real estate, mortgages, investing, personal finance, or possibly something relating to your personal business experience.
By focusing on opportunities that request real estate agents, you have an unfair advantage against those who do not have this experience.
This narrowed focus will give you the highest chance of being published and receiving a backlink.
Below is an example of the kind of pitch requests you should look for. After checking out the website, you’d see that it is a credible site for homeowners and potential home buyers that is run by a mortgage brokerage.
This means that the site has content that would be relevant to your brand and website. The requirements for the person making a pitch is that they are a real estate professional–a perfect match for your situation.
Sample HARO Query
Researching the Query
You may well have the knowledge to write a response immediately, but in many cases you might need to get some supporting info first.
Even if you can answer the query based on your past knowledge, there’s still some other info that you need.
- who is the target audience of this content?
- what sort of article does the journalist typically write?
- what sort of style and tone does this publication like to publish?
- what length of response do these types of queries typically require?
Just because you’re a subject matter expert, doesn’t mean you’ll automatically be included. If you want to earn HARO links, the best way to succeed is by giving the journalist exactly what they want–a “copy/paste” response.
Write a Valuable, but Readable Pitch
Once you have your shortlist of queries and your research completed, it’s time to write your pitch for each query.
Reporters receive hundreds of responses to each query that they send out, and often they have multiple articles on the go. That’s a lot of emails, and every response will be judged swiftly.
Make sure your response stands out!
A quick, catchy title is a great way to make your pitch stand out in the author’s inbox.
Take the time to write concisely, using easy to read language and proper grammar—this will show respect for their time (and avoid confusion).
When putting together your pitch, make sure that it is short and to the point. These authors receive a ton of pitches and don’t have the time to read through every one. They’re typically looking for short, bite-sized pieces of information that they can quote in the form of a paragraph.
Remember, you’re a human, and the journalist is as well. Don’t just copy and paste in the same response to similar queries, be sure to tailor your pitch to their needs.
Where possible, speak from a past experience that you had, and if relevant, speak to one of your qualifications, or achievements. The more of an expert you are, the more like you are to be mentioned.
If they ask for responses under 100 words, give it to them! Similarly, don’t make it hard for them to credit you! Usually that means making sure your personal name, title/role within your company, company name, URL and any social media profiles are listed in your email.
In your pitch, make it as easy for the author to give you a backlink. In your signature, include a bio, a link to your website, a link to your logo, and a link to your headshot.
Be aware that HARO removes any email attachments like logos or headshot must be included as a downloadable link.
How To Get the Best Results From HARO
In order to truly contribute to the growth of your business, your efforts on media platforms like HARO can’t be a one-time thing. And if you’re going to sustain this effort month in month out, you’ll want to see results.
In addition to everything I’ve listed above, you’ll also want to:
- Respond quickly: many reporters have tight deadlines. If you can give them the answer they need quickly, you’ll get featured. But even if they do have a few extra days, remember that they’ll receive hundreds, or even thousands of responses. You don’t want to be on the bottom of the list.
- Provide evidence: if you’re referencing a specific statistic or trend, try to reference the data, survey or report in your response via a link. This shows that you’re not making it up but you’ve actually done the research to back up your claims, which is hugely beneficial to the journalist’s work.
- Use a spell checker: it goes without saying that your response should be error free. Simple tools like Grammarly can help with both grammar and spelling issues. While most queries will come from USA, from time to time journalists will be seeking comments for Australian, British, or Canadian publications as well, so you’ll want to check your responses against their local spelling as well.
How Will I Know When My Pitch is Used?
Some authors are kind enough to notify you when the article has been published, but most publish and then quickly move on to the next article.
It’s worth seting up Google Alerts to track whenever your name or your brand name has been mentioned.
A Real World Case Study
There’s a lot of smoke and mirrors among marketers, so I encourage you to take guidance from people that actually walk the walk.
Organic search traffic from Google, or “SEO” has been a key traffic source for each of my businesses to date, as well as my personal website. Below you can see different HARO backlinks highlighted in red.
These are some seriously high-authority links that are difficult to get using any other method.
Through “domain authority” and “domain rating” aren’t perfect metrics, they do give a good idea of the power that these links bring.
When I, or my team work to earn these links we typically exclude any sites below DR40, unless it’s highly relevant to the business we’re representing. You can imagine the type of impact using HARO can have on your Google rankings, and organic traffic.
Not only do you get high-quality links, but these are in-content, editorial links from real websites that get a heap of Google search traffic themselves—just what Google wants to see in your site’s backlink portfolio.
How much work does this take?
Like any link building strategy worth pursuing, building quality backlinks through HARO requires effort and consistency. This used to be an unspoken secret, where wins were easy, but it’s not the case anymore.
It’s no surprise that I run an SEO agency, Dialed Labs, which runs HARO SEO campaigns for multiple clients month in, month out. Yes, we offer a link building service, but given the nature of this strategy, it’s more of an online PR campaign.
It’s amazing where some of these responses end up sometimes (even in printed newspapers or magazines)!
The sheer volume that we deal with allows us to collect a large amount of data on this strategy.
In a typical year we’ll help send around 20,000 responses on behalf of our clients through media platforms such as:
Based on our latest data, we expect to convert 14.27% of these responses into published links. That is, 2,854 links.
14.27% might sound like a low success rate, but it’s actually typical among even the best HARO link building service providers.
If you’ve been using SEO for some time, you’ve probably discovered the value (or cost) of a high authority backlink that also brings referral traffic.
I genuinely believe this is one of the best value methods of link building for one of the highest ROI forms of digital marketing (SEO).
If you want the greatest success through this method:
- Respond quickly: Those that respond within the first hour have the best chance at being used as a source.
- Build your credibility: If you have a special certification, degree, or license that makes you stand out among your peers make sure you put it in your bio. This additional credibility could be the deciding factor of whether or not a reporter decides to use your pitch.
- Be creative: Think outside the box. Reporters are looking for pitches that make their content stand out.
- Use a catchy title: Don’t just use a generic subject line like “HARO Response” when sending in your pitch. Make yourself stand out in their inbox with a subject line they can’t help but click on.
- Be patient: It can take weeks or even months for an article to be published.
- Don’t give up: Just because you haven’t heard a response doesn’t mean that your pitches are being ignored. Most authors don’t reach out until the article has been published, which can take weeks or even months.
Now get out there and give it a go—and good luck on the backlink battlefield.