HARO Is The Best Backlink Source You’re Not Using

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Let’s face it, backlinks can be expensive – sometimes even more costly than content for a site. In fact, I’ve spent as much as $1,500 for a single link in the past.

And if you buy links for your sites, then you know that the cost trend has been steadily inching higher and higher. But here’s the thing about buying links – if you can buy them, so then so can your competitors.

And the best backlinks are the ones that aren’t easy to replicate by the competition.

That’s part of what makes HARO so great for building links to your sites. I’ve been using HARO for my sites since 2016…which is ancient in SEO years.

While more and more people are talking about using HARO, I’m surprised that it’s not more widely utilized by SEOs. I think some people think it’s more difficult than it is.

Spoiler alert: it’s not.

Though, it can be tedious at times. If you’re not using HARO, then let me help you get your ass in line so you can start earning some sweet (and free) backlinks.

Check Out This HARO Course from Doug Cunnington
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How HARO Works for SEOs

The beauty of HARO is that it’s wicked simple. You sign up as a source and then you get three daily emails Monday through Friday (unless it’s a holiday in the US).

Those emails contain requests from journalists looking for sources and quotes. All you gotta do is reply to them by the deadline.

It is 100% free to use.

All it costs you is time. Time to read the emails; and time to craft a good response in your pitch.

Important things to know about HARO:

  • There’s no guarantee that a journalist will include that link back to your site.
  • There’s no guarantee that a journalist will include your response at all.
  • Some journalists requests are anonymous, so you have no clue where your response/link will be posted.
  • Some sites/journalists post regularly looking for sources, so those are easy wins.
  • Some of the journalists are other bloggers like me and you.
  • Sometimes it takes months before the journalists article (and your link/response) go live.
  • Journalists don’t see responses sent after the deadline.
  • Journalists cannot see any attachments that you send them.
  • Sometimes journalists seek out your social profiles or LinkedIn to link to instead of your site.
  • Using fake personas on your site to respond to HARO requests has a low ROI.
  • Journalists don’t always tell you when your response/link goes live, so you have to find it yourself.

Honestly, I think that this is the best way to score high authority links for your sites that most people are missing out on. It’s the whitest of white hat link building.

so white

I don’t really take SEO seriously for this site since I basically just brain vomit all my thoughts here, but I recently decided to start responding to HAROs to see what kind of links I could get for a case study. Here are the links I scored in one month:

I also may have landed more that I just don’t know about, since that seems to be a trend with HARO journalists.

I responded to a total of 16 HARO requests from my Skipblast email last month, so that’s a 31% success rate.

So, I got those links for free all to this site – a site that, let’s be honest, isn’t the most professional looking site on the web. It’s littered with ridiculous gifs and profanity…just how I like it.

I use HARO for all of my affiliate sites and I can tell you that the more polished and professional looking ones do even better at landing HARO backlinks.

Tips For Successful HARO Link Building

I see so many people not wanting to do HARO because it’s too hard. The fuck it is. All you gotta do is read those emails and reply to the ones that you can answer.

It’s literally that simple.

That being said, there are ways to ensure your success when responding to those requests.

Have A Real Site/Brand

If you have a site that looks like an affiliate site, then you’re not going to have much success with HARO. You need a site that looks and feels like a real brand or a real site – not just an affiliate site.

Now, you can sort of fake this with a static homepage where you feature only informational content. Lazy journalists will fall for it, though you’re still better off with a higher quality site.

Don’t Hide Behind A Ghost Persona

I’m not saying that you need to use your real name on your sites. But you DO need a persona that isn’t a ghost.

Journalists aren’t stupid. They seek out social profiles for you when you respond to their requests.

So, create a LinkedIn or one or two other social profiles to make your fake persona look like a real person.

You can even use This Person Does Not Exist to get a fake photo that can’t be found in a reverse image search.

Pay Attention To The Requirements

In those HARO requests, the journalists tell you exactly what they need and want from you. Give it to them.

Don’t write a fuck ton of irrelevant shit that they’ll have to scan because they get loads of responses and don’t have time for that nonsense.

Brevity and conciseness is the name of the game here. And make sure you’re giving them something that they can use.

Give Them Everything They Need


To save the journalist time, include everything they might need when you send your response.

You should have:

  • a small photo
  • a brief bio
  • an email signature with your name, title, company and website URL, social profiles

And put all of this at the bottom of your email, after your response.

Don’t include any attachments in your HARO email response.

Your photo that you send should be a link where the image can be downloaded because no attachments make it through to the journalists.

Respond ASAP

Be ready to reply to any potential requests as soon as they arrive in your inbox. But don’t rush your response just to be quick.

Why do you need to be fast with your response? Because you need to be the first person with your answer.

I’m telling you this because I also use HARO as a “journalist” to get content for my sites. As I go through the responses that I receive, I add good ones to my article as I see them – but if a later response repeats something I already used, then it goes in the discard pile.

Be Unique

For the best results at landing that backlink, try to give the journalist a response that will stand out from the pack.

For example, if someone is asking for responses on keyword research tools then you can assume that most people are going to send answers about KWfinder, Ahrefs, SEMrush, Ubersuggest, etc. But you may be the only person who sends them Keysearch (which seems to be all the rage with the mommy blogging crowd) or something like Answer The Public.

If you make yourself stand out, then you often win a spot in the article by default.

Research The Publication

If you’re responding to a request that’s not anonymous, then you should research the outlet to get a feel for the writing style.

You might discover that the outlet loves humor, and then you can adjust your response as necessary. Or, if I ran a HARO request for this site then you’d see that I welcome profanity and then you can hit me up with your best naughty language response.

Doing this often helps you secure that coveted spot (and link) over other people’s responses.

Don’t Be Afraid To Try Other Niches

Just because you run a pets blog doesn’t mean that you have to stick to pet-related queries when you’re looking for things to respond to with HARO.

Sure, niche relevant links are better than non-niche relevant, but a link is a link.

There are a ton of requests lately regarding working from home. As an SEO, you may already work from home, so you can 100% answer those queries — unless there are specific requirements that you do not meet.

Basically anything you can answer, and that you meet the requirements/qualifications for, you should be answering.

HARO Time Commitment

If you’ve got more money than time, then you might be wondering just how much of a commitment responding to HARO requests is for the average SEO. Well, like all things in SEO, the answer is the same –

It depends.

Some niches have multiple requests in every single email. Other niches are lucky to have one relevant request per week.

The time spent will also depend on how slow or quick of a reader you are, as well as how slow or quick of a writer you are.

If you’re completely new to HARO, then the only way to know how much time it will take you is to sign up for the emails and give it a try for a week.

For me, I’d wager that I average around 15 hours per month doing HARO responses and reading the emails. It takes longer for some of my sites and less time for others. The bulk of my time is spent writing up my responses.

I’ve done HARO link building for a few clients in recent months and that seems to average around 20 hours per month total time due to having to setup the new account and learning about the niche.

So, I’d expect to spend between 15 and 25 hours on it if you’re a complete noob.

Don’t have the and want to outsource it? Or use some templates to speed things up? Check out this HARO course from Doug at Niche Site Project.

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9 thoughts on “HARO Is The Best Backlink Source You’re Not Using”

  1. Hi, Shawna!

    I’ve recently got a reply from one of my HARO responses:

    “””Hello!

    Thank you so much for responding to my recent HARO query! I have been filtering through the responses and I think yours could possibly be one that I use in my article. It was very well thought out and informative, so I may be including a quote from your response.

    I wanted to reach out to see if you would like to link back to our website in return! Is that something you would be willing to do?

    Thanks again!”””

    I was wondering, if this is normal? Because I didn’t know some of them ask for a link back. I’ve also heard that if you link back, you’ll not gain the SEO benefit of the link you’re getting from them, as Google doesn’t allow link exchanges.

    Reply
    • Hi Umar,

      While I’ve not had an outright request like that ever, it is common to get a message when the link is live and you’re asked to share it on your social channels. HARO is not supposed to work as a link exchange, so I suspect some SEOs are doing this.

      A link exchange won’t hurt you with Google unless you go gangbusters with it and have a heavy backlink profile full of exchanged links. If you don’t mind linking back to the site, and it’s a good link for you to get in return, then there’s no harm in the occasional link exchange.

      Hope you have better HARO experiences in the future!
      Shawna

      Reply
  2. I got to know your site via your interview with NicheSiteProject. I’ve been doing HARO for the past 7 days and have 0% success rate. I know I am using a fake persona but I really put a lot of thought into my response 🙁

    My site design I think is not bad. Could you help take a look to see if is there anything on my site that prevents me from success in HARO.

    Thanks 🙂

    Reply
    • Hi Jill,
      Honestly a week isn’t nearly long enough to see results from HARO. Think of it as a long lead. Do it for 60-90 days and you should see some results.

      I once had a HARO link not go live for several months. So, just play the long game with it.

      Good luck!

      Reply

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