Andrew Allen


Andrew Allen

In this post I’m going to tell you all about a little backlink-building secret, that’s helped Hike gain relevant, high-quality backlinks.

Make sure you read on, this is a good one…

Why build links?

Link building. Digital PR. Backlink acquisition. Link outreach.

Whatever you want to call it, building backlinks to your website is still one of the top ranking factors when it comes to SEO.

So, any complete SEO strategy must contain some form of link building strategy.

One of the most effective forms of link building is stealing opportunities from your competitors (see how Hike helps you do this here).

But today I wanted to share a quick and easy way to dip your toes into the world of link building – using something called HARO.

HARO is so effective at link building, one of our Facebook group members said it’s all they used to build a domain authority of 19 (domain authority = score for the quality of a website’s total backlinks):

What is HARO?

HARO stands for Help a Reporter Out, an online service for journalists to request for an expert opinion on any range of subjects.

So, if I was a technology journalist and was going to write a piece on ‘the latest technology for bathrooms’ I could use HARO to send this request out to their database of members who, in turn, could provide me with some information around great new bathroom gadgets.

If I like the information that’s been sent to me, I will use it within my piece and cite the author who gave me the info.

And – crucially for SEO – when I cite someone within my article, I also provide a link back to their website.

A backlink! Woohoo!

But, HARO isn’t just limited to bathroom technology! HARO sends out requests for information of all sorts, every single day.

How to sign up to HARO

It’s really simple to sign up to HARO, and I recommend you do it straight away.

Simply head over to here and sign up to the free plan. (You can choose a paid plan but it’s not necessary.)

Then make sure you receive emails for any industries that you specialise in, and that you could contribute.

Once you’ve done this you’ll start seeing daily emails pop-up in your inbox, like so…

How to start building links using HARO

Ok, so you’ve got your daily emails setup and they’re coming through thick and fast.

Now it’s time to keep an eye out for any requests that you can provide some information.

Let me show you an example.

An email came through one day, and I spotted the word ‘SEO’ in one of the journalist requests…

So next up I drafted an email to the journalist, making sure I:

  1. Gave a unique and original response – remember, they’re going to get lots of replies so make sure you’re saying something worthwhile!
  2. Gave my name and attached a headshot
  3. Gave my company website and a brief overview of what we do

Want to see a real-life example?

After posting this blog I spotted a new opportunity in a HARO email. I recorded the process of drafting and sending a reply so all you guys can see how we do it:

Responding to a HARO email from Hike on Vimeo.

Provide unique expert opinion, not recycled popular opinion

Point number 1 above is the most important part of this process; you have a much greater chance of being cited if the content you provide is something different to what they’ve already received.

If you provide information that they could find via a quick Google search themselves, then it’s not unique expert opinion – it’s recycled popular opinion, that they’ll likely already know.

So, do spend some time thinking through your response. The better it is, the higher the likelihood of being included and gaining that awesome backlink!

And, don’t be afraid to tackle an area that may not be within your specialism.

If you can provide a unique angle on a subject then that’s going to provide the journo with something a little different.

Again, this heightens the chances of being cited in their article.

So, with all that in mind, this is what my response email to the journalist looked like:

So, what next?

Once you’ve submitted your response, there’s not much more you can do.

So, sit back and relax. Well, actually, you should continue to look for more chances via the HARO emails.

Don’t expect a response from any of the journalists you submit responses too.

Unfortunately, they don’t often say thank you or confirm they’re going to cite you in their article.

But don’t feel downhearted! This is the norm ?

It’s a numbers game

As with any form of link building, HARO is a numbers game.

For every response you submit, you’re not going to be cited on all of them. Sometimes it will be because you didn’t provide the value needed, and other times it will be because they just didn’t need your content in the end.

You need to grow a thick skin and continue to work through all HARO emails, responding wherever you possibly can provide value.

But it’s worth it. From the email I sent above I was then featured on their post as an SEO expert ?

Also, here’s another example of when I was featured on a post about SEO, this time for e-commerce websites.

I made sure my response was providing value and would – very likely – not have been repeating what the journalist would have received from others:

How to know if you’ve been cited

As mentioned above, there’s no direct confirmation that you content will have been used by the journalist.

This is a little frustrating, and means that tracking your success is tricky.

The best way to do this is to review your website’s backlink profile frequently.

You can do this within Hike as we keep track of all of your website’s backlinks, and even give each link a ‘score’ our of ten so you know which are the most SEO-valuable!

You can see a screenshot below of the link we gained through HARO:

So, now you know how effective HARO can be for link building it’s time to get set up.

Combine this with the SEO recommendations provided by Hike, and you’ve got an all-encompassing SEO strategy that will increase your SEO visibility… all without having to employ an expensive SEO agency.

Good luck!


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