Help a Reporter Out is a place to get good-quality links. Here’s how it works.
David: Youssef, talk a little bit about HARO as a link-building opportunity.
Youssef: Oh, HARO is also good.
Tim: What is it? I’m sorry.
Youssef: It’s a short for Help a Reporter Out. It’s a website, and it’s a place where reporters and experts meet. Well, the reporters post articles, and they are looking for experts to comment on their articles. So, for instance, if you are an expert in a certain field, here is what happens. They send you a bunch of emails each day, well, like three emails. Each email has a lot of topics, and certainly, anything any industry works on, you will find a topic that suits you. You will get an opportunity to get a really easy and good link from them. I would say you have to be a little bit fast, though. You should know when exactly they send those emails so that you can answer faster than others because if someone else answers faster and the reporter likes their answer, they will not bother looking at your email. So, you have to be a bit fast and not write a long email. Sometimes they take more than one answer to have it in their articles, and most of them will link to you. We’ve gotten many links from them. Although SEO is a saturated topic, we did. So, if your niche is a bit focused, you will have even more chances, and it’s easy, and it’s free. So, just Google it and create a resource account. And yeah, check those emails whenever they’re out.
David: So, Youssef helped me write up the process for HARO in Curious Ants. If you want to look it up, we have the whole process written for you, and Youssef wrote a really good sample email as a response, almost a template. What I did, Youssef doesn’t know this, I took his email, and I saved it as a Gmail template. So, whenever I reply to a HARO reply, I can select the template, it will fill in all the details, and I just customize it for the specific reply, and it’s already got all this wonderful information in there. Like, “Hi, this is who I am. Here are some places that have included me before, so you know I’m legit. Here’s your answer,” and that’s it.
Youssef: I would suggest reading that article, it’s really good, and we did a lot of research to update it. I watched some videos of reporters answering some questions. Like, what would they like to see in those emails? So, based on their answers, I updated the process of doing a HARO email. So yeah, if you follow it, and you can’t insist more, you have to be so fast, as the moment it is out, you have to look for your topic. I would suggest doing… Do you have Windows or Apple?
Youssef: I don’t know how to do it on Apple. On Windows, I click. Ctrl+F to search on a page.
Tim: Yeah, same, Command-F.
Youssef: Okay, so I do that, and I just select a topic. For instance, for Curious Ants, I just write “SEO,” and it just takes me straight to the topic. And if your industry has some specific keywords. It will just take you there, and you will answer it. And you will hopefully get a link.
David: The challenge Youssef is talking about is that three times a day email is really long and has a lot of stuff that might not relate to you. Yeah, sometimes the topics are very broad, “Hey, business owners. Tell us about why you started your business.” That could be anybody, right? This means it gets a lot of pitches because everybody who wants to can submit to it. Some are so niche and specific. “Hey, I needed an expert in this field.” And if you happen to be the only world expert in that field, you’re probably the only person submitting that pitch, so you’re guaranteed to get it. But what Youssef does is he watches HARO for all of our clients. And some of our clients can respond to them. Some of our clients have a hard time responding to them because it has to go through the levels of bureaucracy that just aren’t conducive to it. But that’s where we, as small business owners, have an advantage, right? We can just jump in and do it. You can jump in and just answer it. Meanwhile, the big corporations are like, “Well, I got to get the legal team to approve it,” right? Okay, great. Let’s just do it. So that’s an advantage we have. That we, as smaller organizations, we just reply.
Tim: So, as you’re answering the question, are you then quoted by this article that they’re going to produce? And then they’re just linking to your homepage as like your business name? It’s not that you’re producing an article, and they’re linking and referring to your article, right? You’re just providing them a quote?
David: Yes. In fact, one of the real keys, and correct me if I’m wrong, Youssef, is to make sure your response is short and sweet.
Tim: Yeah. He said that.
David: Yeah, because you could be spending a lot of time giving an in-depth answer, and no one would ever see it. They can always ask more. But give them a paragraph and then go. The only thing I’d add is, as with most things, people abuse HARO from a reporter’s perspective, right? I don’t know how many email lists I’ve been signed up to because I replied to a HARO email.
David: I just unsubscribe. I did not ask to be on this. If it smells too good to be true, it is. I have submitted something, and then I got a response, “We love your idea. Thank you so much. Give us some money, and we’ll publish it.” [gesture] That’s what I think about your idea. So, you know, I reported them, and HARO said, “Hey, that’s between you and them. If that’s the way they want to do it, you don’t have to give them any money.” That was a little disappointing because that kind of undermines their credibility a little bit in my mind. But I swear, I’m a daily reader of the Wall Street Journal. And I swear, I read articles every day that I’m like, I think a week ago, that was in HARO. And what I should do is start keeping track and going back. I do know the New York Times uses HARO, and I suspect The Wall Street Journal does. Because what this is, if you need additional sources and your Rolodex does not have them, you will resort to HARO to get some new leads through these references. Now, the New York Times and The Wall Street Journal will never link to you by editorial policy, but I would take a mention in either of those periodicals. Yes, even if they didn’t link to me, I would do that all day long. If the New York Times just quoted David Zimmerman every day, you bet your butt I would do that.
David: Yeah, in most cases, what you’ll find is that smaller blogs just need some people to add some color to the story. If you can come up with an interesting answer, great! And the thing that Youssef and I haven’t done yet is this advanced HARO, which uses HARO as an opportunity to think about what you should write about in your blog. You know, if other people are asking this question and you have a really long, great answer, use it as an opportunity to write some articles, even if it’s way too late to get it to that opportunity. It’s a great source of topics about which you can write for your blog. Because I think, how do I say this, half of the value of blogging is accidentally attracting links now and then. You know, doing a skyscraper or a broken backlink tactic is a lot of work. Some of the best links I have to my site are because I took a long time to write a really in-depth researchable article. And now people talk about it. And when they talk about it, they link to it. And so, if you could do nothing but write the blog post, make it good. And every once in a while, you’ll get a really good topic, and you will be the best one there, and you will start to attract links. Youssef, you mentioned something about “If you do it,” or “if you’re going to take time to do link building,” I’d say you need to do link building. It needs to be part of your SEO. It doesn’t have to be a full-time job. But so many times, when people encounter SEO stagnation or nobody coming to their site from SEO, it’s because there are no websites linking to you. And sometimes, if you find one or two, that might be all you really need. And, you know, Youssef has a set of goals for every client every month. And they’re low – one or two links per client – because we’d rather have quality over quantity. And, we just need a couple. We don’t need 100 links. Now. We don’t need that. We just need a couple, and if you can think about a couple a month, that means you’re doing better than most. And if they’re good links, you’re doing better than a lot. And you will find that you’ll you’re going to start to see the traffic and the customers coming from search.