How new websites can Build backlinks with HARO (free)

Most new website owners quickly learn that it is important to build backlinks – or links to their website – are if you want to rank in the search engines.

HARO offers a free service that can help you build backlinks.

And it is completely safe and does not violate any search engine webmaster guidelines.

What’s the catch? There is no catch. 

I truly believe HARO is every new website owner’s best chance to build backlinks from authoritative websites and online publications. 

Read on to learn how you too can get started.

Starting a website can be an uphill struggle

Backlinks to your website are like votes that support your authority and reason for existence.

If Google sees that a trusted and authoritative website in your niche links to you they take it as a nod of approval. And this nod of approval helps you to rank in the search engines.

And that makes perfect sense.

But when you have a new website it can be hard to build backlinks. You are unknown and there are most likely many established websites already in your niche.

And when other websites look to link, they tend to play it safe and only link to the authoritative websites.

It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. 

  1. You are a brand new website
  2. Your website has no authority
  3. Other websites only link to authoritative websites
  4. Your website gets no backlinks
  5. Now your website is 3 months old
  6. You still have no links to your website
  7. Other websites will still not link to you
  8. Your website is now 6 months old
  9. I trust you see where we are heading

So how can you break this pattern? This is where HARO comes into the picture.

How does Haro work?

Haro, or Help A Reporter Out, is an online service where journalists source quotes and information from experts from every conceivable niche and area.

Questions from journalists are mailed twice every day and there can be anything from a couple to over a hundred questions to answer.

Receive two mails with HARO queries every day
HARO queries sorted by category arrive by email twice per day.

As an expert in your niche you can provide information and perspective on topics where you are knowledgeable.

And if the journalist picks up your submitted answer you can earn a link back to your website.

And here is the one single piece of information that makes all the difference. 

As long as you can demonstrate expertise you stand a fair chance of being selected. And being selected is a great way to build backlinks from authoritative websites.

From my experience journalists using HARO do not only look for quotes and answers from established authority websites. 

I was quoted on Nerdwallet (DR 78) for one of my websites when it was only a couple of months old. I was able to demonstrate that I was an expert in the field and it was enough for the writer at Nerdwallet.

The journalists look for epic content as in accurate information and a fresh perspective. And that is your opportunity to shine.

But what if you are more of an enthusiast than expert?

If you are more of an enthusiast you will have less requests to work with. That is a fact. But there will still be queries that you can answer to help you build backlinks to your website.

When I receive HARO requests journalists most often seek the perspective of experts. They do want a fresh and unique perspective, but nonetheless the perspective of an expert.

But there are also quite a few queries where journalists seek the perspective of a user or someone who can share an experience.

Compare these 2 queries to understand the difference. Both were submitted by websites with domain authorities of 92 and 86 respectively.

  • Seeking MDs to weigh in on how to relieve back pain 
  • Men who’ve developed a food allergy as an adult

It is clear from the question that you need to be a medical doctor to answer one whereas the other is asking for your perspective on an experience.

So yes, the enthusiast will have less to work with than the expert. But there will still be queries worth answering to help you build backlinks to your new website.

What is the benefit of using HARO?

When you start your website Haro can help put you on the map. You will of course have to work for it and earn it. But the process is not rigged against you.

Seek out queries where you can offer value and a unique and personal experience

Even as a new website you may earn a backlink from an authoritative website like Yahoo News, Insider, USA Today, The New York Times or Business Insider to just mention a couple of publications using HARO.

You will also find that many queries are submitted as “Anonymous”. These may be smaller blogs but can also be major publications protecting their story. 

How to create an account with HARO

When you start out it is enough to sign up for a free account. 

Go to the HARO website and click on Sign up. The process consists of a form where you register and later on specify your areas of interest.

Register as a “Source” and it is enough to start with the free account.

You can choose to receive all queries labeled Master HARO or specify one or many areas or preference from a list including:

  • Business and Finance 
  • High Tech 
  • Biotech and Healthcare  
  • Energy and Green Tech  
  • Lifestyle and Fitness 
  • Sports  
  • Entertainment and Media  
  • Public Policy and Government  
  • Education  
  • General 
  • Giftbag 
  • Travel 
  • UK

After successfully creating your account you will start receiving emails with requests twice a day.

I recommend you select Master HARO to get a feel for the service and then narrow down your preference later as needed.

Make HARO a daily routine

Signing up for the service is the easy part. Now the real work starts.

To build backlinks you need to be persistent and answer as many requests as you can. As long as you meet the requirements.

My tip is to answer and forget about it. Make going through and answering HARO a part of your daily routine.

You never know when or if your submission will be selected and published and it is truly a numbers game.

The more HARO queries you answer the greater the chance that you will be published. 

So hang in there and be patient. 

How to answer a HARO request

There are a couple of things you need to always do before you start writing your answer.

1. Read the requirements
Are you qualified to be a source per the listed requirements? Do not waste your time answering queries where you do not meet the requirements. Just move on to the next one.

2. Beat the deadline
Send your answer as quickly as possible. The journalists have a heap of answers to choose from and chances are they will stop looking when they have found what they are looking for. Be fast.

3. Offer value 
Offer a unique perspective and value. Write your text in an easy to read format. Use headlines and scanner stoppers to help the journalist quickly understand the value you offer. 

Do these 3 things well and you will improve your chances of being selected.

This is a question only you can answer. There is not really a right or wrong.

When you start out any link from an authoritative website will be of value. From this perspective you should answer all queries where you meet the requirements.

On the other hand you only have so many hours per day. 

You need to find a balance that works for you.

I often have days where I have nothing to answer. The queries may be too general or just not a good fit for my background and expertise. 

No, you are not. 

There are times when I have been selected and received a listing of my name and credentials with my submitted quote.

It is of course disappointing but it is important to understand that you are never guaranteed a backlink. 

The publication may choose to link back to you but it is their decision.

The way I look at it, a mention of my name and qualifications still counts for something. Not as much as a backlink – but still better than nothing.

Are all media outlets using HARO authoritative publications?

No, there is a mix of publications that use HARO for sources.

There are of course several brand name authoritative publications including:

  • Reuters
  • Fox News
  • WSJ
  • abc
  • The New York Times
  • Time

But there are also everything from PR agencies to blogs that seek sources for their clients or articles.

Some people advocate that you check the authority of the publication before submitting your answer. But this makes little sense as a new website as truly any backlink will help put your website on the map.

Summary and conclusion:

I firmly believe that HARO should be a vital part of any new website’s plan to build backlinks.

It does not have to be all you do. But HARO deserves to be a part of your plan.

I am yet to come across another opportunity where a new website can offer its services to an authoritative publication that does not involve shady and unwanted solicitation.

But as with everything else done right it takes time. Hopefully you will have instant success with all your submissions but for many of us it will take time.

And you need to play to win so get started. 

I wish you success in your endeavours.

Meet the author: Serial entrepreneur and travel industry expert with more than 20 years working experience from web development, Wordpress and the travel industry. Mattias is a big fan of Open Source and will show you how to build and manage a website using Wordpress and a bit of optional PHP for the true enthusiast. Mattias identifies with self-starters and entrepreneurs and also shares ideas on how to monetize a website.