I’ve learned from experience that when a PR tool becomes mainstream, competition to get editorial links increases as more people jump on board. In a nutshell: HARO works; it’s awesome. But because it’s also saturated with thousands of marketers and PR professionals, the alternative tools listed in this article may yield better results.
Authority links have the highest value in the eyes of Google, and Help a Reporter Out (HARO) is one of the finest platforms for acquiring trustworthy links. If you’re a link builder or SEO marketer looking to generate positive PR for your client’s website, you should consider using HARO.
This article will share the basics of link building, explain the process of link building using HARO SEO, and share some of the best HARO alternatives to expand the reach of your SEO content strategy.
What is link building?
Link building is the process of acquiring links from different websites to your own. There are two types of links: dofollow and nofollow.
- Dofollow links are where the site linking to your website passes the authority of its site to your domain.
- Nofollow links are where the site linking to your website does not pass the authority of its site to your domain.
A mix of dofollow and nofollow links is essential for a natural link profile to obtain higher organic rankings. Several ways to build links include acquiring links from relevant business directories, publishing guest posts on other sites, publishing blog posts to attract links naturally, and using platforms like HARO.
One of the main features distinguishing HARO link building from other forms is that links gained via Help a Reporter Out come from reputed news sources and hold the highest value. Links that are hard to acquire are rated the best by Google, and HARO backlinks have excellent weightage that can increase your domain’s reputation, link equity (link juice) and trust score.
It’s worth noting that long articles receive approximately 77.2 % more links than short articles, so long-form content is ideal for acquiring a HARO link.
Why are digital PR links important?
You don’t need to be a link building expert for successful white hat SEO. However, a basic understanding of link building and digital public relations (digital PR) is imperative when attracting potential customers.
Backlink building is one of the main ways Google ranks websites, so strategically placed links in external content can help your business rank higher in search engines. These are some benefits of having quality links pointing back to your site:
- Greater reach: More people will visit your site if a popular authority site links to it. If you receive a backlink in a Forbes article, for example, people reading the article are likely to click the link and visit your website. This can lead to higher conversion rates and more sales.
- Raise brand awareness: The main purpose of SEO and digital marketing is to market your brand name and reach the right people at the right time. Authoritative links within top publications give you more coverage so that you can promote your business name and products to high-quality organic traffic.
- Become an expert: Using the right target keywords enhances your SEO performance, and a high-quality backlink takes it even further. When a well-known domain authority links to your site and promotes you as an expert on a subject, it’s a strong sign that you’re worth listening to, especially if this happens frequently.
Digital PR is all about using effective outreach strategies, which could take the form of linkable assets — for example, content creation using unique statistics, research, and case studies — or contributing unique insights on a specific topic to gain media coverage.
Whether you’re targeting local SEO or international SEO, the goal is getting referral traffic that leads to higher conversion rates, and digital PR is an effective strategy to earn a quality backlink.
If you’re unsure you can do this yourself, you could consider using a specialist HARO link building agency. There are plenty of SEO agencies that specialise in obtaining editorial links such as:
- HARO SEO.
- HARO Links.
- Earned Media.
What is HARO?
HARO, or Help a Reporter Out, is an online platform that connects journalists with members of the public who have expertise on a particular subject. The service provides a mutual benefit for both parties by giving journalists a credible source and creating publicity for individuals or businesses.
Many major publications use HARO for SEO purposes, including the Chicago Tribune, Mashable, New York Times, Reuters, and WSJ.
Link builders might consider HARO a link building agency of sorts, as it reaches more than 75,000 journalists, and bloggers and is an extremely effective link building tactic for gaining backlinks.
- There is no setup fee, so it’s easy to sign up and connect with reporters.
- You receive daily updates with link building opportunities, increasing your chances of acquiring a backlink.
- All media outlets on the website are verified.
- Journalists might not always link back to the source (you).
- There is a 300-word limit when contributing feedback or ideas.
- Basic (free): Receive up to three daily emails with all link building opportunities.
- Standard ($19/mo): Filter opportunities using a single keyword and create a profile to insert pitches automatically.
- Advanced ($49/mo): Filter opportunities using three keywords of your choice and create three profiles to insert your pitches automatically.
- Premium ($149/mo): Filter opportunities using unlimited keywords of your choice and create multiple profiles to insert your pitches automatically.
How to use HARO for link building?
To start using HARO for link building, you must first register as a source. To do this, go to the HARO website and click on ‘I’m a Source.’
Fill in the form by entering basic details such as your name, email, company, and phone number.
You will receive a confirmation email after filling in the date. Check your email and sign in to the HARO link builder platform to continue setting up.
You can now select the industries you are interested in so that HARO sends you emails with relevant opportunities.
You will receive three HARO emails daily: Monday through Friday at 5:35 a.m., 12:35 p.m., and 5:35 p.m. EST. These will contain all relevant requests from reporters and media outlets worldwide.
Carefully review the emails, and if you have valuable input on a topic, use the anonymous @helpareporter.net email address you are given at setup to respond to the reporter.
Be patient with this process and continue responding to relevant requests as they show up. You never know when your response might get picked up and published in a reputed media publication.
How to write a high-quality pitch for HARO or other PR platforms
Here are some tips for writing a high-quality PR or HARO pitch:
1. Never plagiarise
Journalists hate plagiarised quotes. Be sure never to send content copied from elsewhere. Even copying an idea can be considered plagiarism. Take your time to share your unique expertise on a topic based on your experience.
2. Be concise
Journalists don’t have time to read lengthy stories. Present your thoughts in a concise and easy-to-digest manner.
3. Don’t add attachments
Avoid including any attachments, as they’ll likely be removed from your email.
4. Remain on-topic
Sending off-topic pitches to journalists is considered spam. Always stay on topic and only share your thoughts on what has been asked.
5. Do not pitch products
Avoid pitching products unless a journalist asks explicitly for them. Instead, only respond to relevant queries.
6. Use the word ‘HARO’ in your subject line
Use the word ‘HARO’ in your email subject to attract reporters’ attention. This can increase trust and curiosity and make it more likely for a journalist to open and read your pitch.
7. Use personalisation
Use the recipient’s first name at the start of your email to personalise your HARO response.
8. Respond fast
Reporters receive hundreds or even thousands of pitches. The more you delay your pitch, the lesser the chance of it being read.
9. Add an expert bio
When upgrading your HARO plan, you can add an expert bio and pitch. Having an expert bio helps your pitch stand out. The bio is automatically included with every pitch, saving you time from having to write it out with each email.
10. Proofread your responses
Double-check everything before hitting the send button. Your pitch should be grammatically correct, unique, engaging, and free from typos. Make it easy for reports to copy and paste your response into their articles. You can use grammar-checking tools like Grammarly or the Hemingway App to help with proofreading.
8 best alternatives to HARO
HARO is an excellent service for link builders. Apart from offering global publicity, it makes link building easier by offering robust links that would otherwise be challenging to create.
However, other free and paid alternatives can be used instead of, or along with, HARO. These alternatives are helpful and offer the same advantages as HARO.
Here are the top HARO alternatives for link building and digital PR:
Qwoted is a popular PR tool that offers tailored link building opportunities. The tool lets you upload your clients into a global database and receive custom opportunities for coverage and publicity. Over time, you can build lasting relationships with media outlets.
The differentiating factor between HARO and Qwoted is that HARO leaves it to the journalist to determine the authenticity of a source. In contrast, Qwoted authenticates users on the sign-up page based on details like demographic, geography, and gender.
Qwoted is trusted by top media outlets like HuffPost, Reuters, Forbes, and The New York Times.
- PR professionals can sort and organise all their sources and databases in one place.
- Reporters have the assurance that sources are authentic and legitimate.
- Real-time email alerts can clutter up your inbox.
- Basic plan users can only pitch twice a month, which limits opportunities.
- There is no search option for Basic plan users.
- Basic (Free): Send two free pitches per month.
- Pro ($149.99/mo): Send 20 pitches monthly.
- Teams ($Custom/mo): Unlimited pitches, premium support, weekly media report, and access for multiple users
How to use Qwoted for link building?
Sign up for Qwoted by clicking on the ‘I’m Looking to Earn Media’ option.
Fill in your details and select the company you want to pitch for. Qwoted’s AI-powered software will then find relevant requests from publications.
You will receive a notification when media professionals view and respond to your pitch.
Sourcebottle is an Australian connection-building platform for journalists, businesses, PR professionals, and sources. It was founded in 2009 to break the monotony of journalists relying on traditional sources for articles and stories.
The platform allows journalists and link builders to source information and promotes their businesses. The primary differentiation between Sourcebottle and HARO is that Sourcebottle can be used to find case studies, product samples, or giveaways. This provides more pitching opportunities for link builders than just articles.
- Visually pleasant and user-friendly platform.
- Link builders and PR professionals can pitch giveaways and case studies.
- For a fee, you can create an ‘Expert Profile’ sent to journalists and bloggers looking for expert input.
- Emails are sent daily and contain a summary of all relevant call-outs for sources.
- You can only send a limited number of pitches per email.
- The platform focuses on product reviews and sponsorship, so there is limited opportunity to present yourself as an expert.
- Receive ‘Drink Up!’ Alerts (Free): Receive daily ‘Drink Up!’ email alerts with a summary of relevant callouts.
- Unlock ‘Drink Up!’ Alerts ($5.95/mo): Respond to callouts directly from the Drink Up! emails.
- Expert Profile ($24/mo): Create an online profile that is automatically matched with media looking for expertise in your field.
- Giveaways/Case Studies ($25/mo): Find giveaways and case studies.
- Agency Access ($95/mo): Create a different expert profile for each client/team member.
How to use Sourcebottle for link building?
First, sign up as a source seeking publicity.
Fill in your basic details.
Verify your account and select your topics of interest. You can pitch your ideas to journalists by responding to their posts and questions.
3. One Pitch
One Pitch is a popular PR tool that matches your news story to the most appropriate journalists and media outlets. The platform uses AI to create a customised media list relevant to your topic or story.
One Pitch is a top-tier PR and link building tool that takes the time out of finding the right reporters to pitch your story to. It’s the perfect alternative to HARO if your goal is to connect with niche reporters. Famous media houses partnered with One Pitch include The Fletcher Group, Code Work, Fractal, and Propellr.
One Pitch pros:
- You can track your pitch in real time by logging in and tracking your request.
- The filtering process is easier for link builders by automatically creating a list of relevant publishers and journalists.
- You can submit several requests and expect a reply within a few minutes, depending on the availability of journalists.
One Pitch pricing:
The software is currently 100% free, and no paid plans are available. The pricing structure may change in the future and offer both a freemium plus paid model.
How to use One Pitch for link building?
First, sign up for the service by filling in your basic details. Once your account is verified, you can create pitches for media professionals.
After submitting your pitch, One Pitch quickly generates a list of relevant journalists who can cover your story. You can then send your pitch to your chosen journalists and wait for a response.
ProfNet is another substitute platform for HARO, where you can acquire earned media placements. Cision, the same parent company of HARO, owns it.
Link builders can use ProfNet to receive hundreds of relevant story leads each month from journalists and bloggers looking for sources.
- You receive regular emails with queries from journalists looking for expert commentary and requests for speakers for conferences and tradeshows.
- The chances of approval on ProfNet are huge, and it’s an excellent opportunity to get coverage from hundreds of media publications.
- You can pitch on-trend story ideas directly to the media.
- There is no trial plan, and you must contact ProfNet for custom pricing.
- ProfNet for Journalists (Free): Journalists, bloggers, and content creators can use the platform to find sources for free.
- ProfNet for Experts ($Custom): You must request more information from ProfNet to receive media leads.
How to use ProfNet for link building?
Subscribe to ProfNet by filling in your basic details.
Once your account is approved, set up a profile and choose your area of expertise. You will then receive emails from publishers and reporters looking for expert quotes.
5. Muck Rack
Muck Rack is a powerful relationship-building platform. You can use the software to find relevant journalists, podcasters, and freelancers for your PR campaign.
Users can search and sort journalists, create a simplified list of media professionals, and get notified whenever a particular journalist publishes something. Reputed clients of Muck Rack include Pfizer, Casper, Bloomberg, NBC News, and Duolingo.
Muck Rack pros:
- Modern and user-friendly interface.
- The media list is updated regularly, so you receive genuine alerts.
- The media database is powered by an in-house editorial team and intuitive search technology to identify the best publications and contacts for your story.
- Journalists’ activities are tracked in real-time, and the PR professional is alerted.
Muck Rack cons:
- A subscription is more expensive than other competitors.
- You need to purchase the entire suite of tools and cannot just pay for part of the service.
Muck Rack pricing:
Muck Rack only offers annual plans, and prices are not publicly displayed on the website. However, you can expect to pay between $4,000 to $5,000 per year.
How to use Muck Rack for link building?
Sign up to the platform by filling in your basic details.
Search keywords and topics to find a relevant journalist to pitch your idea and content.
Keep track of news and questions journalists are posting. When responding to a journalist’s pitch, ensure it is unique, on topic, and demonstrates your experience to maximise your chances of approval.
Terkel is a decentralised Q&A platform where you can answer a wide range of questions from top publishers. The best answers get published on reputed media sites, helping you build brand authority online. Publishers on Terkel include GoDaddy, Score, Calendly, and the University of Arizona.
- Acquiring links is easy. You only need to answer questions, and the top answers get picked up by various publications.
- The platform’s high success rate makes it useful for small business owners.
- You can choose from plenty of questions.
- The customer support team is excellent and offers exceptional help for newbies.
- The chances of your answer being chosen is uncertain.
- Answers are submitted on a first-come, first-served basis, and the question closes after a given number of responses. This makes it highly competitive.
- Lite (Free): Answer 3 questions per month.
- Premium ($99/mo): Answer unlimited questions with no deadlines and editorial support from the team.
- Team ($199/mo + $30/seat): Answer unlimited questions with 3+ accounts.
How to use Terkel for link building?
First, sign up as an expert and enter your confirmation email’s one-time password (OTP).
You will be directed to a page where you can choose from various questions asked by top publishers. Fill out your profile and start answering questions according to your expertise.
Terkel selects answers on a first-come, first-served basis and posts the top answers on the publisher’s website.
JustReachOut offers a suite of PR tools to get huge press mentions and authority backlinks. The tool lets you quickly find journalists looking for expert quotes.
Top clients of JustReachOut include Hubspot, Teltech, and Wistia.
- You receive a weekly personalised report of pitches sent. This helps you keep track of responses and creates an easy to-do list for connecting with publications.
- Premium plans offer multiple-user account access.
- The search function sometimes returns irrelevant results.
- After the 14-day free trial, you must subscribe to the Starter Outreach plan for $79 a month.
- Starter Outreach ($79/mo): Access for one member and 250 emails per month.
- Advanced Outreach ($99/mo): Access for 3 members and 500 emails per month.
- Ultimate Outreach ($199/mo): Access for 10 members and 1,000 emails per month.
How to use JustReachOut for link building?
Start by registering for a free 14-day trial in the plan of your choice.
Fill in your basic details.
Search for journalists that match your PR criteria to receive a list of relevant publishers and influencers. You can then pitch your ideas and wait for a response.
Prowly is another excellent HARO alternative where you can connect with over one million journalists and bloggers to share your expertise and attract media attention.
With Prowly, you can create an online newsroom that can be used as the sole source of information for all journalists. Interested reporters can contact you via the newsroom.
- The simple drag-and-drop editor lets you add images, videos, and other multimedia to your press releases to help them stand out.
- A smart suggestions feature lets you pitch the right contacts based on your press release.
- You can import your media list to view all your PR contacts in one dashboard.
- You can create beautiful PR reports to assess the performance of your PR activities.
- Conversation history allows you to view past conversations with journalists.
- The search function sometimes returns irrelevant results.
- After a 7-day trial, you must buy the Essential plan for $189 monthly.
- Essential ($293/mo): Access for 2 users to send 3,000 emails a month. Price is billed annually.
- Professional ($363/mo): Access for 5 users to send 15,000 emails a month with premium Newsroom features. Price is billed annually.
How to use Prowly for link building?
Sign up for a 7-day free trial.
Fill in your basic details. You will then be led to a page where you can create a press release.
Upload or create a press release.
Find journalists relevant to your press release theme. You can enter a media outlet, reporter’s name, or other keywords.
Pitch your content to the selected reporters and wait for your pitch to be accepted. You can also track your pitch’s real-time analytics, such as open rates, click rates, and bounced messages.
HARO is an excellent PR tool, but it is just one of many options available for link builders. There are plenty of HARO alternatives to generate media publicity for your business. Experiment with some of the tools in this article to see which best suits your purposes, business, and marketing goals. Finally, remember that HARO, as a platform, works excellently, and the platform is over-saturated with plenty of marketers looking for PR backlinks — so why not consider trying out other platforms that have not been saturated yet to yield more results and efforts for your time?
Founder of Earned Media. Nick specialises in SEO and he has been working in the industry for over 12 years. He is a recurring digital marketing expert guest on Kochie’s Business Builders on Channel 7 network TV. Nick is a member of the Entrepreneur Leadership Network and regularly contributes to many top business publications. Nick has also guest lectured on SEO and content marketing at the University of Technology Sydney.