HARO Link Building: How To Use It For Your Site [+ FREE Templates]

HARO, Help A Reporter Out, has gained prominence since it was only a Facebook group in 2008. And the reason is CLEAR:

As a VITAL link building tool, HARO leverages the authority of its established journalists, bloggers, and media houses.

In other words, HARO’s link juices are the REAL deal.

Here’s an even more interesting detail:

Over half of the websites on HARO have a DR rating of 70 and above. Imagine how such scores could boost your site’s visibility!

There’s a LITTLE “but.”

Unfortunately, HARO links are tightly contested. According to a Zestard Report, only 3 of 10 queries get published on HARO.

HARO link building zestard report of HARO queries

Queries aside, there are several rules that sources and journalists must obey.

Regardless, HARO remains one of the best link building tools. And don’t be put off by the rules.

We will put you through the steps on how to use HARO — even as a beginner.

In this article, we will extensively discuss how to find HARO links.

Here is a sneak peek of what to expect:

  • What is HARO: how does it work?
  • How to find HARO links?
  • Tips to using HARO for link building like a pro

What Is HARO: How Does It Work?

In the real sense, HARO is more of a bridge than an SEO tool. It connects bloggers, influencers, journalists, and reporters to credible sources.

So while journalists are looking for credible sources to back up their stories, you [the “source”] get mentions [backlinks].

In short: HARO pays credible sources with authentic, high-value backlinks.

However, HARO’s Rules For Sources, rule 5, states that you can’t use HARO primarily for link building. Otherwise, you could be banned from the platform.

HARO Link building cision HARO sources

So, what should you do? Does rule no. 5 means you can’t use HARO for link building?

You can. In fact, We use HARO effectively for our money sites at SERPreach. And below, we’ll share how it works while complying with the rules.

But before we discuss finding HARO links, you must first understand how the platform works.

How Does HARO Work?

The instructions on maximizing HARO are already detailed on the rules page. Nevertheless, we’ll show you the practicality of it below.

  • So, for the first step: sign up at helpareporter.com, specifically as “a source.”
cision HARO sign up form
  • Check your mail to complete the registration process.
  • Toggle to My HARO on the right side of the top bar. Then, pick your desired industry in “HARO Preferences.”
HARO preferences
  • In 5 minutes max, you’ll receive queries based on your preferences. Browse through the list to pick any that match your resources.
HARO link building Gmail inbox

Can’t find the exact keywords that match your needs?

You might need to upgrade to the paid plans. The $19 “standard” package will suffice for link building purposes.

With the standard plan, you can set specific alerts for desired keywords. The notifications will then be sent to you as custom emails.

Now, let’s see how to get links pointing to your site with HARO!

Spoiler alert: link building, generally, is not a quick hack. Your branding efforts must be consistent and sustainable.

Besides, you need to hone your pitching skills — we’ll provide a few tips regarding that. Even then, you will wait on the reporter or journalists.

How so?

Often, journalists, reporters, or bloggers wait to consider pitches. They will still write the piece even if your “pitch” is the best. Yet, there is the “editing” window.

So, all these processes take time.

Overall, prepare your mind for 5-6 weeks before your link is published. After a successful pitch, expect that a stream of links will follow. Because at that time, you’d have built relationships with reporters.

With the timeline discussed, let’s discuss the “exact” steps to get quality links with HARO.

Step 1: Set Up Filtered Searches

The truth: the round-up suggestions sent to your mail won’t suffice — especially if you need HARO to actively boost your site’s visibility. Here is why:

The round-up is designed for general use. As such, it might not fit your exact resources. Plus, someone might already deliver a pitch before you.

Bottom line:

You need to set up filtered searches. They are custom and contain keywords around the resources you already have. Here, you hold all the power.

So, how’s this done?

  • For starters, you need a paid plan to set up filtered Searches. But don’t fret; the $19 “standard plan” will suffice.
cision HARO subscriptions
  • Once upgraded, check the top bar for “Alerts.” Click on it to set up your filtered searches.
HARO alerts

So, what next? Start pitching?

No. Do this:

Step 2: Handpick The Relevant, Qualified Queries

Reporters and journalists get tons of pitches on HARO. One way to stand out is to be picky from the start.

And how can you be picky?

The first step is to filter your searches. But even then, you need to streamline the custom results.

Here is how:

  1. For starters, don’t send pitches to queries you don’t qualify for. There are times to be bold. And trust us, applying for a query you don’t qualify for is not one. You’ll be wasting the journalist’s time.

If you continue, journalists will notice you and overlook your pitches.

  1. More importantly, take your time to understand the requirements of the query. 
  2. If you qualify for the query, add it to a spreadsheet of “qualified queries.”

Step 3: Investigate The Domains

The reason we suggested a spreadsheet of qualified queries is for investigation purposes. Why?

As much as you’re trying not to waste the journalist’s time, your time is precious too. There’s no point working with a domain that won’t boost your site’s DA in any way.

Suggested reading:

NOTE: while the goal is not focusing solely on domains with a benchmark DR (Domain Rating) or DA (Domain Authority), having one that scores well on both should be prioritized.

Also, by investigating the domains, you will know if they are safe for link building.

So, how can you investigate the journalists’ domains?

HARO link building ahrefs site explorer tool
  • Plug the domains into the search bar and search away.
  • Note the backlink profile (DR) and the traffic.
  • Furthermore, explore the backlinks profile, particularly for odd link destinations. If there is no consistency, the domain is probably a link farm or PBN – avoid it.
  • Lastly, check the articles on the domain for quality. Do this for the recently published and old ones.

While checking for content quality, also check the homepage.

Step 4: Respond To The Qualified, Investigated Queries ASAP

You have spent time qualifying and investigating the queries. While those steps are necessary, you must act quickly at this point.

Respond to the queries head-on. And thankfully, your intro/bio will be added automatically to your pitch once you subscribe to a paid HARO plan.

Step 5: Make Your Pitch Unique And Query-specific

As with all digital marketing strategies, outreach is crucial to HARO link building. Mastering the art of pitching is more critical here, where you’re competing with several sources.

Nevertheless, don’t fret. We’ll guide you on how to win. Follow these steps:

  • Prioritize value first – show journalists the “value” you plan to offer within your pitch. Make it as close to the beginning as possible.
  • Don’t be a robot – in a world largely dependent on AI for simple tasks, be different. Show your personality in your pitches.

You’re a subject matter expert; let that show in your pitches. If possible, write the complex ideas in the most fun way with stories.

  • Make your pitch concise – shred fluff and address your “why yous” and the required details within 300 words max.

Here are some templates you can study:

Template 1: Product Recommendation

Query: Best Wedding Gift

Pitch: I’ll recommend X as it’s a thoughtful gift for newlyweds. It remains relevant for routine living and child care.

But I’ll say that Brand Y is the best of the lot in the market. I’ve been using mine for Z years now. Even those I sent Y to as gifts have the same glowing reviews.

Template 2: Quotes/Advice

Query: SEO Tip For Beginners

Pitch: After ranking X sites from obscurity to page 1 on Google for Y years, I’ll advise beginners to “focus on value first.” Creating value-based content helps with every other thing. Links become easy to get. And you’ll rank easily for several keywords.

Value-based content aside, show proof in your digital marketing hacks. Case studies and reports EASILY get backlinks.

And lastly, network with other SEOs. BTW, don’t limit your contact to only the “gurus.”

Template 3: Business/Online Security

Query: Cybersecurity For Startups

Pitch: Businesses are undoubtedly at risk of cyber attacks in this age. In just the first quarter of 20XX, we have already noticed X such attacks.

I’ll advise businesses to set up security systems in place. I’ll recommend Y.

Lastly and most importantly, have a team in place to monitor security issues. It helps.

Ultimately, you will need to pitch several queries which might not be related to our sample templates. In that case, follow this frame:

  • Hi [name of journalist],
  • Intro/bio (this could be automated if you have a paid HARO plan)
  • The pitch
  • A wrap-up (where possible)

Don’t Forget The Essentials

While adding the journalist’s name and subject line to your pitches might seem basic, you might forget. To avoid such deadly mistakes, create a checklist: a list of things you must do before clicking send.

Here’s a quick summary of what to include on the checklist:

  • Subject lines
  • Intros
  • Outros

Don’t Focus TOO Much On Metrics

Checking the metrics of the journalist’s domain for details like domain rating and traffic is critical. At the same time, don’t make it the sole “deciding factor.” 

Look for other factors, such as the relevancy of the domain. What other sites does the domain link to? What are the future prospects?

You Need The Paid Plan

Frankly, you can only do so much with the freemium plan on HARO. Subscribe to the standard package.

With it, you can set custom alerts and save your energy for only worthy queries.

Personalize Your Pitches

As mentioned earlier, let your pitches be different. If possible, send pitches from different personas’ perspective.

Ask yourself, what will your HR say? Will my brand strategies agree with this pitch?

That should give you closure.

Study & Improve Your Pitches


We’re not saying you should send the same pitch to all queries. That’s lazy and will get you zero results in the long run.

Instead, check your successful pitches. Why are they so? Can you adopt the strategy for other queries?

What can you change in your unsuccessful pitches?

In summary, learn from your previous pitches and get better results with HARO. That’s the secret of pro link builders!

What Is HARO?

HARO, Help A Reporter Out, is Cision’s link building tool. It is designed to connect bloggers, influencers, journalists, and reporters to credible sources to solidify their content and stories.

Are There Alternatives To HARO?

Short answer: yes!

However, HARO is the most popular, being the first.

But if you’d like to try other link building tools, you can check the following:

  • Terkel: has integrations that let you check domain ratings. But there are only a few journalists on the platform compared to HARO.
  • Help A B2B Writer: the name format is like HARO. And as the name suggests, the tool is streamlined to B2B discussion.

Regardless, the tool is FREE at the moment.

If you work predominantly for the UK audience, check the PressPlugs. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have a free plan.

How Can You Get Results On HARO As a Beginner?

Whether as a beginner or expert, getting quality links on HARO follows the same pattern as below:

  • Sign up on HARO as a source
  • Subscribe as a paid user — the standard plan
  • Set up custom searches
  • Investigate the domains and pick the best
  • Reach out with query-specific and unique pitches

What if you still don’t get the process despite the breakdown?

It is okay if the processes are too complex. You can get help.

With the steps discussed in this article, you can “breeze” your way to getting links for your site with HARO.

And remember, there are no miracles. Reach out to journalists with unique, query-specific pitches, and the results will come.

Need further help on HARO link building?

Reach out; we’ll be happy to help!