Do you want DR40+ links from Business Insider, Bustle, American Express, Fit Small Business, and Parade?
I can help.
I know link-building is hard.
Links are a cornerstone of SEO. When it comes to competitive SERPs, high quality backlinks are often the competitive advantage as to why another site outperforms yours.
My team knows link-building is difficult – especially good backlinks. It can be costly and take up a lot of your time. This is why we specialise in HARO® outreach for you so that you don’t have to concern yourself with the ins and outs of link acquisition.
How To Use HARO For SEO
HelpAReporter.com (HARO) can be a great and ‘free’ way to earn hard-to-get backlinks from established and authoritative websites such as Mashable, The New York Times, CNBC, American Express, and Bustle. In this guide, you will understand how HARO fits into the jigsaw puzzle of SEO.
For those of you who are relatively new to SEO or link-building, please take a few moments to read the prerequisite material.
Advantages Of HARO SEO
It’s completely FREE! HARO was developed by CISION to help journalists and freelance writers find expert sources. Anyone can sign up for to HARO with a free account. There are premium accounts but for most business owners, marketing executives, or freelance SEO professionals, a free account is all you will need to earn major backlinks wins via HARO.
HARO is a great way to supplement your existing link acquisition strategy. Strictly speaking, when you’re responding to journalist queries, you are not actively link-building, but rather, sharing knowledge. Therefore, links from HARO can appear natural and should not trigger any spam warnings.
Backlinks often come from well-known websites which would normally be very difficult to get a backlink from. For example, pitching a content idea to a writer at American Express or CNBC is difficult unless you’re a PR professional with extensive contacts. For the average business owner or freelance SEO, getting in front of editorial decision-makers is not easy and this is what makes HARO so attractive.
Disadvantages Of Using HARO
Some publications may have a zero link-out policy – often you will not find out until you’ve already sunk considerable time into responding to the callout. For example, I spent an hour on the phone speaking to a freelance writer for a piece that was going to be published on Psychology Today. Unfortunately, at the conclusion of the interview when I asked if my business could be cited, I was told that the publisher had a no external link policy.
Backlinks tend to be homepage links.
Link wins are difficult to track. Of all the pitches we make only a very small percentage of journalists inform us that they have used our material. Therefore, for someone who does not have access to Ahrefs of Monitor Backlinks, it can be difficult to track HARO ROI. A workaround you can implement is to track your brand name in Google Alerts.
Referring domains may not be industry relevant to your business or brand.
Short deadlines – many of the big media publications have very tight deadlines. By the time you open the email, you may have only a matter of hours to craft a response. FYI, when you respond to a journalist past their deadline, you will be notified via email that your response was not successful. Therefore, to avoid wasting your time, check the deadline before responding to a callout.
Inability to choose desired anchor text.
Some earned links may have nofollow metatag. In some circles, the only desirable type of backlink are dofollow links. This is because some people believe that nofollow links do not pass any ‘link juice’. Personally, I think nofollow links are just as important as dofollow links.
Your link may be one of many outgoing links – this is especially the case for roundup style content pieces.
Why Using HARO Is Good For Your SEO
There is a concept of ‘authority’ in SEO whereby trust is a ranking factor for competitive SERPs.
When you think of academic papers, credibility of an argument can be based on the data and on the number of references cited. The more reputable references cited; the more trustworthy and plausible the paper/argument is.
The same principle apples to SEO.
In terms of organic search, remember that Google wants to deliver the most relevant and accurate solution to its user base. And one of the ways Google understands web pages at scale is by looking at its trust signals.
In short, the more credible links your website has from relevant and reputable sources, the more trustworthy your website is. What this means for your web pages is that pages with these links tend to before higher in the SERPs than pages without.
Therefore, every time you earn a backlink from HARO and gain a new unique referring domain (i.e., a website that has not linked out to you before), you’re strengthening the overall authority and trust signals of your website and internally link pages, and thus, the better chances of your web pages have at getting maximum visibility for your target keyword(s).
What Makes HARO Difficult?
It is difficult to know what the journalist is looking for. Many HARO queries do come with specific questions for you to answer. However, no matter how detailed or interesting you make your response, there is no telling whether your efforts will be rewarded.
It is a volume game – the more requests you answer, the higher the probability you can earn an online mention. As previously mentioned, there is no way of knowing whether you’re on the right track. Therefore, the combination of high volume and uncertainty makes HARO a difficult task for many to stick with across time.
There’s no room for personalization. According to 33 percent of journalists, lack of personalization is the #1 reasons why they reject pitches (even relevant ones). Bad timing comes in at a close second (32 percent). Ironically, when it comes to responding to HARO queries, personalization is a complete waste of time. This is because you’re not pitching a journalist with a new idea, but rather, answering their questions. Journalists want the answer quick and fast without any fluff – which sucks because you end up being a nameless commodity to them. The good news is that we have a few hacks that improve our odds of getting noticed by journalists when responding to HARO (and this is how we are able to earn quality mentions for our customers and their clients).
Some of the biggest link wins come from unsuspecting requests – this is perhaps my biggest frustration with HARO. When submitting a request for comments, a journalist does not have to disclose where their content is going to be published. That is, they have an option to mark their publication as ‘anonymous’. This is a double-edge sword as many freelance writers who are contracting for the biggest publishing giants do this to ensure only passionate experts respond. If they were to disclose that they are writing for a Forbes feature piece, they will get inundated by every SEO and their dog. At the same time, some less-than-desirable websites mark their requests as ‘anonymous’ and this can be frustrating if you happen to put in a lot of effort in crafting a detailed response in hope of being featured on a popular website.
So How Should You Use HARO For Your SEO?
Now that you have a better idea of the role links play in search engine optimization, you can begin to see how Help A Reporter Out can be a great resource and tool for building out your business’ organic visibility.
HARO should not be your only link building strategy. You should be exploring a mixture of link building campaigns (guest posting, niche edits, resource links paired with skyscraper outreach). HARO should be a supplement to your link building goals as the conversion rate is relatively low (5-19 percent). But compared to outreach blasts, HARO can yield better results as long as you do it properly.
Here’s what you should do:
- If you haven’t already, sign up as a source on HARO.
- Subscribe to the global newsletter.
- Setup appropriate Google Alerts to track HARO mentions.
- Start reading the newsletter (3 newsletters come out Monday – Friday).
- Take special note of deadlines.
- Make sure you are a relevant person to comment on the request.
- Write a catchy email subject line.
- Do not bother saying hi or asking how they are – get straight to the point.
- Respond with 2-3 sentences, each with a few supporting bullet points.
- Keep going (every newsletter has at least 1 potential query).
- Keep going.
- Make sure you keep going.
What Makes A Good Link Good?
Hang on, are bad links bad and is there such a thing as a good link?
According to many SEO professionals, there is (although individual definitions vary greatly). And if there are good links then by logic there should be bad links too right?
What’s a bad link anyway?
Are all blogspot subdomain links bad?
No. Not always.
Are links on pages that don’t get indexed or sit on a site that has been de-indexed bad?
Yes. Any link placement on a de-indexed page or a non-indexable page is a complete waste of time.
Most websites will attract a bunch of links across time. Some will be natural; linking to data, insights or resources unique to the website. And some will be junk links. For example, let’s use Ahrefs to take a look at the backlink profile of thewirecutter.com.
I think we can all agree that this is an authoritative website (and that’s even before putting it through Site Explorer). And judging by the screenshot below, this domain is not struggling in the links department.
In just the past 7 days alone, thewirecutter.com has received more than 2,000 inbound links.
According to Ahrefs, thewirecutter.com has in excess of 23,000 referring domains resulting in 1,700,000 backlinks. This is a terrifying number of backlinks.
As you can see from the above screenshot, there are literally thousands of junk-looking referring domains and tens of thousands of low quality inbound links. Does this stop thewirecutter.com from making money?
And judging by the graph shown below, one can conclude that organic traffic is in an upward trend (as is visibility for an increasing number of keyword).
But before we jump into any conclusions, we should acknowledge that the number of low quality referring domains that thewirecutter.com has is a fraction of its total backlink profile. I’m of the personal opinion that Google doesn’t place too much weight to this type of natural type of ‘unnatural’ link acquisition so long as the majority of the referring domains are of high quality.
Bad links do exist and many webmasters have discovered that poor link building practices has lead to them being served with manual penalties from Google.
How do we know this?
In 2013, PSD2HTML (a company that converts PSD to HTML) received a manual penalty and from their analytics they could see a clear 80 percent loss of organic traffic. Upon submitting reconsideration requests, Google showed exact examples of links that they saw as being manipulative and/or unnatural.
After an exhaustive link analysis and disavow process, the manual penalty was removed.
This case study is just one example of many that prove that Google does hand out manual penalties for suspicious link building practices.
The sad reality is that the majority of people who hire a third-party for their link building have no idea what type of work is being done for them. Nine out of 10 business owners believe that they have never paid for a link but in reality, their SEO agency or freelancer has.
If you have ever paid a publishing/admin free for a guest post – by definition that is a paid link.
If you have ever paid for a niche edit – you know.
As freelance SEOs or agency owners, the onus is on us to educate our clients and to make them fully aware of their exposure. Some link building strategies are more aggressive than others and some are downright risky (e.g., buying PBN link from someone who will offer them to anyone).
As long as our clients understand what we are doing (and why) – I think it is fair game. But we as an industry need to be upfront with our clients in the first place. For example, outside of HARO Liaison, I have a very small number of private SEO clients. On top of HARO outreach, I will periodically buy links through a trusted vendor. My clients are aware of this and the reason behind niche edits. And should their rankings tank, I will do whatever is necessary to recover.
Bad links exist because the consequences of said links have not been disclosed. The links themselves and their content may not actually be bad. For example, blog comments continue to be a link acquisition strategy. Some vendors will supply hundreds if not thousands of blog comment links. The words that are used to construct each blog comment may be fine but it’s the nature of these links, where the blog comments come from, and their potential downsides that gives most SEOs the hives.
Instead Of Good Versus Bad Links: Reframe Your Pespective
Here’s my personal take: there are good links and there are certainly links you want to avoid. When it comes to creating your own link building strategy, it is important to know what type of links you will need to achieve the goals you seek.
In all honesty, I don’t believe in good links or bad links.
Links are links – some are beyond your control so focus on variables that you can control.
Therefore, instead of looking at backlinks through the lens of good vs bad, I like to think of link building in two buckets:
- worthwhile, and
- not worthwhile.
At HARO Liaison, we answer journalist queries with the hope of earning an inbound link from an authoritative website. We can usually tell if the referring domain is going to be worthwhile by just looking at the name of the publishing site. However, some journalist queries are marked as ‘anonymous’ and in these instances, we have to take the gamble that the link is going to come from a high-DR referring domain.
If we do not recognize the publisher, we will do a quick Ahrefs lookup to see if it is a good fit for our clients.
The first thing we look at is its Domain Rating (DR).
Domain Rating is a metric that shows the link popularity of a website compared to all other websites in the world on a scale from 0 to 100.Tim Soulo, CMO at Ahrefs
From the above statement, you can see that search traffic, website quality or legitimacy are not factors Ahrefs uses to arrive at their Domain Rating.
For what it’s worth, I do not rely on DR as it is a proprietary metric that Google ignores. Domain Rating can be easily manipulated and just because a referring domain has a high DR does not make it an authoritative or trusted website. But given that it is a common form of measurement within the SEO community, we use DR as a quick comparison benchmark of perceived value.
In terms of our business model, the higher the DR, the more we can charge for it (as it is more desirable and more difficult to get).
Secondly, with only a few exceptions, the majority of websites that you can get a backlink from via HARO tend to be well-established brands and media publications. This is because HARO restricts publications with Alexa rankings in excess of 1 million. That is, only the top one million websites in the world can do HARO requests.
What Makes A Link Worthwhile?
Now that we’ve successfully moved away from the concepts of good links versus bad links, let’s focus on what matters to SEO: quality.
This is my mantra to what makes a backlink worthwhile:
- A worthwhile link is one that is difficult to get.
- Therefore, not worthwhile links are those that anyone can easily get with limited time and resources.
What if I were to tell you that some PBN links are worthwhile? And what if I were to tell you that many high DR websites are not worthwhile links?
Getting a homepage link from a high quality Private Blog Network is extremely difficult. This is because the good stuff is never available to the public. PBNs are either purpose-built for a set number of clients or they are built and sold to the masses. Which do you think will be more effective? Which of the two will be riskier?
PS – if someone offers you a PBN link – run away.
Effective PBNs are costly to build and even if you can find a someone who has a number of these, you’re going to have to pay a significant premium for a homepage link from their PBN(s). More often than not, the good stuff is hard to find.
This is what makes them worthwhile – because the barrier to entry is so high.
Now, I’m not advocating PBN links but I am trying to dispel the misconception of PBNs.
On the other hand, you will come across many high DR guest post websites on link marketplaces such as NO BS. In my opinion, many of these websites are no better than publicly available PBNs. All you have to do is pay a fee and you’ll get a link.
Hint: take a look at the amount of outgoing links these guest post farms have. Then take a look at what their top ranking keywords are. I won’t spoil it for you but I’m sure you’ll come to the same conclusion once you take a peek behind the curtain for yourself.
But what about social fortress links?
Every legitimate business and brand should have claim their social profiles – less so for SEO but more for establishing that your business is legit.
Social fortress links, geo-relevant directory listings, and NAP citations should be the first 10 links that any new business should acquire.
So What Makes A Good Link Good?
Your answer to this question will depend on what your goals are. Are you a brand new business that needs to build out a backlink graph? Are you a business that has done some ‘spammy’ tactics and need to recover from a loss of visibility? Are you a business that is operating in a competitive vertical?
Depending on what circumstance you are in, a worthwhile link for you will differ others.
For example, as a brand new business with zero backlinks, you should invest some time in building out your social fortress. This includes creating a Facebook Business Page, a LinkedIn Company page, creating a Twitter account, and some citation profiles. Most legitimate businesses have these so it makes sense for you to get these as a starting point. If you have a physical location, spend $20 on getting a verified Foursquare listing and start the process of verifying your business with Google My Business.
For a business that has a lot of junk links (usually from a bad SEO vendor or bad SEO advice) your goals will be different again. You may wish to consider disavowing the bad links (this is not something to consider lightly) and at the same time, use a variety of link building strategies to balance out your link graph. For example, you may get some niche edits, pay for some placements on guest post farms, and do some HARO.
And if you’re operating within a competitive vertical, I suggest that you take a deep dive into looking at what link building strategies your competitors are doing and replicate from their success. The Link Intersect tool from Ahrefs makes this job easier.
Domain Rating, PageRank, Authority Score and all metrics aside, a good link is one that helps you achieve your goals. Whether it is to give you referral traffic that converts into sales or to get maximum visibility for high-converting keywords – you need to know why you’re building links in the first place.
Everything you do in business has to have a measure-able return don’t you agree?
What Makes A Good Link Great?
A great link is one that hits the trifecta. That is:
- It brings in relevant referral traffic.
- It passes significant link equity to your target URL.
- It comes from a trusted source.
Good luck finding these unicorns (they exist but they’re rare and take significant resources to acquire).
So Where Does HARO Fit In All This?
Make no mistake. I’m here to sell you our done-for-you HARO outreach. This is why I’ve put together a resource guide on how you can leverage HARO for your SEO.
As much as I would like to sell you on HARO link building, HARO should not be your only link building strategy. This is because the type of backlinks you can achieve by offering journalists with value is limited.
The links will rarely bring you significant amounts of relevant referral traffic.
The links will rarely pass significant link juice to your site (given the high number of outgoing likes major publications link out to).
But, at the very least, you can rest assured that links from HARO will come from a source that Google trusts.
Organic search traffic is something we all desire. And in order achieve this visibility in the SERPs, we know that backlinks play a critical role.
But what links will help move the needle for you? What links do you need to move up in the SERPs? And how many?
But at least you know now what you must do.
Do HARO Backlinks Increase Domain Rating?
Everyone has an opinion when it comes to SEO. Everyone (myself included).
Most of us can, however, can agree that content, technical SEO and links are critical pillars. But put ten SEOs in a room and you’ll get ten different opinions on what they think moves the needle. And when it comes to links, types of links and how to acquire said links – we’re a divided bunch.
This is what makes SEO so fun and challenging at the same time. If you’re new to SEO or if you’re a technical SEO gun but don’t know much about off-page SEO, the majority of ‘advice’ you will come across will be inaccurate, inappropriate, or downright wrong.
Some people still use 10-year old metrics such as domain authority. Some people don’t even know what PageRank is. Then there are some who swear by web2.0s, comment links, and value quantity of backlinks over quality. There are those who preach earning links versus buying them. There are SEOs who don’t believe in link-building and then there is the majority – those who have no clue at all but want quick results.
I used to be one of those ..
Domain Rating (DR) and Domain Authority (DA) are metrics that a lot of people want to inflate. People on SEO focused Facebook groups regularly ask how they can quickly increase their DR. Whilst there is some merit in domain rating, it is just one data point – by itself DR is meaningless and those seeking to quickly increase their DR usually want to sell content placements to people who do not know any better. DA as a metric is so outdated and irrelevant that this is all I will say on the subject matter.
So when it comes to link building, what matters to you is having an understanding of why are you doing it and the outcomes you are seeking.
- Is your website brand new? If so, why are you acquiring referring domains to it right now when it has zero organic traffic and social signals? Does it make sense for a brand new website to have backlinks yet minimal search traffic?
- Do you want more referral traffic? If so, how will link building help you achieve your goal and what type of websites are going to give you the referral traffic you seek?
- Are you link building because everyone else has told you to do so? If so, stop and gather your own data on relevant SERPs.
- Are you building links because your competition is clearly winning in the SERPs because of their backlink graph? If so, what link building strategy are they pursuing and how much of it can you replicate? Similarly, how does your content and site structure and technical SEO compare to ranking websites? Should those be a higher priority than links right now?
- Does your website lack authority? If so, where can you get links from that will increase your authority in your particular niche?
We all have our own reasons as to why we want links and we all want results quickly.
At HARO Liaison, we have a range of clients – some run affiliate websites, some are companies with 50+ staff, and the remainder are small business owners. Each one of our clients have their own reasons to why they want to acquire more unique referring domains. However, the onus is on you to be honest with yourself, your budget, and your timeline so that you can pair them with an appropriate strategy. Only then can you decide what course of action is best for you.
So now that I got that off my chest, let’s dive right into whether or not links earned through HARO outreach help move the DR needle.
Are HARO Backlinks Any Good For SEO Purposes?
On any given day, you will come across journalists who write for Finance Magnates, Marpipe, Business.com, Reader’s Digest, Medium, Oro, Lifney, HuffPost, Healthline, Cheapism, Business Insider, INSIDER, Livestrong, and American Express.
As you can see from this list, these media outlets cover a range of niches and websites with varying domain rating scores. You may be familiar with some of them already as they’re well-known brands or publications.
To answer the question, let’s take a look at them in more detail using Ahrefs Site Explorer.
1. Finance Magnates
Finance Magnates claims to be an independent news source on multi-asset trading news, research and events. It regularly covers topics on electronic trading, banking and various modalities of investing.
The good: As you can see from the above screenshot, Finance Magnates receives a decent amount of monthly organic traffic and has a DR score of 77. Similarly, the main sources of traffic original from the United States, United Kingdom, Australia and Canada. In terms of DR score and ‘link juice’, Finance Magnates has in excess of 8,000 follow referring domains with many coming from authority top-tier sites such as Entrepreneur.com, venturebeat.com, fortune.com, theverge.com, ibm.com, and businessinsider.com.
The bad: They rarely link out to the expert sources they have quoted but they will allow follow links for sponsored content.
Verdict: This is an impressive site and could be worth pursuing if your goal is to get mentioned in press. However, if you’re after a backlink through contributing to HARO requests, this may not be the best use of your time.
Marpipe is a solution for digital advertisers to test and identify creatives that convert well so that you may scale those ads.
The good: Marpipe is regularly posting requests for anyone who has first-hand experience with digital marketing. It has a domain rating of 31 which isn’t too shabby if you’re lacking in referring domains. What it lacks in organic traffic, it has keywords that have some visibility. This suggests that this site has potential (or at least, does not have a penalty).
The bad: There isn’t a whole lot of DR juice to flow onto you. Marpipe doesn’t have a whole lot of referring domains to begin with (at the time of writing) and there are only a handful of juicy high DR sites. Plus, from the above screenshot from Ahrefs (see above), this website doesn’t get much organic traffic.
Verdict: It wouldn’t hurt to add Marpipe to your list of RDs, especially if you wish to build out your personal brand as a marketing director or marketing professional. However, don’t expect it to do much for you in the SERPs.
I’d be very surprised if you haven’t heard of healthline.com. It has an Alexa ranking in the top 300 global sites. It is one of the top 150 websites visited in the United States (according to alexa.com). As shown in the below screenshot from Ahrefs, Healthline has a domain rating fo 91, over 100 million monthly organic visitors, and an impressive list of follow referring domains (>152,000).
The good: The organic traffic trajectory of this website is undeniable (see below screenshot). The good news is that healthline.com does link out and the majority of its outbound links are follow. And from looking at the outgoing links, they are willing to link out to low DR websites. Some even look like HARO-style link wins.
The bad: It’s not easy scoring a link win on Healthline, especially via HARO. You or the client your represent will have to be a M.D. or board-certified nurse and the credentials to prove it.
Verdict: The DR juice that healthline.com offers is lucrative but there’s no point responding to journalist requests unless you are a dietition, nutritionist, registered nurse, or medical pratitioner.
Business.com is a frequent source of information for business owners, entrepreneurs and marketers. It receives over a quarter of a million monthly organic visitors and has a DR of 85. It ranks 11,865th in the word according to alexa.com.
The good: There’s plenty of DR juice coming from high DR websites such as microsoft.com, adobe.com, parallels.com, godaddy.com, and nytimes.com. Staff and freelance writers at business.com frequently request for expert quotes. What this means for you is that you can usually come across at least one link opportunity from this DR85 website per fortnight. For SEOs and link-builders, you will be happy to hear that they do link out and they’re usually follow.
The bad: None. But your pitch has to be on-point as competition will be tough.
Verdict: Business.com is a website worth adding to your link graph. If you see an opportunity come up, respond to it ASAP if you or your client is a relevant expert source.
Lifney is an affiliate marketing. You can easily spot this by the multiple ‘best X for Y’ articles they have on their homepage. There’s nothing wrong with websites that derive revenue from affiliate commissions. After all, many of our clients do the same thing as long as they deliver valuable insights to their audience, they’re deserving of their visibility.
Here’s a snapshot of lifney.com according to Ahrefs.
The good: A domain rating of 40 isn’t too shabby- especially if you don’t have many backlinks yourself. Since lifney.com is always seeking commentary, you can easily land this site as a referring domain. Plus, the requirements are pretty basic to meet.
The bad: First, let’s look at the organic traffic estimate from Ahrefs (see above). It seems suspiciously low for its domain rating score. Secondly, of its 139 referring domains, 91 are follow and of these, there aren’t any great RDs if I’m being completely honest with you. There are only 5 RDs with a DR score greater than 50. So there isn’t a whole lot of DR juice to spread around. Then factor in the overwhelming number of outgoing linked domains lifney.com has and you pretty much will get no PageRank benefit at all.
Verdict: Being an easy win, this site will not do a whole lot for your SEO. But hey, it’s an easy win so take it if you need to. Whilst the organic traffic is lower than expected, at least it is receiving visitors from Google search. And what does this tell us?
HuffPost is a news aggregator and blog. It has both localized and international editions. When it was sold in 2011 to AOL for US$315 million, it had 30 million unique visitors. Staff writers and freelance writers regularly seek expert sources for HuffPost on HARO.
The good: HuffPost is a media giant. Most people in the United States, Canda, UK, and Australia will have heard of it. As you can see from the Ahrefs metrics, HuffPost has a domain rating of 91 and has over 20 million monthly organic visitors. According to alexa.com, it is one of the top 1,000 websites in the world and over 60 percent of its visitors are based in Northern America (US + Canada). What makes this target site attractive is the potential DR juice you can score from a backlink. Based on Ahrefs Site Explorer, HuffPost has over 160,000 follow referring domains and just over 1,500 outgoing follow linked domains.
The bad: Landing a link win from HuffPost is not going to be easy. Like you, every other SEO is going to try to win a mention. You’ll really have to stand out from the competition if you want to get this lucrative win.
Verdict: This is one of the best referring domains you can potentially score from HARO. Each time you see HuffPost opportunity read the requirements carefully and if you’re a good fit, invest some serious time crafting a pitch that will make it stand out.
7. Business Insider
Similar to HuffPost, Business Insider is also a news aggregator and a blog and it covers a very diverse range of topics; from fitness to financial investing. According to its LinkedIn page, it has a network of sites that reaches 100 million unique monthly visitors. Compared to HuffPost, Business Insider has more referring domains, a higher DR score, and a lot more organic traffic. The best thing about getting a HARO link win from Business Insider is that your link is placed on most of the BI network.
The good: The difference in inbound links betwen DR91 and DR92 is subtantial as domain rating is not a linera measurement. And the Ahrefs metric echoes this story; Business Insider has avery healthy organic monthly visitors and close to half a biliion inbound referring domains. These include the likes of microisoft.com, adobe.com, amazon.com, paypal.com, nytimes.com, forbes.com, cdc.gov, bbb.org, www.gov.uk and bbc.co.uk. But that’s not all, writers for Business Insider are frequently sourcing expert comments on HARO.
The bad: Not much to say to be honest. The ratio of inbound and outgoing domains is in the favour of a good transfer of DR juice. Nail the brief and you can add BI and its network of sites as referring domains.
Verdict: Just do it.
Livestrong.com connects visitors with tools information and a community of like-minded people who are seeking a healthy lifestyle. Since it covers topics that fall under medical advice, diet and fitness, livestrong.com falls under the YMYL category and as we all know, YMYL has been hit hard since August 2018.
The good: As you can see from the above screenshot taken from Ahrefs, livestrong.com has an enviable domain rating (89). It receives a decent amount of monthly organic traffic and has 84,000 follow referring domains coming into its site. These range from .com, .gov, .uk, .au, and .edu TLDs.
The bad: This is where looking at snapshot metrics fails; you should always dig a little deeper. Since we know livestrong.com is in the YMYL category and that Google has penalised many YMYL sites, let’s see how the traffic and visibility for the domain has fared. From the below screenshot we can see that organic traffic has been on a consistent downward trend since January 2018. But that’s not all – when livestrong.com links out, they tend to apply a nofollow meta tag. And as well all know, a nofollow link ain’t really worth our time.
Verdict: At first glance, livestrong.com appears to be a great referring domain. However, after some digging around, it is probably not worth your time to invest in responding to HARO request when all you will probably get is a nofollow backlink.
9. American Express
American Express needs no introduction but this subfolder – ‘Business Trends and Insights’ frequently seeks expert opinions and insights on HARO. As you can see from the below Ahrefs screenshot, the root domain has a DR score of 91 and the subfolder gets a good amount of monthly organic traffic.
The good: The DR score is impressive and there are over 16,000 follow inbound links with many of them from authoritative websites such as theguardian.com, forbes.com, hubspot.com, reuters.com, and cisco.com (all are DR90+ websites). Best of all, writers will happily link out to extremely low-DR websites.
The bad: There are more outgoing follow links than incoming. According to Ahrefs, this particular subfolder on americanexpress.com alone links out to 17,292 websites. Say goodbye to DR juice.
Verdict: Getting a backlink from American Express is unlikely to give you much link juice but saying that your business has been featured on americanexpress.com can give you some serious street cred. Maybe.
10. CEO Blog Nation
Gresham runs a website dedicated at helping founders, entrepreneurs and business owners build their personal brand. It frequently publishes roundup posts seeking personal commentary.
The good: There’s a good amount of referring domains and digging deeper, there’s no shortage of follow backlinks from high DR sites. The best thing about ceoblognation.com is that you can usually land a DR71 link win as long as you answer the HARO requests well. According to Ahrefs, the majority of the organic traffic to ceoblognation.com comes from the United States.
The bad: This domain may have many high DR referring domains but the DR juice is spread extremely thin. On any given blog post, ceoblognation.com will link out to at least 10 websites and it publishes at least 1-2 blog articles per week. Secondly, with such a high domain rating you would expect to see more monthly organic traffic.
Verdict: If you’re chasing DR RDs, ceoblognation.com is a no-brainer to add to your list. It won’t, however, help you increase your DR as it has more outgoing links than incoming.
Can HARO Links Help Increase Your Domain Rating?
So where does this leave us?
From our sample of 10 websites, you should have a clearer picture of what you can expect from HARO links and why you cannot take DR at face value.
If you’re hoping to increase your DR score via HARO, I’ve got some bad news for you. From my experience, having a website such as Huffpost, Bustle, Forbes, CEO Blog Nation, Databox, and American Express will not really help your website jump in DR, especially if your website has already 150+ referring domains and a DR > 25. However, if your website is relatively new or has hardly any decent backlinks at all, you may see an incremental boost to your domain rating initially.
Most sites who use HARO to find expert sources will not give you a DR boost.
This is because the way Ahefs calculates DR – “The more unique websites a site links to, the less ‘DR juice’ it will transfer to each of them.”
Some of the links we get at HARO Liaison have up to 30+ follow outgoing links. And if the website consistently publishes new content with multiple outbound links, the ‘DR juice’ dilution problem is real.
However, it’s not all bad news.
For sites that have not had a whole lot of link building and have a low DR-score to begin with (i.e., <15), Help A Reporter Out may be a good starting point.
To illustrate, a client site has gotten some high DR wins from HARO in the past 6 months. These include:
- bustle.com (DR89)
- eatthis.com (DR77)
- bestlifeonline.com (DR74)
- clockify.me (DR71)
- ceoblognation.com (DR70)
Apart from HARO, we did no other forms of link building. Instead, we focused on getting the on-page content right and allocated some time towards HARO links.
Over the course of the past 5 months, the site has gone from a DR score of 8 to 11 so we did see an increase to its domain rating (remember that DR is a logarithmic scale). But more importantly, DR has never been important to our SEO strategy as our goal has been to increase the visibility of certain money pages for this client. Ad we have been able to do this primarily through on-page SEO. To us, the addition of high DR referring domains gives us a bit of an edge when it comes to our link graph. That is all.
So What Does This Mean For You?
HARO can give you some referring domains that would otherwise be very costly to acquire through other means. Only recently, a journalist outed an SEO on Twitter for asking for a link insert into an old article. This got the attention of one Gary Illyes – definitely not something you want.
If you are going to pursue HARO, do it for the right reasons.
If you are seeking to quickly boost your DR, don’t bother.
If you are hoping HARO links will be enough to help you rank, think again.
But if you have various link building strategies in play and have great content both on-page and off-page then HARO should definitely be part of your marketing mix because landing contextually relevant links on big media publications are not exactly easy to come by. If your competitors aren’t doing it, this is your competitive advantage to climb or maintain your position in the SERPs.
And if you’re willing to go grey there’s nothing stopping you from getting quality PBNs as tier 2 links (well, except for the ethics of building links to assets you do not own).
Stop relying on vanity metrics such as DR and DA – they’re meaningless by themselves and don’t tell you the big picture.
If you believe in link building, don’t just go deep on one strategy (ie., don’t go all in with niche edits, don’t go all in with (paid) guest posts, don’t go all in with HARO).
If you think HARO is right for you, hit us up.