In SEO, you have to be creative to stay ahead of the curve. Once you have learned the basic concepts about how search engines work, you can think of your own creative ways to build links to your website. One strategy that we have seen some success with is link building with HARO (Help a Reporter Out).
What Is HARO?
Help a Reporter Out is a free publicity service that focuses on the North American market. It is used by major media players like The Associated Press, ABC, FOX and Gannett among others. Vocus, a huge name in public relations software, acquired HARO just two years after it was founded in 2008.
Basically, HARO helps source news content for journalists to use. It accomplishes the dual purpose of helping businesses market while helping journalists get news-worthy content. To date the company has published millions of stories. It has become a formidable social and media distribution service.
How Lawyers Can Leverage HARO
HARO is reminiscent of PRWeb and other press release services before they became targets for SEOs (and eventually discounted by search engines). Lawyers can build authority and get links in the process (potentially from some very authoritative sources) by using HARO. Here is what you do.
- Sign up for a free subscription service: There is a free plan that will send PR opportunities to your email inbox every day. There are also three tiers of paid plans but all you really need is the free version to get started.
- Start looking for opportunities: Start looking for relevant press opportunities to follow up on. Pretty much anywhere you can be an authority as an attorney will work. Reach out to these journalists that are associated with the email alert and see if you can be a source for them. Good ways to show that you are an authority is to point them in the direction of articles you already have published or that you are mentioned in.
- Social proof: It takes some time but once you are featured as a reference in a news article, you can start building an “as-seen-in” list of icons to display on your website as social proof. After all being mentioned in USA Today or some other Gannett publication is pretty honorable.
- Remember the link: Exposure is important but links are also important. Make sure that when you reach out to a journalist as a source that you get the opportunity to have a link built back to your website. You may not get the chance every time but you should still try.
Tips for Using HARO
Lawyers should not treat the site as a link mule. HARO provides real editorial value to millions of people making it an ideal place for attorneys to be mentioned as an authoritative source. Follow these tips to get the right balance of PR exposure and inbound links for SEO:
- Provide input in the areas where you are an expert: It may be tempting to respond to as many inquiries as you can but resist the temptation. The fact is, a lawyer cannot be all things to all people so stick to what you know. Build yourself as an authority in one particular topic area.
- Be Patient: Keep in mind that HARO is one of many strategies that lawyers can and should be pursuing. Do not expect it to work overnight or even in a few weeks. It takes time to build authority on the web. It will also take some time before good link opportunities come your way. Commit to using the strategy for at least 6 months before you make any conclusions about whether it works for you or not.
- Build relationships: Just because the process starts with anonymous news contacts does not mean it has to stay that way. Build relationships with the journalists that you reach out to. You might even end up taking your relationship off of HARO and develop other opportunities to build authority and more links.
Keep in mind that HARO is not a link building service. It is a resource for journalists to get information from credible sources. Lawyers should approach it with this mindset that they can achieve exposure for their law firm as well as some SEO benefits.