Our question for this #ASKIrfan episode is:
What is the True SEO value of HARO, and What to do instead?
BACKGROUND: Experts like Neil Patel suggest that (most) companies should avoid homepage links as these are not going to increase conversions (since the home page isn’t focused on a particular product/service/keyword).
PROBLEM: Keeping this in mind, how beneficial is it for you to earn backlinks via HARO (since you typically get homepage links via it), and what is HARO’s true #SEOvalue for your brand and business?
Unique Twist to HARO Outreach for IMPROVED Backlinks
We discuss this problem in detail, but more importantly, we share a unique tactic which you can implement right away to boost the SEO value of your HARO campaigns by getting more inner-page backlinks.
Intro: (00:03) Welcome to the Ask Irfan edition of the SIA Business Podcast. In each Ask Irfan episode, your host, Irfan, will be answering questions you ask and even questions you never asked.
Irfan: (00:21) Hi everyone. This is your host, Sayed Irfan Ajmal and in this episode of the SIA Business Show, we are going to discuss how beneficial HARO is when it comes to SEO. An alternative question in this regard could be, what are the benefits of HARO in terms of SEO when we know that most of the links that we get from HARO are actually homepage links.
(00:50) So, for those of you who don’t know what HARO is, please do check out the previous episode of this podcast where we discuss what HARO is, and how you can use it to improve your website’s SEO, and also use it for getting some publicity in terms of getting mentions and backlinks from top media outlets and publications.
(01:12) Now, with regards to the question that we are discussing in this episode, we are going to get to that question, but first, let’s discuss a specific aspect of SEO so that when I answer the question you are able to understand it in a more clear fashion.
(01:29) In case of SEO, what you want to do is that you ideally want to make sure that backlinks that you are earning are mostly linking to your inner pages as opposed to your homepage. The reason for this is that your homepage is typically not focused on a specific keyword or a specific product or service, but it rather serves as a hub of sorts, where your content may be all over the place.
(02:01) You may have an intro about the company, the founders, your vision and statement, your videos, product and services, the clients that you have worked with, various testimonials, your blog link and all that, your most recent blog posts. It becomes very hard for Google and other search engines to figure out what your company is about if you have so much different types of content on your homepage.
(02:28) Now, your inner pages, on the other hand, would typically be focused on extremely specific keywords and those keywords may correlate with the products and services that you have. So this is why, ideally, you want to make sure that most of the backlinks that you’re getting are actually backlinks to your inner pages.
(02:52) Now that we are clear on the importance of inner page links versus homepage links, let’s discuss how beneficial HARO is with respect to your SEO. So now, the issue in HARO is that in most types of campaigns you would typically be getting links to your homepage. There does exist a tactical tool where you can try to get more inner page links even when you are using HARO, but we will get to that later.
(03:22) To show you an example, let’s say, you are a furniture company. So, the reason why links to your homepage won’t result in a massive conversion rate for you is because your homepage will have all types of content on it. Like I said, it may have your best selling products over there. It may have your company history and something about the founders and your biggest clients, and all that. Right?
(03:52) So first off, Google may have a tough time understanding which keywords to rank that page for. I mean, sure, you are a furniture company, but within furniture, there may be a lot of sub-niches that your homepage can be ranked for. So, Google may get confused.
(04:08) And secondly, your conversion rate won’t be high, which basically means that even if you have traffic coming in because somehow your keywords… some of your keywords get ranked, the conversion won’t be high, which means not a lot of the traffic that’s coming to your homepage will get converted into paying customers, or into leads, or into email subscribers. Depends on how you are defining conversion at this stage, obviously.
(04:33) However, if you have an inner page, for instance, a page for your Ergonomic Chairs or your Bean Bags Page, chances are that conversion rate for those pages would be much higher than the homepage because if you’re getting inner page links to these websites, Google will have a better idea about what to rank you for and the conversion rate will be high as well.
(04:55) Also, to make matters worse, what happens is that even if you are using HARO, sometimes you may not even get a backlink. You might just get a mention. So, that might look like “Elon Musk from Tesla says…” So, that would be, if you are Elon Musk… that means if you’re using HARO, I mean that’s just an example obviously, but what happens is that they will not give you a backlink.
(05:19) So, they will not mention your URL or they will not hyperlink your name or your company name to your blog or your website, but they will just use your name and your company name in the text format. Right?
(05:31) Or you might get a backlink, but that link would be a “no follow” backlink as opposed to a “do follow” backlink, which basically means that this website that gave you a link is basically telling Google to not to take into account this link that they just gave you. And that basically means that this link will have no real SEO benefits for your site.
(05:54) But the good news is that HARO is still useful in several places and actually there is at least one method to get inner page links which can boost your SEO in a much better form than getting those homepage links.
(06:13) So first off, even if you are getting just mentions. No “do follow” links and no “no-follow” links. But if you are a furniture company and you are getting mentions and your exclusive quotes, your insights are getting published in publications like Forbes, Entrepreneur, or a website more specific to your industry.
(06:37) For instance, in the case of the furniture company, it can be Apartment Therapy, it can be House.com, it can be Furnituretoday.com. So, that still is good news for you because it’s getting you publicity. It’s establishing your personal brand as someone who is an expert in your niche and who is seen as an authority by the biggest publications of your niche.
(07:04) So, that’s one of the benefits of HARO. Now, this is not technically an SEO benefit but it still is a benefit and I will explain later how you can use this for SEO growth as well.
(07:18) The second benefit is that this added credibility that you get, this enhanced social proof, it is going to increase the chances of you being recognized as an expert and you will also get more leads, more customers, more sales. You might even get better business partners, greater funding opportunities, and more competent employees because they see you as someone who, large publications and large media outlets and big thought leaders of your industry, are being seen with.
(07:56) So, if you are getting quoted in the Forbes magazine with some of the biggest experts of your industry, obviously most of the people will perceive you to be, more or less, of the same level of an expert as those other thought leaders and experts.
(08:13) But even if you are just getting a mention or a “no follow” link or a “do follow” link to your homepage, you can still use these high authority mentions and links even if they are “no follow” links… even if they are links to your homepage, you can use that social proof to persuade medium range websites or smaller websites…
(08:35) … which may be medium range websites, which may not be as famous as Forbes, but they may be extremely relevant to your niche, and they may be full of ideal leads of your industry. Right? So like I mentioned, Apartment Therapy, House.com, Furnituretoday.com.
(08:53) So, when you reach out to these websites and you mentioned how you have been mentioned on, say, Forbes, and Entrepreneur, they probably don’t know what a backlink is or they don’t know what is the difference between a “no follow” link and a “do follow link.
(09:06) But what they are looking at is the fact that these large websites, these major publications, these massive media outlets have trusted your insights, have trusted your expertise, and they will see that as a proof of your credibility, as a proof that they can trust you. And that’s how you can get these medium range websites to link to you.
(09:33) Even if they are not medium range but large websites, you can still try to get them to link to you or let you write for them or something like that. So this is how, even when a website, which is not giving you a link, it’s just giving you a mention, or it’s giving you a “no follow” link, or it’s giving you a “do follow” link, but it’s a link to your homepage rather than inner pages, you can still use that to get the attention of other medium or large publications.
(10:06) Now lastly, a cool trick that you can use where you can basically get HARO to link to your inner pages. So, once you start using HARO, make a list of topics and themes that you come across within your industry. Let’s say, you have an app which focuses on helping people work in a more focused environment without distractions and improve productivity.
(10:36) So, you will be happy to know that there are actually a lot of HARO queries on the topic of improving productivity, reducing distractions to be able to focus more. So, what you can do is that you should first create a detailed guide on the subject of productivity, on the subject of how to reduce distractions, how to improve your concentration, and how to stop social media and your phone from making you distracted and addicted and all that.
(11:11) So, create a really good guide and it should not be like a 500 words article. That’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about something really good. Check out some of the detailed, long-form articles that are out there in this industry when it comes to the topic of distractions and productivity. Check out some of those guides and then create something way, way better.
(11:32) So, the next time you see a journalist who is asking how to improve productivity, what are the top apps to keep you focused, what are some cool hacks you are using to stay focused and not get distracted. I mean, go ahead, answer their questions. Do answer their questions in a brief but concise manner.(11:55) But then, do mention that, “Hey, by the way, I already have this detailed guide of 5,000 words, in which I discuss all of these topics in much more detail, and I have included research-backed information in it and relevant data in it.”
(12:11) “And I have even included quotes and insights from some of the biggest entrepreneurs, including 5 billionaires, on how they stay productive, and how they are able to avoid getting distracted after every 5 minutes.”
(12:25) So if you do that, chances are that you’ll be able to get inner page links as well from that story that this journalist is writing about. This is actually something that I have used, not a lot to be honest, but I am planning to do that in a more planned and strategic manner in the coming weeks and months. And I will be happy to share the progress with you.
(12:46) But for instance, one thing I have done is that on my own website, I have a guide on personal branding. So, when I came across a query on personal branding, I answered that query, in fact, it was not a query about personal branding as such, but it was more of a query about how can you stand out while applying for a job or something like that.
(13:06) And I answered that question, but then I also mentioned that in today’s digital age, all the hiring managers actually Google the person that they are about to interview and they try to review their social media profiles. And I said that I talk about that in a lot of detail in this personal branding guide that I’ve written and it’s like 4,000 words long.
(13:27) And I share how this Middle Eastern girl was able to get the attention of joints like Uber, and Airbnb and LinkedIn, to using a very different strategy to apply for a job at Uber. And how she used the power of personal branding to be heard, and be seen, and be given attention to.
(13:48) And I was able to get a couple of decent links so far for this personal branding guide using this exact strategy. So, this is something that really works and it is something that, like I said, I’m going to use it definitely in the near future more often.
(14:03) So the bottom line is, HARO if you are using it the way almost everyone else uses it, you will be getting mostly homepage links. These homepage links may not be directly beneficial for your SEO. Or if you’re getting “no follow” links or you are just getting mentions, these will not be beneficial for your SEO directly.
(14:25) But you can use that as a stepping stone to knock on the door of other large publications and while sending your pitch or while contacting them, you will let them know that you have been, mentioned in these other publications or you have been cited there and you can use that to get the attention of other large media outlets.
(14:45) Other than that, like I said, study the HARO queries that are relevant to your niche and try to think of a topic on which you can write something really good, like an Evergreen guide. Which is pretty detailed and which has tons of value in it. Right?
(15:03) So maybe something like 5,000 words, 8000 words, 10,000 words, or at least 2000 words, I would say. And it looks very cool and it’s very high quality. It’s very well researched. It has maybe references in it. It has maybe quotes of relevant experts of your industry.
(15:20)So then, the next time you see a query which is relevant to the guide that you have on your website, you can direct the person to that guide. Now, you may ask, what’s the point of getting this guide backlinks when this guide is actually not offering a product or service. So, your conversion rate, in this case, would below. Right?
(15:43) Now that can be a very valid question. But what you can do, and this is a pretty well-kept secret… what you can do is that once you have enough backlinks for this guide of yours… in our SEO lingo, we actually call it a power page.
(15:55) What you will do is that you will go back to that guide and you will link to your inner product or service pages from that guide. So, what happens next is that some of the SEO authority of this guide will get transferred to the other inner pages that you have linked to.
(16:13) And that’s how you can use a power page to attract backlinks using the informational nature of your guide and then you transfer some of that SEO authority of your power page or your guide to your inner commercial pages.
(16:29) So I hope this helped. I hope what I said… I hope it made sense and I look forward to speaking to you again in the near future. If you have any other questions regarding HARO or SEO or content marketing, anything like that, do get in touch. Thank you so much. Bye.
OUTRO: (16:50) Got any questions about content marketing, SEO, startups, or something totally different, or weird, or fun? Share them with us and we will answer them in the next Ask Irfan episode.
If you have any questions or if you would like me to interview any entrepreneurs or digital marketers, please contact me here.