How to grow backlinks to boost your SEO using HARO

Quality backlinks support any strong SEO strategy, but have you used HARO yet?

SEO stands for search engine optimization. Simply put, it’s all about consistently showing search engines why your website should be shown above other websites when users search queries that are related to your content.

HARO is a website that stands for Help A Reporter Out. It’s a service that connects journalists with a variety of sources but also gives you the opportunity to get useful media coverage for your business.

In other words, by using HARO, you can grow your quality backlinks. HARO distributes more than 50,000 journalist queries from highly respected media outlets each year seeking experts just like you, and you can pitch your expertise in hopes of being a source for any one of them (as it relates to your industry).

The following are five tips to use HARO and submit the best possible pitch as you aim to grow your backlinks.

Sign up on HARO to be a Source

To start using HARO, you must register. Fortunately, it’s an easy process. When on the HARO website, click “I’m A Source,” review the “Rules for Sources” and then click the “Sign Up” button. There are multiple subscription plans available for Sources:

  • Basic, which gets you daily pitch opportunity emails for free
  • Standard, which includes everything in Basic plus keyword alerts for one keyword, a profile that automatically inserts into your pitches, text alerts and the ability to search through possible pitch opportunities online for $19 per month
  • Advanced, which includes everything in Standard plus keyword alerts for up to three keywords, up to three profiles that can automatically be inserted into your pitches and an advanced alert about upcoming media opportunities as soon as they’re approved by the editorial team (but before they’re released publicly) so that you can get a head start for $49 per month.
  • Premium, which includes everything in Advanced plus keyword alerts for unlimited keywords, unlimited profiles and phone/email support from the HARO team for $149 per month

Choose your plan based on your goals and budget. Then, enter your company information, and get ready to begin receiving three emails per day, one at 5:35 a.m., 12:35 p.m. and 5:35 p.m. (Eastern time).

Seek opportunities in your daily HARO emails

The daily HARO emails you receive are only valuable opportunities if you open and review them.

Make sure you monitor available queries on a daily business to find the best ones that relate to your expertise and business. Spoiler: They’re not all going to make sense for you.

Open these emails as soon as you get them if you’re serious about finding a media coverage opportunity. Keep in mind that quality backlinks are your goal, so as you’re reviewing queries, do your research on the media outlets. Are they the type of backlink you’re looking for? Do they make sense to cover your business in any sort of way? It’s OK to be picky.

When you do find a query that works for you, you’re doing to want to act on it as soon as possible. Time is of the essence. If you wait, someone else will beat you to it with a pitch that gets selected by that journalist.

Optimize your HARO pitches

We’ve been mentioning “pitches.” They are key to you obtaining media coverage and quality backlinks on HARO. 

Keep in mind that journalists receive a large number of pitches, so you want to stand out. Aim to:

  • Keep it short and sweet
  • Offer quality
  • Cover all the requested details that are in the query you’re pitching for (and don’t veer off-topic)
  • Include an author bio that has your full name and a short introduction about your expertise and field
  • Follow the stated HARO rules for Sources because if you don’t, not only will your pitch get rejected, but you may also get entirely banned from the website
  • Take the opportunity to personalize your pitch to stand out (which can vary depending on the pitch)
  • End your pitch with a call-to-action that’s directed to the journalist to contact you or even connect with you on social media (so that you can help that journalist find additional sources)
  • Make life easy on the journalist by sharing downloadable versions of your headshot, company logo and bio that can be featured

Watch out for your placement

It’s entirely possible that if your pitch is selected, the journalist will contact you directly. But it’s also possible that he or she won’t. 

To make sure you’re aware of any placements you’re not directly notified about, set up a Google Alert for your brand name. That way, you’ll always be in the loop.

Be patient when using HARO

The success of generating quality backlinks through HARO is not a sprint. It’s a marathon. 

In other words, don’t get discouraged. Consider HARO a long-term strategy that will benefit your SEO over time.

Check out our 12 SEO tips for beginners. In fact, you can level up your SEO skills with any of these 10 free courses online.

As you’re starting your journey on HARO to grow quality backlinks, consider leveling up your digital marketing with DailyStory and our 21-day free trial. Features include automating various marketing tasks, dynamic audience segmentation and more. Schedule your free demo with us today.

12 ways to optimize your Google My Business profile

If your business has a specific location (or locations), then ranking in local search results should be a priority, especially on Google. 

About 46 percent of all Google searches are looking for local information, while 88 percent of searches for local businesses on a mobile device either call or visit the business within 24 hours.

The good news is that there is a lot you can do to boost your local SEO without spending a ton of money, including optimizing your Google My Business profile.

Google My Business is a powerful free listing that acts as a dynamic snapshot of your business that highlights key information and helps internet users learn more about (and engage with) you within Google search results.

Check out our 11 local SEO tips, then review the following 12 ways you can optimize your Google My Business profile, which is commonly underutilized by local businesses. Optimizing your profile will give you a leg up on your competition.

Create your Google My Business account

Of course, if you know you’ve already created your Google My Business account, feel free to skip this tip.

Although it is imperative to mention that your Google My Business account is different from your Google Business Profile. One is used to access and optimize the other. Therefore, confirm that you have a Google My Business account and then tell Google to connect it with your Google Business Profile. 

You’ll want to navigate to the Google.com Business page and log in with your regular Google/Gmail account that you use for your business. Do not log in with a personal account.

Fill out every section of your profile

Be sure to fill out all sections of your Google Business Profile, which will help your business both rank higher in local search results and increase the number of ways potential customers can engage with your profile.

The key fields include:

  • Business name
  • Location address
  • Phone number
  • Website URL
  • Hours of operation

There also are a few sections that you’ll want to put some thought into:

  • Products and services
  • Category and attributes
  • From the business, which is your business description that appears lower than the auto-generated description that Google provides for you
  • FAQs that you create and publish

In the “from the business” field, you can definitely repurpose a description from your “About Us” page or your mission statement. Just be sure to use all available 750 characters, with the most important details in the first 250 characters. (Avoid including any links.) While you do want to include relevant keywords, don’t repeat any information that’s already in the other sections of your Google Business Profile. Instead, focus on what sets your business apart and what customers like the most. 

Then, there are a few sections that are ongoing:

  • Posts
  • Reviews
  • Questions and answers that are generated by internet users

Take the necessary time to fill out all of these sections, and consider what will be the most useful information for someone to know who is coming across your business for the first time.

Be specific with your information

It’s very important that your business name is identical not only to the one you use on your store signage but also to your other listings across the internet.

This can come down to slight differences like “company” versus “co.” 

Pay attention to these details so that your credibility isn’t questioned by Google.

Also consider your regular hours of operation and your holiday hours of operation. These likely will be different and will help avoid any confusion (and potential negative review) from a customer who went to your business when you were actually closed. 

Choose the category of your business

About 84 percent of Google Business Profile views originate from search queries of a related product, service or categorical term, where that business’s profile appeared.

A big part of this is setting your business category on your profile. By doing so, you’ll also be able to access category-specific features that can make your profile more effective, such as restaurants including a “menu” button.

When choosing from available categories, be as specific as possible and choose any relevant secondary categories (since many businesses span multiple categories). Just make sure that you’re not confusing your categories with specific products or attributes you offer. There are separate sections for those.

Pick relevant attributes of your business

Once you choose a category through Google My Business, you get a list of attributes that allow you to further describe your business. 

Attributes are not unique to Google. You’ll find them on various listing websites. They are the features that might interest potential customers, such as “free WiFi,” “public restroom,” “pets welcome” and more.

Select everything that is relevant to your business.

Add photos that showcase your business

Because anyone can add photos to your Business Profile, you definitely want to upload your own photos to help your profile look its best to potential customers. 

Uploading photos to your profile also shows Google that you are actively on your profile, which can boost your local SEO as well. Customers are about 42 percent more likely to request driving directions to a business if its profile has photos and about 35 percent more likely to click through to its website.

And the more the better. Businesses with more than 100 photos get about 520 percent more calls, 2,717 percent more direction requests and 1,065 percent more website clicks than the average business.

But don’t take that as encouragement to spam your own profile with photos. When it comes to photos on your Google Business Profile:

  • Upload your logo for your thumbnail photo
  • Use an image that represents your brand as your cover photo
  • Only include photos that are authentic and reflect how your business is in real life, avoiding anything that could be viewed as a stock image or has special effects
  • Geo-tag your photos
  • Upload any relevant videos as well
  • Strive to upload at least one new photo every week

Get additional photo guidance from Google itself.

Seek out Google reviews

Reviews are a top influence on consumer purchases, so it’s important to seek out reviews for your Google Business Profile. Plus, local businesses with multiple positive reviews get a boost in their relevant search rankings.

To get more reviews on your profile:

  • Request reviews directly from your long-time and loyal customers
  • Create a review shortcut link to make it easy to submit a Google review for your business
  • Ask all customers to write a review because about 62 percent will do so when asked
  • Include a call-to-action on your website that links to your reviews
  • Respond to all reviews, whether they are positive or negative
  • Remind customers that reviews aren’t just for your benefit. They can serve other consumers who are seeking a solution to a need or problem they have

Just remember that you should not incentivize reviews with discounts, gifts or anything else.

Regularly post to your Google Business Profile

Consider your Google Business Profile just as you would your social media accounts. Regular posts about announcements, offers, events and more should be published consistently. 

These posts are created through the Google My Business dashboard and appear in the “Updates” section of your Google Business Profile.

Posting sends positive ranking signals to Google similar to how uploading photos would, and posts increase engagement opportunities with potential customers. 

Consumers also can follow your profile and get notified of any new posts you publish.

Embrace questions and answers

Similar to Amazon, Google Business Profile features a section for questions and answers. Because anyone can ask and answer questions about your business, it’s important to optimize this section to promote accurate information over any inaccurate information.

You can’t turn off this section, so make a commitment to make it work for you:

  • Set up alerts so that you’re notified when new questions are posted on your profile
  • Fill out your own question-and-answer section with the top FAQs about your business
  • Use relevant keywords wherever appropriate without overusing

You can definitely make the question-and-answer section work for your business by staying on top of it.

Add available products and services

When the products or services are not obvious in your business name, be sure to add them in this section of your Google Business Profile through your Google My Business account.

You should include the name, description and price of your products and/or services. The more information you can provide, the better.

Remember, filling out this section provides more content that could potentially be relevant to a local search query. 

Set up direct messaging

You can set up an available feature in your Google Business Profile where searchers can send a text message to your phone directly from your search profile.

Select the “Messaging” tab in your Google My Business dashboard. Then, you can install Google’s Allo app via Google Play or the Apple App Store, depending on your mobile device.

Remember to set up alerts for messages in your dashboard by navigating to settings and then checking “customer messages.”

Pulling it all together with a Google My Business strategy

Google My Business is not a “set it and forget it” platform. Staying on top of the features it offers is one of the best ways to improve your local SEO (and ultimately the overall success of your business).

Plan out how often you’ll publish new information, what type of information and when. You can create a separate content calendar if that will help you stay organized.

See our six best practices for mobile SEO as well.

While you’re optimizing your Google My Business, think about your digital marketing process. Consider DailyStory. Our application features automation, dynamic audience segmentation and more. Schedule your free demo with us today.

What are SEO stop words and should you worry about them?

In your efforts to optimize your website for search engines, you may have come across the concept of SEO stop words. 

But what are SEO stop words? How do they impact your SEO? And should you worry about them in your SEO strategy?

What are SEO stop words?

Stop words are actually common words that search engines may ignore both in search queries and search results. Think articles, prepositions, conjunctions and pronouns. For example, words like “the,” “any,” “in” or “a.” 

See this comprehensive list of SEO stop words.

Stop words typically don’t change the meaning of a query but are definitely needed in your content to properly structure sentences.

Words that Google ignores in search

On the flip side, if you Google “churches in Tulsa” versus “churches Tulsa,” there’s no contextual difference in the meaning of the query. The stop word in this example is “in,” but it is not necessary to perform the intended search.

Of course, as search engines continue to evolve, they likely will use some stop words to better understand the intention of searches. However, Google has not officially confirmed either way their stance on stop words.

Find out how to check your Google search ranking for free.

Where to use (or not use) stop words

As far as your page URLs, a simple structure is best. Often, your CMS or webmaster will automatically pull your page title into your page URL. This can make your URL rather long.

Avoid using stop words in your page titles

Ideally, in this case, it’s a best practice to remove stop words from your page URL to shorten and simplify. Just make sure that what you’re removing doesn’t change the context of the keywords left behind. And Google favors simple and short URL structures.

Don’t optimize page headers

When it comes to page headings and the title tags on search engine results pages, it’s a best practice to not remove these words.

This is because they do show in search results. Removing them makes for an awkward reading experience for users who could potentially click through to your website. So, you definitely want to prioritize the user experience here.

In a similar sense, you should never remove these words from your body content. Yes, you want to improve your SEO every chance you get, but your body content is the meat that users are looking for. Stop words are needed for the best possible user experience.

All in all, you shouldn’t worry too much about these words in your SEO strategy. The primary focus should be user experience first followed by SEO best practices after.

Find out if you’re making any of these 13 common mistakes with your SEO, and check out our 13 tips to get your website indexed by Google faster.

While you’re evaluating your SEO, consider upgrading your digital marketing process. DailyStory features automation and audience segmentation capabilities, among others. Schedule your free demo with us today.

Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP): What they are and how to use them

More than 56 percent of the content on the web is accessed through mobile devices, and this number is only growing.

Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) is a new standard from Google to ensure your content renders as quickly and efficiently as possible on mobile devices.

Odds are you are reading this page on a mobile device. If you are, you are accessing an Accelerated Mobile Page. You may have seen this icon next to this page and other content when browsing Google on your mobile device:

Accelerated Mobile Pages

Want to see the AMP version of this page?

Why Accelerated Mobile Pages?

The goal of AMP is to make pages load as quickly as possible on mobile devices. Unfortunately, the web is still pretty slow for many people.

AMP limits what you can do in HTML – gone are the ads, JavaScript libraries and other elements. The page is stripped down to the basics in order to render the page as quickly as possible.

You can read more about the AMP project here.

OK, how do I use it?

If you’ve read this far, you’re likely wondering how you can add AMP to your website or blog.

If you’re running WordPress, Automattic has a handy AMP plugin. (That’s what we’re using for our blog).

WordPress AMP

Go to your WordPress Plugins panel, search for “Automattic AMP,” and add it to your site. After installation, add “?amp=1” after any post, and you’ll have an AMP-friendly version of that content. Easy to add and highly recommended!

If you aren’t running WordPress (or feel like doing a little PHP coding yourself on your WordPress site), AMP is fairly trivial to add. You are reducing what the page is doing and simplifying it.

Google AMP Cache

Once your AMP content is published, it is a candidate for Google AMP Cache.

Google will potentially further optimize your AMP content to remove anything that isn’t mobile-friendly and will store your content in its geocache to ensure that it can serve your content as quickly as possible. This cache allows your content to be geographically distributed and ensures that AMP requests don’t take have to go through multiple network “hops” to reach your server.

If you aren’t serving your content using AMP, you should remember that the majority of today’s web traffic is mobile. If your content isn’t mobile-friendly, you are missing an opportunity to connect with your audience.

See our 14 expert tips to optimize your mobile marketing.

More to explore

If you think Accelerated Mobile Pages for your website is interesting, wait until your read about AMP for email.

An extension of AMP, AMP for email aims to improve the functionality of emails. The goal is to create more engaging and interactive email experiences. For example, AMP email recipients can directly submit forms from within the inbox.

That’s just one example of how you can use AMP for email.

DailyStory has built-in support for AMP emails. We’re one of only a handful of email vendors supporting AMP. Other DailyStory features include automation, dynamic audience segmentation and more. Schedule your free demo with us today.

9 tips and tricks to boost your off-page SEO

Search engine optimization (SEO) is critical to a website’s organic traffic.

But not all SEO is the same.

There are different types of SEO, with on-page and off-page being the two categories in terms of tactics.

Off-page SEO refers to all the things you can do outside your website to help improve your search engine ranking results, while on-page SEO refers to everything tied to your website directly.

Related: Find out more about the difference between on-page and off-page SEO or check out Chrome extensions for SEO.

The following are nine tips and tricks to help improve your off-page SEO and increase your relevancy in the eyes of search engines.

Reach out to influencers

Whether you’re creating content in the form of a website blog, a YouTube channel or another format, it’s important to seize the opportunity to reach out to relevant, well-known influencers in your industry and ask for their feedback, review or more.

Of course, reaching out before you publish gives you the opportunity to incorporate them or their thoughts in your content. Reaching out afterward can still be fruitful, though. If the content is relevant to them, they might share it with their networks or engage with it in another way.

We recommend you go beyond just tagging the influencer in the post. It’s fine to do, but consider that you’re likely not the only one doing it. Go that extra mile and directly message or contact them via email or even the phone. Start the conversation like you’re starting a new relationship. Hint: Because you are. Don’t just start off by asking for what you need and leave it at that. Consider what you can offer to them and how a relationship would benefit you both. More than anything, be a human when you reach out.  

Find out more about influencers and influencer marketing.

Embrace social media

At this point, the importance of social media likely is a reality versus an arguing point for most brands.

Choosing the social media platforms that make sense for your brand, the type of content you’ll be sharing and the audience you want to engage with is just the first step. You’ll also want to develop a full strategy where you decide frequency, timing and the specific content tied to each post.

Remember that social media includes more than just Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. There’s also YouTube, Snapchat, TikTok, Twitch and more to choose from.

Dig deeper into what social media platform is right for your company.

The more social media users who engage with and click through to your shared content, the better it is for your off-page SEO. 

Google pays more attention to social media platforms than some might assume.

Encourage brand mentions

In the simplest of terms, brand mentions refer to people across the internet talking about your brand. While this typically involves traditional social media platforms, it doesn’t have to. It could be mentions in forums, blog articles and so on.

These mentions signal to search engines that people are interested in you.

Obviously, you can’t force quality brand mentions. However, you can actively engage with social media audiences across platforms. Meaningful interactions grow your online trustworthiness and branding organically.

Invest time in social bookmarking platforms

Similar to traditional social media, there are several websites that would more accurately be categorized as “social bookmarking” in their purpose.

Think Reddit, Digg and StumbleUpon, among others. It’s a place for communities to share links and discuss topics.

While success can be an instant boost to your website traffic (and a good off-page SEO signal), some effort is required.

For instance, Reddit is guarded against potential “link dumpers,” whom are considered to be spam-like in their effort to post links without engaging in any conversations. 

A good rule of thumb is to be a true user of these sites before you post your first link. Reply to comments with your thoughts. Ask questions. In other words, (again) be human. Then, when you do post your first link, it’s seen as coming from a community member, not an “outsider” trying to get clicks. Then, balance each time you post a link with at least 10 times that you’re just commenting and replying without any links. That balance will keep you in good favor of those communities.

Commenting on blogs

While commenting on another website’s blog will no longer give you more backlinks, that doesn’t mean that there is no value to commenting in general.

As long as you’re commenting in a relevant way and engaging the right audience, you’ll ultimately build a relationship with that website and other commenters.

Again, it’s about interaction with others in meaningful ways.

Dive deeper into content marketing.

Participate in forums

Forums are still a viable platform where you can find and engage with others who could be interested ultimately in your products and/or services.

Locating forums that are related to your expertise and then offering advice or helping to solve problems is a great signal to Google, which loves discussions. There also are question-and-answer-specific websites, such as Quora.

Depending on the forum, make sure that you complete your profile appropriately in addition to including an anchor in the signature. That means that whenever you comment, the signature displays with your anchor.

Also consider looking for forums that offer “do-follow” links, which are a signal to search engines.

Guest blog on other websites

If you’ve never done it before, guest authoring on other websites is easier to achieve than you might assume.

Try a few of these Google searches to find potential opportunities for you and your brand, where you include a relevant keyword and:

  • “Contribute”
  • “Guest blogging”
  • “Write for us”
  • “Become a contributor”

Then you can reach out and apply. Just remember to include a link in your author bio that goes back to your website. This is more a signal to search engines (in the sense of backlinking), but it can also throw some referral traffic your way as well.

Focus on backlinks

This method of off-page SEO is considered fairly critical to improving your search engine ranking. However, it’s definitely about quality over quantity.

Backlinks are when other websites link to pages on your website. The more this happens (especially from trusted, highly visited websites), the more trustworthy your website appears to Google.

From seeking out broken backlinks on other websites so that you can suggest your own as a replacement to guest blogging (like we suggested above), there are a number of ways you can help grow your backlinks. Check out our seven specific tips.

Send email newsletters

Having a weekly (or other timing frequency) email newsletter not only packages your best content and delivers it to an engaged audience of subscribers, but it also can help encourage those subscribers to click on links and visit your website regularly.

This, as we definitely know by now, is a good signal to search engines. 

Remember to keep your newsletters clean and direct in their design and content. Give the recipients a reason to click on your links. In other words, don’t give away the entirety of your content in the email newsletter. The reader should want to find out more.

See our eight tips to create an email onboarding sequence that converts.

While you’re improving your off-page SEO, consider what your digital marketing process could be doing for you. DailyStory features automation, audience segmentation and more. Schedule your free demo with us today.