SEO for MSPs: How to Build Credibility With Backlinks 

SEO for MSPs Rank Higher by Link Building

If you’re looking to improve your website’s overall SEO, link building is an important strategy to leverage. One tactic to increase site credibility is to build authentic backlinks from other sites back to yours. This tactic also lures readers and leads directly to your site. 

Sounds great, right? But finding other websites (especially credible well-known websites) to link from can be tricky, which is why we often suggest Help A Reporter Out (HARO) for our MSP clients. We recently interviewed Dave Hatter,  a security expert at Intrust IT, a Cincinnati MSP, on his experience using the free HARO platform. His success has  boosted Intrust’s link building and increased the company’s brand recognition online by including Intrust’s experts as sources for news stories in well-known publications. Lucky for us, Hatter’s been using HARO for over 10 years and is happy to share his strategy.

What Is HARO?

HARO is a free service that connects journalists and experts on specific subject matters. It’s owned by Cision,  a PR, marketing communications, technology and intelligence global leader. HARO  boasts over one million sources and 75,000 active journalists: making it easy for experts to weigh in on topics they are passionate about. When these experts are quoted, publications often include direct links to the experts’ business in the article or blog post. This type of link building is gold for helping these MSPs rank higher in Google searches. 

How Can MSPs Use HARO for Marketing?

The HARO setup is simple yet effective. The way you interact with the site depends on whether you are a journalist or a source: 

HARO for Journalists

If you’re a journalist, there are three simple steps to using HARO. The first is to simply  sign up on Next, select your account type (reporter). Go ahead and input your name, contact information and media outlet. Some of this information will be shared with site users, like your name, but your email will be hidden. The second step is to submit a free source request. To create a request, provide a  synopsis of your article, the needed qualifications for sources and your deadline. From there, the HARO editorial team takes over by sending relevant pitches straight to your HARO account and inbox. You get to decide which source or sources to use and then reach out for additional information to supplement your story.

HARO for Sources

As a source, there are also three simple steps to use HARO. The first is to create an account with HARO and sign up as a “source” on the registration page. Part of the process includes selecting which type of requests you want to be sent. HARO category preferences include:

  • Master HARO
  • High Tech
  • Energy and Green Tech
  • Sports
  • Public Policy and Government
  • General
  • Travel
  • Business and Finance
  • Biotech and Healthcare
  • Lifestyle and Fitness
  • Entertainment and Media
  • Education

The second step is an ongoing one: monitoring source requests in your inbox. HARO emails are sent three times a day, per category. They come in Monday through Friday around 5:35 a.m., 12:35 p.m. and 5:35 p.m. ET. Keep an eye on your inbox and once you find the perfect request, the third step is to respond.

Reply to the email address listed in the source request with the best pitch you can muster. Answer the questions asked and provide additional information as requested, including contact information. If you pique a journalist’s interest, they’ll reach out.

Part of Dave Hatter’s routine as a source is to check through the three daily emails. He looks for topics that align with his knowledge and passion and responds roughly three times a week. Although, he may not respond for weeks depending on the specific pitches. The time it takes to respond to a source request depends on the “ask.” To speed things up, Hatter uses a response template that he tailors to each journalist’s request. This is just his process, each source can decide how much effort to put into any request.

What Is the Benefit of HARO?

HARO is a great tool for tackling tricky link building and boosting your SEO. When you’re quoted in relevant publications, your company website address is often included, awarding your business recognition as an industry expert and thought leader. Article quotes also provide increased website visits and even leads. 

Also, HARO helps grow your brand. Just one success with HARO leads to even more connections with media outlets. They may even start directly reaching out to you when they need knowledgeable input. For example, Hatter is now a resident tech expert for Local 12 television after connecting with the outlet via HARO. Media success compounds: By sharing your expertise, you  become an influencer in your industry; leading to additional social comments and DMs on Twitter.

Not to mention if your pitch is picked up, it can result in FREE TV spots and radio clips, putting you in the public eye and providing content to be repurposed on your own site. As a source, the only cost of HARO is the time it takes to reply to an email.

“I’ve been quoted in more than 30 publications including The Wall Street Journal, MSNBC, Salon, Reader’s Digest, Business Insider, The Street, The Ladders,, InfoWorld, ComputerWorld, CIO, CSO, CIO Update, Search CIO, Digital Trends, Tech Beacon, CyberNews, Lifewire and GearBrain,” Hatter says. Ultimately, HARO provides the opportunity to share your industry expertise for public good.

How Often Do Your Submissions Get Picked Up? Any Tips for Getting Picked Up?

Remember that there is no guarantee that a reporter will take on your pitch. Hatter estimates that 10 to 30 percent of the time his pitches are picked up. You can improve your chances by responding to exactly what the reporter asked, as quickly as possible. Copy the query and respond to each topic accordingly. His other advice is to look at HARO emails regularly, you can even set a reminder on your phone. Some requests have deadlines the next day, while others are sent weeks before the deadline. The faster you reply, the greater the chance a reporter will select you as a subject matter expert.  He finds the most success using HARO when he includes a list of credentials, a short bio, a LinkedIn profile link, a direct phone number, the promise to reshare the article, and list of certifications. He can easily copy and paste his template then customize the reply for each pitch. 

What Is the Best Way to Start Using HARO?

The most efficient way to use HARO for MSP marketing is by appointing one person within your company to be the expert personality. Choose someone who will regularly check their emails and has the knowledge to accurately respond to journalist requests; you can also outsource this responsibility to your marketing agency. Your appointed person should be ready to respond quickly and be comfortable presenting live with a microphone or recorded on TV.

Don’t get discouraged if your pitches don’t get picked up right away. Hatter’s advice is to continue to submit responses and your brand and credibility will start to grow; persistence helps in getting results.

In addition to HARO opportunities, creating original content on your business’s own website is a great way to build credibility on search engines through link building. A steady cadence of published content also attracts potential customers and can provide something to talk about in your MSP’s monthly emails to clients and prospects. BigOrange Marketing, for example, manages a consistent content calendar for all of our MSP marketing clients so they publish relevant articles at set times throughout each month.

Posted in
Managed Services Collective

Managed Services Collective

Empowering MSPs to protect their clients through collaborative cybersecurity