I recently clicked over to a post, via Twitter, titled Rules for Guest Posting
I tried to leave a comment but was not able to; the comment section appeared to be turned off. I’d like to reply to a few of the statements made, from the “publishers” perspective.
First, I wholeheartedly agree that many SEO’s attempt to get links onto blogs by offering quickly-spun crap. This has been a huge turnoff for people like me, who get asked to post articles every. single. day. I had to figure out quick ways to weed the good from the bad.
Here’s my perspective on guest posting, as of now:
1. I receive inquiries daily, asking to post guest articles on this blog, and onto my ECE site (although this slowed down after I got hacked recently by v-i-a-g-r-a and p-a-y-d-a-y loan people).
2. I got to the point of needing to set some rules. I got the runaround for so long, from people who pretended to be writing for themselves, when they were in fact writing for a client and trying to cover that up. I started asking certain questions, in order to push them into telling me the truth.
3. I don’t need free content to fill up my pages. I enjoy helping other businesses, though, so putting up guest posts is one way I can support fellow business owners. Perhaps other blog/site owners do view the content as “getting something for free.” I can’t speak for them.
4. I attempt to let people guest post if I feel their story or article will be of value to my readers. It’s not about games or asinine rules. In fact, I oftentimes have to spend 1-2 hours editing the posts I get, because they are so poorly presented. The information, deep down, may be good, but the presentation is dreadful. I spend time fixing the mistakes and misspellings so that the content is more presentable on my blog. I wish more SEO’s could actually write well, truth be told. That would certainly make my life easier.
5. I did cap the number of outbound links inside many of the posts because the outbound links were so clearly put there in an attempt to ‘pretend’ that the SEO link wasn’t the client link. For instance: the article linked to the client site and then it linked to three Wikipedia pages as well. Obviously the client link can be spotted here, very easily. So often, the additional outbound links were fake looking and cheesy, spammy and junky. I didn’t want to link to those pages so I just started telling most people, “No links inside the post, thanks. Just one link in the Bio.” I will note: when I receive guest posts from teachers or therapists (for my ECE site), the links are usually completely relevant and truly helpful. I don’t cap their links. I trust them to send my readers to quality pages.
6. After many months of going around in circles, and trying to come up with a solution, I decided to put the author link inside the Bio area: simple and clean. “Guest post written by _______.” Or “Guest post written by Mark _______, a contributor to _______.” News sites often do this so I felt this might be a safe way to go. In addition, if the author of the post has set up their rel=author attribute, having their name in the Bio area will actually help them – not hurt them (unless I am misunderstanding the purpose of the rel=author attribute). I think that Google is attempting to separate author posts from spammy link-building posts right? So perhaps SEO’s need to encourage their clients to use the rel=author attribute in order to gain creditability with Google rather than negative footprints. Or… the SEO could be the author, on behalf of their client, and clearly post their name with Google, in order to build authorship. I get many posts like this: “Written by so-and-so, on behalf of such-and-such.” I’m assuming these SEO’s are setting up their rel=author information with Google, in order to gain trust with search engines. This would make it pretty easy to track competitors but maybe that won’t matter. Maybe having authorship trust will trump that, soon enough. Something to ponder…
7. For me, it’s about relationships. If I trust that the SEO is giving me a quality post with honest linking to legitimate and relevant sites, I’m far more open to laying out the post as they want it done. If I feel as though I’m being tricked, I quickly back out, or I give them multiple rules so they back out. That’s probably not very kind of me but I have yet to find any solution that works more effectively.
8. My primary thinking is this: “Run my sites and blogs as a natural part of my business model, to benefit my readers and clients.” If guest articles do that, great. When I guest post for someone else my top priority is offering them a quality post with quality information. If they only give me a link in the Bio area, so be it. I’m building my name and reputation and my authorship status…I’m not just out to build my links.
9. I don’t usually take payment for guest posts, anyway, because then I’d need to NoFollow the links (seeing as it’s viewed as advertising). I’d actually prefer to DoFollow them, so the author gets the SEO for it. Therefore, I only want to link to quality sites and not to junky spammy trash. If your additional links are spot-on with the post, great. If not, I won’t add them.
10. Regarding the comment idea: this is great. I love it! I often have guest authors write for me and when a comment comes in, I let them know. “Hey! You got a comment here!” They almost never reply. Nice. Come on, now. My reader took the time to comment and you blow them off? Not cool.
11. I never give a word count requirement. I want the author to feel free to go with the flow and create a good piece rather than link-obsession tunnel vision garbage.
12. Regarding the “pro tip”: no one has ever, ever, ever linked to one of my own articles, inside their guest post. This is brilliant. Funny it was mentioned, too. I had someone write a guest post for my ECE site last week. Her post related to numerous articles on my own site, so I linked back to my own posts, throughout her tips. It’s pretty darn smart of you to suggest that SEO’s do this for the blogs. It’s thoughtful and helpful for the blog, as well as for the reader of the post. I’d be more likely to post articles like this, that’s true.
13. I wrote back in May about Google’s potential for eventually coming after guest post links, viewing them as spam (just like they eventually viewed review blogs as containing many spammy links and links that pass page rank, etc). I’ll speculate that Google won’t be going after those who guest post in order to build authorship and niche credibility but rather – those who use guest post spots for SEO and nothing more. Those are the posts that I attempt to weed out when people ask me to put something up for them. If I feel that the content is great, but the link they send my readers to is too sales-pitchy or spammy, I NoFollow it. I figure that will protect both of us in the future, when Google does crack down on the guest posts that were clearly placed around for page rank.
14. SEO’s: Perhaps the best way to help your clients would be to do what some of the PR firms are now doing. Not all blog/site owners will agree with me on this but I actually love it when a PR firm emails me: “Hey, Shara. Below is an expert piece written by our client xyz. He’s offering expert tips on such-and-such. We’d love for you to publish this on your blog, if you feel it’s fitting for your readership. Thank you!” Most times, it is fitting because they have taken the time to get to know my blog and they know what I post about. The content is usually really terrific and the tips are helpful. So sure! I’ll post it. They were upfront and honest about who the client was and they didn’t attempt to trick me into posting something “because I’d be so darn lucky to have their fantabulous FREE content on my little bitty mommy blog!!” Honesty pretty much always wins out with me. I’d rather an SEO be transparent and real, offering me great content with quality links. Even if that means I’m promoting their client for free, the quality content is worth the time I spend promoting. It helps my readers and it helps my own SEO.
I’m done now. I think. Thanks.
Shara Lawrence-Weiss is the owner of Mommy Perks, Personal Child Stories, Early Childhood News and Resources, and Parenting Tips with Dr. Sally. Shara and her husband Rick both work from home. They have four children, one dog and one fish. They co-own a local news site and are actively involved in charity service, mentoring and small business events. They drink too much coffee and never get enough sleep.