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Rules for Guest Posting: SEO’s and Publishers (a response)

Mommy Perks logoI 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.

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Author Bio:

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.




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11 Responses to “Rules for Guest Posting: SEO’s and Publishers (a response)”

  1. Leah says:

    I think your #13 is very insightful – and I bet time will prove you right. Google is trying to up the accountability factor with their new authorship tag, and will eventually give less weight (or none at all) to guest posts without the tag. Excellent point, smart prediction.

    I wonder if they will also penalize blogs overall that post guest posts often with no authorship tag?

    I also agree that a word count requirement is a silly waste of time – whether it is a minimum OR a “range.” Good writing is good writing, spam is spam. A word count doesn’t change that either way. The only way to separate the good from the bad is the old-fashioned way: read the post.

    Great article Shara, many great points to ponder!

  2. Shara says:

    Leah – Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment. I appreciate it. That’s interesting about Google. I guess I had better start pushing my guest authors to set that up, then, eh?

    READ THE POST! LOL. True…

    I recently saw one large site make the announcement that they will no longer accept any guest posts. I think they likely made that choice as a fear-based decision, not yet understanding what Google will do when they crack down on guest posts. But like you mention – if people are setting up those rel=author tags they will probably be protecting themselves for future changes made by Google.

    Probably…and really, we’re always supposed to be running our sites as though we are building things for our readers, and not for Google. Since my readers often enjoy guest posts, I’ll continue adding them (with the authorship tag in mind).

  3. Geoff says:

    Hey Leah and Shara,

    We’ll have to see what comes of Authorship – I would guess that sites that don’t use it wouldn’t be penalized since there are a lot of not so up to date webmasters/bloggers, but rather that it would simply give added value to the post. I think what they will continue to do is to look for low value content (as they have already started doing through Panda) and improving those systems and processes. Who knows though. Thanks for reading and giving feedback!

  4. @PamelaMKramer - A Renaissance Woman says:

    Great tips! I like the link backs to your blog idea. My question is the rel=author in a guest post. I have it set up but how is it placed in a post?

  5. Shara says:

    Geoff – Thank you!!

    Pamela – Thanks for the comment. Try this: http://support.google.com/webmasters/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=1408986

    That tells you what to do. It will put the word “Google” on your site and that will link over to your Google+ account. You can tell Google+ (in your ABOUT section) what sites you write for (including your own) – so they can link you to those pages. I also read that they want to see the same head-shot, too, for verification. I use the same photo on my about page, Google+ page, etc. I don’t know how true that is but I read about once and figured it’s likely a good idea for branding, anyway.

    You will just put the Google tag on once – not on every blog post. Hope that helps!

  6. Shara says:

    It appears that you can add the tag to single posts or to your main site. Here’s another link I found: http://support.google.com/webmasters/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=2539557

  7. Kaylum Sharp says:

    Shara, I have been prepping for an interview a week today where I am trying to get my first job as a technical SEO as opposed to the operational support of the SEO work my current company do.

    Preparation is key and I have got to say, some of your points were a breathe of fresh air. You have given me some excellent additional insights that have sparked some great ideas of my own to present.

    Thanks and rest assured, I’ll be coming back to read more of your posts.

    K

  8. Shara says:

    Kaylum: Thanks for the nice comment! I’m glad it helped. Please feel free to come back, any time :-)

  9. Tina says:

    I beg to disagree with your decision not to allow contextual keyword phrased links. Those are the most valuable from an SEO perspective (and my site under construction is not a good example–I have other sites). So, if I take the time to write a unique article for someone else’s website, then I expect the most bang for my SEO buck, which means I wouldn’t do it without a contextual keyword phrased link. That being said, I wouldn’t spin junk or outsource the project. So I would just say that you might want to flex your rules somewhat. The author attribute is great but I can’t guarantee that is used on any sites other than my own, plus I think contextual keyword links are still better. This is based on information learned during a few different SEO courses that I have taken. Not sure why I chose to post bc I’m not trying to guest post on your blog. The information just seemed worth mentioning.

  10. Shara says:

    Tina: Thank you for the comment. You can actually ask other sites to use the author attribute now – I read about that in a recent article: rel=author vs rel=publisher. I’m still learning about it and I still need to do this on my own site.

    Question for you: so when you ask for the anchor text, do you offer to pay for the posting of the article, since it’s basically advertising? Do you then accept a NoFollow link? Or do you want a DoFollow? Just wondering – thanks!

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