Enough already. What is up with guest posting?
What used to be the stable, viable white-hat SEO tactic of 2012 has recently taken a backseat due to the massive outreach (spam) of offshore SEO companies and low quality, outsourced email marketing.
If you are a blogger, editor or a guest writer simply new to the game, please listen up. These guest post offers are not always good-willed, and they can actually cause more damage than good to your website. As I speak, this malice is continually haunting my mailbox.
The world is a dangerous place to live; not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don’t do anything about it. – Albert Einstein
Signs that the Guest Post Offer Sucks
First of all, if the guest post pitch looks like it was written by “Amir from India” (nothing against people from India – they are actually very intelligent, smart people) just took an Indian template and threw it on Google Translate and blasted send, you probably can expect an even worse guest post.
This gives off the vibe of guest spamming, not guest posting. The broken English is a dead giveaway, and you can discard the email immediately. The only rare exception is if the email was original and personable with a sincere offer — all in broken English. Not everyone speaks or writes perfect English, and that of course, is understandable.
Second of all, if they start praising your blog or article in the pitch, but fail to mention the name of your blog, or the title of the blog post that they liked in particular, you can bet that it is also a very ‘scheme-esque’ guest blogging campaign.
Here are JUST some “great” examples of a real post requests that were sent to a Webmaster this last week:
First off, your post was awesome. I really like it. And it got me thinking. You see, my name is Harold Peterson and I’d love to contribute technology articles to your site.
If you’re interested, I am happy to write something and send it to you – or if you have another topic you’d like to see covered, I am more than happy to write that as well. I will provide informative and quality articles to help your readers. The article will be 500 words long and 100% unique.
This one is clearly a massive outreach, with no personalization in the email whatsoever. No name given at the beginning, the person just addressed the person by saying, “hello”.
No blog specifications, he just simply said, “First off, your post was awesome. I really like it. And it got me thinking…” Come on, now. At least say the name of the blog that they love, right?
I am a writer. I write on several topics like Mobiles, Gadgets, Technology and others. I came across your domain (domain name) while surfing through the Internet to find a suitable for writing articles. It is highly resourceful with rich and nice contents and has a vivid presentation. I must appreciate your hard work and wish you good luck.
I was wondering if you can allow me to write for your domain. I assure you to provide absolutely unique but relevant article so that it proves to be useful to your readers. I would place one external link (do follow), the article is not promotional at all. I can discuss about “the subject”. I wish you consider this proposal and will wait for a reply from you.
If you are displeased with my email, I cordially regret in advance.
Thanks and With Regards
Well, this is even more classic, this particular guest writer doesn’t even bother to edit it’s template to fill in my domain name and the subject of the article he wish to propose. The nonchalant attitude is definitely one of the first reasons that it’s going straight into the trash folder.
I am Mary. I am a tech blogger and I regularly blog at www.xxx.com. I also contribute to various websites as a guest blogger. I was hoping to do some guest posts for your website. I usually write on a variety of technology related articles and am looking to contribute to your website on the iPhone 5 or Blackberry devices. I have written articles in the past such as
- Example Link 1
- Example Link 2
- Example Link 3
- Example Link 4
- Example Link 5
- Example Link 6
What if I provide you with an unique article as a Guest Post. An article that will be informative for your readers. The article will be related to your website and will be appreciated by your readers. It would be great if you can add a small BIO of mine at the end of the article with my related site’s links. I guarantee you that the article will be 100% copy scape protected and will be of around 700 words.
If you are looking for any specific topics please do let me know and I can adjust my content accordingly. I am confident that i can provide articles in those topics which will surely add value to your website.
Yes, I see that you do write for many other sites and you have a strong writing portfolio. Oh but wait, aren’t those content suggestions too similar? And wait, those sites that you have shown are really mediocre low ranking sites. Why would you compare my site with them? By the way, having a default email template with 3 different type of fonts and sizes looks awful!
I hope you do not mind me contacting you like this but I have just been on your website xxx.com and think that our styles of content are pretty similar. I write posts for sites that I like free of charge and was wondering if you would like me to write you a free 500 word post.
I am trying to get our work covered on great sites and your site fits the bill. The article would be 100% unique to you and all I ask in return is that I include one of my sponsors in the post as a hyperlink. They would be totally relevant to both article and your site.
I have some great ideas for titles but can easily work to your brief if you would like me to. If you are happy with the article, I would love to write more for you and build up a partnership that would be mutually beneficial.
I expect to hear from you at the soonest time.
So our content is pretty similar, that’s great to use some related topic. Hey, wait, I’m a design blog and you are suggesting article about medical products? Have you sent your email to the wrong site? I’m not xxx.com in the first place.
I’m a regular reader and big fan of your blog. I liked the blog post that you wrote about XXX and a couple of useful points that caught my attention.
Since you publish guest posts from different authors, I thought it you will be privileged to have me to write for you FREE!
I am the senior content writer at XXX.com, a popular SEO website as well as at XXX.net and would be really glad if you can consider me for a guest blog post.
Over the recent past, many niche industry websites has benefited from my aritcles. I understand the need for unique and well-researched content. And I’m also very passionate about the topic or subject I write.
Honestly, I take pride that I STAY AWAY from generic “SEO junk” and instead focus on providing authentic content that is informative and adds value to your reader’s experience on your site.
Currently, I have just written an article and it has been scanned with Copyscape to prove that it is original and authentic. I have made it a point to craft the content to be reader-friendly as well as one that is bursting with useful information! I do think that this post will be really well placed to be featured on your website, will you be interested?
Attached is my guest article. You are not allowed to edit anything and all links must be included and dofollow. Article must be published within this week. Let me know as soon as possible when you do it.
Best SEO and Backlink Builder
First of all, I did not request you to write for me. Secondly I’m not going to publish an article that is full of spammy links. Thirdly, this is my blog and it’s for me to decide what to publish not you! I continue to receive follow up emails from the same guest writer asking if his article has been published though I told him that it has been rejected.
I am just wondering if you are accepting any guest posts as we run a printing company and as such have many very well educated design blog writers which I could send you a couple of great ideas for guest blogs posts.
Please don’t take this as an offense but we realise your time is precious and we are happy to pay a submission fee ($50) as we would be extremely grateful for the opportunity. I am a real person and look forward to hearing from you.
Thank you for your time.
I’m not sure why a printing company would have many very well educated design blog writers. Nonetheless, isn’t it great that I get paid for posting other articles? Well, it could be tempting but if you compare the repercussions involved for low quality articles, it might not be worth it.
Who Really Falls for this Stuff?
The reality is, not many will fall for this stuff. But with technological advances these days, it is really simple to come up with a stockpile of emails (literally thousands in minutes) in a particular niche. This is called email scraping.
There is actual software that will ask for a set of keywords, and depending on what keywords one enters, will crawl thousands upon thousands of domains, picking up any email address along the way.
People will then copy and paste the emails, and blast everyone with the same message.
It is actually an extremely time efficient (and borderline genius) activity, if you can make the automation process more selective and actually do a little background research on each email that goes out. However, with outsourced work and just sheer laziness, marketers have opted to take the easy road of sending the same email template to thousands of people at a time.
A Word of Caution: Guest Posts With Articles Attached
What is the only thing worse than getting a poorly written, low quality and unoriginal guest post pitch?
That’s easy. Getting pitches with the article already attached.
The whole idea of guest posting was to find a good, mutual agreement where both parties would benefit. Instead, people get greedy and start daydreaming of all of these links pointing back to their sites and they compromise the quality aspect of the strategy. So they attach a low quality article in the email, in hopes that you will fall for the bait and publish the content with their links in the article.
They expect Webmasters and editors to go through their low quality articles providing them feedback indicating that they are willing to edit and “improve” their article to match their standard. However, the quality of their articles is simply not up to mark and they have to be re-written at least twice!
Well, they think Webmasters and editors have the luxury of time to go through numerous guest articles, pin-pointing every single error, research pointers, telling them step by step what to write and in the end have to explain why their article has been rejected, because they simply cannot accept the fact that they are really a bunch of mediocre guest writers!
But listen up, and adhere to the warnings. This is serious business, and you need to use caution.
The problem is, if common sense wouldn’t dictate this beforehand, to scale a strategy like this, people either have to be sending that same article to thousands of other email addresses, or they are using spun content (using an automated software that literally switches out the words so that it is not duplicate content – and then it spits out 70 plus variations of a single article.)
The first issue this causes is duplicate content. Google has cracked down more and more on duplicate content, and your site will surely be penalized for having the same article on multiple domains. Not to mention, your site will be associated with all the other low-quality sites that posted that same article. The other problem (spun content) is that your article will sound like it was written by a 12 year old from the Philippines. Not a good look.
Putting this type of content on your blog or website just screams tacky and, even worse, the ‘Phillipines seo company’ anchor text in the author bio that has zero relevance to your site looks completely out of place with the rest of the context of the sentence.
Does this all make sense? Folks, it is not worth it to engage in bad guest posting schemes. This is the new shady link acquisition technique of 2013.
What is the Problem with Guest Posting?
All good is hard. All evil is easy. Dying, losing, cheating, and mediocrity is easy. Stay away from easy. – Scott Alexander
The problem is that Google is starting to catch up with the process, and beginning to see the ill-will of some of the marketers out there.
You have to remember, Google’s complex algorithms that sort the SERPs are constantly being tweaked – literally several times a day. When they see a technique in the World Wide Web that deems an unnatural way of building links to a site, all they have to do is make that ‘tweak’ or update, and boom…the rankings are shifted instantly. That is why you can’t bank on strategies to always prevail.
According to multiple sources, people are finding that webmasters that are engaging in only guest posting activities with a lack of balance in other link building activities are seeing dropped rankings. This is even more apparent to people who use the same author by-line throughout their work. Google recognizes that same author bio on these websites with the same link pointing back to your site and it is not going to look natural.
You must diversify your link portfolio by engaging in other link building strategies, such as quality forum participation, press releases, infographic submissions, niche specific directories, review sites, contests, etc.
An extremely thorough, up-to-date list of other link building ideas can be found here.
The intentions for guest posts were innocent at first. Like-minded webmasters in the same niche could reach out (relationship-based) to other webmasters and ask to be featured as a guest author on their website. It is a magnificent win-win.
Webmaster A gets a quality, well-written article for their website, which generates them more credibility, traffic, and eventually income, and Webmaster B gets an opportunity to showcase her brand, and, get a quick shout out in the author bio, or somewhere else where relevant in the article. This backlink is important to get potentially more traffic to your blog, but on an SEO level, Google loves to see relevant links pointing to your backlink portfolio. It is a classic win. Everyone wins here.
Well, everyone would win, in a perfect world.
The good news is, you still have time to do this right. Guest posting is still an extremely effective strategy (still one of the best) if it is executed correctly.
Guest Posting Etiquette
As discussed earlier, it is worthy to note that a guest post is usually not a one-time email transaction. One should expect certain editorial edits, image revisions and other requests from the website owner. This is normal, and part of the culture of guest blogging. Sending over a post and expecting it to go live the next day is not the right attitude. Go over some of the more trivial details, such as how many outbound links and resources the article should have, if the links should be dofollow or nofollow, etc., as this is entirely up to the Webmaster.
Also, be prepared to plan your content to contribute a valuable and entertaining article. A diverse article with quotes, easy-to-remember steps or bullet points, and creative imagery will always do better in the long run. Know the site publishing policy and editorial guideline, research their target audience preferences and it’s always good to do some internal linking to their own past articles.
Always remember the Webmaster has the right to reject or not publish your article, you don’t need to demand an answer (they would probably give you the standard reply), and be rude or even abusive when you are being rejected!
Guest Posting: Doing it Right
It starts out with quality prospecting. Instead of mass-sending hundreds of emails at a time, figure out what are the top 100 websites or blogs in your niche. Niche means something so specific, it is hard to find over 500 websites that are talking about exactly what your product or service does.
Think: rock climbers who also do yoga. Or spearfishing in Central America. You get the point. Go after niche domains.
Not TechCrunch, not Mashable, not CNN Money. Those aren’t niche sites. Your brand and product will actually get better exposure on a mommy blog with 3,000 passionate cult followers who digest, share and comment every piece of content that goes live – if your contributing piece of content is relevant to their niche.
Again, review those top 100 websites in your niche. Find them through simple Google searches, Twitter, or even Instagram. Stay away from the blog networking sites, which offer mostly low-quality guest posters.
After the thorough outreach, email each one individually and make a sincere useful offer. Maybe the guest post comes with a giveaway to their readers, maybe you contribute to the readership by delivering a live webinar, create an exclusive freebie to release or maybe you build an infographic and debut it on their site. The options are endless. But these ideas are relationship-building type proposals. You will get answers to these types of emails that actually offer value.
This is the new way of guest posting, and your site or brand can still thrive, if done correctly.
Parting Conclusion: A Right Way to Do Anything
In closing, there is always a right way and a wrong way to do SEO. Today, you have been preached to about guest posting. The bottom line is that proper guest posting is still a high income-producing activity.
Use an email template like Harold’s (the example earlier) and expect to get responses from a few, desperate webmasters who need content and probably have zero to low following. Use the tactics as discussed in the last paragraph, tapping into sources of creativity and value, and you can expect an increase in web traffic, both from natural interest and from SEO enhancement, more leads and eventually more sales.
Not to mention, with each quality relationship you build, you form alliances on the web that will last for years — bringing longevity to your company and taking your product or brand to the next level.
Just don’t fall for that all-too-familiar pitch that starts out with “I muchly have enjoyed your website…” because chances are, they have never seen it, and, well, you deserve better.
Have you ever received such guest-posting request? How do you deal with it? Share with us your story in the comments.