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The Hard Truth About Guest Posting for SEO

You’ve probably heard that guest posting can help SEO – if you haven’t please come out from under that rock. Much like any marketing tactic, the devil is in the details. When guest posting campaigns are done incorrectly it can have disastrous effects for both your SEO and your brand. When done correctly the benefits of guest posting include: increased exposure; increased reach and awareness; an increase in rankings and referral traffic; and increased brand value and trust.

Below you will find some guidelines to follow when accepting or submitting guest posts. Following these guidelines will help your guest posting campaign be successful by building brand value and earning search engine traffic.

What is Guest Posting?

Being successful with guest posting involves the following 5 steps:

  1. Identifying a website whose community would benefit from your industry knowledge.
  2. Reaching out to that website’s editor to build a relationship prior to asking to guest post.
  3. Once that relationship is built, sending the editor some topics and ideas that their community might be interested in, and which you can create high-value content about.
  4. Creating high-value content that is relevant to your services or products, and which covers a topic that you are an expert in.
  5. Engaging with users who engage with your post.

Guidelines To Follow For Accepting Guest Posts

There are many websites who want to accept guest posts because of its power to drive traffic and social shares. But as mentioned above, the devil is in the details, and if done incorrectly it can have damaging effects on your brand and search traffic. Below are 10 tips for websites who are thinking about accepting guest posts to supplement their content strategy.

1. Keep it relevant

Make sure the content that you are going to add to your site is relevant to your products or services.

2. Be careful who your guest blogger is linking to

Make sure you check each of the links that your guest blogger is going to link to. There are a few options you have with these links.

  • If they look like spam or a site that your audience would not be interested in, don’t accept the link and return the post to the guest poster.
  • If you think your audience would like the site that is being linked to, but it’s a new site and you question if it will be around in the long term, add a nofollow tag to the link (check your links monthly to ensure the sites have not changed).
  • If the site is a well respected site and seems like a great site for your users, accept the link.

3. Keep the value high

Make sure the content provides value to your users and is in-depth about a topic. Stay away from accepting 500 word articles – shoot for evergreen content or long-form articles.

4. Keep the quality high

Make sure the quality of the content is high and there are not any major grammatical or structural errors.

5. Make sure the content is not duplicated or spun

We have been sent a few guest post that just by reading them seem like they are spun. We then took a section of the article (10 or so words in a row) and did a search for them (in quotes) in Google and found 10-15 similar sentences with only a couple words changed. Make sure you are not accepting spun articles, these will hurt your site’s value for both users and search engines.

6. Socialize it

Once you get a great post on your site, make sure you socialize it throughout your social networks to make sure you are getting the most from the piece of content. This is also a value-add for guest bloggers who want to post content on your site by being able to tell them them that if they provide high value content not only will you publish it but will be socialized across your social communities earning them more exposure.

7. Have a style guide

Style guides give your writers an outline of what you expect in regards to voice, content style, and quality. It helps define expectations if they want their content on your site and can speed up the approval process.

8. Be selective

Not all content is created equal and you don’t have to accept all quest posts that are given to you. If they don’t meet your standards then send them back for edits. This is not uncommon to do, so don’t be afraid to speak up. Remember some of the sites that do guest blogging well, reject alot of posts, and only accept some of the best.

9. Audit your guest posts for broken or outdated links

I would suggest going through your guest posts at least once a month to make sure all the links are still active and still pointing to valuable sites. This can be done with a program like Xenu Link Sleuth (Windows) or Screaming Frog SEO Spider (Mac), which will crawl your site and return errors such as broken links.

10. Make sure the author is reputable

By doing a quick search in Google for the guest poster’s social sites to get an idea of their background will help ensure you’re getting content from someone that could have great author rank and value within your industry.

Guidelines To Follow For Submitting Guest Posts

For businesses, guest posting can have amazing benefits when done correctly, or on the flip side can cause major brand and ranking issues if done carelessly. Below are 10 tips for guest posting like a champ.

1. Don’t just send your guest post, ask first

One of the differences between guest blogging and article submission is that guest blogging requires a relationship to be built before content gets published. We have received many emails that simply have a guest post attached to them; we always delete these. Please email your target site asking if you can guest post, maybe give some ideas of what you want to write about, and even links to past work. This will help build trust and start the relationship off on a good foot.

2. Edit your post

Please edit your post to make sure there are not major grammar or structural issues before you send it.

3. Add value

Make sure your content is adding value for the blogs readers and community. Again, sending some sample topics to the blog owner first or asking them if there are any topics they need content for that they think their readers will enjoy, is a great way to make sure you provide value.

4. Link to other high value resources (.edu, .gov, and industry specific sites)

Don’t just link to your own sites. Find sites that are relevant and valuable and add those links to your article as well. Make sure these links are of high value and authoritative about the topic being written about or it could cause your guest post to be rejected.

5. Follow the style guide

Make sure you are following the style guide that the site has sent to you. Nothing is more frustrating for sites who want your content, then getting a piece of content that does not follow the guidelines that they have defined.

6. Ask about topics

Not sure what to submit to a high value website? It is as simple as asking. Most site owners should understand their audience and which type of content will do well. If you are having trouble coming up with a topic, shoot the site owner a quick email asking for suggestions or where they have gaps in their content set.

7. Ask for publish dates

Make sure you know when your post is supposed to go live and check back on that date. Don’t be afraid to ask for a specific publish date, you won’t aways get it, but it does not hurt to ask. It will help you define your offsite editorial calendar and organize your guest posts.

8. Socialize your post when it goes live

This tips was what inspired my first title for this article “Don’t be an idiot, accept my high value guest post”. Once your post goes live socialize it throughout your social networks. If you can show that most guest posts you publish can not only drive SEO traffic, but have a viral component to them as well, it will give you more value to the website owner. This will also help when you want reach out to higher value websites for publishing opportunities.

9. Keep it relevant

Make sure whatever you write about that you keep a high relevancy to the primary blog topic where the article will be published. This will help you get the most value from the guest post and gives a higher probability of your post getting accepted.

10. Don’t spam with tons of article links to your site

Make sure you don’t just link to your own site, add value by providing links to other relevant high value websites. Also remember that with the recent Penguin update, anchor text is not as important, so don’t overdo it.