Checklist For Editing Guest Posts

Mar 1, 2012   //   by Ann Smarty   //   blogging, guest blogging, SEO Blog  //  12 Comments

When you own a blog, a great deal of the content is most likely going to come from you. Occasionally, you might start one and hire people to fill it for you while you run the day to day. Whatever the case, you have to know how to properly edit a guest post to make sure it properly reflects the tone of what you are trying to create.

That isn’t to say your guest blogger isn’t a fantastic writer; they probably are. The problem is formatting, usually. They will have a certain way of writing, and though they might follow by things based on what they see on your blog as far as content, they might miss a couple of steps that are glaringly obvious to you, even if it isn’t to them.

Before we go into the actual guest post proof-reading process, here are a few helpful resources for you to make it easier:

In order to make the process of editing this posts more simple, you can try using this easy checklist, or creating one of your own.

Put Together A Welcome Sheet

This has been an endless help to bloggers for years. You simply create a welcome sheet with all relevant information about writing for your site. This includes how you wish them to format, tag and proof read their posts. One way that makes it easy is to copy/paste a post already on the site and write notes to break down each part. This shows them exactly what you want and will reduce your editing work. They will still probably get a thing or two wrong, but that is better than having to reformat each post to your specifications each time. If there is anything on there you want them to steer clear of, such as a certain topic, language or tone, let them know in this sheet.

Check For Copied Content

Check For Copied Content

While we hope the posters we hire will be honest, not all will be. Some are looking for a quick buck and will do anything to get it. This includes copying or barely rewriting other peoples work. There are many programs out there for checking for plagiarism, but the most well know is Copyscape. For just a few cents you can check a post for copied content online. Keep in mind that if they used a credited quote, it will show the source. Google is another fantastic resource for a quick look into potential content problems.

Check The Facts

Check The Facts

I can’t tell you how often a blog has been burned because a guest poster, usually not well known, has mistaken a fact. It might not be a lie but a misunderstanding, or an unreliable source. If they are making a claim or offering anything that is based on facts or statistics, or even quotes, double check it before you publish. It isn’t enough to tell people that you didn’t know. You are the blog owner, and so their protection in cases such as this. But you don’t have that luxury, so make sure you are covered. If they are making a claim that seems extreme, hard to believe or controversial, ask them to explain sources and what led to the conclusion so you are prepared in case anyone asks questions.

Decide If You Like It

Decide If You Like It

It is your blog, so you have to enjoy what is being written on it. Especially when you are planning on having the writer back. Be honest with yourself about whether or not you like a post. If you don’t like it, take some time to pick out reasons why. Then, approach the writer with suggestions on how they might change it to better reflect the tone of the site. If you don’t like any of it, ask for a rewrite or just don’t use it.

Check Web Vs Print Writing

Check Web Vs Print Writing

Bloggers generally known how to write for the web. This means headers, subheaders, lists and short paragraphs. It is second nature for most writers of the Internet generation to do this. But some aren’t aware and write it like a long essay. A block of text is never good for the web, so check the formatting and do any addition breakdown if you have to.

Be Careful Of Links

Be Careful Of Links

Too many links will always equal spam to a reader. Especially for those who have grown up with the web and know how to spot a filler post. Two links per post is usually enough, with a possible link or two in a byline. Make sure they aren’t overdoing it, unless it is a review post that needs to go to specific products.

Watch Out For Licensing

Watch Out For Licensing

Make sure you pay attention to the licensing when using any image, as some might only be royalty free with credit. Here’s a quick guide into CC-attributed images and how to credit them.

Something that might be useful for you in reviewing posts for your site is using tineye.com or the reverse image search with Google Images. I use it to see if there is already a similar article (or an exact copy of that article) on the web that uses that same image. You can spin text, but it’s much harder to spin an image!

Similarly, it’s a great way to see if someone is submitting a copyright image in a guest post.

Conclusion

This is a simple checklist that will help you enure quality posts every time you hire a guest blogger to cover your site. You can easily create your own to establish a more customized method of checking up on content.

Image Credits: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7.

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Ann Smarty

Ann Smarty is a guest blogging addict and the proud owner of MyBlogGuest.com which is a free community of guest bloggers. feel free to follow here on Twitter @SEOSmarty.com

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  • Marbella says:

    Hi Ann,
    Do not forget to check writer also, just google the names and you can see what he has written for other articles and how good / bad feedback he has received them.

  • Paul Salmon says:

    I ensure that I run the guest post through Copyscape before I being to publish the post to my blog. I have been burned in the past with a duplicate post, and I don’t want to take the chance again.

    As for images, I don’t usually accept images with a guest post, and most don’t provide one. If they do, I always check out the source if I can to find out the copyright information for the image.

    • Ann Smarty says:

      My main rule of thumb: I always do an exact-match search in Google for a long phrase from the guest post: quick, free and very effective for finding duplicate content!

  • Ray says:

    Copied content is sometimes obvious, but other times it difficult to determine. I know I have read something on one site, and later something not exactly the same, but very similar. Whether that qualifies as duplicate content or where you draw the line I don’t know for certain. I guess as long as it is not word for word.

    • Ann Smarty says:

      Hey Ray, common problem really, but there’s no good answer to it. Unless the article is duplicated, who can tell if it was copied from someone else’s content? We are no plagiarism experts, so there’s no way for us to find that.

      I say: if it sounds good and there’s no direct duplication around the web, it is good to go!

  • Catherine says:

    We cannot identify duplicate contents. I always use google by pasting some lines into the search box and also use copyscape to check it.

  • Lily Rose says:

    This is very helpful for all those who write guest posts as much as for those who use them. I sometimes do both of these things and I love it when my host blogger has clear expectations about formatting and linking.

    • Ann Smarty says:

      3 years of the editing experience has taught me not to expect much from guest bloggers (in regards to HTML formatting). So when someone provides a well-formatted article, I feel very happy!

  • Ileane says:

    Hi Ann, this is solid advice!
    I’ve only been at this thing for a little while compared to you, but here’s what I’m doing to help manage guest authors on Basic Blog Tips.

    First I recorded a video to demonstrate how to use the SEOPressor plugin. The benefit of having this plugin installed is that I can be sure each guest has picked out keywords and that they have included the proper tags in the post. The plugin also tracks keyword density and reminds guests to include internal links.

    Next, I recorded an audio podcast which describe what the expectations are in terms of responding to comments and engaging with my readers. I also ask for links to writing samples before I even consider adding them as a contributor and sending out a password.

    That’s what I have in my arsenal so far. I’m going to download your cheat sheet now too.

    Thanks Ann!

  • Jamy Hoster says:

    I think no one can write better then you for your own blog so its better to start with free blog site rather than you start with your own site.