Come on People, Your Attitude to Guest Blogging Is Killing Me!

Oct 12, 2011   //   by jamesc   //   blogging, SEO Blog  //  30 Comments

Well, not literally but if I end up in the obituaries section of the newspaper, you know who to blame.

To give you a bit of background, I decided earlier this year to start a few new blogs. I also decided, having worked as a linkbuilder and copywriter for a number of years to allow guest blogging, thinking I was not only doing something nice for the community but maybe I could spare a few hours writing time and get some really good user-generated content instead.

iPhonebloggers.co.uk was the first of these ‘guest blogging friendly’ blogs and although it’s only been going a few months, I’ve already begun offering guest blogging on it. Although I’ve had a few good suggestions from bloggers, I’ve had a lot of complete and utter crap sent through as well.

I’m not talking about duplicated content, it’s not. It generally meets the basic guest blogging guidelines I’ve set; that’s not normally an issue. What I’m talking about is 400 word pieces of low-quality drivel with a link or two at the end. Probably put together by some freelancer who gets paid peanuts to re-write articles he or she is re-writing from some almost defunct article directory. (When I say unique content, I mean you’ve actually had a think about it and come up with a unique angle – passing copyscape is taken for granted).

I know how it works – I’ve worked as an inhouse and agency seo for a number of years. It worked fine when article directories (god bless their panda-whacked little souls) were all the rage but it won’t work with blogging as well. Sure, there are blogs out there that will take anything. Sometimes I even jump in for an easy link if it’s a slow news day. But, for the majority of blogs and bloggers, guest blogging is a way to build influence and subscribers not just backlinks.

Tell Me Something I Don’t Know

I appreciate that if you have something amazing to say, you probably want to write it on your own blog. That’s a natural instinct, but perhaps you’re just not understanding how guest blogging works.

When you write for another blogger, they’re essentially introducing you to all of their followers and friends. First impressions count. If you’re going to say something interesting, if you want to catch the attention of all these people and get them to follow you, link to you, whatever – now would be a really good time!

Guest blogging is a way to stand out, so put the time and effort into saying something worth saying not just repeating what’s already out there.

Don’t be Selfish about Social

Any serious blogger wants to build a readership, first and foremost. As a guest blogger you can help me do that by posting your blog post on Twitter and Facebook, you can stumble it and you can link to it when you write guest posts on other blogs. Ann Smarty is great for this. Guest blogging on Bloggingpro she links to another post she wrote on cleverdude.com. I’m sure she’ll get invited back. By the way Ann, with that attitude, you’re welcome to write a guest post for any of my blogs.

And linkbuilders don’t forget that pushing your guest posts out socially and linking back to them really strengthens the value of that link, as well as opening it up to more click-throughs and second hand pickup. It’s also plain old-fashioned good manners.

It’s Not A ‘Hit And Run’ Job

If you’re good, I want you back! Come pitch me another guest post and we’ll chat.

Advertisers understand that you often need to be exposed to a product a few times before you begin to notice it and ultimately buy it. The same goes for guest blogging. You might prick people’s attention the first time you write a guest post for me, but if you write two awesome guest posts in the space of a few months, people will sit up and pay attention. They’ll want to know more about you/your company/your blog and they won’t want to miss another post – AKA they’ll subscribe to your blog/follow you on Twitter/become a fan on Facebook – whatever.

Links

I know you want in content links, but what I’m really looking for is in context links. What do I mean by that?

There’s nothing more spammy-looking than seeing a post with keywords forced in.  You know the kind of post I mean? You’re reading through it and it’s all fine and then you come across a sentence that reads:

So book your flights to New York and jet off to a new adventure exploring the Big Apple. Or random car insurance links in the middle of an article. Just because you’re able to get the phrase into a sentence doesn’t mean it fits!

As long as you’re not linking to anything dodgy or totally out of context I’m actually cool with you having plenty of links to pages around your site. If you’re writing a post about the ‘Best iPhone Apps for Wannabe Hitmen’ and you’ve written a review of the Gunman iPhone app, well feel free to link to it if it adds value to the piece – that makes sense. Just don’t suddenly mention iPhone insurance or worse still car insurance, unless hitmen actually need and use it. Maybe they do, but it sure as hell sticks out like a sore thumb when you throw in a phrase like ‘cheap online car insurance deals’ with a link back to your site/client.

And while we’re on it, don’t just include your links your own site, Pagerank freaks! Co-citation is equally important in my opinion (and Jim Boykin’s), not just for seo but for actually writing a normal, natural-looking article that has some purpose other than to give you some exact match anchor text (which btw, matters less and less these days – SEOmoz agrees). Plus, you might just grab the attention of the people you’re linking to which could result in a retweet, stumble or more importantly a new relationship.

In summary:

Look I know you or your client needs links (I do too!) and they’re getting harder and harder to get. The life of the seo and in particular linkbuilder is a hard knock one but don’t waste your time pushing out low-quality crap to my blog (at least). The fact that Google has whacked a ton of sites made up of this level of content should be an indication that it wants your copy to do more than just pass Copyscape – and blog owners like me do too! Put the time into writing something that I’ll not only read and publish, but that I’ll promote when I’m guest blogging as well.

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jamesc

James is the main editor for iPhoneBloggers.co.uk, a UK iPhone Blog and one of the first ‘guest-blogging friendly websites’ within the Happy Joliver group of publications. A linkbuilder by day and blogger by night, he’s a good person to chat to if you’re having a go at guest blogging. If you have developed an iPhone app, he’s especially interested and could give you a really cool interview like he did with Kim Maes of Cook It Allergy Free. Oh yeah, he's on Twitter as well.

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  • This. So many guest posts I see these days are plagiarised tripe, too. I’ve seen guest posts coming from big companies that are just a complete re-hash of big publications, often with sentences copy and pasted in their entirity. I joined MyBlogGuest a few months ago because I thought it would be a great way to network and meet fellow bloggers, but the whole network seems to be full of spammy SEO agencies who are obviously paying their copywriters peanuts (at least I hope they are, judging by the quality).

    • Gerald Weber
      Twitter:
      says:

      Jemma,

      I have been with MyBlogGuest from the very start and I can’t tell you how many awesome people I’ve met and the platform has been just unbelievable to me for building blogging connections.

      In addition I am also part of the MyBlogguest team and while it is definitely true that their are some people who attempt to abuse the MyBlogGuest platform this is also true with guest blogging in general and other social networking platforms on the Internet.

      MBG is now over 10,000 members and and still growing. Unfortunately this type of popularity also attracts some bad seeds. This is an unfortunate fact of life on the Internet.

      That being said the moderation staff is very active and we routinely ban users who are abusing the platform and this also means we don’t tolerate low quality spammy content in the articles gallery for example.

      In addition to this we also count on the community as a whole to help us fight spammy behavior. The community really does a great job in reinforcing the moderators. If you see someone engaging in spammy behavior there is a report button on the left right under their avatar.

      • Ann Smarty
        Twitter:
        says:

        I say, accepting guest posts is not for everyone. If you start inviting guests, you should be ready to be strong enough to maintain your standards, to have the power to reject and to ignore (or fight) spam. It is a commitment, like blogigng in general.

        But to say that you are not going to accept guest posts only because you are afraid of spammers is the same thing as to never open comments because you are afraid of spam ones.

        Spammers do not dominate our place – they are just so active that they are easier to notice (I bet you have more spam comments than valid ones – we all do)! But that doesn’t mean there are no good talented writers who could make your blog better!

        • James
          Twitter:
          says:

          I think it would be fair to say that there are plenty of great bloggers and webmasters on the forum. I think it would also be fair to say that the majority of these do not engage in the article gallery which unfortunately is full of content I wouldn’t want to post on my site – I did see an article about iMessaging earlier which I thought would be a good fit for the iPhone blog but the links in the bio were to a ‘kitchen cabinet retailer’ so that put me off. (I’m not saying all the links have to be iPhone related, but that was a little too far removed for me).

          I have however made some great connections just by messaging people and building up a bit of chat and I’m hoping they will lead to good content exchanges in the future. I think that’s where most people who get value from the forum make connections, but it’s possible that on a first glance at the forum you might be put off by articles like the above.

          • Gerald Weber
            Twitter:
            says:

            James,

            I’ve also had some bloggers contact me about guest posting (outside of myblogguest) wanting to post on my SEO blog when they are not an SEO and in a complete different industry. This always struck me as kind of odd. Ok you make candle fixtures or something random and want to post on SEO? There is definitely a disconnect there for me.

            But back to the articles gallery. If you make an offer and the article owner has odd links in their byline or you simply don’t think the article is a good fit for your blog after you see it or whatever the reason you always still have the right to refuse the article.

  • James
    Twitter:
    says:

    Hi Jemma,

    I’ve had my frustrations with all of the different guest blogging networks but I know MBG is working hard to try to sort this. At the moment I’m directly inviting people to guest post (if I see them right something good) but I do keep my eyes on the article gallery there as well.

    Personally I would like a ‘bloggers private guest blogging network’, as opposed to one where SEO companies/linkbuilders are allowed to join, but I think any way you look at it, it gets hard to control.

    On the plus side, I’m finding many people have the same frustrations with guest blogging (including Gerald here) so hopefully that will lead to something – birds of a feather and all that.

  • Gerald Weber
    Twitter:
    says:

    James,

    I have written about How Guest Blogging Can Send Your Brand and Reputation Straight to Hell

    Basically that post is right along the same lines as the point you are getting across here. It’s unfortunate that as the popularity of guest blogging has increased so has the number of individuals who are abusing guest blogging.

    I simply reject guest post requests I get that are obviously a quick link grab attempt and add no value.

    As some may have noticed I recently added a guest blogging guidelines and I think this helps weed out some of the low quality guest post requests.

    • James
      Twitter:
      says:

      I think having ‘strict’ guest blogging guidelines definitely helps – it puts a lot of people off, but hopefully not those who are willing to put the effort in.

      Like I was saying to Jemma, I feel a lot of my focus over the coming months will be a ‘reverse guest blogging strategy’ – building relationships with people and then asking them to guest post, as opposed to the other way round.

      One thing I have noticed though is that if you focus on an interview as opposed to a guest post, people tend to reply with really, really insightful content like Kevin Glass here or Matthew Cawley here. Maybe it’s because it’s more personal and puts them more on the spot – just something I’m experimenting with at the moment but it’s proving quite interesting so far.

  • James
    Twitter:
    says:

    Oh and “sending me straight to hell”, “killing me” – there’s a bit of a morbid theme going on here :)

  • Marbella says:

    Hi James,
    For many devote themself to guest blogging, and for many new blogs are trying to build up their blogs by and get traffic from guest bloggers. I am always looking for blogs that write unique and unusual topics. Today there are so many well-known blogs that copy each other’s theme/title in the belief that they have missed something interesting, and it’s sad.

  • I’ve always wanted to be a guest blogger, then I realize that everyone else knows way more about all of this stuff than I do and I back away. I’m so afraid of being one of those who submit garbage and get called out for it, I just don’t bother.

    Any advice, Gerald or James, for someone like me?

    • Gerald Weber
      Twitter:
      says:

      Christine,

      I think it’s definitely best to write about something you are passionate about and have some knowledge of.

      This doesn’t mean you have to be an expert to write about something, but you definitely want to make sure you are representing your current skill/knowledge level when you write.

      If you feel it’s just a matter of your not comfortable because you don’t know enough about the topic on which you want to write, then my best suggestion would be to read some blogs on the topic you are interested in and comment along the way. (Just like you are doing here :-)

      This is a great way to learn and also network in the comments of blog posts at the same time. Comments are also a great way to have questions answers (Just like we are doing now! :-)

      What type of blogs or what topic are you interested in guest posting on?

      On another note it’s very easy to see if a guest blogger is sincere in the guest post or if they are looking for a quick link grab. So intent is key. If you are sincere that will show just as it will show if you are only interested in a quick link.

      • Thanks Gerald,

        Honestly, I don’t know squat about the SEO biz. I’m a writer, pure and simple. I know about putting words together so they make sense and produce a visual in someone else’s head. Though I’ve been writing in the SEO game for almost 4 years now, I always feel that most people know more about it than I do. I think my biggest problem is that I prefer being in the background where it’s safe.

        Thank you for responding. I appreciate it.

        • Gerald Weber
          Twitter:
          says:

          Your welcome.

          If you’re a writer by trade but not comfortable writing specifically about SEO maybe try another sub niche. i.e. copywriting or press releases, blogging tips, how to write copy that gets people to take action.

          There are a lot of Internet marketing categories that aren’t actually SEO but they still kind of tie into the topic.

          You’re welcome to give it a go on my blog if you like. :-)

    • James
      Twitter:
      says:

      Hi Christine,

      Some SEOs might call it sacrilege but these days I think you actually don’t need that much of a knowledge of SEO to succeed in it. (Controversial). At the end of the day what Google is trying to reward is good content. You don’t need any knowledge of SEO to write good content, just a passionate knowledge of your subject (as Gerald points out). And good content brings links and a stronger presence online, which is what SEOs spend all of their waking hours trying to reverse engineer.

      I would take Gerald up on his offer and dip your toes in the water. I’m sure he would be more than happy to give some feedback, if you need any. I know I’ve gone on a bit of a rant here about people sending me crap content, but it isn’t likely to be you. (If you’re concerned that your content might not be good enough, you’re actually thinking “Hey, what can I right that’s really good?” The kind of content I’m getting is basically re-written for a few dollars a pop, and churned out in about 15 minutes by some poor freelancer, whose first language often isn’t English). So yeah, if you’re putting thought into it, you don’t fall into this category.

      BTW “5 Ways Blogging Is Like Being A Parent” is a nice post and the sort of thing that could do well as a guest post on a mummy blogger blog. I see you’re a member of a lot of writing forums and communities so another way to go would be to write a post about starting a career in writing for newbies. You could mention the forums that you’re a part of and which ones are most useful and also any books or blog posts which have helped you along the way.

      Just a thought…

    • Shannon
      Twitter:
      says:

      Christine! Most people don’t even know what they know. One forgets that one really is an expert in the very thing(s) they are passionate about. Never fear rejection and don’t ever think you aren’t worthy either! The worst that could happen is the blog owner says no.

      If it makes you more comfortable, first offer to guest post on the sites that you personally visit on a regular basis (ie you are a huge fan off). Or offer to guest post on a friend or colleague’s site. Someone who has similar interests and/or blogs about similar things.

      Then go on to bigger fish :) You’ll have gained some experience and some confidence!

  • Well, I have seen guest poster that do not reply to comment which is one of my most hated shit of all time, because people like me reads the guest poster content and wanted a conversation, in the end it’s almost like we are talking to a “ghost writer” that do not reply. Kind the disappointing as some popular blog had guest post like this which actually will affect the reputation of the owner of the blog and also the writer.

    • Gerald Weber
      Twitter:
      says:

      Wong,

      Here is how I deal with guest bloggers that don’t reply to comments.

      If you read my comment policy I state that is a guest poster does not reply to comments and join in the conversation on their post within a reasonable amount of time, I’ll keep their post up but remove their byline links.

      If someone posts and runs that shows that their true interest was only a quick link and therefore they don’t deserve the link if they are not going to join in on the conversation and stand behind their words.

      Again this goes back to what I was talking about earlier with intent. When it comes to guest blogging. Usually the quality of the post and the guest bloggers actions tell the story.

  • James
    Twitter:
    says:

    Hi Wong,

    Completely agree, although it can be hard to keep a track of these things if you’re doing a lot of guest blogging.

    A few blogs automatically subscribe you to the comments. I’m not sure if this is a plugin or how to set that up (I’ll have to look into it) but I think it’s something I would try to implement.

  • Ileane
    Twitter:
    says:

    James, I have to say that the conversation in the comments is just as good as the actual post!
    I’m constantly approached with requests from guest bloggers and it certainly is a balancing act. It’s nice to have a different perspective every now and then there are times when you just gotta say NO! And maybe it’s just me, but why are there so many coupon sites these days? What do you do with those guest post requests?

    • James
      Twitter:
      says:

      Hi lleane,

      Ha, ha – yes coupon sites. There sure is a lot of them and I guess with the current economy more and more are going to pop up.

      I’m toying with the idea of only accepting posts from people who actually have a blog (as opposed to a site like a coupon site). I don’t want to rule out any writers who might be really, really good and write on behalf of a company but it might be a solution.

      I definitely think ‘inviting’ guest bloggers directly is a promising way to find good guest bloggers, as you can see what they’ve already written, but I haven’t tried this out yet.

      I always ask to see some of the bloggers previous posts and I’ll usually be honest and say “I’m trying to build a quality blog. I appreciate you’ve got links to build, but your posts don’t say anything new or different and I’m really looking for bloggers who go out of their way to write something different to all of the other blog posts out there.”

      Something along those lines – it’s difficult saying no, I’ll be honest – and I don’t close the doors at that point. If they want to come back and say “apologies, I’ve pulled my finger out and here’s a really good piece that I’ve put a lot of time and effort into” I’d be happy to look at it. People rarely get back to me though. I usually see their blog post pop up on some other blog a few weeks later.

  • David Leonhardt
    Twitter:
    says:

    Great editorial. I think it really depends on the goals of your blog. I run several of my own (well, sometimes I run them, sometimes I neglect them – but that’s another story). For one of them, I actively seek guest bloggers. I really don’t need blow-me-away posts, just something good, inspiring, thought-provoking. On my other blogs, I do not seek guest bloggers. I will accept them if they have something that really blows me away, and this has happened. Or if I see something that somebody has written on their own blog that really blows me away, I might ask them to write something similar from such-and-such an angle for my blog; that has happened a couple times. Each blog is different.

    • James
      Twitter:
      says:

      David,

      Good point. And I guess if you have just started a travel blog for example, you can’t expect Nomadic Matt or Benny Lewis to come guest posting straight away – you’ve got to be realistic about these things (which often I’m not).

      And yes, there are plenty of blogs out there (which I’ve often used for linkbuilding) who are happy to accept average content as they simply exist for adsense and at the moment are doing alright with that.

      But I think you can get a feel for a site when you look at the type of content they’ve previously published and maybe that’s why I (and quite a few other bloggers) get offended when someone submits something that we feel is below standard.

  • george says:

    Guest blogging is something every blogger needs to educate themselves and this post as a guidelines to those who wants to be successful with Guest blogging. To me guest blogging is something that needs to be done carefully since guest post will be reaching numerous people through the followers and their followers. The uniqueness of content is something derived from the experience on the subject he or she is writing about and usually associated with their personal exposure to the things the blogger explains.

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  • Shannon
    Twitter:
    says:

    I feel your pain James! Really I do.

    After dabbling in SEO for the last decade or so, I was finally brave enough to apply for a real bricks and mortar job in the industry. Actually landed myself in a very up and coming SEO firm as a link builder. Found out how basic my knowledge was at the time (haha) and had a CRASH course on how to get clients links. Many checks and verification of various criteria with my personal eyeballs on the sites I may solicit taught me a lot of things. Mostly what is NOT a good website, but also some tricks of the trade along the way.

    Where am I going with this? Well, no matter what SEO forum or site I frequented in seeking quality blogs to place links or content on, it was still a personal one by one effort. Like it or not. You can specify “rules” until you are blue in the face, and they are still ignored outright lol. I still had to muck through pages of PMs or emails of offers to crap sites on non-sensical domain names that had absolutely nothing to do with my client’s content. Like it or not, I had to read every single thing I was sent, just in case there was that one GEM.

    The same seems to be true for guest posting. There will always be 100 idiots looking to drop links in guest posts with less than average quality articles to place them in. (The same 100 idiots) Sending a reply to their network of 100 different spam sites that have nothing whatsoever to do with the site asking for the guest post. Same crap, different packaging. Link building in 2012 lol