I get 3-5 guest post requests per day and while they all sound very promising, I delete them without spending too much time and I will explain below why.
Guest posting is a good way to promote your work on other websites and gain recognition, traffic and exposure. Unfortunately like other good things on the web, it is over abused by spammers and ‘SEO consultants’ and it is used solely for link building purposes.
I have a clear view about guest posting and I had to learn the hard way that guest posting is not only for links but there are many more benefits from having your work published on other trusted websites.
To save you time and effort and to answer to a comment from Prat in this post, I will explain below the basic concepts behind guest posting (advantages, disadvantages, criteria for guest blogging on your blog and what to do before publishing a guest post) and also provide an answer as to whether you should accept guest posts on your blog or not.
What are the characteristics of a good guest post?
By a ‘good guest post’ we mean content that you can safely publish on your blog (if you choose to do so). Such a post should satisfy the criteria below:
- It is related to the content already published on the hosting website
- It is unique both in title, text and meaning
- It is written by a Google verified author
- It is written by an expert in the particular field
- It is written specifically (and will only be published) on the particular website
- It is includes detail and accurate information
- It does not include keyword in-text links
- All links in the article carry the no-follow tag
Advantages of accepting guest posts on your blog
Are there any advantages for you as a publisher from hosting a guest post on your blog? Provided that the post meets ALL the above guidelines, by accepting guest posts you can benefit from the following advantages:
- A different voice, opinion or different view about a subject – It’s a good opportunity to present a different opinion about your niche or introduce something new to your readers that you cannot cover yourself.
- Free content for your blog – Although I don’t like this term, if it is a ‘good post’, then it’s free content for your blog.
- More time to do other tasks – Publishing a guest post once in a while can free up some time to do other tasks or why not for pleasure!
- More social media exposure – Normally the guest author will promote his/her article on social media and essentially your website will get promoted as well.
Disadvantages of accepting guest posts on your blog
On the other hand, by accepting guest posts on your blog it’s a great way to:
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- Lose readers – If your visitors are coming to read content publish by you because they consider you an expert and instead they continually get to see content published by others, then this is something that may drive them away.
- Get link penalties – If you don’t have very strict guest post guidelines and you get carried away by ‘offering links for free content’ then either you will get a penalty and lose your rankings or lose the ‘trust’ of your website in the eyes of Google, which is worse.
Set strict criteria for quality guest posting
In addition to the above characteristics of a ‘good guest post’ and to make sure that you will benefit from the advantages and not suffer from the disadvantages, you need to set very strict criteria before accepting any guest post. For example, these are the criteria I am using:
- Allow guest posting only from people who have a verified Google+ profile
- Don’t allow text links within the body of the article
- Don’t allow keyword stuffed links in the author bio
- Allow for only one link in the author bio
- Guest posts should be over 1500 words (post length does count for SEO)
- Allow guest posts from authors who have strong social media profiles (at least on Google+, Facebook and Twitter)
You may be thinking that with all the above criteria, no one will be willing to contribute a post. Maybe this true but you don’t want to take any risks at all so better be strict and safe than lenient and risky.
What to do before publishing a guest post?
Assuming the all the above conditions are met and you decided to accept a guest post, you need to do the following before publishing it:
- Check for uniqueness – Use a plagiarism detection tool (I use copyscape pro) to ensure that the content is 100% unique. In addition search the title on Google and read any similar articles to make sure that the meaning is also unique and not just the setup of the words. In other words check that it is not a rephrase of some other article.
- Beautify the text, add images etc. – Don’t forget your SEO. Before publishing any piece of text you need to add correct headings (both H1 and H2), make small paragraphs, add relevant image(s) with ALT text, add a unique description etc.
- Do some internal linking – Internal linking is good for SEO so try to add a couple of links to your existing articles (read SEO tips for beginners – tip 4- for more information on best internal linking practices).
- Bind post with the author’s Google+ profile – Don’t forget to bind the author bio at the end of the article with the Google+ profile of the author. Also ask the author to add your website to the ‘Contributor to’ section of his/hers Google+ profile. Use the rich snippets tool to make sure that everything is working ok.
- Don’t call it a guest post – You don’t have to call it a guest post, there is no reason to do that. Even if you do, is not the end of the World but since you already have the author bio at the end of the post, you don’t need to add any extra unnecessary information and get the search engines confused without any valid reason.
Should you accept guest posts on your blog?
Now that you know all the pros and cons and the pre-requisites of a quality guest post, you can safely make your own decision without taking any un-necessary risks.
I personally do not even read guest post requests that are automated or based on some template because I know from advance that their purpose is to get a link back from my website and not offer any real value of my users.
The best way to approach someone and ask for publishing your post is not by sending a pre-defined email but by building connections on social media and pitching your idea when the time is right. I know it is hard and time consuming to do but the benefits in terms of traffic and recognition are far more important than a link in the author bio.
Finally, if you choose to accept guest posts on your blog, do not do it all the time. Make sure that guest posts are used to enrich your publishing strategy and not to overtake it. In other words you still need to publish your own content and in-between the publishing dates you can throw a guest article as well.