Why Your Guest Posting Isn’t Working
Google is now ignoring, and often even penalizing, many previously working techniques for promoting your web sites. Sites that once served tens or hundreds of thousands of visitors a day now lay ignored in the darkest corners of the hidden web.
In response, many webmasters are cranking up their efforts in guest posting. Guest posting involves writing an article and publishing it on a web site owned by another publisher. They get a free article and you get a free link. Unfortunately, this technique is very close to paying for links — a very large violation of the Google Webmaster Guidelines. You aren’t paying for links with cash, but you are effectively paying for links with barter.
Guest posting does not necessarily violate the spirit of Google’s policies and Google has always been more interested in the spirit of the rules than in their exact wording. Guest posting, like most other promotional techniques, can be done well or it can be done poorly. While no one can tell you exactly what will make Google happy and what will get you penalized, there do seem to be a few common sense guidelines.
Avoid Spammy Mass Mailing
Here is one sample email from the dozens of guest blogging requests I receive every week:
Hi from my side,
I have gone through your site which is much relevant to my topic. Being a professional writer I want to contribute one guest article.
The article would be informative and hope your visitors like the article and shares on social platforms. The deal would be mutually beneficial to both of us and add value on both ends.
Looking forward to your reply.
This opening email doesn’t list which of our sites the writer wishes to guest blog post on, it doesn’t tell us anything about his site, and it doesn’t tell us what topics he would like to write about. Comically, the author of the email is “John Smith” from an Outlook.com email address.
If you’re proposing to contribute to someone’s web site, introduce yourself honestly and openly and explain how your contribution will be valuable. Use a legitimate email address, not an email service which spammers commonly use to hide their identities. Real people want to work with real people – not with people hiding behind fake email accounts.
This email did not generate (or deserve) a response, nor did the two equally useless follow-up requests from the same “John Smith.”
Here is another email which also went unanswered:
We are interested in forming a content relationship with <redacted>
Our writers will construct a carefully researched guest article for your site. The aim is unique and interesting content for your readers to enjoy. The article will be uniquely written content and will not be republished on any other sites.
Our goal is to provide high quality content that can naturally attract traffic and links. This way we both win! We just ask that we can place one reference in the article or bio back to our site.
Our site is an education and careers training site for those looking to change jobs or start a new one.
If there are any topics that you would like to see written about or ideas you’ve had for posts then please let me know and we will work to achieve them.
Thanks in advance for your consideration.
The “our writers” phrase in this email makes it pretty obvious that these folks are just outsourcing content development for link building. They are offering us low-quality content and expecting us to host it on our sites — in exchange for a link. What they fail to understand is that we do not allow low-quality content on our sites — with or without links.
A winning email would come from an individual human being and explain why they are an authority on the topic they intend to cover. The winning email would make us want to place and article from the sender on our web site.
Stay In Niche
Google has become pretty good at discounting links from sites which are in unrelated niches. One link from a quality site in your niche is worth more than many links from unrelated sites.
If your site is about golf and you send guest blogging access requests to sites unrelated to golf, you will not receive many replies. Worse though, the sites which do let you post will be low-quality sites which let anyone post and link to anywhere. You will automatically connect your site to a “bad link neighborhood”, which could cause your rankings to fall.
Use Perfect Grammar and Capitalization
This should be unnecessary to mention, but unfortunately it is not. I routinely receive guest post access requests which contain glaring grammar and capitalization errors. If your emails are not letter perfect, there is no way that I am ever going to let you write for our web publications. You should spell check every guest posting access request you send — no exceptions.
Deliver Quality Content for the Reader
I asked Ashwin Ramesh of Guest Post Labs what the #1 error made by people trying to build links by using guest blogging was. He replied:
“They forget to ask themselves – would I read this article if it weren’t written by me. Would I recommend it to my friends? Guest blogging content needs to be better than normal content because you are trying to promote your brand and website. If your content makes people run away rather than stick and is just another version of the same topic written elsewhere, you’re not doing guest blogging right.”
Creating great content for your partners can get you asked to contribute more articles, and not just for the same web site or from the same publisher. Providing top quality guest articles for one web site can earn you invitations to do the same for other web sites in your niche.
Avoid Bad Link Neighborhoods
If you are contacting web site owners from a list of sites which accept guest blog posts, you’re probably working with the wrong people. Mostly likely those web sites have already been fingerprinted by Google as part of a bad link neighborhood. It is easy to place large numbers of guest posts on these sites, but those links will not improve your search engine rankings.
Instead, you want to seek out web sites which do not normally accept guest posts. These can be found by talking to people in your niche, or by searching for phrases like “contribute + <YOURKEYWORD>”. The rule of thumb is that the harder a link is to get, the more valuable it is.