Guest posting or guest blogging is one of the most effective off-site SEO strategies. Publishing content to another site can bring more attention to your website, company, and products. You essentially get some promotion from a high-traffic website with thousands of regular readers. Getting backlinks from reputable sites also boosts your domain authority, a crucial ranking factor for search engines.
That said, what’s in it for the host? Should you allow guest posts on your blog?
The common practice of guest blogging is a system of equivalent exchange: You submit high-quality and original content to another site, and you get a backlink in return.
The one who submits content gets a quality backlink and exposure to the host site’s audience, while the host site gets fresh and original content.
Allowing guest posts can have other advantages, such as:
- It’s an opportunity to publish content from other industry and niche experts.
- You can provide your audience with a different perspective.
- You can build a relationship with other reputable sites and companies.
- You reduce the content you have to create for your blog.
In some cases, bloggers open for guest post submissions when they encounter changes that can potentially affect their writing schedules, like a company expansion, a rebrand, or traveling.
If you’ve pitched a few ideas and manuscripts before, you might notice that some sites are quite strict with their submissions.
That’s because host sites also stand to lose and gain something from the exchange.
In most cases, allowing guest posts will get you a lot of submissions. Since it’s a well-known SEO strategy, people are always looking for sites willing to host content and give them backlinks. However, not all of those submissions will be high-quality, original, or relevant to your blog’s theme or content. Additionally, not every author is going to be qualified.
Remember, content and backlink quality are SEO ranking factors. This means hosts can’t publish low-quality content and link to low-quality sites. So you can’t just accept every submission that comes through.
This means you need to look out for two crucial things:
1. Submission Quality
The guest post itself should be high-quality. It needs to be relevant, original, well-written, and proofread. It needs to be free of rookie errors like spelling mistakes and bad grammar.
2. Backlink Quality
Since you’re getting content, you need to give backlinks in return. However, you don’t want to link to low-quality sites. Watch out for spam, duplicates, and plagiarized content.
When it comes to submissions, you must have a system to check the content, the author, and their website.
Here are some tips to help you create a streamlined and effective screening process:
Screening guest posts can be a lot of work, but it’s only the first step to publishing guest posts. You still need to review, edit, and reformat them before they go live on your blog. However, restricting possible irrelevant content from the start should help reduce the emails and submissions you have to go through.
Since guest posts are a viable marketing tool, a lot of people are eager to get their manuscripts published. However, you don’t want to get gardening and maintenance articles clogging your emails if you’re running a digital marketing blog.
So, be clear about what you want from guest blogs and make sure they’re accessible through your website.
Here are a few crucial things you need to include in your guidelines:
- Allowable topics, themes, and content
- Minimum and maximum word count
- Acceptable document files (i.e., .docx, HTML, etc.)
- Desired writing styles (i.e., the tone, formatting, and delivery of your ideal submission)
- Details you want to be included in the pitch (i.e., author details, links, previous work, etc.)
- Submission instructions (i.e., links to forms, emails, attachments, etc.)
In short, be very detailed about what you want from the submissions. For example, if you need author headshots, brief bios, links, attached images, or other specific details, make sure to include them all in your guidelines.
If you’re getting a large volume of submissions, you can also include your estimated turnaround time. Some guidelines are even frank enough to say they’ll ignore and won’t reply to pitches they don’t like.
Manuscripts can range from 500-3000 words. They not only take so much time for authors to write, but it’s a lot for you (or your editors) to read through.
One way to make it easy for both parties is to only allow title and outline pitches. This will enable you to look at the crucial parts of the pitch without going through the entire 1000-word manuscript. In most cases, the title and summary are enough to give you an idea of what the content will be.
Of course, don’t forget to look at the author’s website and do some research on their past writing ventures. An applicant or author’s credentials can hint at the quality of writing to expect. Fortunately, most authors will try to layout their qualifications, as they’re trying to convince you that they’re a reputable source who will deliver a great guest post.
Finally, make sure you set deadlines. Asking for titles and outline submissions means that the applicant doesn’t have to write anything until you’ve approved their pitches. Setting reasonable deadlines makes sure your publishing schedule is unimpeded.
Some hosts prefer that submissions are directly emailed to their editors. However, using forms can make it easier to sort data that are being submitted.
You can ask people to submit the title, summary, and outline along with an attached manuscript. Then, you and your editors can just look through the titles and weed out irrelevant content. On the other hand, if a title or summary sounds fantastic, you can immediately open the attachment and review the manuscript.
Additionally, you can also ask authors to fill in information about themselves. Ask for their names, website, a brief summary of their qualifications, as well as links to previously-published content. This will allow you to see whether it’s worth linking to their websites.
If their company or products are associated with thin content, plagiarism, link farms, or spam, it’s best to steer clear of them.
Like most SEO experts would tell you, your content should always prioritize “quality over quantity.” So even if you’re not getting as many submissions as popular sites, you still need to make sure your guest posts benefit your website’s SEO.
Otherwise, you’ll end up publishing spam and low-quality content, which can start to affect your rankings.