This post is dedicated to all bloggers who accept guest articles on their blogs, and who receive too many guest posting requests/submissions every day.
The idea of getting a free blog post is always appealing to a webmaster, but care must be taken so that you do not unknowingly hurt your blog with unfiltered guest posts.
In this article, I will be sharing a few techniques that you should keep in mind when accepting guest posts. Use them as a guideline, and add them to your current criteria for accepting guest posts.
I will also be outlining a few of the methods I use, which you may wish to also use for your own blog.
Before moving forward, I recommend that you read my previously published guide on how to create a multi-author WordPress blog, which details some WordPress plugins that will help you to open up your blog to guest posting.
Accepting Guest Posts? Are You Killing Your Blog?
Believe it or not, you can accept too many guest posts, and by doing so, you could be killing your blog. I’m not referring to the difference in voices of the guest bloggers, I’m talking about the SEO demerits of outbound linking via guest posts.
You may have noticed a rise in requests for guest post proposals recently. Since the Penguin update, it has become more difficult to gain quality links, and this has served to make guest blogging an internet marketer’s best friend.
But, for many bloggers accepting guest posts for their blogs, it could become slow poison.
Now I’m not suggesting that you should not accept guest posts. But, you must set a high standard with your guest post acceptance criteria.
1. Start with links
Let’s consider backlinks in guest posts. This will help you determine whether you need to consider additional factors, or simply reject a post.
Here are a few suggestions to consider:
- Avoid linking out to irrelevant niches. If you blog about blogging, only accept articles that link out to things related to blogging.
- Avoid SEO-optimized anchor text links. Most of the IMs use SEO anchor text to generate links, and many times they use the same anchor text. Since the Penguin update, too many exact anchor text backlinks will be considered spam, and you might end up penalizing your site. I usually link out to sites with the domain name as the anchor text.
- Set a link limit. Limit the number of links to a maximum of two. Too many backlinks from one post pointing to a single domain might be considered spam or a sponsored post.
- Diversify links. This point may be a bit out of context, but it is still very important. Try to add 2-3 more outbound links from other domains. This will ensure that if your guest author’s blog is new and not credible enough, your link will not be viewed as bad linking. Remember that you can link to Wikipedia or other useful resources from the web. You can read more about this in my previously published article on outbound links for SEO.
2. Content length
As part of my criteria for guest posts, I have set a post length of greater than 500 words. My niche is blogging, SEO, and internet marketing, all of which requires detailed information. For this reason, I believe 500 words should be the minimum for adequately and meaningfully delivering that information.
Depending on your niche, you can set a length criteria for guest posts for your blog as well. My recommendation would be that guest posts should be at least 400 words, regardless of niche.
3. Duplicate content/spun content
Before checking the quality and other factors of guest posts, I recommend you carefully check to make sure every proposed guest post is original, and not duplicated material.
To do this, simply select one line from each paragraph, and search that line, enclosed in quotation marks (“…”), in Google. This should tell you whether there is any near-duplicate or exact-duplicate out there.
You can also use services like Copyscape to check the originality of content.
- Will I Get Penalized For Duplicate Content?
- How To Prevent Duplicate Web Content
4. Copied images
This same research applies to images within guest posts.
Make sure there are no copyrighted images and that you have sufficient permission to use them on your blog.
I have noticed that in most guest post submissions, authors are using images from Google Image Search, and that is always a bad idea.
As an editor or website owner, you can run a reverse image search or simply direct the proposed guest author to guides such as: How To Use Flickr To Find Images or 5 Websites To Download Free Stock Images.
5. Content quality
Most bloggers and IMs whom I know hire freelance writers to write articles for them, and then they submit those articles as guest posts. There is nothing wrong with this practice unless the submitter is not thoroughly editing the articles and adding personal touches to them.
I set criteria of a certain standard of quality of the content I will allow on my blog.
If a proposed guest post does not meet the standard of my blog content, I simply reject the proposed post and add a note explaining that it’s not up to my standard.
You can read this guide on how to judge the quality of content to give you an idea of what factors you should be looking for in a quality article.
6. Readability and spelling mistakes
Readability is one of the main SEO factors and I use the EasyWPSEO plugin to check the readability score of any article.
If the readability score is negative or very low, I ask the submitter to rewrite and resubmit the content.
Note: Any “readability” or grammar checking tool is just an algorithm. These measurements should not be used to overrule a trained proofreader/editor.
I don’t mind self-promotion as long as it is adding value to the article.
But sometimes people go overboard with self-promotion in guest posts, and this is never good.
Publishing posts with excessive self-promotion should be limited from day one of your blog.
8. Unrelated niches
Make sure you have a good reason for accepting every guest post.
Never accept articles on topics that are not related to your niche. Regardless of how good the article may be, if it is off topic, it will be a disappointment to your regular readers. You need to clearly specify the topics that you accept for your guest posts.
If you follow the points noted above, you will greatly improve the quality of guest posts.
I also recommend that you have a dedicated page for guest post submission guidelines somewhere on your blog. This page should mention the criteria for accepting guest posts, as well as other important information such as how to submit the guest posts and how long the author should expect to wait to hear whether the post has been accepted.
So let me know: What criteria do you specify before accepting a guest post on your blog? Share your thoughts using the comments section below.
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