It’s no secret in the SEO world that Google’s recent Panda and Penguin algorithm updates have killed off a number of backlink building techniques that were effective in the past. And with the elimination of these low-value tactics, SEOs have turned to linking strategies that focus more on providing value and building meaningful relationships between websites. In particular, SEOs are focusing more on one technique than ever before: the process of guest posting.
But while the specifics on how to find and secure guest posting gigs have been pretty well covered online, what about the inverse of this proposition? How should you handle being approached by other guest post authors who are interested in posting their content to your blog?
While it may be tempting to say “Yes” to anyone who wants to provide you with free content for your site, there are a number of different things you’ll want to keep in mind when determining whether or not to accept guest posts on your website. Specifically, consider the following advantages and disadvantages before opening your site up to this promotional technique:
Guest posting reduces your writing burden
Every time you choose to publish a guest article on your website, that’s one post you don’t need to invest effort into writing. For busy website owners, the idea of being able to take a break from the constant “write-edit-publish” schedule of running a successful blog can provide a welcome relief, as well as the time needed to focus on other priorities.
Guest posting allows you to leverage knowledge in other areas of expertise
Though I’m sure you’re smart, you aren’t likely an expert on every aspect of your chosen niche. As a result, your website is probably lacking content in key subject areas that would benefit your readers. When it comes to filling these gaps, you have two options: You can either commit an extensive amount of time to researching and writing articles on these topics or you can solicit guest posts from other site owners who have extensive experience in your weaker areas.
As you might expect, going with the guest posting route can save you a significant amount of time!
Guest posting can increase your perceived authority
Publishing guest posts on your website earns you a certain amount of industry cachet, especially if you’re able to secure articles from prominent figures within your niche.
When website visitors arrive on your website and see guest posts, they see you as someone with strong enough industry connections that other authors find it beneficial to share their work on your site. After all, as a website owner, you wouldn’t waste time posting your guest content on young, unestablished blogs.
In this way, receiving requests for guest posts indicates that you’ve gained clout within your industry, making their publication an indication to your readers that you’re an authority figure within your chosen field.
Guest posting may dilute your message
Now, while accepting guest articles may help to increase your perceived authority, you’ll want to use caution when posting them to your site.
As a website owner, one of your goals should be to develop a memorable voice and a series of helpful content pieces that enable readers to build a relationship with your brand. But by posting too many guest articles, you dilute the very voice you’re trying to create, making it more difficult for readers to understand and engage with your site’s unique message.
Guest posting funnels visitors away from your website
In addition, most of the guest articles you accept will come with a caveat, that the original author be allowed to link back to his or her own website. And while this is often a worthwhile trade-off in exchange for free content, be aware that every guest post you publish will divert visitors away from your own sales funnels and onto competing websites (where they can’t make you any money).
Guest posting requires editorial effort
Finally, bear in mind that deciding to accept guest posts isn’t as simple as “copy and pasting” other authors’ content into your own website. As soon as you open your doors to guest articles, you’ll be on the hook for corresponding with authors on potential topics, reviewing posts that are submitted to you and coordinating any necessary changes to ensure that the articles you accept meet your stringent quality guidelines.
Given all these different factors, it’s up to individual webmasters to determine whether or not to open their sites up to guest articles. However, if you do decide to go down this road, you’ll want to pay attention to the following advice in order to make the process as easy and rewarding as possible:
1. Establish your guest posting terms
First of all, be aware that deciding to accept guest post submissions doesn’t mean that you must say “Yes” to anyone and everyone who contacts you to arrange a guest article. It’s perfectly fine to limit the number of posts you’ll accept. In fact, it’s recommended that you do!
To avoid allowing guest authors to dilute your voice on your own website, consider limiting guest posts to no more than one to three slots per month. Also consider establishing quality guidelines up front that specify how long posts should be, how many links can be included in each article, and what subjects can be covered in order to minimize unqualified requests.
2. Create a “Guest Author” page on your website
Next, with your newly established list of guest posting terms, create a separate page on your website that explains your complete guest article process. Plenty of webmasters use search queries that include the words “guest post” or “guest author” to find potential submission sites, so setting up this type of page in advance will help increase your exposure to a wider audience of authors (as well as eliminate any confusion about what you expect from your guest authors).
3. Don’t be afraid to reject guest post submissions
As you begin to receive guest posting inquiries or submissions, be aware that you’ll likely receive a handful of articles that don’t meet your quality expectations. The articles may be off-topic, poorly-written, or lack the depth of subject matter you desire. But whatever the case, you need to become comfortable with rejecting posts that run afoul of your editorial guidelines.
It isn’t easy or fun to do, but it’s best to address these situations head on. Instead of letting status update queries sit unanswered in your inbox, follow up with authors whose posts won’t work for your site in order to inform them of the situation and let them know whether you’re outright rejecting their pieces or if changes could be made to make their articles acceptable for your site.
4. Reach out to guest authors on other industry websites
If you’re having trouble attracting qualified guest post submissions, consider reaching out to website owners that have posted good articles on the industry sites you frequent. In many cases, these webmasters haven’t heard of your business before, but will jump at the chance to promote their content on your website.
5. Pair up with guest authors to create reciprocal exchanges
One final piece of advice to consider when it comes to getting the most out of your site’s guest authors is to request that webmasters who submit content allow you to exchange a reciprocal post for their websites. As a business owner, leveraging these connections in order to increase your own online exposure can present a welcome trade-off for the time needed to manage your own internal guest posting program.
Clearly, these recommendations come from my own experience managing websites and soliciting guest posts, but now, I want to hear from you. Do you allow guest posts on your website? If so, share your words of advice for webmasters who are thinking about doing the same in the comments section below!