Rules for Search Engine Journal Guest Contributors

In an effort to offer the most awesome content out there, we’ve revised both our publishing process and our requirements of guest authors. We’d like you to know what we’re up to and why.

Your Author Profile: Readers want to know who you are

If you are an existing guest author, your profile can be accessed via the WordPress dashboard. If you are a new author, we require the following be included in your profile:

  • A LinkedIn personal profile that is set to Public (not your company page)
  • Two out of three: Google+, Twitter (personal not company) or Facebook
  • Author image must be a photograph or illustration of the author himself/herself. No logos, abstract designs, Rorschach inkblots. You get the idea.

Post Length

  • We’re finding that the longer the post, the more pageviews, time on page and social love it will get. 1000 words is good. 2000 word is better. 3000 words ROCK.
  • But, as a rule of thumb, we require posts to be at least 700 words.

SEO Best Practices

Let’s practice what we preach, folks.

  • Alt tags on all images
  • Proper HTML formatting (bulleted lists, headers, bolding, etc)
  • 1 WordPress category
  •  1-3 top-level WordPress tags: Tags can’t be the same as categories. When adding a tag, ask yourself if this tag will be used again.
  • Titles may be shortened in the meta title section to be tweeted properly.
  • Don’t use the collective “we” when stating an opinion unless it’s to showcase your own study findings.

In-Article Links

Fundamentally, links are about citations. They tell the reader that the author isn’t operating in a vacuum, that they’re incorporating 3rd party perspectives and evidence in support of their argument. Otherwise, it’s just a flimsy theory without substantiation.

  • At least two external citations per post.
  • If you have a relationship with a company or someone mentioned in your post, you must disclose it. “My case study features the Cleveland Zoo, a client of mine.”
  • We don’t allow links to people’s home pages for their companies for quotes or cited sources, only to their Twitter handles, unless it’s for something by SEJ or has been approved by editorial staff.
  • No call-to-actions that are self-promotional ( “Our new white paper covers this topic in detail. Click here to download!”).
  • Any links that appear promotional or superfluous will be removed by editorial staff.
  • We reserve the right to add rel=”nofollow” to any link or remove a link at any time, before or after an article is published.
  • Any images that appear to link to questionable sources in an attempt to get a link, including infographics, may result in an entire post not being published.
  • We will not accept any links (for reference, image attribution, or otherwise) for websites in these areas: pills/RX, porn, casino, and payday loans.
  • If you are doing a non-sponsored, non-affiliated review of a product, please at a disclosure at the top and bottom of the post. The editorial team reserves the right to not publish review posts if they conflict with existing sponsors or our editorial goals.

Buying, trading, or selling links in posts is strictly prohibited. If someone approaches you to buy links in your articles, we’d appreciate you tipping us off (anonymously) via this form.


  • Headers in H2 tags
  • Sub-headers in h3 and h4 tags, as needed.
  • No span tags
  • No div tags
  • No filler/font formatting that affects content appearance (without previous approval from SEJ Editorial Team)
  • Write out numbers one-ten. 11 and up are written as digits. Percentages are written as digits.
  • Only one space after all punctuation.
  • Make sure example URLs (e.g. are not hyperlinked.
  • First and last words in a heading are always capitalized. Every word is capitalized except: articles (the, an, a), coordinating conjunctions (listed below), and prepositions of three letters or fewer (describes a relationship between words in a sentence: in, on, at,etc) These are coordinating conjunctions:
    coordinating conjunctions


  • At least one image per post.
  • All images must be centered if they are on their own line (not aligned with text).
  • Set all image display sizes to Large.
  • All images must be from Shutterstock, illustrative screenshots, author-created/taken images, or from sites that have completely free-use images (e.g. Death to the Stock Photo or Unsplash).
  • For Shutterstock images; if you need one purchased for an SEJ piece, please contact Kelsey at kelsey [at] with your WordPress post URL (if applicable) and she’ll hook you up.
  • Screenshots need to be attributed as such: Screenshot taken xx/xx/xxxx of
  • Images cannot include your company logo or brand as a featured part of the image. This is decided by editor discretion.
  • All photos must have attribution either immediately below the image, in the caption of the image, or en masse at the end of the article, in chronological order. This includes screenshots. Like this: Image credit: Photographer name|
  • WordPress Featured Image: Author must select a featured image (See on the right hand sidebar) that is 760 pixels wide and 400 pixels tall. Please preview your article before submitting to make sure the featured image is formatted correctly.
  • No overtly branded featured images or in-post images that make the post look sponsored
  • We don’t allow images to have external links
  • Alt tags for all images. This can be the article title or a succinct description of the photo that fits the article topic.
  • Post images to appear after 150 words.

Editorial Review & Corrections

  • If we find out authors aren’t writing their own posts, we reserve the right to reject or delete the post.
  • Any member of the editorial team has the right to reject a post on any grounds.
  • We may add a disclaimer at the end of any article to disclose any relationships (or lack thereof) that either SEJ or the author may have with organizations mentioned in the article.
  • In the instance of corrections to byline, facts, or updates to published articles, SEJ reserves the right to edit any post at any time. Post changes will be noted with a note from the editor about the change and the reasoning for the update or change, if applicable.
  • The post or article cannot be published anywhere else online, before submitting or after we publish. Your post could be removed if we see it published elsewhere.
  • If a word is used in a title or post that we believe puts negative attention on the content (e.g. a curse word), we reserve the right to replace the word with one that is just as descriptive, but with a less negative connotation.

Our Publishing Process

So, what happens when you’ve finished an awesome post and pressed that blue WordPress button “Submit for Review”? We’ve created this snazzy flow chart that lays out the stages that your post will go through:

SEJ Publishing Process

Click to enlarge


“Submit for Review”:  When you’ve finished a post draft, you’ll press the big blue button. Your post will first pass through the hands of Kelsey Jones, SEJ Managing Editor.

She’s looking for unique, fresh content. The criteria here is a little hard to define other than “Must be Amazeballs!”, relevancy and it may be contextual. For example, your post could be stellar but we may have to turn it down if we’ve just published a similar post.

“Copyeditor Reviewing”:  This stage is where our copyeditor Danielle Antosz gets out her red pen. She corrects for:

  • Typos, grammar, content flow.
  • Links. If the link is germane to the content, it stays. But include a link 4 times? Use keywords or calls-to-action? Too self-promotional? The red pen will spring into action.
  • Full disclosure. If you reference your company in the article, your connection as the author needs to be made clear. So instead of “ABC SEO published a case study…” it should read “My company, ABC SEO, published a case study…”.

“Editor Hold”: Your post draft goes here when we have asked for changes and are waiting for your response.

  • You will receive an email notification of the change requests. You can also login and view the editor’s requests in the field Editorial Comments.
  • The sooner you respond, the sooner your post will get published. If your post is in this status and you have not seen anything from us, please let us know: editor <at>

“Ready for Scheduling”: All post drafts that have been copyedited and are ready to be published go here.

Scheduled“: Our goal is ~2-3 weeks turnaround from the time you submit your post draft to publication.


  • Once your post is published, be an active participant and join the conversation. This is an easy way to develop a following. Try to respond to every comment. Commenters enjoy acknowledgement even if it is just “Thanks!”
  • In addition, please note that because of the sheer volume of great posts we have published on SEJ, not all posts are shared via Facebook, LinkedIn, or Google+. Content that is shared on these platforms is up to the social media team’s discretion based on existing content, strategy, and relevance.


Please contact us here.