#1 Guest Blogging Incentive: Backlinks (Guidelines and Ethics)

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Accepting guest posts is an effective way to freshen up your blog, share various perspectives and build a stronger community (especially if you manage such a multi-author, multi-topic resource as SEJ).

Naturally, if you want to get the maximum benefit from guest blogging, you will need to give back. This post is about the most popular (yet, NOT the most important) benefit of guest blogging: linking: best practices and ethics of linking back to your guest bloggers (as well as allowing them to).

Linking as Incentive: Introduction

Unless you are ready to give back, you won’t be able to build a strong community of guest bloggers who will contribute top-quality content, support each other and promote your blog. Giving back is a must. You can’t expect people to be sincere in their intent to drive quality to your blog unless you are sincere in your desire to pay back.

First of, let me disclaim here that I express my own attitude in this post. I fully agree that as a blogger and web marketer you may have an opposite view and I even can imagine why: with so much spam around here it is easy to get suspicious and overly cautious.

My own take on linking is very straightforward: if you see your guest author deserves it, give him as much linking benefit as you are allowed to.

It doesn’t take time or effort to tell if your guest author is really serious about that guest blogging opportunity you are offering him: diligent guest authors are easy to notice and appreciate: they email you several times with post ideas and various questions. They look for (properly attributed) images to attach to the post and link back to the content you have published previously. They may suggest different variants of the post title to let you choose the best one. They don’t stuff their content with self-serving links.

That being said, if I appreciate the work and like the result, I will be happy give back.

But being too generous means being scammed in our world. This lesson has been learned (not once, I guess that happened to me too many times actually).

Linking as Incentive: Policies

Like it or not, linking is still the strongest incentive for people to guest post for your blog. It is the most tangible advantage as well. Therefore if you plan to allow people to guest post, you won’ be able to do without allowing them to link back to their sites and projects.

I am all for linking back and forth as I believe this is the essence of the Internet. But in our non-perfect world you still need to be cautious. You need to have a set list of rules to be able to always base your decisions on. Being consistent in your linking habits means you will avoid any bad neighborhoods or shaky grounds.

The huge advantage of having linking guidelines / rules is that you are able to treat all your guest bloggers equally (no matter what level of relationships you have with them: friends, partners or just random acquaintances).

Here’s what I see many bloggers do (and try to implement as well) in terms of controling what their guest bloggers link to:

  • Links to the author’s projects should be in the by-line: Ask your guest bloggers to only link to their personal projects in the author’s by-line. Remember that the post will be published on your blog and thus all in-content links may be related to you. Links in by-line clearly belong to the author, so you are totally honest with your readers and yourself.
  • Linking from within the post content: As a rule, I ask my guest bloggers to refrain from linking to their properties in the post body unless:
    • The link is tightly relevant (or the author can’t do without it): like links to the mentioned events, conferences, etc;
    • The link does NOT point to the home page but to the relevant post or article (which elaborates further on the mentioned phenomenon or tactic). Links from content to content (NOT to landing or home pages), I believe, add quality to the guest post and let readers learn more about what has mentioned.
  • Number of links: the general rule of thumb (I myself try to follow) is to let guest authors limit external link to 3 in the by-line (including Twitter profile link).
  • Anchor text: You may adopt Daniel’s rule and accept non-anchor text links in by-lines. This way you will save the trouble explaining your guest author why his “loan consolidation” link is not appreciated on your blog. Or you may go less extreme and only remove keyword-based anchors from the non-relevant links (because those can really hurt your blog reputation.)

Keep in mind though that having too strict linking rules will scare away your guest authors. Even if you have a high-traffic blog and people will still choose to guest post, limitations will discourage them to be a return contributors and community members.

You need to be both generous and careful: to encourage your guest bloggers to contribute high-quality articles while still maintain the reputation of the high-quality resource (with high linking standards).

Linking as Incentive: Tools

I’ve seen plenty of blogs accepting guest posts with varied policies and rules. Some of them have succeeded in both keeping high standards while offering enhanced exposure to their authors. Here’s what they do:

  • The author’s box is the great way to both drive attention to the post author (and also give them exposure) and keep the linking limited to fit your policies. Here’s an easy-to-follow tutorial on how to code and customize the author box (with no plugin needed).
  • The enhanced author page (including bio, photo and maybe social media profiles) is the great way to encourage the author to both contribute more (to maintain the impressive online portfolio) and link back to that page (and thus your site) to share that portfolio with his community. Here’s a detailed tutorial on customizing and enhancing your blog author archive page template.
  • Linking to (most active) authors from the sidebar is another strong incentive. This newly-developed guest blogging WordPress plugin may be a great option: it allows to set the minimum number of guest posts (contributed over the set period of time) after which the author will be featured on the home page. Besides, you can set to show the widget on home page only or sitewide.

What are your linking policies and experiences? Please share!
Guest blogging

Ann Smarty
Ann Smarty is the blogger and community manager at Internet Marketing Ninjas. Ann's expertise in blogging and tools serve as a base for her writing, tutorials and her guest blogging project, MyBlogGuest.com.
Ann Smarty
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  • http://twitter.com/blaysworld Pas Al

    Good post…as usual ūüėČ

  • http://www.webdesignproposaltemplate.com/ GeorgeG

    “linking is still the strongest incentive for people to guest post for your blog. It is the most tangible advantage as well.”

    True that.

    However, sometimes you decide to leave a comment just because you appreciate what you've read. I know I' not the only one here, so I maybe stating the obvious.

    Dofollow. nofollow, linking within text, keyword anchor text, etc —> it seems all so
    silly at times…at the end of the day, if the blog you just read put a little spring in your step and made you contemplate life a little, then that’s what is most important.

  • http://www.webhostinglogic.com Frank Adams

    Truly, it is important to always give back to your contributors as much as giving back to your readers through comments. But there are sites that when they become popular, the moderators seem to forget where they were a few years back.

  • Lifeintheuktest

    Great post !, I've always been reluctant to do guest posts on other blogs because of the “asking” element involved.

  • http://www.wilsonusman.com/ Wilson Usman

    Great ideas here…I really like some of the guidelines and once I start taking guest post at my blog I'll be sure to use these…Thanks

  • http://www.ozgurdunyam.com kenaN

    Die Arbeit was du macht finde ich seher Erfolgreich
    ich bendanke mich sehr herzlichst dafür.

  • www.emarketing-egypt.com

    good post Ann as usual

  • http://www.emarketing-egypt.com Tamer

    Dear Ann
    Thanks for your nice post

  • http://www.emarketing-egypt.com Waleed

    hey Ann
    I need to know more information about link building directory

  • http://seanseo.com Sean SEO Marketer

    I agree that policies and prior notice at guest blogging be as simple as possible. There would be no use though you have placed guest blogging if you don't look after them and chance that you loose that visitor. Some blogs irritates by placing inline text links, I highly recommend to avoid them.

  • http://www.localseomatters.com Ron

    I have to find ways to get qualified people to guest blog on my site

  • http://www.gamelive.com Steve Marino

    That's a very good set of rules to run a blog by but the problems tend to come when your blog gets a good google pagerank and it is included on an internet list of sites that have a good google pagerank and allows comments. From then on, it's a constant battle to prevent the comments you want to attract being drowned down by an endless sea of spam.

  • http://www.firstfound-blog.co.uk Andy Nattan

    Content to content is a great rule of thumb. Someone blogging solely to link to their own landing pages is just using you as a vehicle to drive traffic. They don't have anything to add to your site, and your readers will see right through them.

  • diegolocks10

    That's a great information. I learn a lot from it

  • Anne Shane

    very good post. Hope you will have a lot of these in the future.

  • http://www.tonyclingan.com Tony

    Good post, very detailed, I think we all need to remember to put something back

  • http://wpbeginner.com Mitul

    Good Post ! I always looking for Guest blogging but Content Is King!