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

All guest contributors are required to include the following in your profile:

  • Personal LinkedIn profile and any two of the following social media accounts (these must also be personal accounts, not business accounts):
    • Google+
    • Personal Twitter account
    • Facebook
  • Biographical information to fill out your author box, which can be found at the end of your every post.


  • A 200 x 200 profile picture, unless your e-mail is connected to your Gravatar account.

NOTE: Your profile picture must be an image or illustration of yourself. No logos, abstract designs, Rorschach inkblots. You get the idea.

  • If you’re working for a company or agency, please add your role/position, company name, and company URL under the “Fanciest Author Box User Details” section.


Post Length

  • We’re finding that the longer the post, the more pageviews, time on page, and social love it will get. 1,500 words is good. 2,000 words is better. 3,000+ words ROCK.
  • But, as a rule of thumb, we require posts to be at least 1,000 words.


Use short paragraphs of around three to four sentences. Short paragraphs are easier to understand and digest, drive your point across, and encourage reading in this age of information overload and short attention spans. Still not convinced? Here’s a post that outlines the benefits of using short paragraphs.

Remember, keep it short and sweet!

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
  • 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 add 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. Ideally, talk to Kelsey before doing any type of review post.

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)
  • Please add a 1-2 sentence excerpt for every post (below text edit box, if you don’t see it click on screen options in top right and click excerpt).
  • 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.
  • Title Case: 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). Use this tool to easily convert to Title Case. These are coordinating conjunctions:

coordinating conjunctions


  • Always upload a featured image (found on the right sidebar) that is 1600 pixels wide and 840 pixels tall. Please preview your post before submitting it to make sure that your featured image is formatted correctly.


  • Upload at least one image on your post. Place your first photo after 150 words or so.


  • All in-post photos must be center-aligned, unless they are aligned with text.
  • Display size for all images must be set to “Large” if applicable.


  • Contributors are allowed to use images from DepositPhotos and sites that release all licenses (e.g. Death to Stock Photo, Unsplash, and Pixabay) only. If you need to purchase a DepositPhotos image for your SEJ post, please send your chosen photo’s ID or link to Rina at rina [at] and she’ll download one for you. Please note that DepositPhotos limits the number of photos that a user can download per month.
  • Contributors can also use images they created or photographs they took, as well as illustrative screenshots (see below):
Sample of acceptable illustrative screenshot (everything within the red box)

Sample of acceptable illustrative screenshot (everything within the red box)

Sample of unacceptable screenshot.

Sample of unacceptable screenshot.

  • Contributors are not allowed to upload charts, illustrations, and graphs from other websites unless they have written permission to do so.
  • All images cannot have company logo or brand. This is decided by editor discretion.
  • No overtly branded featured images or in-post photos that will make the post look sponsored.
  • No memes. There is some debate on whether these are fair usage, but SEJ does not permit their use.
  • All images must have proper attribution in chronological order at the bottom of your post (see example below):

Image Credits

Featured Image: photogreach/
In-post Photo: fancycrave1/
Screenshot by [Author’s Name]. Taken January 2016.

  • External links on images are prohibited.
  • All images must have Alt Tags and Title Attributes. This can be the post title or a succinct description of the photo that fits the post’s topic.


  • The SEJ editorial team reserves the right to replace or remove images they deem irrelevant to the post or has negative connotation without prior notice.

Republishing Content Guidelines

In order to avoid duplicate content issues with Google, we only permit content to be republished on Medium and must use a canonical link (the import function does the automatically).

Content may not be republished on LinkedIn, HuffPost, your personal blog, etc.

Editorial Review and Corrections

  • If we find out authors aren’t writing their own posts, we reserve the right to reject or delete the post, as well as prohibit the author from writing for SEJ going forward.
  • 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”?

Submitted to Editor

When you’ve finished a post draft, you’ll press the big blue button. Your post will pass through the hands of Rina Caballar, our Editorial Assistant, to make sure that your draft adheres to SEJ’s editorial guidelines.

The draft will then be forwarded to Kelsey, our Executive Editor, who is always on the lookout 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 gets out their red pen and 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…”.

In addition, sometimes Caitlin Rulien, our Social Producer, also copyedits.

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.


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 acknowledgment even if it is just “Thanks!”
  • For controversial discussions, we require our writers to defend their articles logically and calmly.
  • 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.