Guest posting used to be a relatively innocent way to get more exposure for your own blog by providing high-quality articles for no fee and in exchange for a brief bio or link back to your website. The positive for someone who accepted guest posts was a much-needed break from writing their own posts, or perhaps even a unique point of view to help grow their blog readership. I’ve been on both sides of the guest posting business – and it was never done for a profit.
If you run a blog with any level of success, you’ve probably gotten an email that reads like this:
My name is ______________ and I am a writer and a blogger. I'm just getting in touch to ask if you're open to reviewing content from freelance. If so, I'd love to put together a high-quality article written specifically for the site.
There is absolutely no charge for this and no strings attached; the only thing I would ask in return is that I'm able to include two do follow links to the sites of my choosing within the article - nothing shady or unethical, just one of the professional businesses I freelance for and I have some ideas that I think your readers would love:
(List of article ideas would be inserted here)
Do let me know if you're interested, and if so I can get something written for you over the course of the next few days.
Regards,Many of my colleagues have asked if they should reply to these requests, if they are legit, and why would they not want to take them up on an offer for great content they don’t have to write themselves.
Some unknown writer
I tell them to stay away! Here’s why:
If you don’t reply to this unsolicited email (which, by the way, I got 4 versions of the exact same email by different “writers” within one day at various email accounts I own), you’ll get a follow up that sounds like this:
I was waiting for your revert.
Please tell me your preferred topic and allow me to start my writing.
Looking forward to your revert.
First, of all, you can tell that English is not the first language here. Who uses the word “revert”? And why on earth would anyone think it acceptable to demand that I allow them to start their writing?
I ended up Googling the “guest poster” in question and found that, while they have no “home” to call their own (website, blog, freelance business, or even Twitter handle), they had done hundreds of guest posts across the internet. Most of the guest posts were on spammy sites with no original content, but one thing was consistent throughout all of the posts this “blogger” had provided. The bio read something like this:
“______ is a blogger by profession. She loves writing on technology and luxury. Beside this she is fond of gadgets. Recently an article on bathroom ideas attracted her attention. These days she is busy in writing an article on women’s health.”Note, that in addition to the revelation of “having recently been attracted to an article” (which has no business being in a real bio), all of the keywords in her bio are hyperlinked to sites that are likely paying her for backlinks.
And this is the key to the whole operation. Guest bloggers make their money by completing the cycle of securing backlinks for their clients. They don’t get paid unless they can convince some unknowing blog owner (you and me, in this case) to publish their “high-quality” guest post for free! Then, after you agree to publish, they provide you with a bio, along with directions for linking their choice of keywords. Then, they get paid by the owner of those linked sites. They don’t have to have writer websites or professional Twitter accounts, because they are simply SEO cogs in a wheel of the dirty backlink business.
What does this mean for you?
1. It’s becoming harder to find real guest posters for adding content to your blog.
2. These people will start to clutter up the inboxes of anyone with a PageRank of 3 or higher.
3. They will continue to dilute the quality of writing that is out there, and make it more difficult for real writers to secure authentic guest posts for the purpose of promoting their blogs and businesses.
I recommend steering clear of any email that offers guest posts in this manner. Sometimes, it’s hard to tell, but I would always ask for writing samples and a website. If they can’t provide that, stay away! Also, don’t ever allow keyword linking in a bio, unless you are doing it sparingly and for close friends or business colleagues (Google may ding you for this.) If all else fails, Google the name of the writer and “guest post” to see all the sites they’ve written on. You likely won’t be impressed (typos and such are common).
Have you ever accepted a guest posts and been disappointed with the results? It’s never too late to change your mind or remove a spammy post, as long as currency hasn’t exchanged hands!
*Photo by ~Denise~ via Flickr.