Think Twice about Accepting Unsolicited Guest Posts on your Blog

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. 

Until now.

If you run a blog with any level of success, you’ve probably gotten an email that reads like this:

Hi ,
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.
Some unknown writer
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.

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.
Thanks,Unknown writer

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.


  1. I have accepted a couple of guest posts unsolicited, but I was obviously talking to a real person about real content. They were upfront about why they wanted to post (both times were because their blog/book fit into my current series topic) and I maintained full editorial control. I would never accept a post that came outright and suggested I might need to pay for my content. What an insult!

  2. Thanks for your feedback, Lindsey! That's great that you happened upon genuine posters that met your need for content in a legit way. I think there is still hope for guest posting programs, but there are still a lot of people who have a hard time discerning the "real" bloggers from those who are simply link placement machines. So happy to hear that you've had some good experiences, and I appreciate you stopping by to share :)

  3. This is perfect post to help people discern the difference. I am not a blogger but I sure like stalking them :0) Found you on Pinterest by the way....thanks for the read.

  4. I've gotten many of those e-mails, and I am well aware of the fact that they're paid link-builders. But then.... aren't all bloggers paid link-builders in one way or another? :-)

    I only allow guest posts from such sites in which the content is relevant and helpful to my readers AND I absolutely must be comfortable with the sites they are linking to. (no payday loans!)

    I end up telling a lot of these guest posters, "no thanks" - especially the ones for which grammar is a real problem or the site being linked to is scammy.

    BUT... I've had three guest posts from link-building freelancers go viral and those posts have made me a decent chunk of change, so I don't always turn them away.

    I think the lesson here is that you have to be comfortable with the guest posting arrangement and tough enough to say "no" if it's not a good fit for your site.

  5. Appreciate you stalking (erm, I mean stopping by.) Pinterest is fast becoming a superb way to connect with other small biz junkies! Thanks for your comment!

  6. Thanks, Christina! Your story is a good one, and the reason why these rules, of course, can't be applied straight across the board. I'm also very glad that these posts helped to bring traffic to your blog! I wish everyone was able to report back with such positive results :)

  7. I actually write guest posts for a few blogs. I do not solicit in the manner that you have described (although I receive them regularly with my own blog). The niche that I write for tends to use "how-to" articles for guest posts with less emphasis on personal story so writing them for the site owner isn't a moral conflict. I get turned down at times but most people know who I am because we have connected on Twitter or through each others blogs before I've sent a request.

    These types of requests that you describe are exactly the reason why I have adopted a guest posting policy. I never expected to have one. Although I bet these "writers" would ignore that policy if I posted it anyways.

  8. Thanks for stopping over, Jessica! I'm a big fan of your blog :)

    I think it's great that you use tact and honesty when placing guest posts for others. I know that there are a few out there who do this, and I only wish they were the ones reaching out -- instead of the others. I appreciate you sharing your experience!

  9. I accepted an unsolicited guest post recently. The article was written pretty well, but I had to make some modifications to it. Typically I wouldn't accept an article this way, but I provided guidelines and they were followed by the guest blogger so I accepted it.

  10. I have gotten a bunch of messages like this, and I have learned to ignore them. The main reason is because something felt "iffy" about it, and your post just confirms that for me.

  11. James,
    It's great that you were able to use a guest post and adapt it to fit your blog. Not everyone has had such luck!

    In life -- and business -- it is often best to "got with your gut". Glad you followed your instinct on this!

  12. Like the pic you used for this post. May be bloggers can also go to an extent of say allowing 2-3 posts every 7-10 days. That way posts without nothing much to offer won't stand a chance of ever appearing on ones blog.

    If one does not have a limit to how many guest posts they can publish with a given time frame (say in a week or month), then the temptation of publishing any post becomes hard to resist.

    And so guest posters who are out there looking for blog traffic to milk will always be a constant problem, until some measures are taken (for example, you have decided to stay away from people who don't have their own sites or samples).

    Liked the post.

  13. It gets worse than that - I get emails actually attaching a guest post for me to use. Effectively what they're saying is "you're desperate for content and you'll clearly publish anything". Well, actually no...

    People who make the cardinal sin of sending me unsolicited guestposts get deleted and marked as spam from that moment on...

  14. Although, I agree with a lot of your points, I still feel you are being a little too harsh on guest posters.

    I have been guest blogging for clients for over two years and I always take out the time to understand the kind of content the blogger publishes and the guest post policy of the site. I also make sure the articles (actually) offer valuable content and are grammaticaly correct.

    I don't see whats wrong with sending someone a guest post mail if the blogger is himself inviting guest posts. Why else would you have a "Write for Us" page on your blog?

    And if you don't want unsolicited guest posts, please mention it on your blog. People like me, NEVER contact a blog if it specifically mentions that they don't accept guest articles from strangers.

  15. Thanks for all the comments. Aishwarya, I do agree that a guest posting policy is useful, however, it may not cover all the bases. Many of these "guest bloggers" are not actually reading the blogs to see what the blogs are about or how the posts are formatted. They simply see a PageRank that they want to take advantage of for the Google juice. I have been lucky to have guest posters for my blogs that have done an excellent job, but they were people I knew and trusted, and the bio they used linked to their blog naturally, with no manipulation of the URL/text link for SEO purposes.

    One other pet peeve is that I have received numerous "spammy" requests in the same year, often from the same "blogger." Many of these are not real bloggers.. they are marketing companies. The names aren't even real.

    On a few instances, I have allowed guest posts from companies, but they paid for those spots as an advertorial, and it was clearly disclosed to my readers. I think this is a great way to generate advertising income, and I see no problem with that.

    The problem (and the cause of this article) is that all the guest posting "spam" can be annoying. When you communicate back that you don't do guest posts from unknown writers, some of the responses have been very unprofessional.

    Moral of the story: Use your best judgement in these matters. Yes, there are legitimate guest posters that want to build traffic to their own blogs, but the majority of these "offers" are link-building machines that add little value to the web as a whole.

  16. Gah! I just had a complete response and Google ate it b/c I was logged into the wrong account. That is frustrating. The gist: If you engage with these spammy "bloggers" and you use Do Follow links, Google will eventually penalize you. You could lose your PR and your SERP position. Let these people know that their links will be NoFollow and they'll suddenly lose interest. Same if you're selling text links.

    I use Do Follow for legitimate guest posters with sites that are relevant to my own, but I'm not going to risk my PR5 for some spammer's benefit.

  17. Thanks, Melanie! (And I feel your pain about being in the wrong Google account.) I agree that disclosing "no follow" up front is a great way to get rid of spam -- assuming, of course, that they understand and care. I think it's great when you can gift those who DESERVE IT Do Follow tags. It's the beautiful gift that keeps on giving ;)

  18. Great article! I am a contributor to various platforms and would never consider pitching someone in this manner. Thanks for sharing.


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