4 Signs You're Not Practicing Guest Blogging Correctly

by John Rooney August 16th, 2013 


Not so long ago guest blogging was very much the belle at the content marketing ball. Everyone was at it, heralding it as the future of SEO and a strategy that Google may finally approve of for boosting search rankings and building brand awareness.

Of course where potential success goes spammers follow, and after months of abuse by content creators and blog owners alike all looking to make a fast buck, the reports of guest blogging's demise have been circulating for some time.

However guest blogging can still form a valid and effective part of your content marketing campaign, helping you to build your site's back-link profile while reaching a fresh and relevant audience, as long as it is done correctly.

So if you've spent hours putting together incredibly well written and informative content that just isn't delivering results in the way you hoped, what are the signs that you're doing something wrong?

#1. You've written the content before finding a home for it.

Your fingers are numb; your brain hurts and your eyes are strained. It's all been worth it though, because now you've got an impeccably thought out and intricately researched guest post that is going to really pique the interest of your target market... now all you have to do is find somewhere for it to be published.

It is a mistake that so many people involved with content marketing make but one that can have seriously detrimental effects on the chance of you publishing your guest blog on a truly great site. It's kind of like chiselling a peg and then going off to find a hole to put it in.

The websites that will offer the most benefit to your campaign - in terms of user base and authority - are going to want content that is tailored to their style and that is going to be relevant to their readers. Pre-written posts simply isn't going to have the same appeal to these blogs in the same way as content that has been tailored to suit them specifically.

Limiting yourself to more generic and less fussy (which, by the way, isn't a good thing) blogs isn't the only problem though.

Trying to write a guest post that is time-sensitive when you don't know where it is going to be published - for example commenting on a recent news event or expressing an opinion about the latest innovation or break-through in your particular field - runs the risk of becoming outdated before people have had the chance to read it should finding a suitable home for it prove difficult.

#2. No blog owners respond positively (or at all) to your outreach.

It seems like a mystery. They say they accept guest posts, your company specializes in a product or service that would appeal to their readership, so why aren't they responding to your e-mails?

If you find you're getting nothing but negative responses - or none at all - from blogs that are relevant to your industry then it could be that you simply aren't going about your outreach in the right way.

Perfecting the skill of crafting effective guest blog outreach is tricky, and requires a combination of good manners, a straight forward explanation of what you're offering and a demonstrable knowledge and interest in the website and industry in question.

Dana Forman, who runs her own fashion blog, wrote this awesome post showcasing some of the various outreach e-mails she has received from brands looking to work with her. It critiques them in terms of what they do right or wrong from an actual blogger's perspective and is well worth a read if outreach is something you have struggled to do effectively in the past.

#3. Your content isn't generating many referrals.

This could be a sign of one of two possible issues. Firstly, it could be that the blog you have posted on simply doesn't have a large readership or what readership it does have isn't relevant to your products or services.

This is why it is so important to thoroughly prospect a good location beforehand to ensure that you are posting your content on sites that are going to help generate traffic for your own website.

But what if you have posted your content on a well trafficked and relevant site? In this case it unfortunately may mean that you content isn't doing the job of holding the interest of the reader. So what can you do to change this?

1. Multimedia

Images and videos make a huge difference to the engagement of readers with a post. Content with images receive 94% more views than content without them, and it is undoubtedly also the case with videos. If it adds value to the content and gives the reader a break from reading text then it will prove to be a winner.

2. Stats, graphs and headings

Sometimes the very sight of paragraph after paragraph of text is enough to put a reader off a piece of content, so find ways to break up the prose to ensure it is as appealing to the eye as possible. Headings are the easiest way to achieve this, but inserting statistics and graphs can be very effective, while making the content more informative at the same time.

3. Quotes, surveys and polls

Trying to make a point but don't have anything to back it up? Why not ask some people in the know within your industry or conduct a survey to prove your argument? Not only does it add authority to your post but it also adds that extra angle of interest for the reader.

Another problem could be where you are placing the back-link to your website. It is standard practice for many content creators to place the link in a by-line or author bio, however these are often skipped over by the readers, much more so than when a link is within the main body of the content.

#4. Your content isn't receiving many social shares.

If no one is 'Liking', Tweeting or '+1'ing your guest blog then it could be another sign that your content isn't engaging the reader enough or that the blog you have posted on doesn't receive much traffic.

If the issue is the latter then you just need to be more choosy with your guest blog outreach, however creating genuinely great content that people want to share is altogether more difficult, though there are some general principles that you would be bearing in mind.

1. Does the content have value?

This value can come in a number of forms from entertainment to utility, but in both cases you need to understand what your audience is looking for.

2. Go against standard convention.

It's easy to rehash an old idea or follow along with the status quo, but for content that is really going to gain an interest, 'disruptive ideas' are perfect for generating a social buzz. Challenge the received wisdom within your industry with new or even controversial ideas. Alternatively, simply finding a fresh angle on an old idea can be enough to spark a sharing frenzy.

3. Tell a story.

We all respond to a great narrative and your guest blog doesn't necessarily have to be straight down the line. Drama and emotion can be provided by a story - both ingredients that will get your content shared.

Regardless of what you may have read regarding guest blogging not being the future-proof online marketing tactic we once thought it was you will always reap the rewards of fantastic content in whatever form it comes in.

John Rooney

John Rooney is a Content Marketing and PR Executive for UK-based legal services provider. In this role, John is responsible for conceiving and executing content marketing campaigns as well as supporting with PR initiatives. He also blogs about movies and films over at Think Outside the Box

Think Outside the Box

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8 Responses to “4 Signs You're Not Practicing Guest Blogging Correctly”

  1. Oliver Kyle says:

    Great post John! You cover some really useful points that I will definitely be actioning in my own guest blogging strategy.
    Do you think that infographics will overtake guest blogs in the future as more and more people are drawn in my images as opposed to text?
    Great work and I look forward to seeing more posts from you in the future.

    • John Rooney says:

      I think a lot of it will depend on Google and what they do to tackle the proliferation of poor quality guest posts.

      If they go after the practice in general then it will inevitably tail off and be overtaken by something like infographics which are rocketing in popularity – and with good reason – however I don't think the two are mutually exclusive.

      Infographics and guest blogs can both be used as a part of a successful content strategy, as long as they are both done properly, and I don't think there are currently any SEO benefits of images over guest posts.

      What brands need to think about is how best to market their products/services as some things naturally lend themselves to infographics more than others.

  2. Tom says:

    Great post, John.

    I think too many people have abandoned guest blogging as a technique, due to the overwhelming number of blogs which are obviously set up to hoard guest blogs – and Google has figured this out. People's sites get penalised due to blogging techniques seen as spammy, so they stop doing it – but I think they've thrown the baby out with the bath water.

    I think the value point you made is extremely important, since a quality post on a good, genuine website or blog is going to have far more value to a campaign. Guest blogging should be seen more as marketing and less like link building.

    Since you're not writing with SEO necessarily in mind, you don't have to panic when a Google update comes along and you'll probably get far more value due to brand exposure and genuine referrals – which is surely the ultimate goal!

  3. Hey John,

    Nowadays guest post is one of major thing which is used by SEO Marketers to promo to their website. But among them an almost larger amount of SEO marketer is unaware about how to do guest posting and approach guest posting in different in wrong manner. So, signs which you have showed really help them to improve their guest posting capability. Thanks for Sharing :)

    • John Rooney says:

      Thanks Stephen,

      I think poor guest posting is probably one of the biggest scourges of modern SEO right now, above even spammy link building. Most people know now that you're likely to be penalised for a poor back link profile but think that guest blogs are safe as its content – and that's king right?

      Of course simply writing terrible content and publishing it on equally awful blogs IS spammy link building!


  4. Idan Cohen says:

    Hey John,

    I like the post and I think you're touching all the important points of guest blogging.

    Regarding your 2nd point, I agree that crafting your request email is something you should optimize and improve over time but I think it's also a numbers game.

    In my experience you should send at least 5-10 emails and expect 1-3 positive replies.

    What do you think about this method?


    • John Rooney says:

      I'd agree that the more outreach e-mails you can send, the more likely it is you will receive a positive response – if you send one at a time it could be that your guest blog prospecting is a very inefficient process indeed.

      However I still think it is more important to make sure that you are reaching out in the right way. A poorly written outreach e-mail or one that looks as though it has been written for someone else altogether may actually damage your prospects of publishing with that blog owner, not just one this occasion, but in the future as well.

      If you have the time to craft 5-10 outreach e-mails by all means do so, but I think that putting the time into each e-mail should always be the primary strategy in terms of securing positive replies.


  5. Idan Cohen says:

    If you have the time to do so than yes, this is the better way to do it.

    As a somewhat busy person myself I don't really have the time to do it, so my compromise is this:

    I write one really good outreach email that I use as a template and then take a few minutes to change a few of the sentences according to each blog I send it to, so far it worked very well.

    Being efficient is as important as being professional.