Here comes the ugly truth about guest blogging:
All those sugary speeches about guest posting being a part of something bigger than banal link building don’t work (and they never worked) for top blogs editors.
Let’s face it: what does guest blogging give you?
- Brand promotion
- Author rank
- Online reputation
True. But it’s not all that simple. Do you hear that whisper from behind your shoulder? “Links. Links! Guest blogging gives you links, you silly boy!”
Here’s the kicker:
I am sure that if there was a law forbidding guest contributors to link to their projects, there would be at least an 80% drop of guest posting done worldwide (I do not have any official statistics, sorry).
Both blog hosts and guest writers (and I am one of them, actually) understand that guest blogging is an exchange. Always. Even if it’s not about links: a host gets content, a writer gets an audience, a chance to spread a brand, and growth.
And this is where the problem comes:
Today top bloggers don’t need the balderdash you are trying to submit. Yes, even if you are a cool blogger. Yes, even if you don’t consider your content a balderdash. And yes, even if you have 100500 articles published. (Experienced first-hand.)
Why are they so strict?
What do they expect from your writings?
What can you do to make them accept your content?
It seems I am going to free all skeletons from the closet. OK, let it roll.
That’s where the trouble lies
Do you remember guest blogging eight years ago? It had nothing in common with links. It was like a party for chosen ones: bloggers from different niches exchanged articles without any secret intentions.
The concept was simple:
Two bloggers from related industries wrote content and both benefited from this cross exposure and promotion. Actually, they could give their blogs to others without any hidden agenda! (Can you imagine anything of the kind today when marketing has possessed our brains completely?)
As far as you understand, this fairy tale couldn’t last forever.
Marketers have come.
They were audacious enough to turn guest blogging into something it remained until 2014, namely a set of proven automatic techniques to get links and the most out of SEO. As a result, every Tom, Dick and Harry started to write guest posts for links, not content quality and exposure.
Guest posts turned into
- poor rewriting;
- random outreach here and there;
- spammy content;
- SEO-titles, not relevant to the content itself;
- keyworded anchors for links.
I’ve come to guest blogging in 2013 when this technique was actively used for link building only. Yes, I have an experience of writing low-quality guest posts aka “Top 5 things to know about cats” or “How to download this cool app to your smartphone” for blogs that had nothing in common with my niche. (Thankfully, none of them is live online today.)
With this “rich” experience in mind, I would tell you the following:
Never consider guest blogging a link building technique! It influences your online reputation, and it helps you build your writing portfolio; I still remember that feeling of rude awakening when top blogs don’t want to accept your writings because of the low-quality articles you scratched to build links within the shortest possible time.
As it turned out soon, Google had tired of the saturnalia guest blogging became; moreover, it had tired of the garbage dump the Internet turned into thanks to such “smart” guest bloggers like me.
Black Monday for guest blogging
January 20, 2014, is the day every guest blogger remembers: Matt Cutts declared the death of guest blogging.
The interesting fact is, Rand Fishkin had predicted this apocalypse three days before Matt wrote about it in his blog.
Nothing awful happened. But most guest bloggers and blog hosts didn’t think so.
The panic spread quickly:
Most blog hosts rushed to check their websites for spammy content and bad links; most of them said “No” to guest posting, others accepted guest submissions with no links.
Most guest bloggers cried over spilled milk, deploring former errors… Matt Cutts decided to support them (pay attention to this tweet’s publishing date):
But there were some bloggers who considered guest blogging alive. Moreover, they insisted on its reborn and becoming something bigger than simple link building. It seems they had read Matt’s post right to the end:
Neil Patel was among the first top bloggers and internet marketers who predicted the future of guest blogging; moreover, he predicted it would flourish:
- Guest posts will generate high-quality content that educates readers.
- Guest posts will not contain rich anchor texts.
- Guest posts will share only relevant links that benefit readers.
- Guest posts will be for people, not search engines.
- Guest posts will be for networking, online reputation (brands’ and authors’ one), partnership, creating something that’s worth sharing, and filling the Internet with informative content that solves people’s problems.
Top bloggers considered guest posting a part of content marketing strategy. It’s 2015 now, and we can see all those predictions coming true.
Guest blogging is alive. Yes, after all this time. And, citing Professor Snape, “Always.”
You are a good guest blogger, aren’t you?
Despite your goodness, top blogs still didn’t want to accept your guest posts in 2014.
1) You didn’t pass the smell test
What every blogger does after you offer them a guest post:
- they google you to make sure you don’t publish spammy content;
- they check if you don’t post links to spammy websites;
- they see how good your past content is. As far as you understand, no top blogger will post your articles of 400-500 words with no interesting and valuable information inside.
2) Your content wasn’t detailed and unique
Top bloggers are looking for top-notch content, and this is as clear as noonday. If you don’t write such texts, if you don’t share any links to authoritative resources, if your texts don’t pass Copyscape, if you write on topics that have been beaten to death already… All the hope abandon, ye who enter here: your guest posts will never be accepted by top bloggers if there is at least one “if” present.
3) Your English leaves much to be desired
Ouch. This is my persistent problem, too. Broken English, poor spelling and grammar, no proofreading and editing – they all can prevent your guest posts from publishing at top blogs.
Sometimes I face this problem: while many bloggers, including authoritative native speakers with years of experience in editing, don’t see any critical grammar issues in my writings, others send me away to learn English. Frankly speaking, having 100+ published articles at the moment, I still can’t understand how poor my English is for writing blog posts.
There is always room for perfection. 🙂
4) You can’t outreach
Top bloggers get dozens of inquiries for guest post contributions every week. What is so special about your pitch? Why should they pay attention to your outreach letter and get interested in reviewing your article? It’s all about outreaching, folks.
At the beginning of 2014, when all that hullabaloo around guest blogging started, my fellow blogger posted the article at ProBlogger where he described and explained all general reasons why your articles might not be accepted for publishing. Some of them sound too obvious, but I know that many top bloggers continue getting poor outreach letters from guest writers who continue making the same mistakes even after 1,5 years since a so-called guest blogging apocalypse. (Cheers to those who’ve survived!)
P. S. Now I understand why Kristi refused to accept my guest article for Kikolani in March 2014 🙂
What do top bloggers expect from guest blogging in 2015-2016?
If you lose, don’t lose the lesson.
If you want to impress top bloggers in 2015-2016 make sure you know what they expect from your guest articles today. They will be happy to review and publish your content if
- both topic and text are awesome;
- you know the difference between content and compelling content;
- your text teaches, solves a problem, entertains readers;
- your text resonates with the blog’s audience;
- you write it as if you write for one specific person;
- you share your unique angle of a problem;
- you are ready to promote your content and share it in your next guest posts;
- you will not care about affiliate links;
- you understand the principles of content marketing, and you share texts that could rock the blog.
Guest blogging will never be the same again. Google will challenge it, and guest blogging will accept that challenges by all means. And it’s not about simply surviving and standing at bay but development and becoming something more than a link building technique.
I do want guest blogging to stand high. I really do. I see it as a chance for men of pens to create good content and publish it at awesome resources such as Kikolani; I see it as a chance to share something useful with online readers, getting their approval and positive feedback; I see it strictly for branding and exposure, not for SEO.
And if you want top blogs to accept your writings, I would recommend you to go back to guest blogging roots.
Links – only relevant (thanks, Penguin!), content – only relevant (thanks, Panda!)
The circle has been closed.