Guest Blogging Mistakes that Can Kill Your Pitch
After the Google Penguin updates that targeted many kinds of unnatural links guest blogging has become the number one white hat link building technique it seems. I won’t argue with that today.
In case you rely solely on guest posting to build links it’s a recipe for disaster in the long run. On the other hand a healthy dose of guest articles here and there (but not everywhere) ,especially on authority sites that don’t allow everybody to contribute, is a great idea to build
Sadly as with all popular link building techniques, when they become mainstream the overall quality is dwindling. People are after quick wins and do not really care about the context, they have to get a number of links per month and end up hurrying things up.
Today I’d like to point out several issues I often encounter when getting pitched by guest bloggers.
I will deal mostly with the SEO niche but I have lots of similar experiences when dealing with other topics. In some cases you can generalize, in other the SEO industry is very specific. For example almost everybody who’s into SEO will probably know what a guest post is and why someone would want to write one for a third party blog.
I’m not an SEO celebrity but I get a few guest posting pitches per month. I am not a millionaire either so I need my time to work for money too. The main problem with guest blogging begins when I need to invest more time in someone else’s content that in my own one.
A guest post only makes sense for me when it takes less time and effort to publish than when I would write something myself.
Sometimes as little as an hour is enough for me to write a good blog post. I don’t want to spend more time then 30 minutes on dealing with you and your post. In most cases we need to email back and forth at least 2 to 3 times and then I still need that 30 minutes to prepare the article for publication. Anything more is already too much.
I have to ignore many guest blogging pitches altogether due to them simply being clumsy and disrespectful.
First Outreach Email
What are some common guest blogging mistakes that can kill your pitch right with the first email you send me?
Not knowing and not addressing me by my name. Say “Hello Tad”. That’s perfectly enough! Otherwise I will assume that you have sent me an automated mass email. You end up in the SPAM folder in the worst case.
Using only the URL of my blog instead of its name or using a wrong name. Look up the name in the title tag. Again, either I think you’re a bot that only checks the URL or you don’t know my blog at all. At least peruse it a bit. Then use my blog name not the URL.
Not looking up my guest blogging guidelines or ignoring them. Read the guidelines and act accordingly. My guidelines over at SEO 2.0 are pretty straightforward, nothing fancy, just the bare minimum of mutual aid so to say. You help me to get content, I help you to get attention.
Sending a pre-written post in the first email. Ask me what I want instead of just dumping your content on me. It’s like having written a love letter without someone in mind and then looking up people and sending it out of the blue. Make sure I love you back and let me pick or agree to an idea you suggest.
Not being to the point on what you want when approaching a blogger. Instead of writing a fuzzy email explaining how there is a great opportunity to work together on the Web and how we could both benefit from it, be very specific: “‘I’d like to write a post titled “The Art of Begging for Links like a Hobo” for your blog.
Suggesting “me too” articles like “10 Random SEO Tips for No One In Particular”. Many potential guest bloggers approach me with an article directory mindset. They assume that they just need to write 200 words of slightly relevant text the search engine will index and that’s all. Nope.
Guest blogging is about real readers seeing your article.
It has to be good enough for real people to stop their daily Internet frenzy and take a pause to read it. They won’t stop for a headline they have seen a 12 times a day for the last 5 years.
After I Agree to Publish
Once you overcome all the preliminary steps and I agree to publish your post it still happens that I can’t. Common reasons are:
Not adding an enticing image or images at all to your post. A post without an image, even in an industry like SEO which lacks most common visuals doesn’t work as well as a post having one. An enticing image can make a real difference by making people click the thumb on third party sites.
Guest bloggers often do not even bother. They just send in the article without an image.
Partly it’s my fault because I assume that everybody knows that you have to use images in your postings. I don’t always have the time to email back and forth and to explain first and then choose images as such bloggers fail to find a good one on the first attempt. Sometimes I will try to find a better one using my favorite tool for Creative Commons search on Flickr. In some cases I simply won’t be able to find the spare time anymore.
Not formatting for readability leaving me alone with huge chunks of text. I’m not twenty anymore so looking at a computer screen all day really tires me. My eyes are strained and sometimes I even get headaches. I usually read my email in the evening after the real work is done and then I have to take a quick look at the post you have written. Ouch, my eyes hurt too much. I can’t. It’s not just me of course.
The actual blog reader has to read it as well or rather scan as most people do not read whole articles online.
So I have to fix the readability issues sometimes. In case I’m too tired already I probably won’t. You can do it yourself, before you send it. Add paragraphs every five lines. Use bold and italics to stress important words. Use citations or blockquotes, subheadlines, lists and inline images please. Add some whitespace too!
Sending an office document I can’t use in WordPress. Most people in agencies use still Microsoft Office to write. I don’t, I write straight into the WordPress textarea. Over the last decade of blogging on WordPress I have tried everything else, including all office formats, third party blog editors etc. All of them screw up the text in one or another way. Heck,
there were even hidden links added by software to my blog posts! That’s why I will look up the actual code of each post before publishing.
Yeah, I know HTML pretty well. Despite of this I won’t waste my time with fixing office suite type of HTML. I tried once for a guest post and it took almost 2h until finally the post was looking properly. In case you really have to send me the text as an attachment other than clean HTML please send it to me as an RTF file. They work best cross-platform.
So you see there is no voodoo involved here. In case the blog posting idea is intriguing, unique and informative enough the rest is just pretty straightforward.
Proper guest blogging basically is about being respectful toward me and my audience.
Always consider the time it will cost to make your post ready to publish too. The best post won’t see the light of day in case it takes hours to make it ready for publication.
* Creative Commons image by Art Siegel.