In this blog, I want to share with you my experience with accepting guest posts (both free and paid).
If you want some advice on guest post outreach (your posts published on other blogs), here is my ultimate guide to guest blogging.
Frankly, when you accept guest posts, there are both pros and cons.
Also, in my experience, there were some super painful guest post mistakes, which cost me a few years of work and organic traffic stagnation. 🙃
The scary part was that I couldn’t even figure out, why traffic was stuck. One of the reasons was in spammy guest posts, which I accepted…
I don’t want you to repeat some of these mistakes.
So, keep reading. 😊
When your blog starts growing and getting more & more organic traffic, your inbox will begin to fill with plenty of guest post offers.
Here is a screen from my email inbox.
If your site has high traffic 50K+ sessions per month, you will receive dozens of these guest post emails per day.
They can look something like this.
Or like this:
At first, I was like:
“Hey, people are sending me content, for free!
They recognize my blog!…
My blog is important for someone!…
Who cares, if they want just one backlink…
AND, if your site has some nice traffic and domain strength (it can be measured by DA or DR) – these people will also offer money.
If your site has at least 10-15k sessions per month (in a good niche) and DA (domain authority) > 25, you can start charging $50-100 per guest post.
And much more, when these metrics grow.
Here is a screenshot of my PayPal account, for accepting guest posts on one of my projects.
SOUNDS COOL! Wait…
Understand me correctly, this blog is not against guest posting.
Of course, bloggers should use this opportunity to earn some cash for hard work.
BUT, you should be extremely careful when accepting guest posts. If you often accept some low-quality stuff – especially with malicious links (gambling, adult sites, etc.) – your SEO efforts would be seriously damaged.
Here is a Google Analytics screenshot from one of my projects.
As you can see, it is an “organic plateau”. It is painful… 😫
Let’s discuss it in detail.
Which exact harm can low-quality guest post bring to your site? What should you look at, when accepting guest posts?
First of all, check out this blog by Matt Cutts – former head of WebSpam team at Google. He, back in 2014 famously noted: “Stick a fork in it, guest blogging is done”.
Here are some quotes from his article:
“Ultimately, this is why we can’t have nice things in the SEO space: a trend starts out as authentic. Then more and more people pile on until only the barest trace of legitimate behaviour remains.”
And then this:
“So stick a fork in it: guest blogging is done; it’s just gotten too spammy. In general, I wouldn’t recommend accepting a guest blog post unless you are willing to vouch for someone personally or know them well. Likewise, I wouldn’t recommend relying on guest posting, guest blogging sites, or guest blogging SEO as a link building strategy.”
Also, Matt mentioned that getting money to pass link authority is a violation of Google guidelines:
“…someone sent me a spam email offering money to get links that pass PageRank. That’s a clear violation of Google’s quality guidelines.”
Here are a few additional videos from Matt Cutts.
To quickly sum up the article, spammy guest posts, published on your site can be a sign of its low quality for Google. With all consequences…
Let’s look in detail, how Google can identify the bad quality of a guest post on your site?
I think, these are mainly two things:
- bad content (non-original, spam, spun content, etc);
- bad links in guest posts (links to spammy sites, gambling, etc).
Bad guest post content
At first, you can be excited, that someone offers you 800-word article for free.
But, in most cases, a guest post article could be:
- non-original (it was published on other sites many times);
- low quality – some nonreadable content;
- bad grammar;
- spun – it was used many times with the help of Spinrewriter or similar tools;
- just spam, etc.
Now, if you accept a few articles like that, publish on your site and Google will index and analyze them – your whole site’s quality can be reviewed. So, even if you have some amazing content, but start publishing spammy guest posts – your overall quality mark will be lowered, a lot.
How to check content?
I would recommend using some plagiarism checker, like Copyscape.
Of course, content should be of great quality, interesting to read, present original research and so on.
Also, I would recommend setting a requirement of at least 1000-1500 words plus for a guest post.
Ideally, content should be based on some keyword and optimized for it.
The aim of these guest posts is to get some domain authority from your site to target sites.
Always, always check the quality of links, which are included in guest posts.
If these are gambling, adult or other shady sites – it’s a fast NO.
For Google, not only backlinks to your site, but external links from your site are ranking signals.
If you link to some shady stuff – it a strong low-quality sign for Google. It is even much worse than non-original content.
This was one of the reasons, why my site started to tank in Google rankings. Because, I accepted many guest posts, which linked to spammy sites. At first, I thought, it wasn’t a big deal. Turned out, it was. 😄
Even, if sites look ok, double check them in Moz or Ahrefs – to identify domain authority, which sites link to them, their traffic, etc.
For example, with Ahrefs you can check Url rank, Domain Rank, Backlinks, Organic keywords, Organic traffic, etc.
Similar metrics can be checked for free with Moz link explorer.
Remember, you only want to link to high-quality sites, with good domain authority (e.g. above 15-20), organic traffic and quality backlinks.
But, even then there is no guarantee. The trick is that even if the backlink, which is proposed in the guest post, looks good – it may not be enough. Because, if guest post activity was spammy and there are lots of new bad sites linking to this site and your site is among them – it will be a low-quality sign for Google.
So, if someone offered you an article and you rush to publishing it without checking – it can be a super bad idea.
That’s what I did for some period, which ultimately drowned my site!
Here are some further notes from Matt Cutts:
“…There are still many good reasons to do some guest blogging (exposure, branding, increased reach, community, etc.). Those reasons existed way before Google and they’ll continue into the future. And there are absolutely some fantastic, high-quality guest bloggers out there…”
“I just want to highlight that a bunch of low-quality or spam sites have latched on to “guest blogging” as their link-building strategy, and we see a lot more spammy attempts to do guest blogging. Because of that, I’d recommend skepticism (or at least caution) when someone reaches out and offers you a guest blog article.“
So, there you have it, from former Google official.
How to accept guest posts?
If you ultimately decided to accept guest posts, here some tips from my experience.
1. Create a dedicated, guest posting landing page – e.g. yoursite.com/guest-posts. Here is my page from Online Hikes.
Use some Google footprints in the page: “write for use”, “guest blogs”, “guest blogging”…
This way other people searching for guest post opportunities in Google will be able to find your blog.
2. Share your page on Twitter, FB, Linkedin, Instagram (with hashtags #guestpost), join guest blogging communities on Facebook, Linkedin. A lot of people are searching for guest post opportunities in social media.
3. Join guest posting sites, for example, contento.marketing. This way brands can find your guest posting opportunities.
4. Set guest post requirements
You should set your guest posting requirement really, really high. If you are serious about your blog, of course.
- Only original, high-quality content.
- The topic should be based on keyword research (and only target a keyword, for which you don’t have any content)
- Article optimized for a chosen keyword.
- At least 1000-1500 words.
- Preferably no-follow links to high authority sites.
- Detailed, original research is preferred.
- Data, based content is preferred.
- Original visuals, infographic preferred (not pixabay images).
You may say it is too much. But, you should put a high demand for your blog. If you are spending so much time, money and effort – others should treat it in the same way. And you will see, in some time, you may start receiving only high-quality guest post proposals.
Should you accept paid guest posts?
It is hard to say no, especially for a beginner blogger, if someone offers your $100-300 just to put a link on your site.
Again, trading links are against official Google guidelines.
What I would recommend, is accepting high-quality offers, which seek not passing backlinks, but exposure and reach of your audience. More like classic advertisement offers.
For example, some well-known brand, which already has a strong domain, just wants to present itself to your audience.
This articles may link to other sites, but maybe it won’t be seen from Google eyes as such a big violation.
Because you need to think about accepting paid guest posts in the long term.
It can be cool to receive several hundred or even thousands of dollars in a few days for guest posts.
But, if they are spammy, in the long run – they will kill your SEO effort, for which you spent much more time and money. And then restoring your site’s credibility in Google’s eyes may take years…
So, be careful.
To sum it up
Thanks for reading my “rant” about guest posting.
There are many ways when guest posting is totally fine – both posting on other sites and accepting on yours.
But, you should be super sceptical with accepting low-quality guest posts, even paid, on your site.
In the short term, you can earn some cash, in the long term, if done wrong, you can ultimately damage your SEO efforts and site credibility, which will be super hard to restore.
Give your thoughts and experiences with guest posting in comments below.