Welcome to the modern digital marketing mystery of our time. Guest blogging. Like many things in online marketing, guest blogging started as a very creative way to develop content and foster an online community. It quickly dissolved into a way for “black hat SEOs” to game the search engine system. Black hat SEOs = people that try to manipulate search engine algorithms to rank higher in search. They don’t play by the rules and they are the reason we can’t have nice things. Once black hats get a hold of a tactic it isn’t long until that tactic becomes the target of Google penalties and filtering (filtering isn’t a penalty but it will result in a drop in organic traffic). This is where the average digital marketer can get into serious trouble. This is also where I intend to help.
Should I Say No To Guest Bloggers?
The answer to that question is a very unclear, “sometimes.” The fact is that many guest bloggers are out to attempt to manipulate search engines. These bloggers are the ones to stay far away from. Others have valuable information and can really add a ton of value to your site and to your online community. The key to separating the two lies in developing a rock solid guest blogging policy. The policy, when enforced, will deter nefarious blog posters and welcome quality bloggers.
Elements Of A Guest Blogging Policy
There are some key elements that you want to include when creating a guest blogging policy.
- Don’t allow shameless self promotion – Guest bloggers who shamelessly self promote often have a self serving agenda in mind. In your policy remind them that if the blog sounds like an advertisement it will not be published. Let them know that they can use 3 to 4 lines of bio in the footer of the blog to promote themselves.
- Set a target length – Google is not a fan of thin content. Thin content is content that is similar to other content on the web, or content that is extremely short. Setting a content length of at least 250 words should help you avoid any problems related to thin content.
- Encourage visuals – Encourage guest bloggers to include visual aides. Make sure that those visual aides and images are not stolen or “borrowed” from other places on the web without permission.
- Encourage quality citations – Require that your guest blogger link to 3rd party quality resource. Try to limit guest bloggers from linking to themselves.
- Articles should be original - Make sure that the guest blog post is 100% unique to your site.
- Maintain the right to refuse any article - If guest bloggers cannot follow your guidelines it is your responsibility to protect your site. You can do this by reserving the right to refuse any blog post for any reason.
Guest Blogging Should Not Be Scary
Allowing guest bloggers should not be scary. Following the above guidelines should give you the confidence to protect your site from black hat guest bloggers.