Rule #1: Authors must have a track record of writing great content
I get a few dozen inquires each week for guest post contributions. Do you know why I don’t accept most of the posts? One reason is that I want Quick Sprout to remain my personal blog, which means I need to be the main writer. The second reason is that most of the authors don’t have a track record of writing awesome content.
Many of these guest authors have never written a guest post, which isn’t a big deal… but many of them don’t even have a great track record of writing awesome content on their own blog.
Here’s what I look for when authors offer me a guest post:
- Spam – I Google their name to make sure they aren’t pushing out spammy content throughout the web.
- Links – I make sure they aren’t linking out in their bio or within the content to spammy websites.
- Depth – look to see how detailed their past content is. I usually look for authors who write content that is at least 1,000 words, if not 2,000. You can’t put much advice in a 400 word blog post, so avoid writers who are just trying to crank out content for links.
Rule #2: Watch outgoing links
This is probably the most tricky part about evaluating guest posts. Some blogs like Search Engine Watch are known for removing all links while other ones like Huffington Post keep almost every link you add.
So, what should be your stance on links within guest posts? Let authors link out as many times as they want to as long as those links are benefiting your readers. The moment those links don’t benefit your readers, remove them.
It doesn’t matter if those links go to the author’s site or even your competitors’ site. As long as the links help educate your readers, people will want to read your blog.
Here’s a general guideline to follow:
- A bio should only contain 1 or 2 links – either to the autor’s website, Twitter handle, or his/her blog.
- A blog post should contain a minimum of 4 links – I don’t have a maximum number of links that should be in a post, but I do have a minimum. People have written blog posts on almost every topic out there, so instead of regurgitating the same old information, link out to the sites that have already covered it.
Rule #3: The content must be detailed and unique
I would never accept content that isn’t detailed or unique. What I mean by detailed is that the content needs to be at least 1,000 words with no fluff. You can always make a post meatier by adding details and steps, so why not take an extra hour and write a better blog post?
I also won’t accept a blog post on a topic that has been beaten to death. For example, most people know that Google PageRank doesn’t matter. So, why accept another blog post that talks about why PageRank isn’t important?
Lastly, guest authors who contribute to dozens of blogs have a tendency to continually spin content. They’ll take the same post topic and continually spin it so that they can guest post on more blogs. To combat this, use free services like Copyscape, which will point out any duplicate or similar articles. All you have to do is upload the guest post to a private URL and run it through Copyscape.
Rule #4: Be picky
Even if a guest post is good, it doesn’t mean you should publish it. The content needs to be great!If you don’t set strict standards from day one, your blog won’t be read consistently.
Here are my criteria:
- I won’t accept posts with spelling or grammar errors. If a post has those, it means the author didn’t spend too much time on it. (I know, I have a ton of grammar errors on Quick Sprout. I need to improve my grammar skills.)
- Make sure you believe in the post because if you don’t, your readers won’t. No matter how good the writer is, don’t accept content you don’t believe in. For example, at KISSmetrics, we had the option of publishing a post on how A/B testing is useless. It was from a well-known analytics expert. But we as a company believe A/B testing is powerful, and everyone should do it.
- The content has to fit in with your blog theme. For example, Quick Sprout is a blog about marketing and entrepreneurship. I won’t accept any guest posts outside of those two topics, no matter how well they are written or from whom they are.
Rule #5: Don’t give out author accounts
The biggest mistake you can make as a blog owner is to give out author accounts. You don’t want someone to have a login to your blog in which they can post content on whatever they want, whenever they want.
Why? Because you shouldn’t trust most blog authors. I’ve seen reputable ones plagiarize, add in spammy links into old blog posts and even delete pieces of content when they shouldn’t have. This happens because some authors are desperate, and they will do almost anything for money. If someone bribes one of your authors with a lot of cash, most likely they will take the bribe.
If someone is requesting an author account, something is off. It’s easier for a blogger to send you his/her content in a text document and have you deal with the headache of formatting the post and adding it into your blogging platform.
On the other hand, if you want to give people author accounts to save you time, make sure they only have the ability to save content as a draft. Publishing privileges should be saved for you or someone on your team.
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