by Nick Stamoulis
The benefits of guest blogging are long and well documented--provided you go about it in the right way. I've often wondered if guest blogging will become the new link exchange if we aren't careful (where there is a will there is way to spam it) but I still believe that guest blogging is a great and necessary addition to any SEO and content marketing campaign. But just like any other component of SEO there is a right and wrong way to go about it.
Here are four things site owners do that can screw up their guest blogging efforts:
1. Hire a non-native speaker to create content in your name.
I recently did an interview with Ann Smarty, a writer who has built her personal brand and SEO career on the power of guest blogging. Ann is from the Ukraine but she speaks and writes in English so well that I didn't realize she was a non-native speaker for a quite a while. But even Ann recommends that one of the most important things a company can do to help their guest blogging succeed is to work with a native speaker. As she said in our interview, "No matter how much a non-native speaker tries, there will always be clumsy phrases. It is next to impossible to sound natural unless you use the language on a regular basis."
I realize that a $5 article from India sounds pretty tempting, but a $5 article is going to read like a $5 article from India--and that won't do much good for you, your website or your brand in the long run.
2. Have an outside party do all the blogger outreach for you.
Assuming you went about hiring a freelance writer in the right way it's still a good idea to handle the actual blogger outreach on your own. Even if you have someone else do the research and find the guest blogging opportunities someone from within your organization should be the one to approach the blogger about becoming a guest author. A freelance writer can produce great content for your but that content is going to have your name and brand attached to it and you should be the one building a rapport with blog owners.
What happens if you end up hiring an in-house writer or a new freelance writer to handle your guest blogging activity? If you never had any interaction with the blog owners themselves, as it was managed by your ghost writer, you risk losing that relationship.
3. Send exactly the same proposal to every blogger/editor you can find.
Since you are going to be handling the blogger outreach in-house, even if the content is being written elsewhere, a common mistake plenty of site owners make is to send the same generic proposal to every blogger/editor whose email address they can get their hands on. There is a lot of debate over how long/short an initial outreach email should be to get the attention of a blog owner but most agree that generic blast emails that start with "To whom it may concern..." usually get trashed or spammed without a second thought.
A popular blogger probably gets inundated with dozens (if not hundreds) of guest blogging requests every day and your email needs to stand out among the clutter. A little personalization goes a long way. Show that you've actually read the blog, understand the readership and have some ideas that will fit right in with the blogger's vision.
4. Give up after a few weeks.
Guest blogging opportunities typically don't fall into your lap, especially if you are new the game and haven't built up much of a name for yourself with your own blogging efforts. Everyone has to start somewhere so don't be too discouraged if your brilliant proposal to the top industry blog gets no reply. The biggest blogs can pick and choose who they want writing for them and it's usually something you have to work your way up to.
You might send out a dozen outreach emails and only hear back from one blogger...who just replied to tell you no. But you can't lose hope! While you're working on your guest blogging outreach be sure you're continuing to build up your own blog and author authority.
A final thought--just because someone offers you the chance to become a guest blogger that doesn't mean you have to take it. If you're going to take the time to produce a great guest post you want it to be worth your while. Smaller industry blogs might not have the same reach as a popular site but it's still a credible site and targets the right audience. What you don't want to do is write for any site that will have you. Guest blogging is a great way to build links, connect with your audience, build your industry authority and more but only if you're writing for the right kind of site!
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