This isn’t something most bloggers will tell you, but guest blogging isn’t actually easy. I know that most people would rather hear something like, “Hey, you just need to contact a bunch of bloggers, send them your articles, and you will start building an audience and engaging with new communities.” Unfortunately, I can’t say something like this because it wouldn’t be true.
Guest blogging – when it’s to be done correctly and in a sustainable way – is hard, and it takes time. Unless you’re doing it purely as a hobby and you’re not interested in a little something called results.
Therefore, there’s a number of various mistakes that can happen along the way. Some of them small and with only marginal impact, but some with some serious consequences. So without further ado, here’s our list of five warning signs that you’re guest blogging all wrong.
1. You’re using heavily SEOd links
Guest blogging and SEO don’t go along very well in this day and age. Google is not a fan, blog editors are not fans … actually, probably there’s no one out there who’s excited about guest blogging being done for SEO purposes at this point.
However, many bloggers still use heavily SEOd links in their guest posts in an attempt to trick Google and gain some search engine advantage. This is a short-lived strategy, though.
A simple rule of thumb would be to never link to any website of yours using 1-3 word phrases unless it’s your brand name. For instance, a brand name like “New Internet Order” is okay as a link anchor (newinternetorder.com). But labeling the link “online business advice” would be a big no-no.
In short, here’s what you can do to stay on Google’s good side:
- use single words for anchor texts (things like, “link” or “here”),
- use your brand names and phrases (the example above),
- use long and natural sounding phrases (e.g. “check out this cool resource on simplifying your to-do list“).
2. A “nofollow” link is a deal breaker for you
The rel=”nofollow” parameter is something blog editors tend to put on outgoing links at times, in order to prevent search engines from following that link and giving it any SEO benefits.
In other words, if you guest post and someone changes your link to nofollow, you get no SEO value out of the deal.
Is this bad?
Not at all.
Even if the link is a nofollow one, it’s still visible just like any other link, and everyone reading the article is able to click it and be redirected to your site, just like with a standard do-follow link. And the fact that you get no SEO benefits from the link shouldn’t matter at all. Just like we talked about before, SEO is not something you should attempt to do through guest blogging.
3. Not having a call to action
There are two ways of linking to your website from a guest post:
- a) using a standard link saying something like, “visit my site over at somesite.com,”
- or b) using a proper call to action; for example, “click this link to get my exclusive 3-part guide on [something related to the topic of the post].”
The latter will give you more clicks and therefore more traffic in literally 10 out of 10 cases.
This works for a very simple reason – the readers need to see an immediate benefit of clicking the link you’re presenting to them. If they can’t get a grasp on the value sitting on the other side right away, they won’t click the link.
Ultimately, a call to action is what’s going to convince the readers to click your links and pay a visit to your site. Without a call to action, you’re leaving a lot of traffic on the table.
Which brings me to…
4. Not linking to a landing page
We talked about the technical aspects of the idea a while ago. Basically, linking to the homepage of your website will only be able to bring you limited results.
Granted, the results can be great anyway, but you will still be limiting yourself and not taking advantage of guest blogging up to its full potential.
The secret to successful guest blogging lies in specific elements taking place one after another:
- Selecting the right sites (keeping your goals in mind).
- Coming up with a good topic that’s related to the site, as well as to what you’re doing.
- Writing a post that links to your site with good links and good calls to action.
- Redirecting people to a page on your site that’s related to the blog they’re coming from, the post they’ve just read, and the thing they were promised for clicking the link.
Without that last element, you’re not closing the deal properly, so to speak.
Just think about it. Picture the average reader. Let’s call him Bob. So one day, Bob visits his favorite site where he sees your guest post. He gives it a chance and reads the whole thing. Bob is interested in the topic, likes the post and the advice it provides, and he also resonates well with the call to action. That call to action promises Bob that if he clicks your link, he will get something valuable that’s related to what he’s just read. However, when he hops over to your site, all he sees is a homepage with a generic welcome message and product description.
Imagine how much stronger of a connection you could make with Bob if you sent him over to a custom landing page where he’s greeted with something like, “Hi! I’m glad you’re enjoying my article over at sitex.com.” And then followed up with some short description relating back to the article and the reason why Bob came to your site.
5. You sweat too much over the number of words in your posts
Let’s make this quick. Really, no one cares about how long or how short your guest post is when you’re pitching it.
Unless it’s less than 300 words or more than 3000, you don’t need to worry that much about it.
I guess this is some leftover stuff from back in the day when guest blogging was very fresh as a thing and people didn’t really know what to say in their pitches to make them more appealing.
These days, however, if you email an editor saying something like, “I will provide you with an article of 400 words or more on [topic X],” you’re just sounding like a spammer, or SEO-guest-blogger.
A much better approach is to say absolutely nothing about how long your article is or will be.
The list isn’t very long – just five mistakes – but it can be very deadly if you find yourself doing all five of them. And it’s okay, I get it, it’s very easy to get sidetracked at times and start making silly mistakes even though we know better than this.
I encourage you to create a handy Evernote note that lists those mistakes in a shortened form (just so you can have something for quick reference). Here’s what to put in it:
Things to keep in mind when guest blogging:
- Don’t use heavily SEOd links.
- Don’t pay attention to nofollow vs. follow links.
- Always include a call to action.
- Always link to a landing page.
- Don’t pay attention to the number of words.