At some point or another, you’ll probably open your email to see people asking to guest post or have their link added to your website.
Whether you decide to accept or not is up to you, but this blog post covers what you need to know and what to look for!
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Here are a few real examples of emails we’ve received ourselves (despite saying we don’t currently accept guest posts!):
-----Original Message----- Subject: Content contribution Hi, My name is Farlyn. I'm sure you get a ton of spam submissions so I'll get straight to the point - I'd love to write for your site. I'm working on a piece that I think your readers might be interested in: How to Effectively Market Your Business on a Small Budget I'd be happy to share it with you to see if it's something you're interested in publishing on the site. Let me know your thoughts! Best, Farlyn
-----Original Message----- Subject: Fashion? Hi there, I read this article [link removed] and wondered if you would allow me to send over an article for publication. I frequently write about fashion-related topics. Can I send over an article for you to review? If you like it, I would love for it to be published at lyricalhost.com. Which of these articles would be the best fit for Lyrical Host? 5 Wardrobe Essentials You Can't Live Without What Are The Best Looks To Wear At A New Year's Party Top 11 Outfits To Look Cozy Yet Stylish This Winter How To Buy Luxury Outfits At A Discount 7 Best Cameras For Fashion Bloggers Let me know which you prefer and I'll send it over for you to review. Thanks! Shara
-----Original Message----- Subject: Sponsored posts on your site Hi, I hope you are fine. My name is Emrick Hill. I visited your website and found it very informative. I wish I were permitted to send some sponsored posts on your site with your kind permission. Also, let me know the fee you charge for in-content link placement in an existing article. Looking forward to hearing from you soon, Thanks & Regards Emrick Hill
-----Original Message----- Subject: can you post my article with 2 do follow link on your site Hello. I need your this site posting. So can you please tell me what you can charge each post on this site.
As you can tell from the above, there are two different types of requests here. The first two are guest post requests, while the second two are paid link placement requests. If you ignore guest post requests, the person may come back with a paid link placement request, so they aren’t necessarily always completely separate/different things.
A genuine guest post request doesn’t involve money, and you should expect very high quality, unique content that fits your website’s style and your visitors’ interests, with copyright and editorial rights.
Why do people do this?
People often ask, “why do people want to write free content for my website, or pay me for a link?”
The answer is search engine rankings. The more good quality, relevant links to your site from other sites, the better your rankings in search engines. (This is because the foundational concept of Google was to work like a digital version of an academic reference system, where a paper referenced by a lot of other papers indicates that it’s important in its field).
To that extent, theoretically a guest post request is a mutual exchange. You’re getting free content for your website, and they’re getting a link from your site. There’s an element of trust on both sides; that you’ll keep their link in place, and that they’ll provide you with high quality, unique content that isn’t copied or stolen from somewhere.
Some people pitching you a guest post may claim that the content will get you a lot of traffic, but it’s rare to see noticeable traffic from guest posts. They may also offer to give you a shout out or share the link on their social media accounts with lots of followers, but again you’re unlikely to see much (if any) benefit from this. They may say or imply that this could lead to future work with them or the brand they represent, but this usually never happens. They may also offer you a link from another site (therefore creating a three way link exchange), which can have some SEO benefit to you if they keep their word and it’s a follow link, but at scale can also be seen as intentional manipulation of Google’s search results. We explain this in more detail below.
As shown in the last two examples, people may ask to buy a link from your site (and will typically request for it to be “follow” or “dofollow,” which is explained in more detail here: Everything You Need To Know About Nofollow Links (And Other Rel= Attributes). This is explicitly against Google’s terms of service as it’s seen as trying to manipulate search engine rankings. Some bloggers knowingly choose to accept the risk and have paid links as a monetization strategy, or some only accept them on niche sites or additional smaller blogs they own rather than their main site. If you are found out, you’ll need to clean up your site to remove the Google penalty (which often takes months to disappear). An active penalty (you can check for penalties in Google Search Console) means your site may not appear in Google at all, or may be pushed down the rankings.
Therefore, some bloggers are very strict on not accepting money for posts or link placements. Others will accept, but only at the right price (usually $200-300 or more). Many cold email requests from people will be only offering $10-15, which most people see as not enough to be worth the risk or time.
But what about genuine pitches? Should I accept (free) guest posts on my website?
Theoretically, it sounds like a good time-saver, right? You get great free content, they get a link. However, you may want to consider deeper motivations here.
It could be an innocent and mutually beneficial guest post request, especially if it’s genuinely from another blogger (some outreach people pretend to be bloggers when they’re not) or someone you know. There are lots of legitimate people out there who are just trying to build links to their website and generally improve their search rankings.
However, it could also be that this person wants a link from you because they’re trying to rank for the same keyword. In which case it could hurt your own rankings to link to a competing site or page, so you probably don’t want to accept a guest post in this instance.
You’ll also want to consider topic and tone. It’s likely you have your own distinctive style, and a guest poster may not hit the tone your readers expect. The most common problem is formality – some writers may be too formal, while others may be too cheesy. Asking for or checking out past articles they’ve written can sometimes help you see if the writing style would work for your website.
They may also suggest topics that wouldn’t work at all for your audience; this is usually an indicator they haven’t done their research, don’t care enough, or don’t have good enough attention to detail to be worth pursuing further.
If you’re a perfectionist, or very particular about your website, it’s likely that accepting guest posts isn’t for you. This is because you’ll end up wanting to change so much and give so much feedback that it could have been quicker for you to write the post yourself.
Do bloggers typically accept guest posts for their websites?
We asked the Lyrical Host Blog & Business Squad members whether or not they accepted guest posts, and here are the results:
38% said they never accept guest posts
31% said they decide on a case-by-case basis
17% only accept them from people they know
8% only accept them from other bloggers/small business owners
4% accept them from anyone, including cold emails
2% said they’ve never been offered a guest post
Having your own strategy and, if relevant, outlining your policy on your website can help point people in the right direction of what you’re looking for (or not!), and cuts down the time you need to make a decision.
What if I’m not sure what to do?
If you aren’t sure whether to accept the guest post request or not, here are some questions to ask yourself:
- Is the guest post pitch email you received well-written and professional sounding?
- Does it include your name in the opener, or is it a generic “Hello there” or “Dear Sir/Madam”?
- Have they mentioned the website, company or brand they’re writing on behalf of, and if so do they look legitimate?
- Have they mentioned writing about any topics you/your readers would find interesting?
- Is the post likely to add value to your website?
- Have they linked to examples of other guest posts they’ve written and had published? (To be on the safe side, it may be better to google the articles rather than click links from the email).
- Is there an indication they understand your blog/audience? Many guest post requests are cold, mass emailed, and automated, so any that aren’t specifically targeted for your website are likely to also result in low quality posts. For example, we regularly get cold emails from people wanting to write a comparison of the best web hosts (conflict of interest) or provide very formal, corporate business advice (not our style or audience), which instantly tells us that they’ve not even looked at our website or blog.
Don’t forget you can also ask any questions you like to the email sender. You may want to find out what links they’re planning to include, whether they’ll be doing keyword research, what keywords they’re planning to target, or similar.
If it all sounds like too much hassle, just delete the email and move on. It may be that you receive dozens of requests a day and don’t have the time to look at all of them. Permission to delete is always granted! As many of these guest post requests and follow ups are automated, you may not even be hearing from a real person.
Side note: If you’re in our customer Facebook group, feel free to start a thread with your own specific situation if you’d like a second opinion. Or alternatively, search the group for other people’s real life experiences.
01. Someone cold emailing you may offer any/all of the following:
- Unique content for your site.
- A link from their site (or another site – at scale this type of link exchange has little benefit and may even result in a penalty).
- A shoutout on social media.
- Traffic (usually suggesting that their great content will result in traffic to your site, which is most commonly not the case).
- Payment (this is against Google’s terms so can get you a penalty if discovered).
02. Have a policy in mind whether you generally accept, reject, or take guest posts on a case-by-case basis.
03. Decide based on the website and topic whether they’re likely to be competing for the same keywords (don’t accept if so).
04. Make sure you’re checking the content is unique, not copied (run it through Copyscape) and that you have it in writing that the copyright and editorial rights are yours.
05. Make sure you’re happy with the tone and content of the piece – if not, send it back with feedback.
06. Check you’re happy with all the links – you don’t want to link out to any questionable, illegal, immoral, or toxic websites, or websites competing with you for the same keywords.
Ultimately it’s up to you what you want to do and what conditions you set; as long as you know what to consider and what you could potentially be getting into, you’re in a position to make the decision that’s best for you.
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