7 guest posting mistakes you might be making

Guest posting is a superb, natural way to build links to your website. It allows you to add value whilst attracting quality inbound links in a measured and proactive way as well as initiating strong relationships with bloggers in your industry.

That’s if it’s done right.

There are some mistakes which are often made when people embark on a guest posting campaign – here are the 7 most common mistakes I see & how you can avoid them.

#1 – Being too self-promotional

There is a common misconception that guest posting is about getting ‘advertorials’ onto relevant blogs, it really isn’t. It offers the chance to editorially earn a link, establish a relationship with bloggers in your space and reach new audiences through providing good quality content that’s relevant to your host blog and if necessary builds a bridge between their world and yours.

Don’t talk too extensively about your own products and services. If it’s applicable and adds value to the piece then of course don’t be afraid to reference within the body copy with a link. If you’re just shoe-horning a link in then it can actually have a negative impact and make the reader feel like you are just pitching them.

In most cases, a link in the byline or author credits will likely have the desired impact. If what you’ve written resonates with the reader then they’ll click through to your site out of curiosity if nothing else.

Think carefully about your choice of anchor text – awkwardly perfect anchor text might get your post rejected at the final hurdle as the blogger draws the conclusion that you have the wrong intentions and it can instantly evaporate any credibility to the reader. Anchor text links in my experience are acceptable if they are contextually relevant – it’s up to you to judge that on a case by case basis.

Don’t forget that scores of perfect anchor text links can negatively impact your rankings as Google suspects foul play. (I talked here about partial anchor text links being the most effective anchor text strategy.)

#2 – Creating chaotic campaigns

Get yourself Raven Tools, Buzzstream, Asana or even just a spreadsheet, however you choose to get organised just make sure you are.

If you fail to plan then you can plan on failing because you will quickly find yourself managing a complex, lethargic beast of a campaign not knowing who has been contacted, who said yes and which content is going where.

Your guest posting campaign, if it is going to be successful, should run like a well-oiled machine.

Establish clear stages, processes and (if you have a team working on the campaign) who is going to be responsible for what. If you have a documented process then you can identify problems and improve performance with greater ease simply by tweaking small elements of the campaign e.g. your outreach emails without randomly re-engineering the parts of the machine which don’t even need fixing.

Above all – document everything as if someone else was going to take over managing the campaign from you tomorrow.

#3 – Adopting a small town mindset

This is one I certainly hear from a lot of people – “Our industry is small, we’ll run out of blogs within a month“. Whilst I accept that some industries are easier to find guest posts in than others, there are nearly always guest posting opportunities – sometimes it just requires a little lateral thinking and cross-industry bridge building.

If you explore completely new neighbourhoods with your guest posting then you can reach completely new audiences before your competitors and you can establish a relationship with a blogger which might mean your competitors won’t ever earn a link from that site (as you become the regular contributor of ‘SEO advice’ to a ‘Blog about growing a flooring business’).

As long as you’re successfully tying the content you’re contributing back to the website you are promoting then you’ll still get the relevance from the link.

#4 – Giving up too easily

One of the key pillars of successfully linkbuilding campaigns is persistence. I’m not advocating spamming or being a pest to site owners and bloggers but I have found consistently that we get better results from A) Following up on initial outreach emails (through other channels if applicable) and B) Chasing up when content has been submitted.

We follow up twice after initial contact, some might say that’s too high and in a general context you’d probably be right but because we spend more time researching and prospecting to make sure our client and the target blog are a good fit, I have no qualms in making contact a second and third time because what we’ve got for them is relevant and likely beneficial to their readers.

Persistence isn’t just key when it comes to securing the spot, it’s important when it comes to getting the post live. We recognise we’re not a high-priority for the blogger but we often get our posts pushed to the top of the publishing queue by staying visible to the blogger – remember the importance of organisation, well this is where it pays dividends. If you’ve got a system and all the information to hand, follow up email, a quick phone call or a tweet all expedite the process.

#5- Sending junk outreach emails

There’s no real excuse for impersonal outreach emails – chances are you’ll get a very low response but the lack of effort can also reflect very negatively on your brand or even your client.

In my experience a good outreach email has the following attributes:

  • Concise – stay on point at all times
  • Personal – explain who you are, why you’re contacting them in particular and why they should be listening to you
  • Focus on them – what can you offer them, don’t talk extensively about what you want out of the arrangement (as humans we are believe it or not self-centred)
  • Action focused – what do you want them to do next

Software like Buzzstream makes personalised outreach even more scalable and quite frankly is highly affordable so everyone should be taking advantage of this

(For further reading – try Throw Away Your Form Letters from iPullRank.)

#6 – False expectations

If somebody tells you guest posting is easy, they aren’t perhaps being straight with you. As you build your ‘guest posting engine’ the process certainly gets easier but in reality it is always harder than opening your wallet and ordering a load of directory submissions. Some people even get disheartened than they can’t get as many links from guest posting as they do with an order for 500 directory submissions.

The harder a link is to earn, the more worthwhile it is.

Google may well be giving more weight to just one of your guest post links than all 2000 of your competitors comment spam links. You will see results, think back to #4… Persistence is key and guest posting is one of the few future-proof linkbuilding tactics out there.

#7 – Pumping and dumping

Many focus on getting in, getting the link and getting out – forgetting that there is an immense amount of value to be had from building a relationship with the blogger you’ve just sent a guest post to.

They may ask you back to contribute future guest posts, they may be responsible for other blogs and websites that you can guest post on or even better they may be able to introduce you to other bloggers and website owners which can be a massive productivity win – and increases your success rate hugely as you are being introduced by a trusted peer.

Learn about doing guest posting the right way…read Guest Blogging as a Future-Proof Linkbuilding Strategy a piece I recently contributed on SEOgadget.


  1. avatar
    Anthony Trollope November 15, 2011 at 10:52 am #

    We spend a lot of time initially talking with the editorial team behind blogs that we are interested in contributing to. It’s vital to understand what topics and style of writing resonates with readers and in doing so you can pull some really insightful data just from a quick conversation.

    For us its not about creating links but about creating positive notoriety. We want to write something really awesome that resonates with readers, links are merely par for the course and a secondary objective.

    The worse scenario you can face is for your content to fall flat and to not be invited back, right? In my view guest blogging is a form of PR and should be treated as an opportunity to showcase some of your best work.


    • avatar
      James Agate November 16, 2011 at 9:39 am #

      I agree, however it depends on the goal of the campaign because in reality, guest posting can be a very valid form of link building and provided the content that is offered is of a high standard, I don’t see anything wrong with viewing it like that.

      It very much depends on aspirations for the client we always find…for example I guest blog for the Skyrocket site to promote brand awareness and links are secondary however some clients don’t have the budget to do brand awareness type guest blogging or simply have a greater need for good quality links so we adopt slightly different tactics for these guys.

      Interesting debate though.

  2. avatar
    Eduardo C. November 29, 2011 at 12:20 pm #

    A very useful and interesting article. Thanks a lot.


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