Be my Guest: Nine Steps to Accepting Guest Posts

By Troy Lambert, - In Marketing

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In this article, i will go through how to set up company blog or media site to make it easy to accept guest posts.

Once you have created linkable content on your website, you need to take your content marketing strategy to the next level. This means you need to both earn links to your content, allow others to create linkable content on your site that enhances your own.

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Earning links involves you actively guest posting on other sites and linking to your own content, sharing it socially so others writing on the same topic will link to it, adding your content to resource lists where applicable, and establishing yourself as an authority in your area of expertise.

Allowing guest posts on your own site can earn you more links and greater authority with Google, raising your position in the SERPS for keywords you want to rank for. However, a wide open guest posting policy can also harm your site rankings. To make guest posting work, and enhance the benefits of your own content, you need guidelines and a strategy. How do you establish those things?

Find Your Editorial Mission Statement

Your brand is a publisher, at least if you want your content marketing to be successful. This means that first, when you are creating your own linkable content on your site, you need to have your own editorial guidelines. They will keep you on track with the kind of content you need to create, the subject matter of that content, who needs to create it.

If you create the right kind of content, you will develop brand loyalty. This involves creating a sense of excitement while at the same time providing a feeling of safety, comfort, and reliability. Customers will brand your content based on what they see, read and hear. Color and blog theme selection and web design all contribute to your band.

The key is to be intentional. Choose the words you use carefully. Keep blog posts upbeat, positive, and relevant. Almost anything can be relevant to your brand if spun correctly. Healthcare can be related to entrepreneurship several ways.:

  • Healthcare is one of the benefits businesses offer employees. A good health plan can influence employee retention and even company culture.
  • Healthcare is a business cost, and ACA has changed the rules. How large does your company have to be before you have to provide it? What are your options.
  • Healthy employees are happier, work harder, and miss fewer days. What healthcare options and other benefits can you offer your employees to keep them happy and healthy?

Your editorial mission statement can be quite broad, and allow for a variety of links to your site. A business or entrepreneur oriented site can easily embrace topics about accounting, marketing, sales, legal issues, health care, company culture, taxes, and even child care. The key is those pieces need to be written in a way directed at entrepreneurs and small business owners. A post about 10 Ways to Choose a Daycare may not be relevant, but a post titled “10 Reasons Employers Should Offer On-Site Child Care” would do well, and tie into business aspect of your site.

Your editorial policy can be a living document, and does not have to include every contingency. But it should set up a reasonable framework for appropriate content on your site.

Set Up Guidelines

So much time is spent above on developing your editorial mission statement because it gives birth to the rest. Your guidelines are based on the subject and type of content you want guest posters to create. There are a number of types of content you should have on your site:

  • Long form linkable content. This is your top of the funnel content that grabs web visitors attention long before they have made a buying decision when they are just looking for information. This should point to shorter pieces of content on your site, either in the middle of the funnel or to your conversion pages.
  • Short, informative posts. These should be quick reads, yet informative, on a narrow subject. These are easy for guest posters to write, and can have both internal links to other content on your site, and links to their site as well.
  • Entertaining Posts and Lists. These don’t just have to be fluff and filler. Relevant lists and humorous or entertaining news from your area of expertise can bring visitors to your site that would not otherwise seek out your content. If done correctly, they may spend more time on your site, and these can even lead to conversions.
  • Podcasts and video. Audio and video can be very engaging, and interest those visitors who do not have time or the desire to read. Be careful not to rely too heavily on this kind of content either, as you will lose those readers who cannot view that kind of content while at work.

There are other types of content as well like images and infographics that are also useful and can be created internally or utilized from other sources, as long as you link to the original place they are posted. Just be careful about having too much duplicate content, as Google frowns on that as well.

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Make sure this content is of high quality and that the sources the author is linking to are reliable, whether that is education sites (.edu) or non-profits (.org, although this is not strictly a non-profit extension), or government (.gov) sites. Other good sites are reputable news agencies and other authoritative sites within your niche.

Lastly, establish guidelines about the experience of the author. Are they an expert in your field, or at least an expert writer who has written in the field before? There is nothing wrong with giving someone with less experience a chance, but you should have a greater percentage of experts posting on your site. This is due in no small part to the Google Phantom update, in which Google revealed the need for expert content creators.

To Pay or Not to Pay

The pitfall of using expert content creators is that usually they want something in return for their guest post. Some of them are just looking for exposure, and others are looking to get paid. So should you pay for great content?

Is your site monetized? Are you making money off adsense, Google Adwords, affiliate links? Are your guest posters driving traffic to your conversion pages? If your site is making money, then you should be sharing some of that with authors that create the content that drives traffic to those links.

You can also offer contributors gift certificates to your online store or affiliate services, free or discounted ads, or something to compensate them for the time and effort they put into creating content for your site.

At the minimum, you should offer a byline, links back to their site, and social shares and exposure to your audience. Spotlight your authors often, as they are the ones making your site better and more relevant.

Look for Regular Contributors

Have an expert you can convince to write regularly for you? Do it. The advantage you have is that you have already vetted them and seen examples of their work. You don’t need to do that all over again, simply evaluate their newest post. Likely each will not require the scrutiny the first did, once you have built a relationship.

The key to website engagement is just that: develop relationships both with those who write for you and your readers. If you can leverage the social reach of another person or business to amplify your own reach and engagement, you can build more relationships. Doing so will result in higher engagement and conversion rates both on your site and your social channels.

Evaluate your Content Marketing Often

It is easy to get distracted by things that are neat or cool, even if they are not relevant. You can easily find your blog or website going off track if you are not intentional about regular evaluations about how things are progressing.

  • Are the posts and topics relevant and in line with your editorial statement?
  • Are the writers experts, and do they fit in line with your editorial statement and guidelines?
  • Are your rankings moving in keyword and long tail inquiries you want to be listed in? If not, why not, and how can you shift focus to get results?

Remember the key to using your brand as a publisher is to not only increase engagement and traffic, but get the right kind of engagement and traffic. Be sure your content marketing is actually serving the purpose it was intended for.

Allow Links (In Fact, insist on Them)

There are silly posts out there that will tell you to use the NoFollow command to not pass on link authority from your site to others. This is an outdated practice designed to prevent spam links from hurting your website. However, the NoFollow command was never intended to be applied to editorial links like it is now.

Besides, when you are guest posting on other sites, you want them to pass along their authority to your site. The internet is very much about reciprocity, so you want to follow links. In fact, if you have evaluated the links properly, following them will add authority to your site as well through the link neighborhood you are creating.

A Caution About Sponsored Posts: Sponsored posts seem like a good way to monetize your site until you look at the risks. These posts tend to be very advertisement sounding, and can contain malicious affiliate links and HTML that could lead your site visitors to harmful sites. Allowing someone to post something on your site in exchange for money is dangerous and raises suspicion, rightfully so, in readers.

If you are going to accept sponsored posts, use caution.

  • Check every link
  • Check all the HTML
  • Make sure all content is relevant
  • Check out the contributor’s site. Is it something you want to be associated with?

My recommendation is to stay away from these, and find other ways to monetize your site.

Edit, Edit, Edit

You would expect to hear this from a content editor, so I won’t go on and on about it, rather simply say this. You need a content editing plan. We all do. Nothing takes away authority from your site or content faster than a silly but glaring typo.

Edit your posts. Get as many eyes on them as you can afford before your work is posted, and then look it over one more time once it is. Trust me. It’s worth it.

Develop a Posting Plan

Post often enough to keep visitors coming back, but not so much that they cannot keep up. If you post a 2,000-word post (like this one) five days a week, no one will have time to read your site, and visitors will lose interest. Mix it up with shorter content, or post only two or three times a week instead of every day.

Just because you have a lot of guest content does not mean you should post it too quickly. That won’t do you or the author any good. Take your time. You can get away with one or two short posts a day if you have the traffic for it. But any more than that, and all your are doing is diluting your message.

Sharing is Caring

Finally, develop a sharing plan, whether that means you are using automated software (fridge uses a plugin called NextScripts) to put posts out on social media at optimal times, or if you are making sharing posts on social media a part of you or one of your employee’s regular routine.

The point is to share and post regularly, something your followers and customers can count on. Share as widely as possible, for your sake and that of the authors who are sharing with you. Whether you pay them or not, this is part of what you have to offer, and although social shares supposedly do not count to Google (yet) they do drive traffic, and put your work in front of authors and others who might organically link to your content.

You can accept guest posts as part of your content marketing strategy, You just need to first establish your editorial policy, set guidelines for authors and content, look for regular contributions, allow links, edit, develop a posting plan, and share your work with the world.

There are no guarantees in any content marketing strategy, and it will be hard work. But guest posting can help your site rank higher and develop your brand as a leader in your industry. Go ahead, use these ideas. Be my guest.


Freelance writer, editor, author, and lover of all things tech.