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Hosting a guest blogger? 5 fairy-tales around best practice.

As the host of a popular blog you’ll get all kinds of pitches for guest posts. Of course you’ve issued guidelines and suggested approaches, but the search engines keep changing their minds about what’s hot and what’s not when it comes to guest blogging best practice. In fact it would seem that the Brothers Grimm had a better idea of fairy tales surrounding blogging even though it wasn’t called blogging back then…

This post will explore the best practice guidelines and what the reality is like. Remember they be guidelines (as croaked in her best The Pirates of the Caribbean voice).

Guest posts are great for SEO purposes.

Okay, I’ll start with this fairy tale: Guest posts are great for SEO purposes. Sure they are, along with posts that have lots of social signals, posts that are optimised for the reader and many other variables. Guest blogging for me has always been about attracting readers and growing my audience. I know many other bloggers who think the same way. It seems the only people who use guest blogging for SEO purposes are SEO companies and SEO writers.

Search engines however cannot tell the difference (it would seem) between writing for another audience and writing for SEO. And that’s because search engines are about algorithms and automation. You also have to take into account that the site that’s hosting the guest post is the person responsible for optimising the posts on page, and not the actual writer of the content. That means the hyperlinks appearing in the content may be placed their by the host blog rather than the writer.

Guest posts that are genuine guest posts stand head and shoulders above the bland, boring and generic content issued by agencies for the purpose of generating links. They have more chance of arranging a marriage between Snow White and one of the seven dwarfs than writing 100 posts to generate 100 back links that will boost their client’s site up the search engine rankings long term.

Guest posters that attract a lot of attention should be invited to be contributors

Sure they can. But the very best guest posters have a guest posting strategy in place and contributing on your site on a regular basis may not be part of it. Extend an invitation but remember it may not get accepted by everyone, Cinderella may have other ideas and need to get home on time before she turns into a pumpkin.

Contributors have different needs to a guest blogger, they need more support and over time they become part of the fabric of your blog. I’ve lost count of the times that people have told me they will grow their blog through contributors and then expect the contributors to follow the 500 page guidelines they’ve issued. Heck, I don’t have a fax machine and can’t send back the agreements that I’m asked to sign on a regular basis.

Then the contributors need a group to ask questions in and before you know it when you remove non-contributors you have a revolution on your hands.

Regular contributors need leadership and management. Provide it and all will work out well for you.

Advertise your guest bloggers on Facebook and Twitter to build anticipation

If you have big names as your guest posters then this may work wonders for building awareness of your site. Of course it can be another part of your promotional strategy and if you have a magazine style blog to build anticipation isn’t a bad thing. However if you are a part time blogger this may take up more of your energy than you are prepared for. If no one has heard of your guest blogger then you might find it generates some discussion. Of course the post will live up to the build up your creating, won’t it? The last thing you want is a post that’s anti-climatic leaving your audience feeling let down.

Setting up guest blogging guidelines will cut down the amount of emails you receive.

Of course it will, and if you clap your hands Tinkerbell will appear. Yes, this seems to be another best practice around guest blogging that’s handed out and believed. It’s an out and out  fairy tale.

You have to ask guest bloggers to read your guidelines and then assume when what they send through was garbled by their email client or yours. Very few guest posters want to comply with your guidelines. If you ask for no sales pitches if you are lucky you’ll get just one. Sometimes you get an entire post that’s a sales pitch. Other times what you get is so far from what your audience responds to that you have to ask what they were smoking when they wrote the post…

They be guidelines…

Sure rules are meant to be broken but only when you understand them in the first place. Do not deviate from the path little red riding hood, or the host blogging wolf will eat you up for breakfast after he’s finished digesting grandma.

Allow the blogger at least one link in their author bio back to their website.

Sure, that’s no problem. Phew, I was starting to think all guest blogging best practice was hokum and there was not guest blogging equivalent of  and they lived happily ever after.

There’s a but though, you need to make sure you actually get the bio from the blogger. Sometimes this isn’t a problem, other times it is. The author won’t send through a bio in time. They won’t send it in HTML like you ask and they won’t hook their email address up to a Gravatar so the bio box looks good. Sometimes they send through a bio that’s longer than the post they’ve written.

The guidelines you issue have been ignored but the post is a good one…  so you publish the post after they’ve ignored your 17 emails begging for  the correct bio and they miss out on all that gorgeous traffic that comes from pitching a perfect post to the right site.

Occasionally you’ll get a message back about the bio that goes along the lines of… oh just link to anything on my website which doesn’t really help any of the new audience want to get to know the guest blogger any better.

Putting all the pitfalls to one side, hosting other people’s articles is a great way to give your readers a different perspective on what you blog about. Whilst you don’t have to agree with everything your guest poster shares, it almost always shows that you are a leader in your niche as you share differing opinions.

Sarah Arrow

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Sarah Arrow

Sarah Arrow started blogging to save a business and it worked! She created her first blogging challenge back in 2007. She's been internationally recognised as a top content marketer, Forbes and MSN list her websites as top ones, and she's the author of many quick start marketing guides. You can find her books on Amazon.

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