Guest blogging or guest posting can be an effective method of creating effectiveness, building links and establishing brand authorities. However, jumping too quickly on the bandwagon without giving it some serious thought can be harmful and result in search engine penalties. We have already covered the benefits and best practices of guest blogging in a separate post. This post focuses on some of the most common guest blogging mistakes and what individuals and businesses can do to avoid them.
Mistake # 1: Failing to Do Your Research and Following Guidelines
The research includes finding the right niches, blogging sites and how to pitch perfectly. Almost all guest blogging sites have their own posting guidelines, which the site owners expect you to read and follow. Taking some time to read those guidelines and making sure you are not breaking any rules saves you from asking common questions, which might set the owners on edge. For example, if you can see evidence that a site accepts guest blogs, there is no point in asking the same question again via email.
Guidelines vary from one blogging site to another. For example, one might limit you when it comes to how many backlinks you can place, while another might not have any issues with it. Some important guidelines include the kind of topics you can post about, how to publish posts and how to place backlinks. Understanding these guidelines can save you and the blog owner a lot of time and ensures that your posts don’t end up getting rejected.
Mistake # 2: Only Focusing on Your Brand/Products/Services
As we discussed earlier in the introductory post, guest blogging is not about promoting your brands and products excessively. Instead, it’s meant to provide the readers with useful content with subtle references to what you do and your own site. That’s why it’s recommended not to blow good guest blogging opportunities by totally focusing on your own products and services.
Guest blogging sites are not particularly interested in promotional content and neither are their readers. Bloggers should focus on delivering engaging and informative content instead of churning out promotional posts and ads.
Mistake # 3: Failing to Link Back to Your Own Site/Placing too Many Links
Although generating quality backlinks is often the primary objective of guest blogs, some blogging sites don’t allow you to include any backlinks while others prohibit you from placing backlinks within the body. However, a majority of blogging sites at least allow you to include a backlink in the bio/byline. Make sure to read the guidelines and include a backlink where it is allowed.
SEO might not be the primary objective of blog posts for many, but it’s still important to include a link where you can (without overdoing it) as it can also provide additional resources that might be valuable for the readers. The backlinks should offer some value to the visitor and the target site should be prepared in advance to handle new visitors. For example, if your backlink is redirecting to the subscription form, everything must be setup properly in advance.
Mistake # 4: Using Blog Posts Solely for Getting Inbound Links
Bloggers and businesses have to maintain a balance between providing useful content and promoting their own brand. Search engines can detect this and don’t like guest blogs that are posted just to generate links. That’s also the reason guest blogging has earned a bad reputation. Guest blogging only for generating backlinks is also not a wise strategy from a business perspective in the long run. It can result in low-quality content while offering little value to the readers.
Instead of totally focusing on generating links, bloggers should focus their energy on delivering informative and useful content and creating awareness in the target audience. Quality content leads to beneficial traffic that is more likely to further explore what you have to offer.
Bloggers should also include a byline, which is a short description about them that includes a link to the target blog/site. It should be precise, briefly describe you and your work and what you like the most. 2-3 sentences are considered more than enough for a byline.
Mistake # 5: Failing to Understand Blog’s Audience
The target audience of your own site/blog should ideally be the same as the guest blogging site. There might be some differences in the topics of interest or demographics. But bloggers need to remain true to their own style and voice while being aware of interests, knowledge level and expectations of the target audience. You can ask the blog owner for these details if you are unsure, which enables you to write more personal posts that speak directly to the audience and provides them information they are likely to be interested in.
Mistake # 6: Pitching Ineffectively
You have to convince blog owners how your content is useful for their audience how it provides value. This can be especially tricky when pitching to owners of large publications you have no previous connection with. That’s why you need to find the most relevant person to contact with (often the section editor) and address them by name to make a personal connection. Since pitching to the editors/blog owners is one of the most important steps, we’ll cover it in more detail.
Bloggers need to introduce themselves properly and make a strong first impression. Including links to your social media profiles allows editors/site owners to know more about you and your interests and do some basic background checks. However, bloggers should also try not to be a show off regardless of their expertise and knowledge. Moreover, if you already have some connections, why not leverage them for an introduction?
A sincere and kind tone is a must when trying to pitch to editors or blog owners. It’s always better to have a second opinion from a friend or a fellow writer just to make sure you are using an appropriate tone because it’s often hard to spot your own errors. Similarly, editors can identify automated pitching templates and may ignore your email. You can use templates, but make sure to personalize them and apply a personal touch before sending to different people.
The pitch should be double checked for any spelling/grammatical errors and must include the key blog post idea(s). The site owner needs to know what you want to write about in order to determine if it’s useful for their audience and worth publishing or not. Do some research on topics that have already been published and avoid suggesting duplicate topics/ideas. Propose a blog that’s unique, original and adds value to the site. The easiest way of finding topics is to Google [site:www.xyzdomain.com “search terms like guest blogging”’].
Avoid being ruthless if the site owner rejects/ignores your pitch. It’s better to move on to another site than ruthlessly trying to publish your guest blog on a particular site. Pitching the same thing over and over again to the same person who has been rejecting you usually results in total waste of time and effort.
Take some time to read the previous work of the editor/blog owner and have a look at their social media profiles to understand what they like the most. The pitch should be concise with a short description and a suggested title. Also make sure to include a link to your own blog, which brings us to the next mistake bloggers and businesses should avoid.
Mistake # 7: Linking Back to A Website with Mediocre Content
The target website to which you have linked should also offer great content otherwise it will cause disappointment to both the visitors and the blog owner. Your own site/blog gives the owners of guest blogging site a feel of your work, choice of topics and the writing style. Even the greatest of pitches can fail if your own blogsite offers mediocre content.
Useful content helps establish your reputation as a field expert, so you should have at least ten high-quality blogs before pitching to any guest blogging site. It helps showcase your best work and redirect readers to something useful that offers value to them.
You also need to consider the landing pages which should preferably be something else than the home page, even if it’s the best page of your site. That’s mainly because the home page usually contains the most distractions and might not be focused on the topic of interest, causing the visitor to leave without subscribing. The landing page should be focused on minimizing distractions and encourage visitors to subscribe. A headline can highlight the key benefits of subscribing followed by secondary reasons and a call to action.
Mistake # 8: Thinking that High-traffic Sites are Always Better
High-traffic are likely to generate more traffic, but all traffic is not equal and a popular site is not always the best option. The relevance and quality of traffic also matters a lot, which makes a niche and specialized site a better option than a generic site that entertains guest posts of all sorts. That’s because smaller but more relevant, responsive and loyal audience is better than general audience that does not care much about your content.
Niche visitors are more likely to explore your blog and get engaged on a one-on-one basis. Guest posting on niche and highly relevant sites can in fact generate more traffic than doing the same on a blogging platform that covers a wide range of topics.
Mistake # 9: Posting Low-quality Content in Bulk
Many bloggers and businesses can get tempted to post low-quality content in bulk in order to generate as many backlinks as possible. However, this strategy does not work in most cases and can even do more harm than good in form of penalties from search engines. Thinking that your guest posts do not have to be as good as content on your own blog can result in many problems, including:
- The guest blogging site owner might refuse to publish your future posts
- The blogging site will not promote low-quality content to its target audience
- The visitors are also very less likely to click on backlinks and disinterested in finding out more about your brand/products
It’s better to save time and effort and write no posts at all instead of writing low-quality content that offers no real value to the reader. It’s also a better strategy to write just one or two quality posts than writing a lot of low-quality posts. Although it might take some time to figure out which sites send highly targeted leads and traffic, it enables you to focus on sites that matter the most.
Mistake # 10: Not Including a Call to Action
Just placing a backlink somewhere in the bio or content and hoping for visitors to find and click it rarely produces the desired results. Taking action is something most people online try to avoid, which is a natural inertia bloggers have to help them overcome. Visitors won’t click your links unless you provide them with a good reason to do so.
A clear call to action should tell the readers what’s the next step and what’s in it for them before asking them to take action. A call to action tells visitors what, why and how to take a desirable action, which in this case is clicking the link e.g. why: I train aspiring bloggers, what’s next: You can learn the most common mistakes, call to action = click to download the free ebook now!
It takes some time and effort to properly execute guest blogging, but the rewards can be huge and worth it. Clear objectives, a well-defined strategy and of course quality content not only generates more subscribers, but can also help you establish yourself as an authority in a particular niche. Avoiding these common mistakes can save you a lot of time and effort, and increase the chances of your blog posts getting published on relevant and authoritative sites.