Guest Blogging Warning! Don’t let your Blog’s Voice Go to Hell

Guest Post by Fernando Tarnogol

When someone offered to guest post two or three years ago, it was usually other bloggers, colleagues or people that just felt like writing something for you. Today, you are more likely to receive guest post requests from freelance bloggers paid by companies to help them rank better in search results or bloggers working for their own network of blogs.

Most times they will tell you up front or you will notice by their email addresses.  Other times, they’ll just compliment you and send you a story for review. Once you approve the story, surprise!  xstudentfreeloansx.com.

You can also  ask yourself: why does someone who claim in his bio that he is a blogger for xstudentfreeloansx.com wants to publish about Origami? How would this person be an expert in what he does if he also writes about endocrinology, quantum mechanics and tarot?

I know what you are thinking: this is a blog tips blog, doesn’t this guy blog about careers? Well, yeah… but I still blog and I swear to God that I’m not being paid by anyone to write this. Still, I don’t mean that every blogger that gets paid to do this is a mercenary, I’m just saying be careful.

As we all know the benefits of guest blogging are countless -there’s no need to explain this to you guys- but there are also hidden pitfalls.

Let me tell you what just happened to me: ten minutes ago I was reviewing a guest post submission when something triggered a red light in my editing-mode-mind. Too many words were repeating too often. Say, even 4 or 5 times in a 4 line paragraph.

So I zoomed into the article and started looking for repeated words in more detail. The article was tidy, well structured and it made sense. No groundbreaking ideas either… it was a nice filler for those weeks of creative drought.

Problem was that it was keyword heavy. Heavy to the point where you felt you were reading an article written by Mr. Adwords.

I looked down at Zemanta’s suggested links and all I saw were those keywords I had identified as “spammy”.

So that made me think, is this person writing for my dearly beloved audience or for search engines? If the latter, then why would I feed my readers with something not intended for them. You as a blogger have an unique voice. That voice is what gives personality to your blog, what makes it unique.

Adding different voices by taking guest posting in, among other things, is a great way to give your readers a break from you and add color to your blog.

What you can’t allow is to let your voice get lost in the noise by adding another one that sounds like everyone and no one at the same time. Perfect grammar does not make an opinion or idea more valuable. It can make informative articles easy to read, but they will lack soul.

Another downside is that if your audience is smart enough, after a couple of keyword ridden posts they’ll start noticing that your blog is starting to look more like a content farm than a proper blog.

If you decide to take this species of guest blogging into your site, make sure they don’t take over it.

Fernando Tarnogol is an Argentinean Psychologist.  He has worked in corporate HR in the Finance industry and his clinical experience includes working with children, adolescents and adults with behavioral disorders and disabilities. He is currently in the management function at the Devereux Foundation in Pennsylvania, USA, where he manages a residential mental health facility. Fernando writes about Careers and Psychology at his blog.  Follow him on Twitter: @ftarnogol

Comments

  1. Ugh..great post.. I recently just opened my blog for guest posting with excitement. Only a few hours later, I found out many of these article marketers started pouring in, claiming they have great articles to post etc..

    Their bioline immediately confused and alerted me :( I really need to toughen up the guidelines and my rejection replies!

    I guess it’s ok if they can write “Adwords” optimization posts? In a way, it means you can get more visitors from search engines to that guest post, right?

    • Hi Michael,

      True, keyword heavy articles tend to drive more organic traffic but always be mindful of where you draw the line. I´ve received some submissions that were almost intolerable to read and I don´t want my blog to look like a link farm.

      Thanks for the comment!

    • Beware of the fluff piece and invest in the $10 for 200 copyscape scans, this will come in handy. I reject articles even if the author bio 5% or more is found matching in copyscape. I require they write even a unique bio in most cases. Use same keywords, but at least rewrite the bio part.

      Also, I would prefer they register for guest accounts where possible and fill out their profile page. I let them put links in their author bio part but not in the post itself.

      I have had success with some guest posters who come back routinely with new articles in same genre, and it works out fairly well.

    • Good advice Justin,

      I’m gonna start doing that.

  2. Hi,
    Indeed these are all great things to do to your blog. I have recently started my blog and have learnt a lot over the last couple of months. There is so much more to learn still. Thanks for the info.

  3. yes you are right Fernando. Guest posts are just keyword stuffed.

  4. Hey Fernando !
    I really admire and appreciate your firm and well fabricated thoughts,i do believe that there are too much craps around the web,and it is hard to identify also,as you have said that the bio itself defines a lot about a guest blogger,yes it is true,we should atleast take a brief look of a bio of a blogger before permitting him to write an article on our blog,because it can help us to put a meaningful content for our valuable readers instead of crap and spammy garbage.Thank you for sharing this great,valuable,informative and interesting content with us.

    Good Luck and God Bless!!

    With Regards!
    Samuel Joshua.

  5. I believe that guest blogging will not be as valuable as it used to be in the past. Spammers have ruined everything good the web has to offer. I advise bloggers and myself to stay careful about what to accept and what not. Because if we don’t act quickly, guest blogging will be doomed as its previous ancestors.

    • I agree Edgar,

      I have been to many blogs recently that have allowed sloppy and clearly spammy guest posts. I think it will be harder for google to devalue guest posts as easily as they were able to devalue article marketing. The problem for bloggers is that all of the spammers that used to hang out in the article marketing halls are looking for a new place to post their junk.

      I get at least a few emails a day from spammer guest bloggers. You can spot their form emails a mile away and I simply delete them.

  6. Unless it’s another blogger looking to get their voice heard, 90% of the time it is a hired person just trying to get more SEO words for their site or a site they are paid to go spread links for. This is why I have started a charge policy for guest bloggers who don’t have their own “blog” but are trying to gain SEO value for a company or increase SERP myself. I screen articles clearly. You do make a great point that if you allow to much guest blogging you can lose your voice or get audience lost. At first years ago my readers would leave comments on my guest articles thinking they were published by me, remember that your readers will think you wrote the article at first and make sure you are comfortable with that. Say “If my readers think I wrote this, am I okay with that?” Do you stand behind your guest articles? You should or else you shouldn’t post them.

  7. After reading your article I remember one of my new client, who was asking me to keep keyword density around 5% in content. I was little shocked that why do people just run behind one keyword and want to insert it as much as possible. But you have posted very well info and every guest poster must go through it .

  8. Guest blogging is usually the next natural step towards a newspaper, where many authors contribute to the success of the newspaper, the same applies to a blog or a topic blog with many related blog posts.

  9. Excellent topic and advice, Fernando!

    Fellow bloggers always appreciate a heads up and a fair warning.

    For several months, I’ve been getting emails from some less-than-savory folks who want to write a guest post for my blog.

    What really gets my goat is that the topics they want to write about are NOTHING my target audience or loyal readership would be interested in. And they’re always about promoting something — a product, program, or service. I think I should post a guest posting “policy” on my blog and make Rule #1 “No selling of any kind”

    I will say this much, though …

    Some of these guys and gals are pretty clever with the way they introduce themselves to you (showering you and your blog with kudos and praise). I’ve had a few of them have the nerve to say they’ve been “reading my blog for a long time” and how much they love my content.

    But guess what?! Not one of them has ever left a comment — not one!

    To me, that’s a clue and a BIG red flag.

    I’m getting into the habit of writing back and asking, “What post did you enjoy the most?” Or “Which one of my posts was your favorite?” At that point, I don’t expect to hear back from them. :-)

  10. I’ve noticed these problems too, and it’s why I very rarely accept a guest post on my blog. I don’t try too hard to get any, but they do come in once in a while. The excessive SEO can be quite noticeable.

    The key is definitely to be a picky host to your guests. It’s your house, your rules and if they don’t like it, they can’t play.

  11. Yes I agree with this post. Its very true that guest posts are SEO optimised and It just written for search engines , not for blog readers. So it puts a bad impact on blog readers.

  12. I agree with Stephanie. It is your house, so they have to play by the rules you set. Selecting the right guest blog or topic will be the best course of action, even when it means you have to be really meticulous in reading between the lines. It will all serve for the best in the end.

  13. This is quite true. A lot of guest post these days have hidden motives.

  14. Hi there, Fernando!
    I see your point-you are warning us of guest post being stuffed with keywords…and of freelance bloggers that are writing for money for the companies, in order to help them with their rankings. However, I don’t see anything bad about using freelance writers for guest posting, really. People do what they can in order to make their business flowing-and if it is nothing illegal and they can afford it, then, why not? It’s all a part of business.

    • Well, it’s true, in a way. But problem is, they tend to just write articles to satisfy the minimum number of words and only care about getting the keywords + link for their clients.

      That makes the article pretty basic and not of high quality, which your readers can clearly distinguish. I had a reader emailed me yesterday to get my guest posters off, as they wrote crappy articles

      • Hi all,

        I wrote 2 comments over the past days but for some reason non of them are showing up :(

        @Kristina, I see your point and agree with it. There’s nothing wrong or illegal. Actually, I still keep 1 or 2 people that write “on behalf of” but both contribute valuable posts to my blog so I see no reason for not taking their submissions.

        As Michael says, some people “only care about getting the keywords + link for their clients” so those guys are the ones you you need to keep an eye on if you don’t your blog’s quality impacted.

  15. When a person starts doing any job it should be done with the soul and writing a post is a very creative job which requires from you some sincere attitude which will be apreciated by your readers. We should admit that now there are many articles that pretend to be real ones as peole need to promote sites or logos. We only have to fight with such posts step by step.

    • Definitely. The more we focus on the numbers game, the less human we become. Same applies for comments … it’s sad that people are willingly removing themselves from the conversation between a group of like-minded people in order to catch the first or second comment position … automation / spinning / robots suck.

      Spammers suck at marketing!

  16. Thanks for these things.

  17. very good content, and thank you for advice,I’m agree with you

  18. Can’t agree with this post more.

    I’ve been literally inundated lately with low quality quest posts for bloggers that make it a point to mention in the guest post request that all they want in return is a link back with anchor text.

    In other words they make it clear that the link is their primary concern. Now byline links being part of a guest post pretty much goes without saying so if they have to go out of their way to mention the link in the guest post request then that’s usually all the reason I need to reject it.

    However if the request sounds legit I’ll take a look at the post. THis is the second test. Usually if the link is their only concern it will also show in the quality of the post.

    This recent epidemic of low quality quest post request led me to put together a similar post on the Vertical Measures blog a couple months back.

    How guest blogging can send your brand and reputation straight to hell

    I believe our post both basically share the same sentiments. I’m so glad that there are good people that actually “get it” and appreciate the true value of guest blogging.

  19. If you are reviewing the posts before publishing this wont be a problem. A good keyword density is always a good things and as long as they provide a quality article I guess the link shouldn’t matter that much,

  20. I think if you see a suspicious post, you shouldn’t accept it at all. This is a warning to all th rest to be in harmony with quality when they want to post a guest post for example. May be it is cruel, but I think effective.

  21. As a good blogger its always better to write articles for your visitors and not for search engines. Coming to guest posting before approving the guest post make sure whether that member is regular visitor and really interested in your blog.

  22. What you can’t allow is to let your voice get lost in the noise by adding another one that sounds like everyone and no one at the same time. Perfect grammar does not make an opinion or idea more valuable. It can make informative articles easy to read, but they will lack soul.

  23. I completely agree. You have to be careful about who you accept in your blog.

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