Well, not literally but if I end up in the obituaries section of the newspaper, you know who to blame.

To give you a bit of background, I decided earlier this year to start a few new blogs. I also decided, having worked as a linkbuilder and copywriter for a number of years to allow guest blogging, thinking I was not only doing something nice for the community but maybe I could spare a few hours writing time and get some really good user-generated content instead.

iPhonebloggers.co.uk was the first of tPhoto: Ollie Crawford/Flickr (Creative Commons)hese ‘guest blogging friendly’ blogs and although it’s only been going a few months, I’ve already begun offering guest blogging on it. Although I’ve had a few good suggestions from bloggers, I’ve had a lot of complete and utter crap sent through as well.

I’m not talking about duplicated content, it’s not. It generally meets the basic guest blogging guidelines I’ve set; that’s not normally an issue. What I’m talking about is 400 word pieces of low-quality drivel with a link or two at the end. Probably put together by some freelancer who gets paid peanuts to re-write articles he or she is re-writing from some almost defunct article directory. (When I say unique content, I mean you’ve actually had a think about it and come up with a unique angle – passing copyscape is taken for granted).

I know how it works – I’ve worked as an inhouse and agency seo for a number of years. It worked fine when article directories (god bless their panda-whacked little souls) were all the rage but it won’t work with blogging as well. Sure, there are blogs out there that will take anything. Sometimes I even jump in for an easy link if it’s a slow news day. But, for the majority of blogs and bloggers, guest blogging is a way to build influence and subscribers not just backlinks.

Tell Me Something I Don’t Know

I appreciate that if you have something amazing to say, you probably want to write it on your own blog. That’s a natural instinct, but perhaps you’re just not understanding how guest blogging works.

When you write for another blogger, they’re essentially introducing you to all of their followers and friends. First impressions count. If you’re going to say something interesting, if you want to catch the attention of all these people and get them to follow you, link to you, whatever – now would be a really good time!

Guest blogging is a way to stand out, so put the time and effort into saying something worth saying not just repeating what’s already out there.

Don’t be Selfish about Social

Any serious blogger wants to build a readership, first and foremost. As a guest blogger you can help me do that by posting your blog post on Twitter and Facebook, you can stumble it and you can link to it when you write guest posts on other blogs. Ann Smarty is great for this. Guest blogging on Bloggingpro she links to another post she wrote on cleverdude.com. I’m sure she’ll get invited back. By the way Ann, with that attitude, you’re welcome to write a guest post for any of my blogs.

And linkbuilders don’t forget that pushing your guest posts out socially and linking back to them really strengthens the value of that link, as well as opening it up to more click-throughs and second hand pickup. It’s also plain old-fashioned good manners.

It’s Not A ‘Hit And Run’ Job

If you’re good, I want you back! Come pitch me another guest post and we’ll chat.

Advertisers understand that you often need to be exposed to a product a few times before you begin to notice it and ultimately buy it. The same goes for guest blogging. You might prick people’s attention the first time you write a guest post for me, but if you write two awesome guest posts in the space of a few months, people will sit up and pay attention. They’ll want to know more about you/your company/your blog and they won’t want to miss another post – AKA they’ll subscribe to your blog/follow you on Twitter/become a fan on Facebook – whatever.

Links

I know you want in content links, but what I’m really looking for is in context links. What do I mean by that?

There’s nothing more spammy-looking than seeing a post with keywords forced in.  You know the kind of post I mean? You’re reading through it and it’s all fine and then you come across a sentence that reads:

So book your flights to New York and jet off to a new adventure exploring the Big Apple. Or random car insurance links in the middle of an article. Just because you’re able to get the phrase into a sentence doesn’t mean it fits!

As long as you’re not linking to anything dodgy or totally out of context I’m actually cool with you having plenty of links to pages around your site. If you’re writing a post about the ‘Best iPhone Apps for Wannabe Hitmen’ and you’ve written a review of the Gunman iPhone app, well feel free to link to it if it adds value to the piece – that makes sense. Just don’t suddenly mention iPhone insurance or worse still car insurance, unless hitmen actually need and use it. Maybe they do, but it sure as hell sticks out like a sore thumb when you throw in a phrase like ‘cheap online car insurance deals’ with a link back to your site/client.

And while we’re on it, don’t just include your links your own site, Pagerank freaks! Co-citation is equally important in my opinion (and Jim Boykin’s), not just for seo but for actually writing a normal, natural-looking article that has some purpose other than to give you some exact match anchor text (which btw, matters less and less these days – SEOmoz agrees). Plus, you might just grab the attention of the people you’re linking to which could result in a retweet, stumble or more importantly a new relationship.

In summary:

Look I know you or your client needs links (I do too!) and they’re getting harder and harder to get. The life of the seo and in particular linkbuilder is a hard knock one but don’t waste your time pushing out low-quality crap to my blog (at least). The fact that Google has whacked a ton of sites made up of this level of content should be an indication that it wants your copy to do more than just pass Copyscape – and blog owners like me do too! Put the time into writing something that I’ll not only read and publish, but that I’ll promote when I’m guest blogging as well.