4 Things To Avoid When Guest Blogging

By Mark Linsdell Published: 27 August, 2019 Last updated: February 17th, 2022 at 4:48 pm

laptop with stickers

What makes a good guest?

Is it someone who brings a bottle of wine worth more than $10? Or is it someone who doesn’t talk about cross fit from the moment they arrive until the moment they leave? No matter your definition, being a respectful guest is important to most people.

And this applies to PR, too. 

Guest blogging is one of the best ways to get publicity for your business. Furthermore, many publications welcome guest contributors.

However, as guest blogging has become more and more popular, editors are now pitched endless ideas on a daily basis. Therefore, you need to have some sort of guest posting strategy in place.

Otherwise, you’re no better than someone who walks mud into your house and insists your party listens to Pitbull all night.

With this fear-inducing thought in mind, we decided to collect the four biggest things to avoid when guest blogging:

1. Targeting the wrong publications

A successful guest posting strategy takes time. Here are just a few of the hoops you need to jump through in a (well planned) guest article strategy:

– Forming relationships with relevant editors or journalists

– Writing the perfect pitch

– Writing an article that is informative and valuable to readers

Imagine going through this long, sometimes arduous process, only to get a guest article published in a media outlet that none of your target audience reads.

I’m not one to overindulge in cliches BUT – when it comes to guest posting – fail to plan and plan to fail. 

You probably have an idea of the kind of publications you want to target your guest blogs towards. Therefore, we think it’s best we touch on the publications you DON’T want to target:

  • Spammy sites with low authority – You know what we mean when we say a ‘spammy site’. Generally, it’s a website littered with popups and adverts with text like: ‘this man eats tacos by an infinity pool and earns $324,567 a year’. Dream jobs aside, these are not sites you want to target. As a good rule of thumb, before pitching a guest post to a website, check it’s Domain Authority score using the free MozBar. If it has a score of 40 or above, then this is a good indication that the site is legit. Whereas a site with a much lower score could actually harm your SEO. 
  • Sites that use nofollow backlinks – Speaking of SEO, backlinks are a big reason why businesses go after guest articles. The right backlinks increase your website’s authority and helps you rise up Google’s rankings. However, it’s important to understand that there are two types of backlinks: follow and nofollow. A nofollow backlink instructs Google not to crawl the link, which means no ‘link equity’ is passed to the website receiving the link. This means you receive very little SEO benefit. We recommend checking the backlinks of a publication before you target them. And if SEO is your primary guest posting objective, only pitch to sites with follow backlinks.
  • Publications that are irrelevant to your business – We briefly touched on this but this is just a waste of time. For example, say you’re a shipping company that uses blockchain technology – you’re not going to go after guest posts in Vogue. Do your research and find out what publications relate to your business and are read by your target audience and focus your energy there.

2. Not reading the publications’ guidelines

Not all publications are the same. Yes, they may cover similar topics but they may go about it in completely different styles. Therefore, it’s paramount that you check the publication’s guidelines before pitching a guest blog

Articles that aren’t formatted or written in the publication’s style creates more work for its editor. No one wants to pick up the slack because you didn’t do your homework! You get an ‘E -’ for effort and, usually, an ‘F’ for earned media results.

With this in mind, we’d recommend searching the publication’s name + ‘guest post guidelines’ on Google or having a dig around on their site beforehand.

3. Writing it like a sales document

This is a point we’ll stress again, and again, and again.

Guest posts are not promotional or sales content. The high-value, informative and, hopefully, entertaining article is itself the promotion. 

There are two main reasons why you should avoid writing a guest blog in a salesy tone:

  •  Readers will switch off – Yes, you may be enthused about your startup’s new product or service. And you may want to shout about it from the rooftops. However, this offers little to no value to the publication’s readership. The high-value guest blog you set out to write just ends up sounding like an advertisement.
  • Editors won’t accept it – Perhaps more importantly, editors will not accept over-promotional content. They want submissions that are valuable to their readership. If you send a publication’s editor a guest article that is overtly promotional, your chances of getting it published are extremely slim.

So why bother writing a guest article and going to the trouble of getting it published if you can’t plug your product?

Well, we get asked this a lot! The answer is, you need to look beyond just your product. A guest post may not instantly result in a ton of leads or sales, but it provides loads of other benefits including increased social proof and combined PR and SEO wins.    

4. Having zero/bad/too many inbound links

When done correctly, guest blogging is great for SEO.

We’ve already touched on some of the SEO considerations when it comes to guest blogging. However, we need to explain some common guest blog backlinking mistakes you need to avoid.

Firstly, please remember this:

A bad backlink strategy is no backlink strategy.

So if improved SEO is your objective, you have to include backlinks to your site! They give you the opportunity to build inbound links into your website and in turn, shoot up Google’s rankings.

As the below infographic shows, there are usually two places you can earn backlinks from a guest post: within your bio in the author byline and contextual backlinks within the main body of the article. 

paper with backlinks

You’ll usually be given a backlink in the author byline whenever you submit a guest post, but inserting contextual backlinks into the article is down to you.

But this is where rookie mistakes can be committed. First off – check the publication guidelines with this specific practice, some don’t allow it, while others have very strict limits. 

And even if it appears like you have carte blanche to insert as many contextual backlinks to your heart’s content, don’t overdo it! Too many are bound to ruffle editor’s feathers. Two or (maybe) three should be the limit. 

Furthermore, make sure every backlink to your website is contextually relevant. By this, I mean that it links to a piece of content that provides further reading, data points, or references, on the topic being discussed. Otherwise, backlinks without context can appear spammy to Google’s algorithm. 

We hope that these four big no-nos have given you a better idea of what to avoid when guest posting. These are all essential when writing a guest blog.

Avoid these pitfalls and you’ll become the belle of the ball in the eyes of the publications you write guest posts for.