Does this sound familiar?
You receive an email from someone you don’t know, offering to provide “guest content”, or a “guest blog post” or a “guest article” for you to use on your website. The email usually will mention that “Google likes to see new content and lots of content”, as the reason why you should accept their offer. All they ask in return is for you to allow them to include a link from the article back to their website.
Why would they make this offer?
They do so because they want that link from the article on your site back to the page it links to on their site. Those are often called “backlinks” on their site, because those links “link back” to their site.
Backlinks to their site, when they accumulate enough of them over time, may help to convince Google’s ranking algorithms to assess their site as being more authoritative and therefore more deserving of higher ranking in search engine results pages (“SERPs”).
Why us? To whom do they make this offer?
In most cases, they prioritize making such requests from sites that are more “authoritative” or more “trusted” than their own site. They do this because the relative impact on their ranking from backlinks depends upon, along with other things, the authority and trustworthiness of the site from which the backlinks are received.
That leads to this conclusion: there’s usually a lot more for them to gain than for you.
How can you measure the authority and trustworthiness of anyone’s website?
In other words, how can you measure whether one website has more relatively more authority and trust when compared to another website?
There are a number of ways to make such relative assessments between two websites in a variety of ways, comparing the two sites’ metrics from third-party tools such as the ones shown below. These metrics are only a guide, and sometimes you can be misled by them when they’re just plain wrong, which happens in some cases with some websites:
- Moz domain authority ‘DA’ and domain trust ‘DT’
- SEMrush rank
- Majestic SEO “Trust Flow” and “Citation Flow”
Also, using Majestic SEO you can do a further check by looking at the sites that link to the offering site; are those sites authoritative, relevant and trustworthy?
You can also simply conduct a few test searches on Google and see whether their ranking position is higher than, or lower than, your own. If you decide to try this, add a geo-modifier to the search phrase to help eliminate proximity bias to your location. For example, search for “home care agencies los angeles ca” and “medical equipment vendors denver co” (adding the city and state abbreviation for where each company is located).
This is just a sample list; there are other tools for making this sort of relative assessments.
What should I do? Is their offer something that will benefit me and my site, is it something that I should consider?
Is their content so brilliant and desirable that you really care about whether or not it appears on your website? If not, then just decline their request.
Is there anything else that I should do?
There is one other thing some people do, instead of declining the request. Instead, they ask for a reciprocal backlink from the other company.
I don’t recommend doing that. Here’s why:
- Frankly, it’s risky because it amounts to violating Google’s webmaster guidelines. If you get caught, Google will take action. That action they take could be as benign as simply disregarding the links in your site’s search rankings. Or, it could be as severe as Google assessing a “manual penalty” against your site.
- When your site receives a manual penalty, your site is removed from Google search engine results pages entirely. Ouch.
How could I get “caught”?
When two websites link to each other in a transparent and forthright manner, Google can instantly detect that reciprocal link arrangement and is likely to disregard both links because it considers them (correctly) to be “unnatural” and created strictly for SEO purposes. And, to be honest, in most cases, Google is probably correct in making that assessment.
Some people attempt to disguise reciprocal link arrangements by using links that are not directly reciprocal. In such arrangements they arrange links between three or four or more sites, instead of just two.
For example, if site A offered content with a link to site B, then for site B to benefit there must either be:
- A third site C, owned by B, that A can give a backlink to, or
- A third site D, owned by A, that that can give a backlink to B, or
- Both a site C and a site D, owned by B and A respectively, so that D can give a backlink to D
Ultimately, though, it’s very possible that Google will discover these more complicated, less-transparent link swap arrangements, either as a result of their never-ending bot network, or because someone (like a competitor) tips them off, causing them to manually investigate. That’s scary to even think about.
So, what are the top 3 steps to take when I am offered “Guest Post” or “Guest Article” content for my site, and I decide that I really do want to accept their content for my website?
Their company should be in an industry that has at least some relevance to your audience, e.g., DME or incontinence supplies are relevant to a home care agency, but auto parts would probably not be.
Their site and their company, that is, the website and the company they want to link to from their content on your site, must be ones that you think are respectable and relevant.
- Visit their website and make sure that it would look appropriate to your customers and site visitors.
- Google their company name and then click through to their website from the Google search results. If Google gives you any warning about their site, such as for malware or other things, you probably should decline their offer.
- Not so obvious:
The content they offer to post on your site must meet some basic criteria in order to be appropriate for your site. You should ask them these questions:
- “Will the content be original content that you have the right to use for this purpose? In other words, it must not be plagiarized content that belongs to someone else.”
- “Will the content you offer you be unique and exclusive? It must not be used anywhere else on the web, both before and after we accept your offer to place it on our site. In other words, it must not be duplicate content. “
There are many considerations to take into account when someone offers you a “Guest Post” or “Guest Article” for your website. Be careful in what you choose to do, and make a well-grounded assessment of whether or not the content is really going to help your site’s visitors and readers. If it doesn’t do that, then it doesn’t belong on your site.
Photo by springfeld