When guest blogging goes wrong

Here’s what you should do to avoid the potential downsides of guest posts.

Imagine this:

You are responsible for a popular business blog with a thriving community. You begin regularly interacting with a new community member via your blog’s comment section and Twitter. Over time, the relationship reaches a comfortable point and the community member wants to submit a guest post. Seeing nothing out of the ordinary, you agree. You run the post, your community likes it, the author responds to comments and everything seems normal.

A couple of months pass and the following comment pops up on the post, “I’m glad most of you liked the post. I’m the guy who really wrote it. My name is Gary and I was paid $50 for it.”

Wait, what? Sounds crazy right, almost unbelievable? It would never happen, right?

Oh, but it did. It’s absolutely 100 percent true. It’s become known as “The Great Ghost Post Scandal.”

For all the benefits guest blogging offers, there are some potential downsides. Search engine optimization companies (and individuals) are using guest blogging as a form of link building. And while many of them are open, honest and forthright in their desires, there are those companies and individuals that lurk beyond the boundaries of ethical by using pseudonyms and ghost written articles.

How can you protect your company and brand now that you’ve concluded that guest blogging is right for your blog? First, know the warning signs to look for, and second, take some preventative steps to protect yourself.

Warning signs

As the editor-in-chief of a community driven blog, B2Bbloggers.com, I’ve seen my fair share of shady behavior when it comes to guest blog requests. Here are some of the most common signals that might alert you to guest bloggers with less than the best intentions.

  • Template email requests. Dear Jeremy, I was reading your blog, {insert name} and immediately thought of an article that would be a perfect fit for it.
  • Wrong name of your blog in the request email. Dear Jeremy, your blog, Marketing Speedway rocks. I’d like to submit a guest post.
  • Inflated praise of your blog in the introductory sentence. Dear Jeremy, I found your blog last night during an Internet search. It is one of the most wonderful, best written blogs I’ve seen that is similar to mine.
  • Pre-written articles submitted with the request. Dear Jeremy, I attached three articles that are perfect for your blog. When can I have them posted?

These are all actual examples received over the past couple of months for guest post submissions to B2Bbloggers.com. In each instance, I respectfully replied with my guest post rules and guidelines. Not surprisingly, I didn’t hear back from any of them.

Prevention

With the warning signs in mind, and you in control, take the following preventative steps to best protect your company and brand.

1. Conduct a thorough search into the author’s background. Before you accept and post anything, at the minimum, review their LinkedIn profile.

2. Request examples of guest posts on other blogs.

This not only illustrates the person’s writing ability, but let’s you know which blogs have accepted the writer’s guest posts. Not everyone will have guest posted somewhere else. That’s OK. At the minimum you should review published articles for writing style and ability.

3. Create a guest post policy. Require guest authors to manage comments on their posts. By agreeing, the guest author demonstrates a commitment to their work and your community. Often, this requirement scares away people looking for a back links.

4. Create guest article submission guidelines. At a minimum, it should include:

  • The number of links allowed in a submission.
  • The right to copyedit any submission prior to publishing.
  • The right to un-publish (or remove links) at any time.
  • The right to refuse publication if the article doesn’t meet your editorial quality standards.

Remember, you are in control, not them. It’s your blog, your community, and most importantly, your brand that is being put on the line. It has to have equal value to both parties; otherwise it’s not worth doing. Ultimately, you are in control of what gets published. It’s your job to prevent guest blogging from going wrong for you.

Jeremy Victor is the vice president of strategy & operations for VertMarkets and Jameson Publishing, where he leads the evolution of the company’s products and services. He is also president of Make Good Media, a B2B publishing and marketing services outsourcing company.

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