Guest posting is a great way to help yourself and your website earn more connections in the blogosphere. Other than that, it’s also a great way to get new content on your website without putting in much work. However, guest posting done wrong can do more harm than good and might even damage your search engine optimization (SEO); you can avoid such a drawback by being thorough with your guest posting guidelines.
As it is, guest posting guidelines can mean the difference between a quality guest post and one that damages your SEO. Even big websites sometimes allow low-quality and spammy guest posts all because of their rather vague guest posting guidelines. The penalty for this might soon change especially since Google is known for cracking down on low-quality content, and guest posts are not exempted.
Of course, there’s also the fact that your website deserves guest posts created with the same care you observe with your own content. So, here are some elements your guest posting guidelines need to have in order to sustain the quality you worked hard for.
You own the content
We can’t stress enough how much you need to make this one clear. Too often are there guest posters who believe that they can distribute the very same content across many websites; this especially can happen if you do pay guests or if you allow them to put backlinks to their own website. As a rule of thumb, make sure that your guest poster knows that whatever they leave on your website is yours.
That means the distribution or re-production rights of any content they post belong to you. If you don’t own the content, your contributor might actually spin their own guest post for their own website; this is unacceptable. Although, if you’re fine with the republishing of a guest post, then that’s up to you, also make that clear.
Who can write for you
This is where you have to be both picky and investigative. You can’t just accept any author that hits you up with a formal guest post request. You have to have your own criteria and you have to make it visible in your guest posting guidelines. Looking into certain things such as an author with a healthy amount of digital footprint is a must.
Anyone who has a record of plagiarism, lack of social sensitivity, or just a poor record, in general, isn’t someone you’d want on your website. Hence, you want someone who also has experience or at least passion for the same niche wherein your website belongs.
Links are also one of the more significant factors of guest posts that are often overlooked. You have to publish in your posting rules the exact number of outgoing links each guest content requires or at the very least, the minimum (at least 3 or 4 links are usually the standard).
Moreover, you have to ensure that these are quality links to websites with a good or decent authority metric. Websites that are shady or spammy or have too many invasive ads and questionable practices might bring your website’s authority down when any of your content has a link to them. You can check the authority metric of a website using tools like these; you might even want to include this process in the guidelines: guests authors will want to check their links first with a tool that checks site authority before using that link.
Image and formatting requirements
Images and content formatting are also important elements of SEO; they can either bring a content’s SEO down or improve it depending on how well the formatting is utilized. Hence, you want your guest posts to take full advantage of the benefits of good formatting.
Make sure to include your image and formatting specifications in your guidelines; this is so guest posters will know beforehand what they need to be doing in order for their post to be fruitful. This can be anything from the exact image dimensions, proper crediting, image sources to even effective use of subheadings, italicization, and even quotation marks for certain keywords that ought to be followed.
Your editorial policies
Depending on what kind of blog or website you have, editorial guidelines can be a huge factor among your guests’ decisions. Either way and as a courtesy, including your editorial policies and rules can dispel any misunderstanding. Small things like grammar strictness, spelling errors, and proofreading need to be discussed.
Moreover, you also need to discuss who that responsibility belongs to. Sometimes, a contributor might get surprised or saddened by the number of things you change in their article or the censorship. That’s why saying what you’ll be doing to their piece and why you’ll be doing it is doing a favor for everyone.
The writing style is equally important as the technical aspects of an article. Making sure that you publish your website’s style or tone of writing will ensure that your guest posts don’t look out of place or confuse your readers.
Small but specific details such as the writing perspective (third or first-person), the vocabulary used, active or passive sentences, and even how formal the writing needs to be are quite crucial for guest posts. This does depend on what kind of blog you run, so feel free to be lenient as well if need be.
One of the most obvious rules your guest posting guidelines need is the subject matter. It’s quite obvious that you should only accept guest posts that are within your area of expertise or within the website’s general atmosphere or culture.
That or it could be the other way around; you could suggest an area where you lack expertise and have an expert write about it in your blog. Whichever your website needs, just remember to make it apparent.
Proof that they read the guidelines
No matter how specific you are with your guidelines, there are still some guest authors who are too lazy to read it. This is problematic, so to filter them out, you’ll want to include a phrase only you know and something that they should quote in their guest post request.
This can be anything, a word, random phrases, or anything you can remember or a combination of all of them, spread out evenly throughout the guideline. This ensures that they have read and hopefully understood your guest posting guidelines.