Getting featured on other websites is often touted as a great way to generate awareness for your startup, but what about featuring others on your site?
If you’ve ever wondered, “As a startup, should I accept guest posts on my blog?”, this post is for you.
As is often the case in digital marketing, the answer to your question is “It depends.”
The right type of guest posts can give you access to new audiences as guest posters share their contributions. Sometimes, they can even lead to new links as contributors link back to their work on your site. And finally, they’re free content you can add to your blog.
But what makes a guest post of the right type?
Let’s have a look.
Table of Contents
A decision-making process for startups
What follows are four things for you to do whenever you receive a guest post request. These things will help you filter out the good from the bad and help you set up a successful collaboration.
1. Deny spammy, paid, and automated requests
You don’t want to risk a penalty from Google for linking back to dodgy websites, nor do you want to risk the reputation you’re still very much building by publishing low-quality content. That’s why you want to deny any guest post requests that:
- Offer payment for you to publish an article (with a link in it). This is a big no for Google.
- Are clearly automated. These tend to be generic emails to which your name and/or company name and/or domain name have been automatically added in an often unnatural way.
- Just look spammy. Maybe they have a ton of typos, or the email copy is in a large font with bits in bold and red and cursive.
What all of these types of requests have in common is that they’re not tailored to your brand. They won’t tell you how their contribution can benefit your customers other than in a vague way such as that “it’ll be of interest”.
They often won’t even suggest an article topic and when they do, it’ll likely be either extremely general or not relevant to your brand.
Note that while you could simply delete these requests, chances are that whoever reached out will send you a follow-up, and then maybe another one, and another one, … I prefer to keep in mind that there’s a person on the other side of that (albeit badly crafted) email and have a polite but clear canned response at the ready for them.
Here’s an example of what you could reply to guest post requests you’re not interested in:
Thanks for reaching out, but I’m not interested.
All the best,
It’s simple and does the trick.
2. Check for relevance
Relevance matters. After all, you want the guest content to attract qualified leads for you. That means guest posts should be topically related to the core activities of your business. It’s even better if the contributing brand is also relevant to your audience.
Say you run a platform creators can host their courses on. It would make sense, then, to accept a guest post on how to get more course signups from your email list by an email marketing SaaS. Both the topic of the guest post and the contributor would be relevant to you and your audience.
“Keep an eye out for requests coming from other software companies in your space. Most big SaaS companies have in-house SEO teams and agencies that need to reach their built backlink goals. These provide a strong opportunity for collaborating.” – Viola Eva, Founder of Flow SEO.
3. Check the site’s health and organic traffic
Once you’ve established relevance, it’s time to look at the numbers. While SEO tools such as Ahrefs won’t accurately tell you how much organic traffic a site is getting, they do give you an estimate, and they can provide solid information on a site’s backlink profile and overall health.
A lot of articles on accepting guest posts recommend checking a site’s Domain Authority (DA) or Domain Rating (DR). It’s certainly great if you get pitched by a high authority site (and can possibly get a link back from them) but I would pay more attention to whether the site is in good condition. Here’s why:
- A relevant, high-quality site from another startup may not have a high DR yet, but if all signs indicate that this site and business are on a growth trajectory, it’s a good idea to collaborate with them now that you have the chance.
And if they don’t grow much but stay a quality business, you’ll just have another quality collaboration in your pocket.
- Linking to and being linked to by a spammy website, however, can hurt your own site’s authority. In the worst case, Google could think you’re part of a dodgy link scheme and give you a penalty.
So do check a site’s authority, but also pay attention to:
- whether the site is still getting traffic.
- if the site seems to be on a growth trajectory, or, alternatively, has stabilized at a healthy traffic level.
- if the site has a natural backlink profile.
4. Discuss the details
If the guest post request you’ve gotten is relevant to your business and coming from a healthy, high-quality, and related brand, you’re good to go.
Don’t just say yes, though.
Before responding affirmatively, you want to discuss the terms of the collaboration and make sure you’re following the best practices below.
Best practices for accepting and publishing guest posts
So you know that the answer to your question “Should I allow guest posts on my blog as a startup” is “It depends,” and you know how to filter out the good requests from the bad.
Now, let’s have a look at how to go about publishing guest posts.
1. Choose guest posts and three-way link swaps over link exchanges
Lots of companies will reach out to you asking for a guest post. Those companies want to generate brand awareness while building their link profile at the same time. Guest post requests are the easiest to make a decision about, as you can simply follow the process outlined above.
However, other companies will just want to generate more backlinks and they might ask you for a link exchange, which means you would link to a page on their site and they would link to one on yours.
Agree to these sparingly. It’s even better to avoid them altogether as they can look unnatural to Google (because they are). Instead, suggest doing a three-way link swap.
In a three-way link swap, Brand A links to Brand B, Brand B links to Brand C, and Brand C links to Brand A. A three-way link swap is harder to set up as you need a third party, but the risk of triggering Google is smaller.
2. Space things out
Unless the publishing happens in one way only (meaning, you publish a guest post and that’s it), you’ll want to space things out. Here’s what that could look like:
- Brand A publishes a guest post linking to Brand B. Brand B publishes a guest post linking back to Brand A one month later.
- Brand A publishes a guest post to Brand B. Three weeks later, Brand B publishes a guest post linking to Brand C. Another three weeks later, Brand C publishes a guest post linking to Brand A.
This schedule could look similar when placing links to other brands in existing content, and when they place links back to you.
3. Have guest posting guidelines and quality criteria
You should already have a style guide and writing guidelines for your regular writers. While those might be a bit overkill to share with guest contributors, you can use them as the basis for your guest posting guidelines.
Those guidelines will contain everything a guest contributor would need to take into account when writing for your brand, including formatting rules, how to send over images that need to go into the post, and how long their author bio should be.
You’ll also want to include rules about the types of outgoing links they can include, and mention that you will check the article for plagiarism with a tool such as Copyscape.
Sharing these guidelines reduces the risk of you having to heavily edit the guest post before you can publish it. However, they’re only as useful as the time you take to properly check whether each submission adheres to your guidelines.
4. Have sharing rules
A final thing you may want to discuss is who will promote the guest post once it’s published. The contributor will hope that you’ll share it with your audience as you would any of your own posts, and you can also ask the contributor to share it on their social media channels as well as in their newsletter.
That way, you both get a good dose of exposure to each other’s audiences.
Being Picky Pays Off
Accepting guest posts can be a great way to get access to new audiences, enrich your blog, and build your backlink profile. However, it’s important to filter out requests from relevant, related, and high-quality websites so you don’t end up hurting both your reputation and your own site authority.
The process outlined in this post helps you do just that, but if you don’t have time to work your way through outreach emails, get in touch. We can handle the good requests and turn them into solid backlinks.