When someone emails you offering to write content on your site, you’re picky about it. You do your due diligence to figure out who they are, what their site is about, what their community is like, and the type of content they’re likely to write. And you’re smart to! You put your reputation and your community on the line each time you attach your name to someone else’s and hand over the keys to your blog.
Well, guess what? The same applies when you’re selecting sites to guest post for to increase your own brand and exposure. You want to make sure you’re putting them through the same quality test you’d put someone else through.
We’ve all heard how important guest blogging can be to your small business marketing efforts. But below are six signs a site isn’t worthy of your post and you should place it somewhere else:
1. Their Most Recent Post Is From April of 2007
Hey, we all know how difficult it can be to keep fresh content coming on a regular basis; however, a blog where posting is, at best, infrequent is a sign this site is not a match. When you’re guest posting, you want to hone in on sites that have authority, an engaged community, and where your content will be appreciated.
If the site you’re looking at hasn’t been updated in six months, there’s a good chance the attached community has gone away with it. It also could be an indication that the person in charge of the site isn’t going to be responsive to emails, either because they’ve given up on the project, forgotten about it, or they’ve simply moved on to something else. Placing your content here isn’t going to give it the best chance for new eyes, which is what it deserves.
2. Posts Are Low Quality
Okay, so not only is this blog not stagnant, they’re actually posting four to five posts a day! It sounds good, however, upon further notice you realize that while the number of posts and activity is great, the quality is not. Posts are ridden with spelling/grammar errors, are awkwardly written, and don’t seem to really generate much value for readers.
If that’s the case, you may want to find another site to pitch (one that appears more worthy of your content) or at least dig in and do some more research about it. It could be that a well-written post from you on this site would stand out and generate a lot of great comments because it’s so different. Or, the low quality present could be a sign that people aren’t really invested in the site and won’t notice how exceptional your content is. If you’re not getting a good feeling from this site, it’s best to move on.
3. Unhealthy Comment Section
One of the best health indicators for any blog is the comment section because it gives you an intimate look at the activity and conversation happening on site. Some things to look at:
- Are people commenting? Who are the comments by [Real names or handles]?
- What types of comments are they leaving?
- Do community members answer each other questions?
- What is the tone? Welcoming? Friendly? Snarky?
- Does spam appear to be moderated?
If you notice that the majority of the comments on that blog are spammy, self-promotional, or perhaps even just plain mean, this is another big warning sign. A blog that is unkempt, and where spam is permitted to litter the conversation, is not one that you want your brand to be a part of. It’s another indication that the owner of the blog isn’t invested in its success and that the community hasn’t been trained in how to respect one another.
4. Irrelevant Ads/Links Present
You want your brand to be associated with good things and good online neighborhoods. If you’re looking at a florist Web site and begin noticing a smattering of ads for cars, sneakers, Web design and/or other services that have no relation to the floral industry, it could be a sign that those links/ads are paid for. Knowing how strongly Google is keeping an eye out for these types of things and openly penalizing brands, you may want to avoid placing content on these sites. A somewhat controversial area, but one you should be aware of.
5. Your Audience Isn’t There
There’s this blog you absolutely love! The author is funny, you have a similar writing style, and the community is really engaged. However…their community is about dog lovers, while you write about technology.
Sure, there’s a chance that a few of this community’s members would be interested in the latest dog gadgets or a topic that combines the two, but that’s not really the audience you’re going after. You’re looking to reach people interested in technology and travel, not technology and pups. If you don’t feel like your audience is hanging around at this blog, then resist the urge to pitch them a post, even if you’re a really big fan of the blog.
If you want to throw them a bone (pun intended) and give them a fun post when you have some spare time, that’s okay, but don’t make it part of your larger guest blogging objectives. For those, you want to stick to targeted sites that represent where your community is likely to be. Otherwise, you’re producing content that’s not likely to much ROI.
6. No Social Media Activity
An active social media presence is a good indication that the blogger is paying attention and wants to be part of their larger community. It shows they care about their site and are invested in turning it into a great resource. If you’re not seeing these life signals, it can be a red flag. Sure, not every business is going to take to social media or have the resources to dedicate to large marketing campaigns, but have they at least claimed their profiles? Can you find them to ask questions? Are they talking to others? If they’re not, you might want to ask yourself why.
Guest blogging has become a trusted and effective way for business owners and consultants to increase their reach and expand into new audiences. But it can only do that if you’re selective and smart about the sites you choose to post for. You wouldn’t let “just anyone” to post on your blog, so don’t post on just anyone’s blog either.
Ghost Town Photo via Shutterstock