In the past few months there has been a lot of talk about content marketing. Another ‘buzz term’ of which I sometimes think many don’t even understand what it actually is. Many bloggers are giving and getting the advice to ‘go out there’ and create a profile for themselves and find the right place to share content. The biggest advice: guest post.
Guest posting has different advantages after all: as a blogger you get your profile out there, you make good use of Google’s authorship markups (get your face plastered around the web some would say) and last but not least: it might get you a nice link.
All nice, there is however a big downside to this trend: my inbox has exploded with (in many cases) low quality guest post requests.
Now it is not necessarily my inbox I’m worried about here though: the quality of content in general is rapidly decreasing this way. As the one running State of Search I have now decided to ‘do my share’ and make a statement: no guest posts are accepted anymore. Let me explain.
From links to guest posts
In the past my inbox usually was filled with link requests, most of them, as we are used to, not very tempting:
Most of them (like this one actually) followed by the ultimate bribe sentence:
“if you don’t place a reciprocal link to us somewhere on your site within a week, the link to your site will automatically be removed from our directory.”
As if that would change my mind…
Nowadays however the ‘link requests’ have become less, but my inbox almost can’t handle the guest post requests. The link building requests have turned into guest post requests. But they are not any better, or less for that matter.
The e-mail requests
There are different types of guest post requests I am getting. The most common on is via e-mail or the contact form. The tactic used here is no different than those for link building. People do a search for ‘guest post’ and find a site which has them (we do). Then they simply stop looking and start filling in forms and sending e-mails.
If you would do some research you would see that we indeed have guest posts on the site. However, we don’t ‘do’ guest posts like some other sites do, we don’t have a YouMoz for example where ‘just anyone’ can upload a post. The guest posts on State of Digital are all from people we know personally, so from within a certain circle. These people in 9 out of 10 cases were asked by us to do a guest post for our site.
On the about page of State of Digital, just above the contact form I even specifically said:
Somehow people are far from impressed by this, because they fill in the form anyway.
So now my inbox is filled with requests like this:
Until recently I kindly answered these saying we don’t accept them, but now I’ve had enough. I just don’t answer them anymore.
The personal requests
The other way I get guest post requests are in person. Now this off course is a much more solid way since that way you know for sure that I know you. At least, so it seems.
I am getting requests from people I know this way and friends as well as people who know me. At conferences it sometimes happens that someone comes up to me and starts talking to me. Because they know me they assume I know them as well. Sometimes I do but often enough I don’t.
It always astonishes me that it usually takes them less than 30 seconds to get the guest post topic in. “I have a guest post for you, where can I send it”, something in that line is usually on the table quite quickly. And the funny thing is, they make you feel as if they are doing you a favor.
To be honest: even coming from people I know this gives me an awkward feeling. Off course I don’t want to let people down, but it kind of feels I’m being treated as… well let’s not get too descriptive, but it feels ‘dirty’, as if I’m being used.
No more guest posts accepted
State of Digital I think is a ‘special place’. We might not always succeed, but one of the things we are trying to do here is find a certain quality and in depth. We want to look at ‘why’ things are happening and what the impact is. And we want to properly teach people something.
It’s challenging but I think we are getting better at this every day.
Now guest posts indeed can help there. If the quality is right than it can be very useful. So there are exceptions (see below) but the statement I now want to make is simple:
Anyone, whether it is a friend, someone I vaguely know or someone I don’t know who is asking for a guest post opportunity on State of Digital gets a “No” as answer.
It is like with kids: children who ask for cookies won’t get any.
As said, I know guest posting can be valuable. In many ways. There are complete services build around it even. And for us guest posts can be interesting as well. We have specific guest post series around certain topics which gives us valuable content and a way to touch on different angles.
So closing down guest posts entirely is not what I want. I will still do guest posts, but it will mean that we approach people for guest posting, not the other way around.
To conclude: who’s with me?
So why am I doing this again?
First and foremost I want to preserve quality ON the site, but I also want to make a statement: I feel that this way of guest posting is maybe even worse than the link building requests I got before, because it is polluting the web enormously.
The low quality content is hurting sites, and will be penalised by Google in the end I’m sure.
And it is also hurting our industry as a whole. Where the industry already had a bad name ‘outside’ because of dodgy tactics with links, this will not help giving us a better image.
I hope that more sites will say no to this pollution with me (don’t get me wrong, I’m not banning guest posting all together, just the requests). And if not, I will at least know the quality on our site is good.
So who’s with me?