Why We Are NOT Accepting Guest Posts Anymore

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 doingΒ 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.

The exceptions

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?

Bas van den Beld

About Bas van den Beld

Bas van den Beld is an award winning Digital Marketing consultant, trainer and speaker. He is the founder of State of Digital and helps companies develop solid marketing strategies.

51 thoughts on “Why We Are NOT Accepting Guest Posts Anymore

  1. I’ve had a blanket ‘no thanks’ policy for guest posts on all the blogs I own, and have only made one exception once – and that was because the request email was exceptionally well crafted and I felt inclined to thusly reward it.

    But even then the actual quality of the guest post (written by someone other than the original requester) ended up somewhat disappointing.

    So yes, I’m with you all the way Bas.

  2. Always good to make a stand, but I wonder just how much your inbox will feel the benefit. Any mention of the word “guest post” on the site will convince people that they will be the exception and mean that you’re still appearing when people search for it. I even get endless requests for guest posts on sites where I have never accepted them.

    I also worry when people say they are restricting opportunities to those “within a circle”. In my experience this results in all the same people repeating all the same things, with no opportunity for a fresh voice or opinion on a subject – something I think there is already too much of in this industry.

    I agree that the requests are annoying, but I’m not sure of the benefits of this approach.

    1. My inbox probably won’t benefit, especially because of the title I used. The bots will pick up the opposite message I’m afraid. But the intention was not to make my inbox lighter (there are filters for that πŸ˜‰ ), but to make people think about this topic. I’m open for discussion on this πŸ™‚

      1. As if to prove your point, I received an email this morning from a chap asking to guest post on our Digital Agency site (that’s never accepted guest posts) on “cat/dog food coupons”….

        As you say, it’s easy enough to filter this stuff out. My concern about a blanket ban on guest posts is that it is denying a stage to those who might not be known in the industry but may have an important take on a subject.

        There is also a danger when limiting your output to a set circle of contributors that you end up with a very one-sided viewpoint. One of the positive sides of guest posts is that you get a fresh viewpoint that is outside the regular discussions of your circle.

        Opposing viewpoints are so often lacking on many industry blogs in favour of “this is awesome” backslapping, even when a fresh, opposing statement would bring far more to the blog and its readers.

        1. That depends Alan. Yes, there is the danger of the ‘internal filter bubble’, but you can get different opinions on the site as well. I don’t think every State of Search blogger necessarily agrees with what another is saying, which makes that you do get different viewpoints actually. It is up to the editor to create a balanced team.

          Nobody is denying anyone a stage either. The difference is that you need to earn that stage, I agree with what @JamesCarson:disqus says elsewhere in the comments:

          “If you’re really determined to get known in the space, it’s through your network and ability. Create your own content first and don’t be disheartened.”

          1. There is certainly an element of that and while I don’t disagree with what @JamesCarson:disqus says in principal – the reality is that the network is often a far greater contributor to a writer’s potential visibility than their ability and knowledge.

            I’ve seen a few examples of poor quality content on authoritative industry blogs in the last few days (not this one, I should add) that does make me concerned for what is being put out there and hope that those new to the industry won’t just accept it without doing their own research.

            Couple this with seeing the same old faces rolled out for conferences and appearing on leading blogs, I just hope this isn’t another way in which those with something to say are denied a suitable platform to do so.

            I should add though that you do provide an excellent resource with State of Search and I can understand why you are keen to protect the intergrity of the content that is published here.

  3. this take is interesting, and i respect it from an editorial perspective for sure. readers have expectations. championing community-lent thought via comments is great, but maintaining the integrity of produced content is integral and a reflection on the brand.

    i have to admit, i’ve lost a bit of respect for some brands who seemed very selective in presenting offline material, yet got a bit loose with their digital content and what personalities were aligned as authors. also, as the trend of content marketing spread, i’ve noticed more gregariousness regarding hosting sites, which I believe negatively influenced the brand’s reputation in some cases.

    That being said, there are definitely great writers/communicators out there I don’t know about, and I wouldn’t want to shy away from an opportunity to introduce a new author or host anyone’s content that provides value. There’s a line to be respected, and I think this post is a call to be a bit more editorially selective, and I completely agree with it.

  4. I seem to have had a drastic reduction of spam after I put this in my sidebar “All links on this blog are editorially given. Do not contact me for link
    exchanges. Any samples which come with a link request will be refused
    outright. Reviews do not guarantee links. I do not add links to articles
    already written unless I want to and any requests to do so will be
    refused (and may result in the review being withdrawn). I reserve the
    right to remove links from reviews at any time for any reason including
    but not limited to whim. I am not your link bitch, don’t try and treat
    me as such”


    1. My linkedin also boasts a “headhunters sod off” message, and still I have loads in my inbox weekly. Sadly the people it should ward off are too thick to get the message. This presuming it’s not all automated crap like that 2nd guest post request up top.

    1. It would raise the quality, but also make it much harder to get in on the action as a blogger. To get noticed and get picked: how would we know who to pick. And isn’t the low threshold what got us going, back in the days?

      1. People I approach could write an article which we still wouldn’t accept because it isn’t good enough. There are different ways of getting noticed, not just by the posts you already published with that one ‘hot link’ to your client in it.

      2. There’s no problem in it being hard to get in on the action as a blogger. It should be hard, that means quality will be high. The easier it becomes the lower the quality will be. Nobody stops you from blogging on your own site, or your company blog or to start a new blog. If you do that well enough, you’ll get noticed (actually exactly how I became a State of Search blogger). The low threshold is now polluting the blogosphere, time for a clean-up!

  5. Hi Bas, interesting development and kudo’s for making the statement.

    Just out of curiosity: how do you handle requests from new bloggers. So not necessarily guest posts, but posts from people who (say that they) want to frequently write posts for SoS? You never know whether they will return for a 2nd posting until after publishing the 1st, right? So that might lead to the same problem?

    Also, won’t minimising the exposure of the guest bloggers (e.g. disabling Google Authorship) take away much of the SEO incentive to send in guest blogposts and focus more on the ‘branding value’ of it? Although, I realize while typing this, that probably won’t help in minimising the automated requests… πŸ™‚

    1. Hi Bram, we have very strict rules when it comes to new bloggers. We hand pick each of them and the editorial team together discusses if someone fits the profile. This profile for example should be that they are not the established SEOs yet. We I think are not part of the group of sites Rich talks about in his comment “with the same old faces locking out major search sites with their respun views”. The ones coming on the site are usually new. We have together with them built their profile. We don’t live of other peoples profiles.

      I will some day describe the proces we go through, but the big thing is: if you are blogging on State of Search, you have made it through a selection proces, which makes you special in the first place. I am willing to put my own reputation (which is a pretty solid one) on the line for those blogging here. I trust them and help them everywhere I can, which makes it different than some other blogs.

      I’m also not ruling out guest posts all together, just the proces. I am not accepting requests. That however doesn’t stop me from asking people I think are interesting and have something to say.

  6. Broadly speaking, agree with most of this – the examples of outreach you have put down are clearly awful.

    However, if all the major search blogs were to adopt this stance, do you not believe that it would put off younger SEOs who want to start contributing to industry-wide discussion? What happens if they aren’t able to make it to conferences and industry events and so they don’t come up on your personal radar? SEO is elitist enough and we have just as big a problem with the same old faces locking out major search sites with their respun view that “content-is-king-and-here’s-a new-piece-of-powerpoint-smartart-to-prove-it” every day of the week.

    One alternative solution might be to provide “submit an article” functionality where a user has to give a 1000 character abstract, title, and a biography of themselves. Even better, build in a short authentication procedure that stops writers from submitting content until they have answered a handful of simple multiple choice SEO questions.

    This would seem like a much better way of reducing your inbox than adopting a more subjective “I’ll find you, don’t contact me” approach. For the good of the industry its important we make the major search blogs as accessible as possible to genuinely enthusiastic SEOs who want to contribute. The approach outlined here feels a tad heavy-handed.

    1. I don’t think so Rich, I think there are different ways of getting these people. I think State of Search is an example of this actually. We bring in new people all the time. But not based on the guest post they did for a client. But because of the personality (I will describe that below) they have and the potential we see.

      I am also perfectly happy with sites like YouMoz, I might even provide a similar function in the future to get this type of content in. But the core of this is that guest posting is mis-used for the wrong reasons. I think that should be reconsidered.

      1. Yeah I see your point – the crap outreach is a real problem. I worry we could end up in a world where if you aren’t able to attend conferences and you aren’t being followed by SEO magazine editors on Twitter, you may feel the doors are closed to you when it comes to getting your writing out there. As long as editors like yourself can build in safeguards to make sure that doesn’t happen then this is a positive step.

        1. I am aiming for that. As said elsewhere: I am ALL for talent and will always push and be open for talent, just ask the bloggers here ;-). I just think the ‘tactics’ used now are missing the purpose.

          1. I’ll add: If you’re really determined to get known in the space, it’s through your network and ability. Create your own content first and don’t be disheartened.

            True: when I first starting creating my own blog i realised few people were reading or sharing, I did mail Bas asking if I could get on SoS. He didn’t reply. It was no big deal – he’s a busy man. I targeted content at people I thought would like it; sometimes they did, sometimes they shared it. Not many ideas worked, but some did.

            A year or so down the line of creating my own content, Bas knew a bit more about me, and asked me to come on board – of course, I did.

            I don’t think rising talent should think about getting on third party blogs straight away to raise their profile. A proof to me is creating something from zero followers and zero audience.

  7. I wonder if having a disclaimer that all outbound links in a guest post will have the nofollow attribute would weed out lower quality contributions?

  8. Hi Bas, I’ve only recently started to accept guest post on my blog, and I managed to get a couple of good writers via the Blogger Link Up website run by Kathy Stucker

    1. I Paul. I am not denying that could work. And I am happy for you it worked for you :). I will always be on the lookout for new talent, I do believe however that the trend which is going on at the moment: get as many guest posts out there (not a new tactic, but the reason behind it is new), will not make for better content in the end.

      That doesn’t mean there are no talented guest posters off course πŸ™‚

      1. Hi Bas, I am not saying that me allowing guest posts on my blog was a big success because it hasn’t been. I actually agree with you about the low quality of guest blog requests. But I think that unfortunately for you in this case. You come across as too nice a person to these almost spam guest posters. What do you think?

        1. Hey Paul, I misunderstood then πŸ™‚
          Maybe I am too nice in some cases, who knows. I do however believe we should look at the broader perspective: is this tactic which has been around for a while but is now exploding going to be beneficial in the end?

          I think not and at this rate we’ll be cleaning those up in several months time just as we are now cleaning up links. So why not go for a ‘real’ strategy I’d say.

  9. Think it’s absolutely right to take this position. A quality site is built from authors you’ve selected, know and can trust to create great content.

    When I was at FHM anyone who put their email address on the site for sales’ contact would be sent pictures of half naked girls begging to be in the magazine. It’s not quite the same – but the editor’s decision is final!

  10. ‘Guest posting’ as a term has very different meanings, depending on who is saying it.

    Sadly, a bit like SEO, it’s increasingly become associated with crappy, desperate link hunt connotations rather than the sharing of knowledge you wouldn’t ordinarily get on a given site. That doesn’t mean having a great guest post on your site isn’t valuable, it just means guest posting for the sake of guest posting (like link building for the sake of link building) has had its day.

    You don’t ask to guest post on decent sites, you earn it. As @JamesCarson:disqus said, if you’ve bothered to build up your own content and demonstrate the value of your input then it can be a different story.

  11. I’m with you. For the longest time, seemingly reputable sites in my RSS reader have been pushing down my throat, “Allow guest posts!” over and over. What seems to have been thrown by the wayside is the quality of the subject matter written about by these guests.

    It’s never worked out for any of the services my company provides. I’ve seen initial posts sent to me that are pristine on grammar, with subsequent posts reading like English-as-a-second-language with keyword stuffing and heavy backlinking.

    I consider myself an excellent blogger, factoring in areas of grammar, SEO, and layout (CSS) and I’ve learned if I want something done to my standards, I have to do it myself.

  12. Excellent. Totally, absolutely excellent! The constant bombardment of guest post requests is becoming ridiculous. If your content/blog is good enough and of a high enough quality, then other blogs/sites will pick up on it, and if it’s suitable for their site, you will be asked to write for them. This is ‘natural’ and I’m sure Google will be working on its algorithm as we speak in order to filter out the low quality ‘guest posting’ sites as it did with link farms, article sites, etc.

  13. I don’t think I’d be able to deal with things like the Molchester email above very many times before getting fed up. It must be so tedious sifting through the dross and having those conversations time after time. I think maybe a strong message such as Judith’s may deter anyone with half a brain!

  14. I would say, good for you Bas. But as long as your site is a succes people will want to guestpost πŸ™‚ The only way to lose that is to make your site crappier. EG: except more bad guestposts. LOL

  15. While I support the cause, there’s one thing certain that will happen: Real people, with real motive and interest to write for State of Search, who would get in touch with a real contact message, are less likely to do so after the released off-putting guidelines.

    What will remain the same though, is the flood of automated, low-quality guestpost requests that do not take into account publishing guidelines.

    SEO motivated guestposts will experience a painful death (just like any old over-used SEO tactics), but I think websites and marketers are missing out on a great opportunity if relationship building, and guestposts, are overlooked just due to their lack of value in SEO terms.

  16. Wow, sorry but this is bad news and not what the internet is about dude. I know a number of high profile blog sites are now stopping guest posts and this is a shame. The spammers win I guess. It isn’t hard to spot the difference between a genuinely decent post and a generic time waste. The purpose of content marketing is to move and promote content around the web,to places that it is related to. It isn’t a good thing, in my opinion to have an elite cartel of writers, who if I am honest are not really as good as many are banding them out to be, dominating what us, (12 years in the internet marketing industry and just opening my own agency), know nothings can read about our particular niche. Content is content brother, be it a guest post or an “invited” one.
    Will Google punish the guest posters? Probably….I suppose. Posts with only a few hundred words or key word stuffed “LSI” dustbins, may well bite the dust. The trouble is if Google starts to penalise content sharing it is playing a very dangerous and short term game. Blog posting is a major part of the internet, as is information sharing. There are already algorithmic systems in place to handle duplicate content, keyword stuffed content and, (in my deluded and rather paranoid opinion), reduce the value of links from pages that receive little social interaction or traffic.
    To conclude, does this help your over stuffed in box? Well no. But that is life and not a big deal really. There is a delete button after all. I must admit, (I do run as editor for a high ranking marketing blog), that the whinging from blog owners over guest posting in general is quite pathetic. I have no problem differentiating good posts or titles from bad ones. The good ones add value. I can also spot a generic email from a thousand yards so they bring me no harm. I also get fed up with the high horse you are riding dropping doo doos on my carpet. Us posters are the ones writing posts that end up disapearing into the ether on many occasions once “accepted”. We have to chase you to post so that we are allowed to promote YOUR page to our thousands of facebook, twitter and Linked in fans and followers.
    My advice is take a sip from a nice chilled Chardonnay, switch on a smidgen of Led Zeppellin, and spend an hour a week running through the OPPORTUNITIES available to you for some quality guest article contributions. Make sure you open your Chardonnay and move from whining to wining!

    1. @Daniel Vassiliou Thanks for your comment. I completely disagree off course πŸ˜‰ But I do respect your opinion, and to be honest: THAT is what the Internet is about, that everyone can have their opinion.

      But the Internet is not about people creating nice content (whether you think the writers are good or not doesn’t really matter in this case) and then others ‘feeling free’ to take advantage of that. We try to have a certain angle on this blog. We work hard on that. And what is happening now is that people are trying to get ‘a piece of the action’ simply because we are successful at what we do.

      It is not that we don’t welcome content from outside a regular group of writers, what we (well me) are opposing to is that people ‘think’ they can simply take a piece of the pie by applying for a guest post. The intention of that guestpost in 9 out of 10 cases unfortunately is not sharing great content, but is building links or in some cases building a profile through rel=author. You say guestposters are promoting MY page? Sorry mate, but you’re wrong there, it’s the opposite. Guest posters hardly bring ‘new’ traffic. Maybe a few, but they don’t ‘stick around’ usually. It is the guest poster who gets the most benefit.

      Yes, some ‘good ones’ will get hurt by this method, but the ‘industry’ has taken guest posting and made it a spam-tactic. That means the industry has to deal with it.

      If you believe this is whining I really think you don’t get the point. It’s not about my inbox, it’s not about not wanting ‘others’ to deliver great content. It’s about taking a stand against a tactic.

      1. Thanks for answering Bazvandenbeld, but I can’t believe what I am hearing……as I speak the words you have written out loud whilst reading them in a torrid rage that shakes the very hills that surround me lol. It is a mutual transaction my friend. Yes I get a link. More importantly, if your site is of any worth, (as yours clearly is and it is a great one do not get me wrong), I will be able to reach new readers, maybe potential clients etc. Look at it like this. If I run a pub and on Fridays I have music night right? I want to entertain my clients but also want to bring in more if possible. Primarily entertain and hold what I have though. I hire bands to play to entertain my drinkers. To do this I accept demos from bands and whittle them down every week to ones that are in time, in tune, playing songs that are going to go down well with the demographic that drink in my bar. Out of every ten I receive maybe 3 will get gigs that month etc. The moment I start to create a cartel it goes stale. I know this from the music industry because I have seen it. Bands know they have a certain gig and become less on edge for their Friday night slot. Songs get “samey”. In short you switch a working strategy that creates fresh and new talent for one that gets stale and old quickly. I see no purpose in this man. I know you said you are reaching out to guys but why go through the extra hard work?? Let them come to you surely? So you have to filter? big deal man. If I pick up a demo with John Paul George and Ringo during running my bar, (earlier analogy), it makes it worth it for the rest of my working life.
        The second problem you “guest post closers” are going to suffer is the corruption. Guess what? Your poster buddies are going to take advantage of you. I get at least 3 emails/calls a month offering me contextuals on SEJ, (where I know the editor) John Chow etc. The guys are all trusted posters with their own accounts who sell off links for $200 a pop as they know their posts will get in no problem. By the time you have stopped it it has already made its money. Add a little danger to the story. A bit of hunger. Why should bands know they always have a gig?
        Your main problem seems to be that you don’t want to help writers enhance their own sites meager site strength through your mighty colossus. Not being a socialist I can dig that baby, I really can. I appreciate your point that you don’t gain many extra readers, though I would be surprised if that is always the case.The thing is what about entertaining your current Friday night crowd? What about keeping current writers on their toes? Who cares if a slither of authority goes to a site that has written you a great post? If they are only after links as you say, they wont last long anyway and evolution will take its “natural selection” toll on them, for missing the values of exposure to new readers and potential social media “friends”, as well as the benefits of the niche credibility that comes from association with sites like this or ProBlogger. Let the baby have their bottle eh? When posters start to put a gun to your head to post then you have a reason to complain, or whine or whatever. Believe me, that isn’t a gun in my pocket…….

        1. Also going out to find talent??? Surely it is more time effective to let that talent come to you. As you have already stated you get enough interest, and I will lay you a bet of 50 shiny pence that there are many diamonds in that in box!!!!

  17. Interesting article. As the marketing manager for a recently formed small business, the issue of SEO seems all the more daunting with how dynamic the optimal SEO strategy seems to be.

    Initial research certainly suggest that guest posting is a pillar of contemporary SEO, however I’d be keen to hear from other small business owners with regards to the path they’ve chosen on this issue.

    Great article, Bas.

  18. Funny Baz, you don’t want to give people links from your posts, yest there are people raping links from the blog comments. Go figure? What are they contributing exactly?

  19. I find it ironic that under Related Articles is one titled Six Practical Tips for More Success with Guest Posts for Link Building which touts the effectiveness of guest posting. Perhaps all the wannabe guest bloggers at SoS are merely following your advice. πŸ™‚

  20. Bravo. I’m experiencing much the same with my site, TechDrink.com. At first it was a trickle of interesting and often good quality guest post requests. But in the last couple of months it’s become a flood, the majority of which is best described as “utter sh!t”.

    Now I can’t afford to have a NO guest posts policy unfortunately. If I did, the blog would be updated maybe once a month. What I have done is set down ground rules and have an email template which I send to every requester. It’s strongly worded. If they reply to that email, I find it worth at least looking at. If they don’t – and MANY don’t – then I dodged a bullet and saved myself 10 minutes.

    Not ideal, but it works for me (at the moment).

Comments are closed.