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by Mike Essex on 27th June 2012
Say hello to the recycle bin! After placing a listing on a guest blog site as an experiment, whilst some responses were great, around 80% of the guest blog requests I received went straight in the bin. Mistakes ranged from simple errors, to downright laziness and even potential lawsuits. Today I look at the worst offenders and what they should have done better.
Do you want me to get fined?
By far the most outrageous guest blog request I received was this one:
Let’s put aside the fact that Wonga got a warning earlier this year for a blog post advocating similar daft uses of student loans in an attempt to rank well. Ultimately this is about lazy keyword research. Yes people search for “payday loans” and “mortgages”, but please don’t put them together in an article title in an attempt to nab some traffic.
If you’re going to pitch me a guest post title then at least think about whether the article is:
a) Good content
b) Something people want to read
c) Not going to get the blog owner in trouble
d) Ethical / legal / something you’d want your family to read and action
Sticking together two keywords in the hope of some traffic and a quick link just isn’t worth it anymore. It’s no longer an excuse to say you wrote something just for SEO, especially as blog owners have to put their name alongside the content you provide. Rubbish content may fly on generic article sites, but it’s not what blog owners want.
The above article did end up being about using payday loans to improve your credit rating, but even then there are much better (cheaper) ways.
Copy, paste, copy, paste
Another symptom of “let’s write as much as we can and get as many links as we can” is that so many outreach emails are just dire, often feeling exactly like any other type of web spam. If your outreach email seems of the same quality as “we would like to wire you $100 million from our country’s Prince” then you’re doing something wrong.
Which is why the above email is so frustrating. We’re called Koozai not [http://www.koozai.com], which just smacks of lazy copy and pasting or automatic form filling. It’s also very easy to find the name of someone to address the email to. The email is specific enough to reference that we do SEO so that’s a start, but ultimately there’s been very little research in to who we are. Mail merge should stay in Word.
Did you do any research?
I’m not suggesting that every pitch I get should have read my backlog of posts, and researched my family history, but it’s so frustrating when people see my guest post request and go “Oh he accepts guest posts, I’ll try my luck”. The listing I placed listed exactly what I was after, and the second you hit my website you know the content I’d like.
So this type of email is just lazy.
In other words; “As you accept guest posts, here’s one completely unrelated to what you do”
In what reality was that ever going to work?
It’s the same with this example which offers no details.
I just don’t understand the logic. Perhaps they believe it is better to send out 200 general spam emails and get 5 responses, than sending 20 great emails and getting the same response; but ultimately is it worth making hundreds of webmasters angry, or damaging your image in their eyes?
When I get a nicely written email that I can tell is specific to me I always keep a good impression of that person. If I see you on Twitter I’ll likely start up a conversation. If you send me questions in the future I will answer them. That’s a good investment in time.
When I get an email that clearly took no effort then anything you send me in the future is likely to go in the trash bin. End of.
Woah can we at least go on a date first?
If you come on any stronger I’ll have to call the police. Good outreach is like a slow dance. Both of the people performing the dance work in harmony. You ask if you can guest post and send me some ideas, I say yes, you write it and I publish it. The below example is the equivalent of rushing over to me on the dance floor and kissing me there and then.
This is outreach, it isn’t Fifty Shades of Grey.
Whilst it’s great when people know the article they’d like to pitch, it’s going too far just to send it over in the first email. Aside from my name and their name the above content was the entire email. Far too strong for a first contact and it was a very easy one to hit the “delete” key on.
Seriously, do you want me to get fined?
If you’ve taken the time to pitch me a blog post and I’ve said yes, please don’t ruin it by sending over stolen content. One of the articles sent to me was discovered – thanks to Copyscape – to be stolen in a matter of minutes. Even a quick Google search with speechmarks found the original source, and it was clear as day that the author who had sent it to me had not written it originally. He didn’t even change the title of the blog post…
The most insulting thing of all was what he wrote on the original email with the article:
Interestingly this was a writer claiming to be from a big website. It was a case of outsourcing SEO and finding that one of the writers wasn’t as ethical as he promised. Thankfully when I reported this to the brand, they found the person responsible and changed their SEO strategy, but I’m sure they aren’t having much fun now going back through everything he ever submitted and making it right.
Great outreach takes time and there are lots of studies, positive approaches and step by step guides exploring the topic further, but my point is simply that good, even average outreach isn’t hard. Even sending good emails isn’t that hard.
It takes minutes to read a website and write a nice fresh email that’s targeted correctly to the blog owner. Doing good keyword research means your post will perform better when it’s live, and with fresh original content you’ll stand out. Had I accepted the above requests I have no doubt the content would have been poor, especially if it was a reflection on the lack of time put in to the emails sent to me.
All of the above emails have forgotten the golden rule. That outreach isn’t about you, it’s about the blog owner. They have to be happy and get something in the process. Blog owners (the ones with blogs worth targeting anyway) want amazing content that will get them more traffic. If you can give them that, then they will listen.
As a side note, we’re now accepting guest posts on Koozai! If you think you can avoid the traps above then send us an email; I can’t promise we will accept every post but we will certainly read them all.
And if you have any of your own experiences with bad outreach please leave them below:
Computer keyboard – Red key Delete, close-up via BigStock