Ann’s note: The following is a guest post by Jeff McIntire-Strasburg of sustainablog. It’s a great follow-up to my previous post The Guest Blogging Fails: Again (Video + Infographic). It’s also a great example of what pushes people off guest blogging and why.

Let’s not let the spammers win! Let’s stop the guest blogging spam!

What’s not to like about a high-quality guest post? For the price of a link or two, you get well-written, authoritative content. You get to diversify not just the voice, but also the range of topics covered, on your blog. You get to take a bit of break: editing a good piece is usually much easier than writing one yourself.

With all of those advantages, you’d think I’d be soliciting guest posts like crazy. Instead, after a lot of thought, I decided to take down the guest posting page at my site. While the good guest post submissions I receive do provide value for my audience and me, poorly conceived and written pitches and posts eat up my time… and I’m receiving a whole lot more of the latter.

When I put the page up, I assumed it would attract professional pitches and posts from knowledgeable content creators. I knew that many of these pitches would come from marketers, but thought certain they’d  want to build a long-term relationship with an established site, and send me well-written, thoughtful content that I’d be thrilled to share with my readers. In a few cases, I’ve received those high-quality pitches and posts; in many, many others, I’ve been proven woefully wrong in my assumptions. More often than not, I’ve gotten:

Untargeted, spammy pitches: If a pitch for a guest post starts off with “Dear webmaster,” or just “Hi!” you’ve already lost me – my name was listed with my email address on the guest posting page. Additionally, if you mention potential topics that are totally unrelated to my site, I’m going to assume that you’ve found my contact information through a little creative Googling focused strictly on the term “guest post,” and promptly delete your pitch.

Pitches from people who haven’t spent any time on my blog: Even when they find my name, that doesn’t mean that someone pitching me has actually read my blog, or knows anything about the sustainability space online. That usually becomes clear when they throw out a topic or two… and they’re topics that have been done to death either on my site, or on others in the vertical. I don’t expect every potential guest writer to be a regular reader; I do expect that s/he knows how to use the search box that appears on every page of my site. Similarly, I know that every marketer won’t be up on the very latest in the sustainability space, but just a little browsing through blogs in the space will give him/her a sense of what’s hot… and what’s not.

Really poorly written posts: I am a former English professor; I don’t, however, wear that hat when I’m considering a guest post for publication. Still, I do expect basic command of grammar and style, as well as a unique voice. If I have to spend more time editing (or requesting revisions) than it takes me to write a post myself, I’ll likely just do the latter. If you’ve farmed the writing of a post out to a “writer” who works for cheap and doesn’t have a full command of the English language, I’m probably not going to publish it.  I don’t care who did the actual writing, but I don’t want to have to spend a lot of my own time correcting errors.

Intellectual property problems: Links aren’t just votes in Google: they’re also the means by which a web writer cites his/her sources. So when I see a fact-filled post with no links, I’m immediately suspicious about the quality of the research a writer did. I want to know that the information I’m sharing with my readers is from legitimate sources, and links tell me that. On the other hand, though, a link back doesn’t justify grabbing an image from a publication that uses traditional copyright: without a Creative Commons or other alternative license, publishing an image can constitute theft of intellectual property. Needless to say, I don’t need those kinds of hassles.

I know that guest posting has become a popular tactic in the linkbuilding community; I’ve done it myself for that reason. But blogs don’t exist just to hand our links: publishers have audiences (and often advertisers) to serve, and poorly focused and written content doesn’t do that. If you want a link from my site (and, yes, I do have a PR 7), you need to earn it by providing me with carefully-crafted content that serves my audience… period.

For the time being, I will still accept guest posts… but primarily only from writers I know and trust to provide me with the kind of work that I’m proud to associate with my blog’s brand. If you’re thinking about pitching me (or any other established blog), go ahead – just make sure that you’re focused on submitting a post that’s valuable, relevant, and well-written. That’s what I’ll publish.

Jeff McIntire-Strasburg is the founder and editor of sustainablog.

Image credit: JPDaigle via photo pin cc

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  1. Ann/Jeff:
    While I appreciate your points about guest blogging, there are a whole group of other posts where you talk about the benefits of guest blogging and how you made considerable revenue guest blogging.
    What is your overall stand on the issue?
    I know it’s hard to be black or white about anything, but I’d like your overall take on this.
    Also, this points to how important it is to create relationships with high quality people – just as in every other business endeavor, not just blogging.

  2. I’d say those other people include me definitely, Nancy. as the owner of I am 100% advocate of guest blogging

    What I can’t stand (and don’t support) is the spammy approach to guest blogging where all people care about is a link

    I don’t hide anything: I also do guest blogging for clients. But the bloggers I blog for are happy to live with that because I care about them and provide only top-notch content!

    This is what we are trying to say here: guest blogging does work but only if you take it seriously!

  3. Yes, I’ll second Ann’s final statement… and I do still accept guest posts. But I’ve found that not soliciting them openly really cuts down on the spammy pitches…

  4. Thanks everyone. I understand now what you mean.
    I’ve been using Blog Stampede to provide a lot of guest posts, almost like comments, to a post I initiate. It has generated dozens of good responses, and I control which ones go up, the length of the post (short – 500 characters or less) and no links are included. I want to generate interest in the blog and cross promotion of course. If you get a chance, take a peek at I’d love your feedback. Thanks

  5. Sorry, hope you don’t think I was trying to get traffic, I seriously was hoping for your opinion.

  6. I didn’t think that… I thought you were asking a legitimate question. Yeah, the issue of building real relationships (as opposed to trying to get what you can from somebody) is incredibly important.

  7. I totally understand this point of view and as somebody who has written for sustainablog in the past, I can see why people want to get published on such authoritative blogs – I got genuine visitors from my post and this must be the overriding reason people want to post – not the backlink – you could nofollow my link and I’d still be happy with it.

    On the flip side, the way the search engines are going (particularly Google), having authors who are considered an authority posting on your site or blog will likely contribute to your site’s overall success in the future.

    Imagine my simple blog was suddenly graced by one of Jeff’s posts and Google could tell this because I setup author profiles this way – not only would I receive a fantastically well written post but my blog would forever be associated with Jeff and so the trust placed in my site would increase.

    So accepting guest blogs has benefits over and above the free content.

    My biggest wish would be that blog/site owners setup guest posters as genuine authors with full profiles rather than simply giving a byline like many do – this builds a sense of ownership that would, in my opinion and in my case, encourage a greater desire to generate high quality content on a regular basis for those blogs.

  8. Jeff, great post! I feel the same way when I receive guest post inquiries for my site. My personal favorite is when they say they are offering me something amazing “at no cost to me” as if I was expecting to pay for their spun article. That being said I would love to post a great article for your site, I even have some ideas, however, when I was looking around your blog I couldn’t find a way to contact you for an actually good guest post since you said you will still take good ones. Do you have a preferred form of contact?

  9. Nevermind I found it, you can delete this and the previous comment, thanks

  10. How does Blog Stampede work, Nancy? Is it like CommentLuv (which inserts a link from to a blogger’s latest post when s/he comments)?

  11. Really interesting post. I accept guest posts and recognise all the points you raise. It is time-consuming, and frustrating, to receive auto-generated spammy requests. However, there are some good quality writers who provide some good quality content. My take-away from this is that I should be more specific on what I will, and will not, accept as a guest post. I’ll publish this up-front on my blog. If people ignore it I’ll be quite happy to, and without regret, delete the email request.

  12. nancy fox says:

    Jeff, is a way to attract/auto post a stream of guest bloggers for one post.
    If you have a post you want to which you want to invite alot of opinions and ideas, you post a request for guest bloggers (various places – Reporter Connection, etc) and give people the link to your query at Blog Stampede. Then people input their post inside of Blog Stampede. You can approve or edit. When the query goes from Collecting to Live status, all the guest posts are automatically listed on your blog. You can see it on my blog. I request guest posts once every 5-6 weeks. It is a way to build good content on the blog, give visibility to my blog, and the contributors.

  13. These is good approach Ann. I really appreciate you being ethical in this process. With increase in Guest blogging popularity it has become new task for spammers to breach the process and get maximum links in no time. In Matt’s recent interview he said that coming penguin update will have the larger impact than previous one, I hope they have something for guest blog spammer in their coming update.

  14. The spammers want to get in on any approach that works. Since SEO is now largely content based guest blogging is very popular. Guest posts are only worthwhile if they provide your audience with something of value. Sometimes accepting guest posts can be more time consuming that just writing your own content.

  15. I think a lot (but not all) of those spammy pitches are jokers who intentionally just want to get on your nerves.

  16. GUEST POST is very popular now a days to get higher rank in SEO. But as you said I also see there are deficiency of quality content

  17. Thanks for sharing your experience, Ann. We just launched our own guest posting page to invite contributors and are hoping to have a positive experience with it.

  18. To add to this it is also a disappointment when you write quality work and because of the level of guest blog spam your work goes unnoticed buried in heaps of unworthy content.

    I understand it can be difficult to pitch the perfect post, but I am thankful that bloggers still take the time to sift through the low quality post to find the gems and bring them to light!

  19. Just the other day I received a guest post request (the person wanting to guest post on my blog) from an individual with the subject line “Write for Us.” Apparently the person was using the same draft both for sourcing and securing guest posts.

  20. I have only just started to accept guest post requests on my blog, after months of turning them down.

    To date, I have only published one guest post article from a person who happens to be a very talented writer. But I am finding all of the spam requests a bit of a pain.

  21. Randy Carlisle says:

    I see that in the top-fold of your homepage, you are offering a free – guest blogging consultation. Are people actually taking advantage of your generous offer?

    For those that are still sitting on the fence in terms of seeking your first guest blogging gig, I think you should dive right in and start doing it. If you approach blog owners in a sincere way, you should have all the opportunities you need to guest blog.

  22. Can’t believe I missed this until now. Ann, please feel free to ping me in Gplus on ALL of your posts. 🙂

    My own policy around guest blogging is to request contributions from well known people who write on topics relevant to my audience, which are primarily marketing managers in mid-level companies. It’s always my intention to inform and educate, though I love a good rant. They tend to get the most attention. In fact, I’ve only accepted two guest posts in 5 years because I’m very selective of what’s written.

    You’d of course get a big green light if you’d honour me with a post! Just saying’!

  23. wow thanks! I may actually take the opportunity!

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