This guest post comes from Hannah who blogs at Mummy Macaroni and is also an online marketer who knows what she’s talking about.
Most bloggers will be familiar with receiving link requests from other websites. Usually link requests are emails from PRs or SEOs who represent their client in that they are trying to gain exposure for their clients business, or more specifically, their clients website. If you’re not sure whether you’ve come across an SEO, they usually send an email along the lines of:
I am contacting you on behalf of my client, “www.clientwebsite.com” who specialises in children’s products. I’d like to provide you with a guest blog post about the benefits of children’s products, which would be completely unique and add value to your readers. I’m happy to make a payment for this post being published, all that I would ask in exchange is for you to include a link from the words “children’s products” from the post to my client’s site www.clientwebsite.com which is how my client will benefit.”
Now I think it only fair to explain who I am and why I am writing this post for Scottish Mum. I am, what is known as “an SEO”.
I prefer to be known as an online marketer as SEOs often get a bad name, particularly SEOs who send emails like the one above.
Why am I writing this post for Scottish Mum?
The reason I’ve got an interest in writing for this blog is because I have recently become a “mummy blogger” in my spare time as I’m currently 7 months pregnant and when I came across this blog, I was pleased to come across someone who is keen to provide blogging advice to other mummy bloggers and help educate the community about things like PageRank and other SEO related topics because I feel it important for both bloggers and SEOs to understand each other if they’re going to work together.
Whether you started blogging because you love writing, are passionate about your subject or are keen to make money from advertising, I’m sure that most of you who care about the quality of your blog and what your readers think won’t even entertain an email like the example above, and why would you?
Purely for cash?
If that’s your sole aim then great – you’re attracting requests from people willing to pay. Ideal right?
On the other hand, what if you are keen to make a bit of money from your blog but feel a bit uncomfortable about posting an article that is poorly written, too promotional or written in a style completely different to your own writing style that has gained you a good following of readers whose respect you don’t want to lose by publishing such as piece?
Well for one, if the content sent to you is of this poor quality, this is more likely to come from an SEO who sends an email like the above, the ones that give SEO a bad name within the blogging community. Not all SEOs are “bad” though, and there’s lots that bloggers can gain from working with them, whether that be money, more traffic to your site or more followers.
The good news is, that these things can still be gained without simply publishing a poor post they’ve sent you.
Here’s my tips on ensuring you benefit from working with SEOs without having to jeopardise the quality of your blog.
1. Be picky about the companies you collaborate with.
You might be approached by some SEOs representing random companies who have no relation to the topic of your blog or who you don’t feel comfortable mentioning on your blog due to their reputation or products they sell. For example, as a mummy blogger, I probably wouldn’t want to collaborate with an estate agent, as I don’t think they could offer me something that would benefit my readers. Keep the content on your blog relevant to your readers and only work with companies that are related.
2. Establish what the brand really wants to gain from you.
Sometimes an email approaching you for a guest post, or a sponsored link or product review can be unclear in stating exactly what the brand want to achieve through your blog. If you’re approached by a PR, they may be looking to build brand awareness through getting in front of your readership and followers, or they may want to promote the benefits of a new product with the help of your influence and opinion.
SEOs are more likely to want a “follow link” to their brand’s site to help that website rank higher in Google. The best thing to do is ask them what they want – they’ll realise that you’re not just a naive blogger and will more likely respect the fact that you care about the quality of your site which in turn makes you more valuable to them.
3. Understand your options.
Once you’ve established what the PR or SEO wants from you, you need to think about how you’re going to give them that. If you’re going to accept payment for publishing an article that links to the company, or you’re accepting a product in exchange for reviewing it then you should state that the post is sponsored to make it clear that you have been paid or asked to do so. You also need to make sure any links in such posts are “no follow” if you don’t want to risk breaking Google’s guidelines.
Brands who are looking for increased exposure or brand awareness through your readers should be happy with this and you’ll be happier being honest with your readers and complying with disclosure laws. SEOs however, are after follow links, so they won’t want you to add the no follow tag or label the article as ‘sponsored’. It’s up to you whether you publish the post as sponsored without adding the no follow link - you won’t be breaking any disclosure laws but you will risk losing PageRank on your site. Losing PageRank shouldn’t affect your site’s rankings in Google but it will likely make your site less attractive to other SEOs who are willing to pay you for a link as this is one of the factors they look at when looking for potential sites to get links from.
You don’t always have to go with their suggestions so if you don’t want to publish a guest post without labeling it sponsored then don’t do it, but don’t just turn away the opportunity either. Try asking yourself what you can gain from the collaboration and be creative in suggesting something different.
Ask yourself why you would naturally write about that brand, or naturally link to them. Build a relationship with them, research their products or services and find out if they have something worth linking to. Perhaps the company has experts in child safety for example, and you could provide your readers with some great insight into child safety by interviewing an expert.
Working with SEOs and PRs can be rewarding so don’t always be so quick to dismiss their requests. The most important thing to remember is that you only do what you’re comfortable with. If someone asks you to publish something and you’re not sure whether you’re allowed or will get into trouble with Google, then run it past someone (like Lesley aka Scottish Mum) who can help keep you right.