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Guest Post: Dealing with Link Requests / Sponsored Posts as a Blogger

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:

“Dear blogger,

I am contacting you on behalf of my client, “” 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 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.

Final Thoughts

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.

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A Little Bit of Basic SEO Terms


I think lots of us do things very differently when it comes right down to a little SEO.  I guess in simple terms, it really comes down to how we write and manage our blog information and content.

I don’t always get these right (who does), but it’s nice to remind myself how it should really go to maximise those good old search engine results.

What I think it best practice for blog writing SEO.

Unique Content

Search engines love content these days.   The phrase that many come up with is “content is King.”  Whether we like it or not, Google had decided that content is the way to go and who are we to argue with Google.  Good quality content gets better ranking placement which means more readers sent our way.  Try to avoid duplication of content as although it is unlikely to get you banned, it may get your post lowered down the ratings if another website hosting almost the same content is chosen as the one to rank higher.

Be Consistent

If we only post a couple of times a year, we’re not likely to have our websites crawled often for updates in the search engine directories.  If our content isn’t in them, it can’t be found.  Try to build a community of loyal readers who want to keep coming back for more of what you share, and they might even pass it on to their friends.

Social Media

For any blog that wants to be noticed, or wants visitors, sharing on social media is a must.  Many people recommend Addthis, but I found it sadly seemed to slow my WordPress install down so much that I found it frustrating to use, but I would love to have kept it as it was really good.

The WordPress Jetpack share options seem to be working well and it gets our information started on a good many social media platforms.  On social media, it doesn’t just mean broadcasting our wares and hoping people will listen.  It takes time and effort to get to a place where we create online virtual relationships with our mutual follows.  Social media is about trust, reliability and not always likeability.  Who cares which one you prefer most, whether it be Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Google +, Digg, Tumblr, Reddit or any others.  It’s the one you enjoy that you should stick to, unless you are a business as then you need to go where your customers are.

Word Count

This is quite important really.  Some online content networks ask for between 400 – 800 words for a reason.   Anything above about 250 words is acceptable, but go far too far over and few people will stop and read the whole post as the length of the text is just too much for them.  Not too short and not too long should be the order of the day.  As much as you need to get your message across.   This post will be slightly over, but not by much.


Keywords help.  In lots of cases, they are simply common sense, and thinking of what you would search for in Google to look for your topic can make how you craft your content slightly differently.  I once saw a local hairdresser with simply their keywords written into about 4 paragraphs on a page endlessly.  It was horrific to see and read.  Don’t overstuff your keywords.  Using about 3 – 6 in an 800 word post is probably enough.

I’ve noticed some people adding random keywords into their page or post meta descriptions and titles.  Think about what you are doing as Google isn’t silly.  If you add words into your seo descriptions and tags that are not in your content, they’re not going to like it.  You could well be seen as trying to manipulate the reader.


There was a lot of talk a while back about bloggers turning off comments and being unapproachable.  Only the individual blogger can decide if that’s the right route for them.  Google likes to see frequently updated content, and comments work for that too.  It also makes you look approachable and shows interaction with your readers.  It’s also very impolite to never answer your commenters.  I’m not perfect and I miss a few, but I try to catch them all.


If you’re serious about blogging and want to rise and rise and rise, you either have to be very popular, create fantastic content that nobody else does, or build some great links.  Remember that not all links are equal and that some links could do you some harm.  I blog for fun, but if you’re blogging for a future potential business or to turn it into a commercial enterprise, links in are a must.

Google have guidelines for using links that are not illegal, ie taking money for sponsored posts is not illegal, but Google does not like anyone paying or being paid for links that pass any page rank to another website.   Any of us who take the risk, also risk a potential ban from Google.  Building links naturally from relevant other websites that Google approves of is the best way to go forward.  That comes from great content, guest posting, and using social media well.  It is ALWAYS illegal to take money for a post or page and not declare the relationship.

Good luck as building a huge link base is really time consuming.


Tags are just like categories but for the net.  The search engines pull them up and they can be useful for having people sent your way.  A good blog post with some relevant keywords might just not need to put their tags on, and I do sometimes forget, but I think they are useful.

What they do is allow your content to be indexed much more quickly and hence perhaps a higher rank.  I still see people putting invisible text in websites, hoping that search engines will pull them up, but I suspect that would go against you as the text would be classed as hidden.   In fact, hidden text could get your blog de-indexed altogether in Google.

Some people have tag clouds on their front page in the hope that the words will be picked up from there, but I think that it totally unnecessary and a waste of front page space.  Others will disagree with me.   If you look at tags as the same as your keywords, it makes them easier to understand.   They should be made up of up to three word phrases and accurately describe or reflect the post or page that they are attached to.