The Importance of Reputation for Blogger Outreach

A wise man (or woman, I don’t know, I wasn’t there) once said that it’s not what you know, but who you know, and this is no truer than in blogger outreach and guest posting.

Guest posting as an SEO tactic, as you may well know, has been getting a bit of a battering recently. A couple of weeks ago, Bas Van Den Beld of State of Search announced that the site (on which I’ve previously guest posted myself) would no longer be accepting guest posts. Bas explains his decision in depth in the post, but it essentially boils down to Bas getting very tired indeed of receiving mass unsolicited email pitches for poor quality posts.

State of Search is far from the first site to close ranks and stop accepting guest posts, and they definitely won’t be the last. Ever since article marketing and other such ‘quick’ link building methods lost their value as SEO tactics, the process of guest posting has been re purposed as a kind of ‘enhanced article marketing’.

The Guest Content Mass

The result of this repurposing is an ever-growing mass of identikit and poorly written outreach emails from a faceless group of different people, all demanding links back to their blog in exchange for their ‘quality content’.

Unfortunately, this ‘quality content’ is often actually ‘poor dross’, a fleeting half-hour spent bashing keys to form words that have already been spoken a thousand times before in a more eloquent and engaging manner. In the race to get as many guest posts (and thus links) published as possible, this faceless group of people has ended up creating ‘faceless content’, a series of articles almost indistinguishable from each other. If you want a vision of the digital future, imagine a thousand regurgitated eHow articles stamping on your eyeballs. Forever.

This trend has paradoxically made guest posting both harder and easier at the same time. Getting a post on a quality blog – you know, the type people actually read and engage with – is getting harder, as sites like State of Search close their ranks in favour of editorial teams and handpicking bloggers themselves.

On the other hand, the demand for a home for derivative guest blog posts has led to an explosion in the number of blogs that exist solely to provide SEO benefits to anyone with a bit of content (or a bit of cash, in a lot of instances). This makes guest posting easier but a lot less valuable – a baby step above article marketing, if you will.

That doesn’t mean that quality blogs are off the table to guest posters all together though. It just means you have to work harder to distinguish yourself from the mass of spam-peddling guest bloggers.

Building Your Reputation

The best way of doing is to build your reputation. Bas Van Den Beld refers to the fact that State of Search will now be relying on those it knows and trusts, and occasionally inviting new bloggers it deems worthy to join the party. Essentially, you have to prove yourself before you get a place in the big leagues.

Which, when you think about it, actually makes perfect sense. No journalist has ever written a piece (that they’ve copied and rejigged from another website) and sent it to the New York Times and got it published immediately. Instead, they have to prove they’ve got experience in the industry via previous work. In most instances, the editor will have heard their name about.

There are two primary ways to leverage reputation to your advantage when pitching content to a seemingly cynical blogger. The first is to provide them with examples of your previous work – for example, if I was targeting an SEO blog, I’d include links to my posts on State of Search and Search Engine Journal. This would show that a publisher of a well-respected blog has seen fit to publish my work in the past, which would pique the editor’s interest and at least get them to reply to my initial pitch.

The other way is to build your reputation enough so that the editor may have heard your name around. This is obviously much, much harder than it sounds; it involves networking (both in-person and on social media), being a prominent commenter on industry blogs and maintaining your own insightful blog. Of course, all that hard work is worth it if it gets the editor of a major blog opening your speculative email.

It was always likely to happen once major SEO blogs started pushing outreach as the principle off-page SEO tactic, but ‘guest blogging’ has gained somewhat of a negative reputation that has sites closing their borders and has made getting content onto quality blogs harder than ever. This has made reputation a crucial tool in the outreach process; make sure to use it to your advantage.

Chris Smith
  • Written by on 1st May 2013 at 11:04
  • “Chris Smith is a copywriter and social media manager at Fluid Creativity.”
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  • http://twitter.com/enduranceseo Daniel Vassiliou

    Hmmm, prove myself….like ask if I may post before sending my post in to be analysed and judged to be worthy or not? Kind of like what used to happen lol. All this cock wash about banning guest posts is just a bit of PR to stand out from the crowds and rebel. You are under no obligation to accept a post. You will only do so if it is of a particular standard. End of really. Fool proof! I can spot a crap post a mile off, usually from a crap e mail asking for a “gest” post or something, who can’t? As I have successfully put Bas in his place I feel the whole “ban the guest post movement” is beginning to fall apart.

  • http://twitter.com/enduranceseo Daniel Vassiliou

    Hmmm, prove myself….like ask if I may post before sending my post in to be analysed and judged to be worthy or not? Kind of like what used to happen lol. All this cock wash about banning guest posts is just a bit of PR to stand out from the crowds and rebel. You are under no obligation to accept a post. You will only do so if it is of a particular standard. End of really. Fool proof! I can spot a crap post a mile off, usually from a crap e mail asking for a “gest” post or something, who can’t? As I have successfully put Bas in his place I feel the whole “ban the guest post movement” is beginning to fall apart.

  • Chris Smith

    I’m inclined to agree with you on some points there Daniel, and I don’t necessarily agree with Bas’ decision to ban guest posts outright because, like you say, it’s usually pretty easy to sort the decent stuff from the crap. That said, Bas probably gets a LOT of outreach emails, which’ll limit how much time he actually gets to review all the posts he gets sent so I can understand his decision too. I’m guessing a decent chunk of these are pretty poor posts too.

    That kind of links into the whole reputation thing; if someone like Bas is confronted by hundreds of emails all offering him content, he’s probably not going to get the chance to review them all. Chances are, he’ll open emails from people he has either heard of, or at least recognises the name. Or, alternatively, a really interesting subject line. Outreach, being such a widely deployed tactic, doesn’t start with the pitch anymore, it’s actually getting your email opened.

  • Chris Smith

    I’m inclined to agree with you on some points there Daniel, and I don’t necessarily agree with Bas’ decision to ban guest posts outright because, like you say, it’s usually pretty easy to sort the decent stuff from the crap. That said, Bas probably gets a LOT of outreach emails, which’ll limit how much time he actually gets to review all the posts he gets sent so I can understand his decision too. I’m guessing a decent chunk of these are pretty poor posts too.

    That kind of links into the whole reputation thing; if someone like Bas is confronted by hundreds of emails all offering him content, he’s probably not going to get the chance to review them all. Chances are, he’ll open emails from people he has either heard of, or at least recognises the name. Or, alternatively, a really interesting subject line. Outreach, being such a widely deployed tactic, doesn’t start with the pitch anymore, it’s actually getting your email opened.

  • http://twitter.com/enduranceseo Daniel Vassiliou

    Hundreds? I doubt it really. If you read my comment there, it is no different to a bar auditioning for music for a Friday night. Minimise your talent pool at your own peril. Baz has a strong site, but he is not Pro Blogger, or BBC News lol. It stinks to me of elitism often with people who are not really that elite. If I write a great title, you will be interested in my post…period! If you like my post, and it is well written, what is the problem? No one has a gun to your head. It is pretty simple to say yay or nay. If you say yay, publish it and don’t muck the writer around, if you don’t, just say bye bye baby. How the hell is Baz going to know all the great writers around the world? I continually use different writers to keep my content fresh and accessible on a number of levels. I don’t expect to be told that I have to be a “celebrity” before I can get stuff published. Baz doesn’t know me, and I guarantee you I can go through his site and find tens of posts that I could have written better and have added more info to. But I am not in that cartel. Go figure. I guess I will only accept business from clients that I approach from now on.

  • http://twitter.com/enduranceseo Daniel Vassiliou

    Hundreds? I doubt it really. If you read my comment there, it is no different to a bar auditioning for music for a Friday night. Minimise your talent pool at your own peril. Baz has a strong site, but he is not Pro Blogger, or BBC News lol. It stinks to me of elitism often with people who are not really that elite. If I write a great title, you will be interested in my post…period! If you like my post, and it is well written, what is the problem? No one has a gun to your head. It is pretty simple to say yay or nay. If you say yay, publish it and don’t muck the writer around, if you don’t, just say bye bye baby. How the hell is Baz going to know all the great writers around the world? I continually use different writers to keep my content fresh and accessible on a number of levels. I don’t expect to be told that I have to be a “celebrity” before I can get stuff published. Baz doesn’t know me, and I guarantee you I can go through his site and find tens of posts that I could have written better and have added more info to. But I am not in that cartel. Go figure. I guess I will only accept business from clients that I approach from now on.

  • http://twitter.com/enduranceseo Daniel Vassiliou

    Any chance of me getting to post an against argument to the “Stop Guest Posting For The Masses” movement? I feel there should be some platform to even the argument out!

  • http://twitter.com/enduranceseo Daniel Vassiliou

    Any chance of me getting to post an against argument to the “Stop Guest Posting For The Masses” movement? I feel there should be some platform to even the argument out!