3 Warning Signs Your Publication Is Not Ready for Guest Posts

Publishing guest posts is one of the best ways to deliver fresh, targeted content to a site. If a publication wants to provide readers with a more comprehensive collection of expert content, editors should consider allowing contributed posts. Guest contributors not only provide a publication with new insights, but they also drive their own unique network to view the site. Plus, it’s free!

What’s not to like, right?

Not so fast. The publishing world is seeing thousands of editors diving into contributed content before looking to see where they’re jumping.

Guest posts require a lot of thought on the editor’s side. If contributed content is of poor quality or includes spammy links, Google will punish the publication, tarnishing its respectable reputation. We’re talking major PageRank destruction.

Contributed content can be very beneficial for a publication or blog if — and only if — the editor is prepared. Here are three warning signs that your publication is not ready to accept guest posts:

1. You have no understanding of guest blogging dos and don’ts.

How can you benefit from guest blogging when you don’t understand the tactic? A number of guest blogging factors can actually hurt a publication’s PageRank and, ultimately, its ability to attract expert contributors in the future. Here are a few simple need-to-knows:


  • Update your site daily. Guest contributions are a fantastic tool to help keep your queue full. Your audience wants fresh, engaging content every time they visit your site. If an editor doesn’t update the publication, she’ll slowly lose the audience.
  • Allow commenting on articles to spark conversation and engagement. Encourage this by ending articles with questions.
  • Take advantage of free resources for contributors, like Contributor Weekly, to stay up-to-date on contributed content best practices.
  • Accept Google Rel Author Tags so Google can attribute content to the author. Confused by this? Read this Search Engine Land article to learn more.


  • Allow duplicate content that’s been published elsewhere to be posted on the site. This will ding its PageRank. Overcome this by utilizing a plagiarism check tool before publication. Many are available for free online!
  • Accept an article in exchange for a link. This is a slippery slope in Google’s eyes.
  • Along with the above bullet, don’t accept promotional material. Advertorial content is a quick way to turn off readers.

2. You don’t have a set writing style.

A publication’s writing style is vital for an editor to know inside and out. Each publication needs a voice and particular style that will attract the type of readers it wants to reach. The style should be something readers expect each time they visit the site. When a site fails to set a consistent tone throughout the entirety of the publication, it destroys its loyal audience.

Take Brazen Careerist, for example. This blog is laden with attitude and spunk, which matches perfectly with the young business professionals and job seekers it targets. Publications like Adrants encourage controversy and discussion; the content is hard-hitting yet conversational. Readers can easily say, “That’s an Adrants article.”

These editors know the audiences they’re trying to draw in, and they tailor their sites’ writing styles to that readership. If editors publish guest posts outside of their publications’ writing style, they create a disjointed environment that leaves readers confused.

3. You don’t adhere to specific writing guidelines.

No writing guidelines mean more work for you, the overworked editor. Guest posts should result in time savings, not time spent pulling your hair out. A publication needs to know what it’s looking for in terms of acceptable content.

To attract high-quality writers, editors must provide potential contributors with specific expectations. Being very explicit with guidelines will cut down on undesirable content submissions. If you don’t know what you want in a guest post, you’re not ready to start reviewing any!

What should your writing guidelines include? Go back to your writing style. Make sure you convey your publication’s tone, acceptable article formatting, and target audience. Check out the guidelines found on Ad Age. These editors clearly describe what they accept — and don’t accept — from contributors.

While a site’s audience might enjoy listening to one person’s voice, guest contributors can bring a new perspective, which has the potential to spark more conversation and attract more attention. However, this new insight should complement the rest of the articles on the site. It’s solely up to the editor to exercise control over a publication’s content, so make sure to look before you take the contributor leap.

This post was co-authored by Brittany Dowell, Vice President of Publications and Melanie Janisse, Director of Publications with Influence & Co. Influence & Co. assists experts in growing their influence and showcasing their expertise online by getting bylined articles published in top tier publications. Follow us on Twitter @InfluenceandCo.