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When Guest Posts Become Too Self Centered

I’ve written numerous posts over the last year about how I think that submitting guest posts to other blogs is a great way to promote yourself and to grow the readership of your own blog – however I’ve also noticed a trend in guest posts that could actually hurt you as a guest poster (and as a blogger publishing guest posts on your blog).

The trend that I see is guest posts that seem to have the main objective of finding new readers, driving traffic and self promotion.

This might seem a little odd – in my first paragraph I said that guest posts are a good way of promoting your blog – but in my second paragraph I say that it’s not good to self promote in your post!

Let me explain.

My experience of guest posting both as someone who has written a few and someone who has published quite a few is that constant self linking in guests posts doesn’t pay off. My approach is that my primary concern in writing a guest post is to provide readers with value (and thereby provide the blog that I’m posting on value also). My experience is that if you do this even the smallest mention of your blog with a link in the ‘byline’ will drive the traffic that you need.

However if your post is all about you and drops links quite obviously in the hope of getting traffic then you actually run the risk of alienating readers and the blogger that you’re pitching the post to. I’ve seen this a few times lately on my own blogs where readers gave feedback to me that they felt authors are grandstanding a little too much – this doesn’t do anyone any good.

When is self linking OK in a guest post?

As a blogger assessing guest posts my approach is to allow them when they are relevant and add value to the post. I have no problem with someone linking to an example of what they’re talking about on their own blog (or someone else’s for that matter) however if the relevancy is tenuous I either ask the blogger if they’re willing to remove it or reject the submission. I link prominently in my guest posts to the guest’s blog (in the first paragraph and sometimes the footer as well) links strewn through the post as well don’t do it for me unless they are highly relevant.

If you do want to sell yourself in a guest post I’d much rather someone write a suggested byline with a little more information about themselves than have them include extraneous information and links in the post itself.

What do you think? Do you self link in guest posts? If so – how far is going too far for you?

Further Reading: How to be a Good Guest Blogger

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. MrCooker says:

    I’ve yet to do a quest post. But if and when I decide to one, I’ll keep the tips in mind.

    As for my opinion. A guest post should not be a blatant self promotion. Just be subtle with your links and point them towards a blog/site that adds value.

    Thanks for the heads up Darren.

  2. Sonia Simone says:

    As a weekly guest poster on Copyblogger, I’m very conscious about the balance between promoting myself and strengthening the blog I’m on. I do find that an inline link will drive significantly more traffic than a bio link, *but* I generally limit myself to one link per post, and that link must be completely relevant and add value.

    My guideline is that if following the link benefits the reader by expanding on that aspect of the conversation, it’s a good thing. If it’s just there to give me hits, it doesn’t really do me any good anyway, as it’s annoying to the reader to be taken away from the conversation she was enjoying.

    I also make a point of linking back (again, always in a relevant way that goes deeper into the topic) to the cornerstone content of the blog I’m writing for.

    The host blogger is the one who’s done the hard work of building the readership, and it’s his/her reputation on the line. My primary concern is always to *add* to that blog, rather than using it to promote myself. If I do my job well, the self-advancement part will happen naturally.

  3. Joy says:

    I absolutely agree with you. If I like the guest post enough, I would continue finding out about the blogger. Isn’t that the point of self-promoting through a guest post? I end up not reading the article at all if it’s all about them linking to their site and talking about it [unless it is a guest post to introduce their site or services]. Not only do they ruin my first impression of them, but the credibility of the blogger who allowed such a think comes into question. It’s like a visiting chef going to another restaurant to guest cook and then incessantly telling the diners to go check out his own restaurant.

    I think the introduction by the blog owner, with a link to the guest’s site should be sufficient enough.

  4. I had some experience with this awhile back. A guest post submitted to my blog had some significant links to a product the guest blogger’s company was working on. I asked for a few minor changes; the blogger, to my surprise, balked. We eventually worked it out.

    But it sort of surprised me – I mean, if I submit a blog post to another blogger as a guest post, I treat myself as just that — a guest in that person’s home. If they’re not comfortable with something I’ve written, I change it, or politely request to “rethink” the whole thing. I don’t insist on keeping whatever the blog owner doesn’t like.

    Maybe I’m being moronically polite. It seems to be going out of fashion these days.

  5. BW says:

    Personally if I am reading a guest post then I would expect there to be a link to the author either in an introduction or at the end of the post. If the post is well written and interests me, then I would check out the author that way.

  6. Joe says:

    I haven’t done any guest posting recently, but I feel that a link or two isn’t bad. It’s when you put in a ton of links to your own site that it’s becoming really obvious. At that point, shouldn’t it be up to the blog that it’s being posted on whether or not it’s appropriate?

    I think that if you are going to accept guest posts, you have to realize that some people will try to take advantage of you. That’s why you can “edit” for them, just let them know why!

  7. If the person you are guest posting for has any manners, they will link you. And they will probably more prominently link you if they see you have no hidden agenda.

    I guest post occasionally and I fing it more as a way to get my name known in the blogging community then a way to get direct hits to my site.

  8. I’ve never done any guest posts before, but I’m sure I’d only link if the topic was relevant.

  9. ourmonmouth says:

    Darren- While I have not written any guest post I have now published several. I have found this not to be a easy road although I do believe it is effective and worth the time invested. You need to be willing to “help” a guest poster fit into your format. Even more so in my blogs case because my guest posters had little to no blogging experience. I think it is just another case of what time you are willing to invest. There is also some sensitivity to the guest posters writing style and content. This activity is supposed to build and extend relationships not stress them.

    Best wishes!

  10. Wayne Tully says:

    I only wish to add one link and that’s in the author box at the end of the post, as there really is no need to draw massive attention to yourself or your blog, guest posts exist for one sole purpose as far as I am concerned and that’s to add your opinion and advice if applicable.

    Feeling the need to add more links to several things on your own blog is not the way to go, if there is further information related to your guest post, then why not add a link from your author box link to a post going into detail further, this is still a valid link and should provide value.

  11. So, it’s really funny and I’ll be honest with you about my thoughts. I’m going to write you some guest posts, because we talked about that, because I adore you, and because I think you and I share some like interests.

    I would probably have included a link somewhere to my site in my writing, but not necessarily because I’m trying to use you or use your platform. Instead, I would be linking back for reference and relevance as to who I am.

    Do I recognize that this adds value (in the Google sense)? Sure.

    But now I’m wondering where the line would be. If I go on and on about me, then it’s essentially an ad, and not very useful to you. If I don’t put ANY link, I’ve done something good for you, but there’s no pass-through context for potential new readers, etc.

    Somewhere to the left of no linkback, but to the wayyyy far right of an “I love myself” post. That’s my thought.

  12. Oscar says:

    I will do my firsts guests post in my blog soon as I am going on holidays. I think is a good way to interact between bloggers:

    2+2=5

  13. Julia says:

    I’ve never done a guest post, but I’ve read quite a few. I think that if there’s a good little intro at the top of the post that contains the guest blogger’s website, that’s enough self promotion.

    The only exception that I’ve not been bothered by is if the blogger has something that he’s guest posting about which he has posted about previously on his blog, then I think it’s okay to link to the pertinent post as part of the guest post.

    I have no desire to read anything that’s just a bunch of self promotion. I do like the idea of reading stuff that’s got good content and if one or two of the links go back to good content on the guest poster’s site, then that’s okay.

  14. GirlPie says:

    Agreed that no one likes reading self-promo, and that’s part of the Blogger’s responsibility in taking on the guest post, isn’t it? It shouldn’t be done eyes-closed.

    Those guest posts that start off with a line, often in italics, where the Host intros the Guest by name and by blog name (which can be the link) are especially useful.

    Just like visiting. You don’t come to Darren’s house without expecting to see Darren. So even if he’s running out the door and intro-ing Brian, who’ll be house-sitting for a day, it helps orient me; informs that Brian’s SUPPOSED to be there house-sitting, and it’s a great place for personality-infused character comment by the Host, including links for the Guest. (Good ol’ fashioned manners go a long way with us old timers.)

  15. Thanks for this reminder – I think you could run the risk of alienating the blogger you are submitting your guest post to if you put a ton of links in your post, especially if they aren’t even relevant. And if you’re not sure if you’re over the top with the links, ask yourself how you’d feel if someone submitted a guest post to your blog like the one that you’re planning to submit to someone else’s.

  16. Trisha says:

    I am planning to start having guest posters on my blog as well as to do a little guest posting myself – so thanks for the tip, I hadn’t really thought about it before. I didn’t really plan to link to myself in the guest post idea I had though anyway.

  17. I’ve never posted as a guest yet, but I did publish a submission from a friend on my blog, and he did things just perfectly. He related the topic at hand to his own experiences and then gave the readers solutions and tips to these experiences. I did all the linking for him in the byline. It worked wonderfully! I will show him this post. Thanks Darren! Another great piece of info!!

  18. Don M says:

    Thanks for posting this and I hope you point your future guest bloggers to this article.

    There was a guest post a couple of weeks ago on your site and the obvious SEO keyword linking in the article turned me off to the point that I didn’t really finish reading the article. In fact, I don’t even remember his story anymore except that he got a ton of users in 13 months or something.

    Now that I am writing this thought to completion I realize that it has actually affected the level of interest I put into guest posts from ProBlogger since then, when they come across my newsreader.

    Maybe you didn’t even have certain guest posters of yours in mind when you wrote this, but I will tell you, when I saw the title of THIS post I immediately clicked through to see if you were saying what apparently some of us were thinking.

    Great post.

    dm

  19. Carla says:

    Though I have not written a guest post, I will keep this in mind when the time comes. Everything in moderation.

  20. Frugal Dad says:

    I’ve always been impressed with guest posters that link back to your own content. It shows a certain level of homework for them to incorporate your ideas into their article, and is a very appreciated move. As for self-promotion, I think a by-line in the opening is sufficient.

  21. Darren Rowse says:

    thanks everyone for your comments – I should emphasize again, I think linking back to your blog within a post can be useful and would encourage it – IF it has some relevance to the points you’re making. This is easier when you’re writing a guest post for a blog like ProBlogger (where it’s about blogging and there are ample opportunities to link back when you’re talking about blogging because…. well because you have a blog) but I’ve seen some pretty bizarre cases lately on blogs that are not about blogging that actually stimulated this post.

    Chris – I’m sure any link you gave back to your blog would add real value to the post… because your blog is a fine example of how to blog :-)

  22. Kevin Thomas says:

    I have to say I agree with the masses, linking within a guest post just for the sake of linking to your own site is going too far.

    If an author has good reasoning for linking to a post they have written on their blog as a reference to backup what they are writing in the guest post, thats fine.

    I’ve not yet written or published any guest posts, but it is in the near future for me I hope and this is a good article that makes me think about this issue a bit more.

  23. Jessica Bond says:

    A small mention of the guest’s blog link seems appropriate. It is the same as leaving one’s business card. No one thinks anything of a person leaving their business card at the end of a meeting.

  24. I totally agree! If someone is obviously self linking it not only destroys the credibility of the post, but of the poster.

    We often have guest posters and we link to them usually at the beginning and at the end.

    We haven’t had a problem with our guest writers self linking – they have done a great job writing valuable content that adds to our site.

  25. Muscle Post says:

    I think a lot of beginner bloggers are overzealous and just want to get links out there as much as they can, because that is what they have read to do. But articles like this will teach them when it is appropriate to self link and when it isn’t.

    If you can add value by demonstrating something on your site that is relevant to the content on the blog you are posting on, then go ahead and link to it. But you shouldn’t just link to your site at the end of every comment for the sake of it.

  26. Willy says:

    I had an interesting experience with guest posting, well, it was actually cross posting. I was asked if a certain site that ranks #1 for one of my keywords could cross post my content. I was hesitant because of duplicate content issues, but I decided that the links were worth it. I thought everything was going well until I visited the posts a few weeks later. I realized that the site had linkjacked my post. They took out most of my internal links, and even some of my external links from the post.

    Now this post was not written for the purpose of being published elsewhere, so I was livid. If you’re going to use my content for your site, you better leave the posts as they are. I wrote the site owner a really nasty e-mail and he very quickly changed the links back to what they were supposed to be.

    It’s amazing what some people will do for a little SEO.

  27. Guest Blogging is really a great way to spread the word about your blog but if u doing it just for short time SEO you are wasting your time and effort.

    Guest blogging is an opportunity to show of your writing skills and convey your idea.

    Abusing guest blogging concept with unethical practices like unnecessary link and promoting your affiliate link will spoil the whole idea of Guest blogging

  28. I have been invited to do a guest post recently for a personal blog. I accepted it with all my heart and made a post about parenting college students. It helped a lot for my family tips blog.

    I gave the same condition when I made guest posts for my blogging tips blog – linking to my blog and a bit of its description at the end of the post.

    You’re right, Darren. Guest posts should not be self-promotion only. Readers are very smart to realize this. They are not after the guest blogger, they are after the content.

    If they became curious who made it, then you’ll be the luckiest blogger in the world.

    Thanks.

  29. I don’t mind the idea of links-in-the-blog-post; however, whenever I’ve submitted guest posts to various blogs, I’ve always eschewed this practice.

    Guest posts, to me, are about sharing brand new information to an audience who wouldn’t hear you otherwise. If those readers love what you write, they’ll go to your site (where you would have a link to at the bottom of the post, along with a little bit about yourself.) It’s that simple!

  30. Reginald says:

    There is one point in this posts that I completely agree with. When anyone is making a guest post on any blog, try not to make it too obvious that your objective is to include a link to your site.

    Even if this is your objective, a guest post should contribute to the substance of the existing debate.

  31. Darren I agree with your overall premise wholeheartedly — with a little caveat.

    I’ve done a few guests posts in the last couple of months. One in particular was based on a problem I had recent experience with, so I told it from a first-hand point of view.

    So, although the post was “all about me,” it was relayed in a way to teach others what I learned from a disastrous mistake (moving my blog from one platform to another).

    In those cases, I think it’s okay for the poster to be front and center.

    I think some are getting a little too hyped up over self-promotion online. Many of us blog and provide free content as a means to an end (eg, to sell ebooks, newsletter subscriptions, an affiliate product, etc.).

    I don’t mind self promotion, as long as the person doing it doesn’t beat me over the head with it AND their content is useful.

    Yuwanda

  32. The Guide says:

    I think a link down the bottom of the post below your name is okay, and maybe a link or so in the actual post if it’s completely relevant.

    I really dislike bloggers that just stuff their links everywhere in a guest post.

  33. I believe that the idea behind any post is to provide information and/or entertainment.

    I was reading a guest post just recently where the author kept linking back to his site and because of this appeared more interested in what was in it for him.

    As a result, I’m not too quick to go to the author’s website these days. He hurt rather than helped his “brand.”

  34. Rob O. says:

    I’ve only guest blogged twice, but would certainly like to do so more in the future. In both cases, it was gratifying enough that my articles were even accepted, so I certainly wasn’t going to push my luck by adding a bunch of self-serving links back to my site. My Mom had a saying, “Beggars can’t be choosers” that I refer back to often.

    Clearly crediting the author and providing a single link back to his/her site’s main page is quite sufficient. Again, guest blggers should be thankful that someone has chosen to publish their work and behave accordingly & gratiously.

    By the way, Darren, I want to thank you again for publishing my Geoblogging – How to Geotag Your Blog article back in April. It was truly a thrill & honor to have been published on such a respected blog!

  35. videolar says:

    I have been invited to do a guest post recently for a personal blog. I accepted it with all my heart and made a post about parenting college students. It helped a lot for my family tips blog.

    I gave the same condition when I made guest posts for my blogging tips blog – linking to my blog and a bit of its description at the end of the post.

    You’re right, Darren. Guest posts should not be self-promotion only. Readers are very smart to realize this. They are not after the guest blogger, they are after the content.

    If they became curious who made it, then you’ll be the luckiest blogger in the world.

    Thanks.

  36. A very timely article for me. It looks like I’ll be diving into the guest post realm for a fellow I follow on Twitter.

    Seems no one was brave enough to step up in his time of need, and as a new blogger myself I was also scared, but I stepped up and offered.

    Your suggestions are very astute, and while I did not expect myself to blatantly advertise myself you’ve given me some food for thought…it’s not about me and it’s about the person’s whose blog I am on. Both you and Chris Brogan seem to be in sync on that one.

    Thanks!

  37. Erika says:

    This is an excellent post…one of those that everyone serious about blogging should read. (And probably those who are not so serious about blogging too, for that matter.) I couldn’t agree with you more about the self-referential linking, and using it sparingly and only where relevant to one’s discussion. And hopefully, the owner of the blog where one is guest blogging has provided enough of an intro before the guest blogger’s first post to give the audience and idea of who that guest blogger is and what they’re all about. Like Joy said, if the guest’s posts interest me enough, I’ll go and learn more about that person anyway (or go back and read the owner’s introduction to them).

  38. Meangreen says:

    My blog is not at a level to accept guest bloggers, but your blog should not accept guest blogger,why they are only eating out your plate and I think it is not even the revenue their after, their after the backlinks and the popularity. If would you I would hire some freelance writers to do the work for you. This may cost you more money, but you can be sure that the work is done by experts and like they say master of all trades, is master of none. This is my opinion thank for sharing.

  39. sekstube says:

    121

    I have been invited to do a guest post recently for a personal blog. I accepted it with all my heart and made a post about parenting college students. It helped a lot for my family tips blog.

    I gave the same condition when I made guest posts for my blogging tips blog – linking to my blog and a bit of its description at the end of the post.

    You’re right, Darren. Guest posts should not be self-promotion only. Readers are very smart to realize this. They are not after the guest blogger, they are after the content.

    If they became curious who made it, then you’ll be the luckiest blogger in the world.

    Thanks.

  40. knightonline says:

    My blog is not at a level to accept guest bloggers, but your blog should not accept guest blogger,why they are only eating out your plate and I think it is not even the revenue their after, their after the backlinks and the popularity. If would you I would hire some freelance writers to do the work for you. This may cost you more money, but you can be sure that the work is done by experts and like they say master of all trades, is master of none. This is my opinion thank for sharing.

  41. Thanks for posting this and I hope you point your future guest bloggers to this article.

    I’ve not yet written or published any guest posts, but it is in the near future for me I hope and this is a good article that makes me think about this issue a bit more.

    If you can add value by demonstrating something on your site that is relevant to the content on the blog you are posting on, then go ahead and link to it. But you shouldn’t just link to your site at the end of every comment for the sake of it.

  42. knight says:

    “If you do want to sell yourself in a guest post I’d much rather someone write a suggested byline with a little more information about themselves than have them include extraneous information and links in the post itself.”

    Thanks you…