To be clear I do not actively seek out guest posts. Instead, I am happy to receive suggestions, and try to judge each case based on its own merit. Indeed, when a PR or SEO gets in touch with an interesting, valuable and ultimately beneficial proposal it often results in a blog post. That’s how things should work. For reference, my preferred modus operandi is to hold a Q&A with an industry expert, thought-leader or somebody with an interesting story to tell. But that’s beside the point.
What has frustrated me and needs to be addressed is the number of weak outreach proposals I’ve received. These have been mostly from SEO agencies and lets be honest, they are nothing more than link-building tactics, thinly veiled as an opportunity for ‘unique’ and ‘quality’ content.
My good friend Chris Norton of Dead Dinosaur PR recently wrote about the impact of Google Penguin on cheaper SEO companies and it seems, whilst some SEO agencies are doing a fantastic job, creating meaningful relationships with bloggers and providing great content, many are not.
I have written about constructing and adding value to an outreach proposition, in short offering something that is mutually beneficial, but also of enough perceived value to the blogger so they are enticed to act. This is a concept that is all to often missing from outreach.
To illustrate the point, below are a selection of emails I’ve been sent. The first two did not mention what the proposed posts would be on, give the author’s credentials or even show links to previous blog posts. Without these crucial details, it is impossible to calculate the proposed value exchange.
Whilst, the third email was slightly more enticing and engaging, it was poorly written. The SEO guy offered me an article about using social media to find a job, which would certainly been of interest. Maybe this person had a fantastic story about using social media to land the job of his dreams, but it was unclear. The outreach lacked context and value, and after follow-up discussion, the search executive even denied the posts were written for link-building purposes, which I find hard to believe. If you can’t be honest and establish trust, there’s no way you can build a working relationship.
The key point from all three examples is that without communicating credentials or proof of competency, I have no idea who this person is. Without this they are just a name, and lacking in credibility, trust and authority – and subsequently the outreach proposition becomes much less valuable.
Ironically, if these SEO guys wanted to give their outreach proposal a greater chance of succeeding, they should have looked a lot closer to home and suggested a post on SEO. They work in that discipline, I mention ‘search’ amongst my interests and even have a blog category dedicated to it.
What’s your view on these outreach emails? Am I being too pernickety? How can we drive up standards?