Sudden INCREASE in Search Engine Optimization (SEO) agencies/Public Relations (PR) folks asking to publish content on my site??
Hey all. I've begun to notice a new trend taking place lately – at least with my own blog – and I was wondering if it's just me or if anybody else has noticed the same thing.
I've only had my blog for two years (and only treated it seriously in the last year really), so this could just be to do with my blog gaining popularity and being more visible in search engine results. But I've had an influx of emails lately from Public Relations (PR) folks or SEO agencies, asking to publish 'relevant, tailored' content on my website, for a fee. They also require that the article include a do-follow link, usually to their client or whoever they are working for.
Now, first of all I will say that I actually work in Search Engine Optimization (SEO) myself, so I know why they are doing it and the whole purpose behind it. What they are doing is not really wrong, per se – we all know that Google still favours high quality, credible, and relevant backlinks as one of its main ranking factors, and these people are just trying to gain these via content marketing, which is a perfectly acceptable strategy.
But what bothers me, is HOW some of these people are doing it. They don't know that I know as much as I do about SEO, and how Google has changed and evolved over the last 5-10 years, so its funny to see them explain it and make out like they're doing ME the favour because I'd be the one getting paid. Having been in their shoes myself, I know how difficult it can be to gain backlinks and guest content. But here are some of the issues I've had with them so far:
• The outreacher explains that the content they write will be "100% tailored to your blog", yet I've received submissions so far to do with home decor/organisation; handmade crafts, and plants. (I write a vegan food and lifestyle blog).
• They never disclose the name of the brand or client upfront. One lady actually refused. Now, if this brand/client REALLY cares about getting backlinks from relevant sources, then surely the audience of that blog or website should align perfectly with the target audience of the brand. Therefore, there shouldn't be any secrecy over who the brand is. I'm okay with an article including a do-follow link elsewhere, providing that link is going to be helpful and of interest to my readers. should they click on it. If it wouldn't be, and the outreacher knows this, then why would they want to have content on my site anyway?
• One lady actually asked that, should I decide to publish, that I don't mark it as 'sponsored'. Now, to me this is more a collaborative post than a sponsored one (I'd call a sponsored post one where I write all the content myself). Nevertheless I'd mark it as NOT MY WORK, or a guest post of sorts. To not say anything would just be misleading to my readers and I think its shocking that agencies are asking bloggers to do this. There isn't any shame in guest posting (despite how spooked everyone got over it following the major Google algorithm changes), so there should no secrecy or need to disguise a post as your own. I feel that younger or less experienced bloggers are going to be easily misled into doing this, purely for the money and thinking that it is okay. It's not!! And if people do it, then blogging is going to lose credibility as a platform.
Anyway. The publishing of 3rd party content on my blog is certainly not something I'm against by any means. But safe to say, I haven't taken anybody up on their offer yet, because the content is poor and the pay is shit. It's just not worth compromising the quality of my blog and brand that I've worked hard to build up.
Anybody else here experienced something similar?
I actually enjoyed reading this post/rant ;-) since it's shows your reaction as a receiver, while I recently experienced what it's like to be the one that's doing the sending.
Last month, I sent 880 emails to bloggers and webmasters like you, with a typical cry for help (link to me plzzzz). Just like you, most of these emails bounced and did not receive replies.
Hell, you might have been on the receiving end of one of my emails already, but I don't think I contacted any vegan blogs. The thing is, I didn't validate and check every single email I sent, and these outreachers are likely not either.
I found my email prospects with hunter.io. If you can find your own email address on there, then it's likely that the outreachers did too. I haven't received ANY outreach mail EVER (been going for 15 months now) and appositely cannot find my email address via hunter.io.
I also emailed anybody who had linked to one of my competitors, so I think they are contacting you because you somewhere link to a competing webpage of one of their clients.
These outreachers care only about quantity. They probably send thousands of emails per week for their clients. So they don't check whether or not your blog is really relevant.
Wow, 880! I feel for you :(
I happen to be an outreacher too as I work as an SEO Exec myself, alongside blogging (though would much rather do the latter). It is indeed hard work, though can be made much easier by avoiding some of the things you just mentioned.
I agree that it is a really difficult job to gain links for clients and get good content placements, but allow me to give you some advice that might make your job easier & less dull.
• Avoid using huge email address directories that enable you to simply send emails en masse. Buzz Stream is another tool that does this, but honestly? Emails should never be generic and uniform; they should be tailored to the individual you're reaching out to. Immediately let them know why you are reaching out to THEM in particular and preferably, how you found them. Maybe it was a piece of content you read, or found them in Google when looking for 'x, y, z', etc. Ideally don't lie, but try to be as transparent as you can.
• Check out blogs BEFORE you decide to outreach to them. You're right, I doubt any of the emails I'm receiving are from people who have actually looked at my blog. Like I said, don't go off emails – go off the quality of the website and whether you think you could actually offer anything to that person's audience.
Reaching out to people that linked to your competitor isn't a bad strategy either, but as with everything, context is key. They might have mentioned a competitor when talking about a specific topic, so there could have been good reason for it. Maybe check in what way the link was executed before diving in and assuming they'll link to your client as well. Its just a bit naive.
Overall I wish you luck as I know it can be a hard job! Another big thing is HOW you're writing the email. Most outreacher emails suck and that's why they get ignored. They need to immediately engage the receiver, and let them know why you're contacting them. And let them know whatever it is you or your client has in common with them.
Most important of all…them giving you a link HAS TO BENEFIT THEIR READERS IN SOME WAY. Why am I going to take the time to go into one of my posts and amend a link, if there's nothing in it for me? At the very least, it should help make my content better and stronger. You could offer payment, but as I think we've seen here, payment isn't enough to make most bloggers compromise their integrity. There has to be real purpose behind it.
I hope that all makes sense and I haven't come across as ranting. Just want to help! Both for blogging and Search Engine Optimization (SEO) ;)
Wow, 880! I feel for you :(
Not necessary, I actually enjoyed it and it was a great exercise for me in efficiency :)
These are all good tips, especially since it's likely that all of those people who I sent emails to react just like you (delete this shit lol).
I plan on sending another ~200 emails this month for a new article of mine and I might have more success with all these tips :)
Great! Glad I could be of some help.
Just remember quantity isn't everything. It's so much better to send out 50 tailored, articulated and relevantly targeted emails to hand-selected bloggers, than waste time sending 200 emails to bloggers you've only glanced at or who's emails you happen to have come across.
Nothing makes me more mad than the constant influx of emails I receive asking to replace links, add links, publish shitty content, etc.
Literally 9.9 times out of 10 I will delete the email.
I strongly recommend ignoring most of this. This is not the content you want on your site and just because someone is going to 'expose your site to their vast social audience', doesn't mean they'll actually do anything lol
Of the content that I have published from people who contacted me directly, some worked really well! But it had to be a relevant blogger with content that fit our audience.
Edit: And also it was never paid. If someone ever offers to pay for a link placement, NEVER do this. You can't risk your site in the eyes of Google.
I'm serious when I say this. Even if I was getting offered $500-$1000 instead of the usual $30-$50, I still would delete the emails I receive. Your site's long term reputation and success are more important than some change along the way.
I completely agree with you; thanks for taking the time to comment.
I agree that exchanging content is not in itself wrong – i.e. guest posting. It can actually be a great way to improve the authority of your site and/or raise awareness of your own brand. But you're right, it has to be a relevant blogger or content creator, who has a genuine interest in the topic(s) you write about.
In terms of the payment part – Google is never going to know whether a link/article was paid for or not. It'll only judge whether or not the links going out from your blog are aligned with your blog's topic and other sources you've linked to before, or whether they stick out like a sore thumb (which is obviously bad).
What are your thoughts on bloggers doing sponsored content with brands, then? I have no issue with bloggers getting paid for their hard work, providing it is a brand they truly admire and want to promote. That is the key I think. And that the content itself is genuinely good quality. I also imagine there is a lot more transparency in these cases, as the blogger knows exactly who they are working with – there's no Public Relations (PR)/Search Engine Optimization (SEO) middle man.
No problem. I've been needing to vent about this a bit haha. My site is growing a bit and I actually can't handle the amount of emails. It is hard to see what emails are actually legit or not anymore.
I overgeneralized a bit in my original comment about 'never accepting payment'. I meant this more specifically to link placements. In terms of sponsored content itself I completely agree with you. Bloggers 100% deserve the opportunity to earn for their hard work, research, reviews, etc. I've actually sponsored posts on other sites before as well and it was some of the best money I've ever spent. I love working with bloggers for those kinds of things because you can create some cool content that benefits the readers and writers :)
At least you are getting reasonable quality requests. I'm a hobby blogger, so my blog probably isn't up to the standard that yours is. I get emails from people who speak very broken English, telling me that my posts aren't good quality (gee, thanks) and that they can make my blog better. Not exactly the way to try and sell a blogger your services.
Also, my blogs are in the spiritual/occult/personal development niches and these people want to write about insurance, payday loans, forex trading etc. basically all the high paying affiliate program topics.
Yes, a random forex trading article is going to blend in nicely with articles about the dangers of using blood in rituals and choosing a crystal that resonates with you.
Thankfully I only get around 2-5 of these emails a week, so they are more funny than annoying.
For the agencies that are offering this, I will write back with some outrageous rate, and indicate that I will stick to my integrity policy as outlined on my blog, which I am sure they must have read (ha ha ha). (It's pretty straightforward–I will clearly label anything I didn't write, and follow all FTC disclosures.) Then I never hear from them again. [Standard email reply #1. Saved so I can cut and paste.]
I can tell whenever there is a webinar or whatever on "how to build backlinks for bloggers" because I get a dozen of the same emails. "Hi, I noticed you wrote a great post on [topic], [link to some post I wrote years ago]. I wrote a post about [topic] too, and I think your readers would really like it. If you'd link to my post, I'd really appreciate it, and I'd help promote your content too. Let me know if you want to collaborate." Because adding a backlink to a post I wrote three years ago is TOTALLY the definition of collaborating. My response is basically thanks for playing, I don't do free backlinks. If you want to collaborate, make a relevant proposal. [Standard email reply #2. Cut and paste.] I never hear from them again either.