The Proper Way to Feature a Guest Writer on Your Blog
I've seen it happen too many times. A writer is invited to guest post and they gain no headline, let alone a byline. Or it’s buried in the text below where it’s never seen by the Google gods who can bring light to this guest author. After all, isn't the point of guest posting to bring recognition to the author?
Amateur writers think they have it going on because they have a website and a blog that is updated weekly.
But that’s only the beginning.
If you ask for and accept guest posts, you need to know how to present and attribute the authors who take time out of their schedules to offer their wisdom. In order for their and your time to be worthy - especially if you’re only offering exposure and not payment for their time, effort, and wisdom - you need to take the spotlight off yourself and shine it on the author(s) you've invited to your space.
If you don’t give your guest writer proper attribution, you’re not only wasting their valuable time, but it's disrespectful to the author.
If you’re serious about promoting writers on your site it’s imperative you do the following:
Use Your Guest's Byline
To entitle your guest post as, “Guest Post by So-and-So” will never be found by Google, so why bother going through the effort of bringing this author to the forefront? And why would s/he bother taking time out of their busy day to fill in your content gaps?
After all, the reader on the other end of the search bar is not likely to Google “Guest post by Joe Author”, but is more likely to be searching for keywords that appear in the title.
Makes sense, right?
Entitle your blog post with your guest author’s title. Below that, instead of adding your name, give entitlement (the byline) to your guest author: by Awesome Writer.
There are many blogs online that pay guests for their posts and the authors are given bylines in addition to remuneration. If you can’t afford to pay your guest authors, the least you can do is raise their credibility with the search engines by taking yourself out of the picture and shining the light on those who have taken the time to support your site.
It's Okay to Introduce Your Guest Author
Granted, it’s your website. Everyone knows that, given your URL. That said, it’s perfectly acceptable to introduce your guest author. Just do him/her and yourself a favor by throwing in a blurb about why you invited/accepted the author to grace your blog pages. Everyone likes a pat on the back, right? Make it brief then turn the post over to your guest author.
Subheads Provide Benefits to Your Post
- Subheads give your readers the opportunity to choose which area(s) of information will most benefit them.
- They give the reader a natural stopping point when interruptions occur.
- Subheads break up long text, bettering the chances of your readers staying on the page.
- Google loves subheads, especially H2 and H3. This tells Google the information underneath is important. The subheads act as keywords, which increases the possibility of your post coming up in SERPs (Search Engine Result Pages). You can utilize these subheads by clicking on Format/Styles and Formatting in Word. A box will open up to the right of the page. You’ll want to use Heading (H1) for your title. Heading 2 for subs and Heading 3 for sub-subs. (Sub-subs are headings that pertain to and further define the previous subheading).
Make Your Guidelines Clear
Most bloggers have a consistent format they incorporate into their posts. Whether it’s subheads, minimum/maximum number of photos, infographics, videos, word count, etc. it’s important you clearly state any specific guidelines you want your guest to follow. Be clear upfront, before the author puts in their time and research. If you don’t have submission guidelines posted on your website, state them clearly in an email when you accept a pitch.
Ask your guest author to send any properly attributed photos they’d like included in their post as separate jpeg attachments. That way you can save them to your computer and upload them as you normally do for your own posts.
It’s also helpful to ask your guest to indicate on their copy where they would like any attachments to appear. When I’m writing a post, whether for my blog, or HubPages, I always make a notation directly in my copy where I plan on inserting a photo or video. In the case of videos, I note the link. That way I can go directly to it and copy the URL into the post without having to search for it. Just make sure you don’t include the notes when you’re copying the post to your blog page!
The Advantages of Guest Blogging
If you have a website, do you welcome guest posters?
Proofread, Edit, and Get Final Approval
Let your author know beforehand that you will proof and edit their contribution before posting. Read over the copy and check for spelling and grammar errors. Don’t be afraid to make suggestions to the author if you find inconsistencies or repeated words.
Once you’ve completed the edit round, send it to your author for approval. Don’t post any changes they don’t agree with (except for spelling errors).
A very important step in the editing process happens once you copy/paste the post into your CMS (Content Management System). It’s vital you take this step. Most Word docs lose some formatting when transferred into your website’s blog pages. Take the time to correct spacing between sentences and paragraphs. If bold text gets lost, re-bold it.
Check that all links work and open in a new window. This can be done while in edit mode in your CMS. Simply click on the link. You should get an edit box that pops up. Click on the chain in the box. This will bring up another box showing the link and giving you the option to have it open in a new window. Click that option and save. It’s very important you take this step; the last thing you want is to have your readers click off your site when following a link.
Go back over the copy one more time to make sure everything is lined up, looks good, and reads well before hitting the Publish button. You want you and your guest to shine. Having a sloppy looking post is not a good reflection on either one of you.
Include a Brief Bio
At the end of the post, include a head shot of your author along with a brief bio (written by the author). Make sure they include a link to their own website. It’s also recommended to include a link to their LinkedIn and Google+ profile pages as well. This gives the author backlinks and increases their online presence in the search engines.
Here’s a screen shot of Vicki’s bio as posted on my blog:
Be My Guest by Fats Domino
Guest posting is a great way for an author to build his/her brand. When laid out properly, it gives the writer another searchable link when their name is Googled, which increases visibility and credibility. It also provides an online sample of their work that carries with it a byline. And it brings more traffic to the host’s site as well.
When you want to share the spotlight with respected authors by inviting them to be a guest on your blog, do it right. Treat the post as you do your own by following these guidelines:
- Entitle the post with the author’s title, just as you would if it were your own.
- Give the author the byline. Remove your name underneath the title and replace it with theirs.
- Make the layout as clean as if it were your own post. Make sure the text is properly aligned and free of errors.
- Include a headshot and brief author bio, including links to their site.
Have any of you been a guest on another writer’s site? Have you had guest writers on your blog? What was your experience? Did your site see more traffic as the result?
I hope this little tutorial has enlightened you. Share with us in the comments section below.
Shauna L Bowling
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
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© 2014 Shauna L Bowling