If you’re a website owner and get some decent traffic to your site, chances are you’ve had more than a few people email you about posting free content on your website or paying you for a backlink.
More often than not, you’ve never heard of these people before. You may also realize the message is not personalized, which should raise a red flag (e.g., it could be sent to hundreds or even thousands of website owners simultaneously with minor modifications).
Most people looking to post an article on your website are all looking for one thing: a do-follow backlink. They do this because your site may have sufficient domain authority to guarantee a quality backlink to other less authoritative sites – passing PageRank.
Here’s an example pitch I recently came across of:
In most cases, you probably should ignore these requests and move on with your day. Although there may be a few exceptions (which I’ll go over towards the end of this article), here are some of the reasons you should ignore them:
The Articles Might Be Low Quality or Ai-Written
When you end up accepting a guest post request on your website, whether free or paid, you’ll probably end up with a poorly written article that may have all sorts of issues like misspellings, inaccurate information, and even run the risk of plagiarism. Sometimes you’ll also get content that is written by Ai, which is less than ideal for a more established website.
Unless you post original, unique, and valuable content on your website that is not anywhere else on the web, the article might not get a whole lot of traffic from search engines – sometimes Google won’t even want to keep that page indexed.
If you don’t care that it won’t bring any traffic (perhaps you are getting paid for it), it can still hurt your site because it might seem spammy or not valuable enough to Google, which can even lower your site’s Trust Score.
It Can Hurt Your Trust Score and PageRank
Every website has a trust score or a general “PageRank” in the eyes of Google’s algorithms, and yours is no exception. If you start adding a lot of poorly optimized content from third-party providers, and on top of that, allow the use of do-follow backlinks to websites you’ve never even heard of before, you’re stepping into muddy waters.
Google and other search engines like Bing may start to notice you are starting to post a lot of content that isn’t valuable, and as a result it might become more difficult to maintain your existing rankings or even rank new pages more competitively.
If even one of your top-ranking pages moves down a few positions, you’ll be missing out on a lot of traffic, so being picky about how your website appears to Google is essential.
It’s Against Google Search Guidelines
Adding do-follow backlinks for a fee is against Google’s Webmaster Guidelines which is another reason why you should avoid accepting these requests (it’s Black-Hat SEO, after all).
To remedy this, you could add the rel=”nofollow” or rel=”sponsored” to the links, but it would result in much lesser value to the receiving website, so make sure you clarify if this is how you’ll accept the backlinks, especially if someone is paying for it.
There Are Some Exceptions
Although few, there are some exceptions in which you can accept a guest post and even a do-follow backlink, but none of these involve you getting paid for it.
The most common one being if it’s a high-quality, unique article that abides by a strategic set of guidelines you have in place. For these, you may even want to verify the writer’s identity by looking at their LinkedIn profile and other verified articles in your space with their full name.
You’ll also want to run the article by a plagiarism checker tool just to be safe. Any blog post should also ideally have good imagery that isn’t just stock photos.
Now, that’s a lot to ask for a guest post which is why you’re probably better off just ignoring these requests because most of these people are not likely going to be able to meet such high standards.
What You Should Do Instead
If people are trying to get backlinks from you, chances are you already have a strong web presence on Google, and your goal should be to preserve it and instead work to make it better.
You can accomplish this by continuing to post high-quality and valuable content on your own terms and using your own resources to do so.
Once you’ve achieved a strong competitive position in your market or industry – you’ll likely get more worthwhile pitches that might not even be seeking a backlink but rather brand awareness and recognition.