The Anatomy of an Awful Guest Post

When people reach out to me about writing guest posts I get genuinely excited. Link Building and SEO in general can also be very exciting things for me, so when I receive something like the following I can do nothing but smirk at my laptop and mutter “are you f*cking serious?” Let’s talk about how to go about guest posting exactly the wrong way.

Wednesday February 22, 2012 was a fine day in New York City. The sun was shining. It was 50+ degrees all day. I think I skipped down the street and hummed a show tune on my way to work. I definitely helped an old lady cross the street. Once I arrived in the office I dove through my mountain of email only to come across this:


Spam Guest Post Email from Alia


Woohoo! A guest post pitch! I thought to myself, “Hmm…well Alia that sounds intriguing.” Of course I assumed it was some sort of spam or at least just a really weak form letter, but I gave her the benefit of the doubt. So I responded with the guest posting guidelines for the blog.


My response to Alia


If you haven’t seen the guest posting guidelines I’ve laid out, I specifically ask for new ideas based around on SEO, CRO, Personas, Web Development, UX Design, Digital Strategy, Social Media, Gameplay and Analytics. I basically ask potential guest posters for something in the same vein of what I try to write. As you might have guessed, I replied operating under the assumption that if Alia was a spammer she’d probably just give up since she didn’t have anything that met those parameters. Oh boy was I delighted to see that she responded!


Alia's spammy guest post response


Granted both of her emails clearly lacked the color that would make me think she was truly a high caliber writer looking to spread a new digital idea. However I know that I often come across as short in my communications so I took the plunge, opened the document and hope for the best.

Without further adieu ladies and gentlemen, here is “The Future of Mobile Advertising: Have a Look” in all its glory sans links and Alia’s surname:

The future of mobile advertising: Have a look

You can see a paradigm shift in advertising. From tiny text and banner ads to more sophisticated endeavors. Some are trying to catch with few games and contests while other offer some specific deals as per your location. Today, the mobile advertising is approximately 4 billion dollars business. Despite some perception of gloomy picture, you can consider the future of mobile advertising as a safe choice. To get a clear picture of its future, let’s explore the trends associated this marketing method which will help you understand its compatibility factor in the coming future:

Better interactivity with apps and ads: The use of a cell phone goes different than your laptop or TV. Hence the ads used in this medium should be different by taking the advantage of some unique things like touch screens and camera which you can do with your cell phone devices. This is considered to be the basics of interactive mobile ads, or the ideas of building ads like partial ads. The Apple’s iAds are considered to be the best in interactive ads. It helps you explore a tiny virtual world inside the ad, watch video, allow you to enter in contests and even help you in playing games and so on. Others too are joining the race with similar kinds of tools and apps for ad agencies. You can expect more powerful and interactive kinds of ads in the coming future for mobile advertising which will engage the consumers unlike the other ads do.

Awards are not empty pitchers: There are few companies like Kiip which are seen with ads based on mobile games. As you play and reach at higher levels or secure higher points you get a number of rewards like having a substantial amount of discount in their various products. Or you win a cup of coffee or sandwich with your friends for free. Hence with these short term rewards based games and some more ideas, you can expect the mobile advertising to grow in the near future. In fact the idea will work on giving people rewards or save their money for using these ads.

The rising mobile search: The mobile search advertising is already a big player of ad spending. This is the same place where Google is making huge money in mobile. In the coming years, you will see people using the mobile search for products and services with the help of their cell phones. In the coming future, you will see the advertisers embarking with more relevant and focused ads with not only based on locations but also with very precise predictability engines.

Improved analytics: Today, the tools for measuring mobile phone ad campaigns lag behind with sophistication which advertisers expect. Thanks to the regulations set forth by a number of regulatory agencies. However, in the coming years, these standards will turn mature. The companies will give their consent for what gets measured and the effectiveness of analyzing the mobile campaigns will not be a big deterrent factor.

With different devices, operating systems, screen sizes you require different mobile ads. Hence to say that the future of mobile advertising is not great cannot be justified by any means or methods. Today, the mobile ads are doing well, where we see 60 percent of cell phone users clicking these ads in their messages boxes. In fact for the coming years there is enough room for enhancements in this sector as discussed above in the article.

About the author: Alia [REDACTED] is a blogger by profession. She loves writing on technology and autos. Beside this she is fond of cameras and watches. Recently an article on Nikon Coolpix L120 attracted her attention. These days she is busy in writing an article on LED Watch.

Naturally, the bolded text in the author profile is the keywords she’s looking to build links for and the underlines are the bad grammar. I didn’t finish because the article is so bad I couldn’t get through it.

Obviously, I wasn’t going to give this post the proper burn “Alia” was looking for – it being complete garbage and all – but just for kicks I threw a line of text into Google because I was just a little suspicious due to the awesome writing and grammar. And as you might guess, it’s a completely spun article:

The corpus for the spin

The highlighted text should sound mostly familiar if you were able to make it through Alia’s “guest post.”

The Right Way to Guest Post

Here’s what a proper guest post email looks like:

That is not to say that I need my ego stroked or what have you, but Anthony makes it quite clear that he is reaching out to me with context around the SEO community. He also did it via an SEOmoz private message which again shows his context. He makes it clear what he is looking to write about and why. Anthony shot his “Sweet Titled Tweets Fit the Wit in Twitter” over to me and it’s great. I’ll be posting it tomorrow.

So Alia, you got the guest post that you wanted. I’m not posting your links but what I will do is give you links to a variety of resources you can used to become better at link building. Here you go:

Link Builders let this be a lesson to the value of the knowing your audience when you do outreach. I imagine to this person I’m just another prospect found by yet another link building tool. However if you don’t realize who you are talking to there is a large possibility that your link building efforts will result in a lot more than you bargained for.

All that said…I’m still accepting guest posts! :]

Mike King


  • Reply

    I’m sure I’m not the only one to get this type of outreach. In fact after Googling this person there are far more people who have experienced this from Alia. Share your own horror stories, whether on the sending or receiving end!

  • SteveOllington

    Haha excellent, and well done to you for seeing the opportunity there… I’ve had emails of similar nature, not for guest posts but the usual rubbish. Anyway, I would always simply delete them but what I should have done (which is what you’ve done); was played along, watched how it all rolled out, and then critiqued it!

    Well spotted sir!

  • MacCohen

    Love it!

    I clicked on the link to your guest post guidelines and is not pulling up. Any clues why?

    • Reply

      @MacCohen My site can’t handle the load of all the awesome people coming to check out the content so you might have clicked it during a short outage. Give it another try please!

  • Reply

    We’ve been getting a lot of requests to post guest posts like the above – with “one” line back about an online university/comcast TV/etc. Are any of them OK to use if they write on target, or will you get negative SEO/etc for using these types of articles?

    • Reply

      @GreenJulieBlog I’m unclear about the question but if it’s what I think you’re asking me….if the pitch doesn’t match the content of your site then don’t use it. Simple as that. If I didn’t answer your question let me know so I can help!

  • keithgutierrez

    Wow, Nice catch Mike! I love it when people try to explain how article spinning is the future. It’s garbage at best. Great Post!

  • Reply

    Yeh, as someone who’s been blogging for over ten years, the minute I read the first email from the guest author I knew where it was going. I receive requests like this on a daily basis and it always end up being a huge upset.

  • Reply

    Yeh, as someone who’s been blogging for over ten years, the minute I read the first email from the guest author I knew where it was going. I receive requests like this on a daily basis and it always end up being a huge upset.

  • Reply

    Well, she did get you to feature her writing ;). Just didnt get the link juice she wanted.

  • jennita

    This seems like a pretty good way to repel people from wanting to send you guest posts in the future. 🙂 For fear of you displaying how bad it is. It’s definitely obvious that this was a bad post and spun content, I’m just not sure that it will give you the return you were hoping for. I also agree that as a linkbuilder you need to know your audience. We get junk submitted to YouMoz all the time.

  • Andy Pyman

    that was pretty awesome, mike.
    i checked this post  (and the guest post guidelines post) out cuz i am helping gather guest posts from various members of our ‘local first’ organization, and i was hoping to find some ideas to keep in mind when connecting with our members and giving them the blog low down. 
    since that was not the scope of those 2 posts, figured i would leave a comment and see if you have any advice or tips…things that would benefit both the writer (who likely has their own website and possibly blog) and our website itself. 
    our blog mostly features info about shopping at local shops, economic activity, and local events. our guest contributors are various professionals/business owners. 
    let me know if you need any more info to provide any insight.

  • jackstonehouse

    I hope you replied to her and showed her this post!

  • jackstonehouse

    I hope you replied to her and showed her this post!

  • Reply

    I imagine this is what happens when you do all your SEO via Fiverr jobs!

  • Reply

    Funny Mike!  Thanks for sharing a example of “How not to work the Guest Post Strategy”.  lol.  I think Charlie Sheen would call her efforts “not winning”.
    Your recent post “The New SEO Process” was SICK! Spot On!  Thanks, I’ve shared it with many clients the past week.

  • jacqueslbouchard

    Swine before pearls, apparently.   The frustrating thing is that these people live and die by the law of averages; someone (most likely an automated someone) will accept her work no matter how poor it is, and the system is rewarded.

  • Joe Welusz

    Hey Mike,

    Great post as always. I see requests like that all the time too. All you need to do is put in a little effort. Anthony @contentmuse is a great writer that you showcased as the proper way to do things. He’s a friend and was a co-worker for a few years. Quick question what’s up with the text you have in the “About iPullRank” section in the footer? Email me what you are testing?

  • soc0man

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