To keep pace with the needs of a regular blog, many bloggers accept guest posts. Savvy B2B typically runs one guest post per week (except for summers), and I edit a blog about content marketing on which we run daily guest posts.
Because of my reliance on guest posts, I was taken aback when I read this post from Mark Schaefer this week about one of his experiences. Read the post for the whole story, but as Mark explains, he ultimately ran a guest post from someone who he later learned did not author the content. I have come across the same person and almost ran a post from him, so I could relate to Mark’s disappointment and frustration first hand.
Like anyone who accepts guest posts, many requests blatantly reek of spam and are easy to ignore. But sometimes, it’s a bit more difficult to decipher. I love using guest bloggers and wouldn’t change that. I typically use writers I know and trust, but I often get submissions from writers who are unfamiliar to me.
With unknown writers, this experience makes me ask: What else do you do to make sure the guest posts you receive are legitimate? And, how much due diligence do blog owners and editors need to take?
Here are some ideas of what I have done -- and what I will now do -- to validate if guest posts are original. I'd love to get your thoughts as well as to what you'd add to the list.
Ask the author
I only accept original content that has not been previously published. If I have any doubt that a post has been published before, I simply ask. I’ve had authors reply, “I already used this on my blog. I’ll submit something else.” I believe most people are honest, so this tactic is a way to avoid accidentally publishing content that was previously released (of course, not a great tactic if you are working with a writer who is trying to be subversive).
Add requirements to your blog guidelines
In the blog guidelines I use, I state that the content must be original. But as commenter Craig McBreen suggests and Mark implemented, think about adding a line that states, “this has to be your own writing.”
Thoroughly edits posts from unfamiliar writers
The reason I ended up not using the post from the writer Mark had an issue with was because I posed a number of questions to him about the content. I wanted him to expand certain points and make them more relevant to my audience. I never heard back from my questions, so perhaps he was unable to answer them? It can be a good idea to put an unfamiliar author through extra paces.
Check out the author’s blog
Most writers have a blog, and I always make a quick visit to check out background and writing style. By doing this, I have actually run across posts that are identical to the ones submitted to me. In many cases, this may be an accidental oversight and not someone trying to pull a “fast one,” but it’s help me stumble across un-original content.
Do some due diligence
Mark’s post has certainly made me more skeptical, so I did some research on how to spot plagerism. I think this article from PlagerismToday has some good ideas that I'm going to use if I have any doubts:
- Do a search on Google with a statistically improbable phrase of 6 – 12 words from the article. Don’t do a search on the title, as this may likely be changed.
- Use a service such as Copyscape (where you can paste in a URL) or Plagium (where you can paste text) to see if a similar article is detected.
Don’t get me wrong: for the most part, I trust the good nature of writers who contact me. But, in this day and age when content is prevalent, it can’t hurt to take a few extra steps when working with someone you do not know.
What other tips would you add to the list? Is this issue something you have experienced? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
About the author: Michele is the Content Development Director of the Content Marketing Institute where where she works with a fabulous group of contributors who know a lot about content marketing. She's also a B2B content marketing consultant who has a passion for helping companies use content to connect with their ideal buyers. You can follow her onTwitter @michelelinn or read more of her posts on Savvy B2B.