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Guest blogs are great. They increase your network, create the opportunity for new collaborations and partnerships, and give you the chance to highlight some fresh faces who are bound to become thought leaders in their own right. Unfortunately, there are also a lot of “bloggers” out there looking for nothing more than to promote their own services, with entries filled with awkward keywords and spam-worthy links. As you begin adding guest writers to your editorial calendar, keep these five rules in mind to ensure that you make the best choices for your blog.

Be picky when selecting guest bloggers.

Be discerning when choosing your guest bloggers. Ideally, they should have a digital presence of their own, and should have enough experience and expertise to create an informative and well-written post. Even if they don’t have much of a digital presence yet, it’s okay as long as they have the knowledge and authority to inform and back up their posts. Keep this mind whether you start to actively seek out guest posters, or wait for them to come to you.

Be suspicious of unsolicited guest post offers.

Once you start featuring guest bloggers, or establishing a greater online presence, you may start receiving emails from people interested in writing guest posts. Although it can be a great way to discover new, talented writers, make sure you do your homework with each writer. Ask for links to sites they’ve contributed to or blogs they’ve written to make sure that they can actually create a good final product, and that they’re not looking to just promote their own product.

Make sure that their posts are in line with your mission.

This should go without saying, but you’ve worked hard to establish a certain reputation with your brand and your content. A lot of hard work has gone into getting your brand to where it is today, so make sure that what they’re offering you is in line with what you’ve been building. It’s your blog — you should have the final say regarding what goes on it. Speaking of which…

Keep an eye out for unnatural links within the posts.

You’ve probably come across blogs that are filled to the brim with unnatural or irrelevant links. They’re usually poorly written and the links provided don’t expand on the topic at all. Make sure that any links included in your guest writers’ blogs are actually relevant and work to either explain the topic further, provide additional reading or cite a specific piece of information. If the links they’re providing only amount to spam, it’s time to intervene. If you don’t, it’ll only make you and your site look bad.

Include an author bio or intro paragraph for your writer.

Why should your readers read this guest post? Is the guest blogger a well-known thought leader in your industry? Does the guest blogger offer a fresh take on the topic? Be sure to include the blogger’s stats in a mini bio or a paragraph introducing the post. Not only will you be giving the readers a reason to keep reading, you’ll also be giving your blogger the credit and respect that he or she deserves.

Now that you’ve got great guest blogs, continue to up your content marketing game even more with our helpful guides.