What is behind guest blog articles?

Over the last 12 months, SafetyAtWorkBlog has received many unsolicited “guest posts” and almost all of these include links back to commercial sites that have some relationship to the author.  I consider this advertising and reject the posts.  However the writers and, sometime, public relations agencies could be coming cleverer.  The following article is not about workplace safety per se but if safety professionals and others are going to rely on safety information available on social media, Facebook, blogs etc. it is essential they can have faith in the reliability of this information.  Below is a record of a brief search for such reliability in a blog article submission, a search for reliability that all blog owners should consider.

An unsolicited guest post was submitted to SafetyAtWorkBlog by Brooke Kerwin on 6 March 2012.  A sample article was requested with a brief profile of the author.  An article was received entitled “Employees in Automobile Industry Face Changing Safety with Technology“.  The article ( that “I have written specifically for your blog”) contained three links – two to category links within the SafetyAtWorkBlog and one to distracteddrivinghelp.com.  The third link actually related to the subject matter of this article but as there was no profile provided for Brooke Kerwin, I searched for the name through the internet.

On March 8 2012, Brooke Kerwin had a guest post published at Rethinking Patient Safety.  That article had one link to the Rethinking Patient Safety blog, a link to National Patient Safety Week and a third link to distracteddrivinghelp.com.

On March 8 2012, Brook Kerwin had another guest post published this time at teensagainstdistracteddriving.com.  The article was called ” The New Car Distraction: Tablets and iPads”.  The article had three links – two to earlier articles in that blog and a third, as a potential example of distracted driving, to distracteddrivinghelp.com.

The last example of this coincidence  relates to an article “Distractions in the Car: An Issue for Teens, Children and Parents“.  The author is described as

“… a creative writer from Central Michigan University. As an aspiring writer she specializes in writing about local community issues.”

This child safety blog article, posted also on March 8 2012, again has two links from the blog and a link through to distracteddrivinghelp.com

Who is Brooke Kerwin?  SafetyAtWorkBlog has asked her again for an author profile and has yet to receive anything.  A profile on the Rethinking Patient Safety website says something similar to the quote above:

“Brooke Kerwin is a recent graduate from Central Michigan University looking to excel in creative writing post-college. Her writing topics often span subjects such as community and health issues, as well as technology. Brooke has taken specific interest in patient safety because of past experiences with family members in the hospital and the growing importance of awareness on the subject.”

The search capacity on the Central Michigan University (CMU) website lists lots of students named Brooke but no students named Brooke Kerwin. CMU does at least have a creative writing course.

Internet searches only turn up guest blog articles by Brooke Kerwin.  Not all the articles include a link to the distracted driving website but almost all do.  One guest blog article states that Brooke Kerwin is associated with the Distracted Driving Help website

Like so many websites and blogs today, there are no details listed in the  distracted driving site  about who runs it.  The “contact” page is only an email form to a webmaster.  The website has a Facebook page that, coincidentally, was created on 9 March 2012 and has no details of authorship.

A Whois search shows the  Distracted Driving Help’s domain name was created on 15 January 2012 and lists the registrant as

“Richard Newsome
201 S. Orange Ave
Suite 1500
Orlando, Florida 32801
United States”

That exact address is also the business address of Newsome Melton, a law firm that specialises in cases that seeks recompense for “needless, preventable injury” and is led by Rich Newsome.  A search of the Newsome Melton website reveals no one named Brooke Kerwin but Rich Newsome has written in his blog about distracted driving back in February 2012.  No mention of his new website though.

There are many uncertainties surrounding the submission of articles by Brooke Kerwin, too many for me to currently approve her article for the SafetyAtWorkBlog.  But I suspect that this one instance illustrates the potential unreliability of some of the articles that are submitted to, and accepted by, the operators of social media sites.  The internet and social media are wonderful in providing a platform for people to express opinions, report news and share information but there are very few editorial rules except for those we impose on ourselves.

Kevin Jones

Note: Brooke Kerwin was asked via email about whether there was any relationship between her and the Distracted Driving website and Rich Newsome, but after a week, no response has been received.

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Categories advertising, Blog, distraction, OHS, research, safety, transportTags , ,

11 thoughts on “What is behind guest blog articles?”

  1. This may be a bit left of field however I am wondering if there are
    any other ladies that have trained and received a job as a security guard.
    I am quite curious but the physicality of the jobs is a bit intimidating
    to me.

  2. One of my comments above mentioned the appearance of a Kerwin article at a biking blog. That blog has removed the links in Kerwin’s article as:

    “It has all the hallmarks of a particularly devious SEO marketing campaign. And I apparently fell for it, along with a number of other people.

    I won’t include a link to that site here, because I don’t believe in rewarding such illicit attempts to use this site to market a product or website.”

    Bravo

  3. Riskex, I have received similar comments to yours by email from bloggers and discussion list moderators. Requests similar to Kerwin’s are being automatically rejected and/or added to spam filters.

  4. Justin, I get almost daily article submissions intended to establish cross-promotion. That was not the case with Brooke Kerwin. The article she submitted included a link to a distracted driving website that I believed was unnecessary. Kerwin refused to provide anything more than the most basic author biography so I googled her and found distinct similarities with her writings on other that caused me to question the validity of her submission.

    On 6 March, Kerwin emailed me the following

    “Good morning! I wanted to send you a quick message and see if I would be able to write a guest article on your site. As a recent college graduate majoring in creative writing, I am very passionate about writing for sites like yours. I feel that I could write a compelling article that would be of great interest to the readers of your blog.”

    No mention of links. No mention of cross promotion. Kerwin was not being honest or upfront with me about her motivation for submitting an article.

    In a comment above, Adam says that advertising is not the primary aim of such article submissions but I contend that this is advertising, even if the promotion is for a site that may be promoting a good cause. I think there are sufficient circumstantial links between the Distracted Driving website and Brooke Kerwin’s articles to assert free advertising of the website is the aim of Kerwin’s articles. The advertising context should have been mentioned in the initial and subsequent emails.

  5. Adam, I have looked into Search Engine Optimisation and am well aware of the importance of links but my article is not a criticism of this process, although it is a process that I would be wary of unless I was running a commercial website, which the SafetyAtWorkBlog is not.

    My focus was on the dubious integrity of the guest blog article and how the uncritical acceptance of such articles may affect the credibility of a blog. If I was to accept Brooke Kerwin’s article, I would be giving Kerwin’s thoughts and comments some legitimacy due to its appearance on my blog, legitimacy that some basic background checking has raised serious questions over.

    I accept that blogs come in very different contexts from the comical, personal and satirical, to the purely commercial. SafetyAtWorkBlog has always operated on a professional editorial basis where issues are reported on or raised for discussion. Sometimes these articles are intended to be controversial and confronting. Just as the use of Kerwin’s article on this blog would have provided some legitimacy, the use would also have affected the credibility of this blog that I have been building for almost 4 years.

    I was not prepared to allow that but clearly many blog editors and administrators apply different standards.

  6. I don’t see the problem. She offered you an article in return for a link and also put 2 links to your own site within that very article and every other article she writes. Guest posts opportunities offer your website to great fresh new original content as well as help drive traffic to your site. Seems like a win-win situation to me.

  7. Hi Kevin, I’m a web marketer from the UK and found your website part of a social media search for health and safety blogs.

    The answer to your question is that SEO is behind these guest blogging articles that you’re being sent.

    Because you’ve probably not looked into SEO all that much (I’m guessing) you may find the whole approach a little strange but it is fast becoming one of the only ways that companies can legitimately build links to their website’s that the search engines such as Google are happy to accept. (Hence it’s on the rise, so expect more of these approaches in the future)

    When you say “I consider this advertising and reject the posts.” you need to understand that this isn’t their primary aim.

    The companies that want their articles published on your blog aren’t necessarily after the “click-thru traffic” that these links may provide. There is a more valuable purpose associated with these links.

    Links (on the whole) are what search engines use to determine whether a site should be trusted and is relevant for the keywords that they are attempting to rank for.
    The more links a website receives, from as many different websites as possible, is a signal to Google that the website should be trusted, once you have gained this trust the search engines will start to rank your website’s pages higher for the keywords that site is targeting. In your case they are looking to rank for “distracted driving” and other terms around this topic.

    Google has recently penalised lots of other forms of manually created link building as they believe them to be un-natural. That said done right guest blogging should be beneficial to both yourself and the company who wants the links back to their website.

    Benefits to you the site owner:
    1. Great free content that your audience should appreciate and may link to so building your websites rankings.
    2. More organic search traffic to your website when these articles rank in the search engines

    Benefits to the companies:
    1. Build their websites ranking through a highly valued backlink with keyword rich anchor text.
    2. Potential to grow their readership from people visiting their site and finding it useful
    3. Potential to sell products to this newly acquired traffic and audience

    To wrap it up you are in control as the editor and you should pick only the most relevant and best articles that will make you audience happy.

    And if you’d like to grow the audience to this website, then try guest blogging on someone elses blog for yourself. 😉

    Hope this helps and clears up why your getting these requests.

    NOTE: Do a search in Google for: allintitle:”guest post” safety
    and take a look at how some high profile companies and industry leaders use this form of link building in your industry. So don’t fear it, but do continue to bin the low quality articles that are not relevant to your audience. 😉

  8. Just checked back and I have had a few emails from that person between 6th and 8th March – offering me the exact same article you were given but rebadged as “Workplace Automobile Safety” – i told her it was boring and of little value to our readers. Contained 3 links to: worksafe, my blog and distracteddrivinghelp

  9. Great article and good research Kevin! I have likewise been inundated by these requests and many have links back to personal injury lawyers. I have probably naively accepted them in the past as some are well written. However, for the most part they are rubbish and benefit no-one except those getting extra google juice via backlinks. I make it a rule now to delete, on first pass, any requests coming from dodgy gmail or hotmail email accounts, then second pass any with links to unrelated sites.

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