11 Industry Experts Weigh in on Major Factors Behind Content Rejection

Abbas Rajani
Abbas Rajani

11 Industry Experts Weigh in on Major Factors Behind Content Rejection

A few weeks ago, I shared with you “8 Reasons Why Your Guest Blog Submissions Are Getting Rejected,” so you could learn how to put your best foot forward during outreach to major big name platforms such as The Huffington Post, Entrepreneur, Inc., and The New York Times.

Today, I want to continue with some feedback from top editors and blog owners I’ve consulted across the industry. There’s no better way to enhance your strategy than by learning from those who review and submit awesome content on a regular basis.

Without further ado:

What Experts Say Lead to Content Rejection


Neil Patel

1. Neil Patel

Co-Founder of Crazy Egg

Writers aren’t taking the time to understand the publisher’s guidelines. Even if they don’t publish them online, you can get a sense of what they are looking for by reading some of their most popular pieces of content.

From topic ideas, to how content should be structured to even length limits, you can learn a lot by just analyzing website’s existing content.

If you don’t do this before you submit a post, there is a good chance it will get rejected.

Don’t miss Neil’s post on “3 Easy Hacks That Will Make Any Article 10x Better.”

Veronica Jarski

2. Veronica Jarski

Senior Content Editor at MarketingProfs

The biggest factors for my rejecting an article are…

Lack of clarity

Why did the author write this thing?

The author does not have a clearly defined point. I can’t see the reason for the article, any support for whatever vague point is made, nor a clear kickback ending.

Some articles ramble endlessly or bury the lede far, far from the beginning of the article.

Sloppy mistakes

Why didn’t the author proofread or spell check this thing?

The document sent to me is sent with “View tracking changes” or with red and blue lines everywhere, pointing out all the grammatical and spelling errors out to me.

You don’t need to be a grammarian to write a good article, but you do need to know basic punctuation, spelling, and the names of the people, brands, or corporations mentioned in your article.

I’ll forgive a couple, but once the tally is high, I lose interest. If the author didn’t care that much about the article, why should I?


Why is the author telling me the same thing that everyone else is saying?

The article sent is B-O-R-I-N-G because the topic has been covered kajillion times in the exact same way. Nothing’s fresh or exciting or quirky or interesting.

For example, I already know that social media is popular and that mobile is catching on like wildfire. Tell me something new about all that.


Why is the author using fancy-shmancy gobbledygook?

Authors forget that this editor is a human. I laugh, cry, smile, get ticked off, zone out, etc. So, an article slathered in buzzwords or academic phrasing isn’t going to cut it.

I’m a person. Write to a person.

Brittany Berger


3. Brittany Berger

Head of Content and PR at Mention

The most common reason I’ll turn down an article is if it doesn’t follow the style and formatting guidelines.

While something like title case vs. sentence case for your headers may not seem like a big deal, that kind of stuff is the most annoying to edit, in my opinion.

You’re not helping the blogger become a better writer, or necessarily making the post more valuable. You’re just fixing things from when someone didn’t follow directions.

And even though they’re small, easy fixes, they can be some of the most time-consuming to go through and change!

Sara-Ruth Wolkiewicz


4. Sara-Ruth Wolkiewicz

Editor-in-Chief at GetResponse

A major factor is deciding whether an article should or should not be published is the writer’s ability to follow the guidelines and their interest in the blog they’re reaching out to.

Too often, I see guest bloggers who don’t know the audience they’re writing for.

When an author lacks the respect and care to read up on the blog they’d like to send an article to – it makes me think that their text will not bring significant value to readers.

What’s more, some authors are too proud to read the guidelines they receive. So in the end, they simply don’t fulfill the criteria they need to meet in order to interest the editors.

Tara Clapper


5. Tara Clapper

Technical Editor at SEMrush

I reject unsolicited pieces more frequently than I reject pitches.

It really helps when writers ask for what we need and then provide a few pitches that could fill the gap. While I consider unsolicited submission for the SEMrush Blog, these are less likely to be accepted (or featured or heavily promoted) versus a post the guest blogger crafts with my guidance.

While the SEMrush Blog publishes 101 content, we already have a lot of it, so I do reject for 101 content that offers no new information to our readers.

Every week, I get at least two submissions that are clearly rewrites of Neil Patel blogs.

We don’t accept rewrites. Instead, writers should take a new angle on a fascinating point an existing influencer provides, crediting and linking back to the original post.

Don’t be Neil Patel – be the person who takes a new approach on his existing authority.

I dislike submissions that do not include specific examples, statistics, screenshots or case studies. Without those, most content is just fluff.

If I’m on the fence about whether to accept a post, here are some other things I look for:

The writer seems flexible and responsive, meaning a revision would not feel like an inconvenience for either of us, but part of the editorial process.

The writer’s presence on social platforms, especially ones other than Facebook and Twitter.


Nicole Hess

6. Nicole Hess

Director of Strategy at Greenlane Search Marketing, LLC

Collaboration and Timeliness.

I find that content is often disqualified because the author being pitched is contacted at the last moment, with the content “ready to go!”

While it may seem logical to only reach out after a piece is ready (i.e. build it and then market what you built), the authors should be considered as part of the builders.

After all, they are producing the quality content that you want your piece shared in. So use their expertise to help build the amazing content that will be what they want to share and need to share – which moves us to the second factor, timeliness.

While your content may be one of the best pieces ever AND you set out to get feedback while creating the piece, it still has to align with the current needs of the author.

Some authors have assignments planned out for the upcoming week and some may have them planned for the month while others will need to pitch their bosses for approval to write about your idea.

I always try to be considerate of their production timelines.

And the best results typically happen when you’ve built a relationship with the authors you want to collaborate with before you have a piece to promote!

David Schneider

7. David Schneider

Co-Founder at Ninja Outreach

I think mostly articles are rejected because they are not properly personalized. It’s not just about getting the person’s name and website right, but crafting an article just for them.

I regularly receive pitches that say “I wrote this article, would you like to post it?” That tells me they’re just shopping around. Now it could be fine if the article is a winner, but often it isn’t.

Other times they say, “I’ll write you a custom article,” but they don’t have any ideas. This basically means they’re shopping around too, just to get acceptances, and then will do the work of coming up with article types.

I’ll be honest, I’ve done these before myself at times, probably everyone has. It’s lazy and it works some of the time but not for the top publications.

For the top publications you have to say – this is your blog, this is your audience, this article is what will work well – for you.

Michele Linn

8. Michele Linn

Vice President of Content at Content Marketing Institute

We receive many submissions for our blog at Content Marketing Institute, and there are a multitude of factors that go into our decisions about what to run, but here are some of the top reasons why we reject posts:

  • The post is not written for our mission and audience. Our blog focuses on advancing the practice of content marketing for enterprise marketers, and it’s surprising how many posts we receive that are not about content marketing.

  • The post does not drive to a singular point. These are posts that appear to be focusing on one topic, but as we read, the focus shifts. By the end, we’re not sure what the main point was.

  • The post lacks specific advice on what a reader can do today. (Our blog focuses on how-to posts, so this is critical for us.)

  • The post is too general and does not provide ideas we have not seen many times.

Of course, we also make sure that posts are original, aren’t promotional, and aren’t full of link bait as well.

Many publications have guidelines that have been crafted purposefully (we recently updated ours) so be certain you read those as well.

Alexandra Tachalova

9. Alexandra Tachalova

Digital Marketing Consultant at

Here are some elements which might lead to a lack of success in pitching for any blog:

  • Poor content, with a lack of genuine insights. By this, I mean that a powerful piece should reveal something new, which is why I’m sure that the most popular content is based on real researchers.

  • Not investing in a proper investigation, and not building relationships. You really need to spend your time making sure that your content fits the blog’s audience; you must also take some time to follow the people working on this blog, in order to become visible to them.

  • Pitching for blogs which are too far removed from your current level of authority.

That is more work but will have more reward.

Moosa Hemani

10. Moosa Hemani

Inbound Governor at SEtalks

I write in many other places other than I’m not ashamed to admit that many outlets have refused me but instead of adding the editors in my black list, I learned from mistakes and got better.

I think there are a lot of things that editors consider before accepting or rejecting posts. If you take care of those things, chances are 99% of the time your posts will be accepted and go live accordingly.

Tone and Style

Every blog has its own tone and style of writing. The way I write on my blog is very different from the posts I have written on blogs like SEMRush and

The key technique is to pick up and understand the tone and style of writing in blogs. If you can’t do that then bloggers will reject you regardless of how good your content piece looks!


Sometimes people are too busy to read and research. At times, in order to find some new links from the website, all they do is re-word existing information in their own words. I face this on my own blog, and I am sure I am not the only one.

The only way to deal with them is to say “No.” Loud and Clear!

Bad Outreach email

Even before you send the post, the editor reads your outreach email and if it’s not personalized and grammatically correct, you hardly stand a chance. We all received these kinds of emails every day and one day I decided to reply to one of them.

Speaking from experience, if you spend some time reading the blog, understand the editor’s mindset, you will see less and less rejections with the passage of time.

Jess Ostroff

11. Jess Ostroff

Managing Editor at Convince & Convert

My main factors in rejecting an article are these:

  • Poor grammar, spelling issues, or misusing industry terms are my first clue that perhaps the author isn’t well-versed in the business and won’t be able to clearly communicate his or her ideas to our audience.

  • If the article is too basic, it won’t resonate with our audience. We speak to mostly social media and digital marketing managers, people who are in the trenches of marketing work each and every day. They’re looking for information about new trends, data and research that backs up best practices, and new insights into specific strategies, not how to use Twitter for the first time.

  • This is an obvious one, but I can tell pretty quickly if an author has never read an article on our site. This means that they either send me something completely off-the-mark content-wise (I once got a post about fraternity and sorority gear) or sends me something that includes similar ideas to an article we just published. The craziest example was someone who sent us a post that basically disputed all the points that Jay Baer makes in Youtility. I don’t think he realized Convince & Convert was Jay Baer’s site!

  • Finally, if a person is too persistent in their follow-ups, it makes it difficult to get through the review process. We get anywhere between 10 and 50 submissions per day, and it takes time to weed through them. Emailing over and over again doesn’t get your article to the top of the pile, it pushes it down! If you really want to be published, patience is a virtue.
Abbas Rajani

Abbas Rajani

Abbas Rajani is an Inbound and SEO Strategist at Pac and Copy Plus, a digital marketing agency and a blogger at Visiblup. Follow @abbas_rajani for more digital marketing updates.