Sponsored Articles and SEO

Sponsored Articles and SEO

Link building has been one of the most important Google search engine ranking factors for years. By getting high-quality links from different domains, you can improve your site’s visibility in organic results. How do you know that a link from a given site is valuable and another will not bring you any profit? Check how to rate it and discover what sponsored articles are.

What Is a Sponsored Article?

Perhaps you associated sponsored article mainly with a paid text, in which a company or a product is advertised in a very aggressive way. In fact, such a form is actually possible, however, recently it is becoming less common practice. Above all, the purpose of publications is really important.

Sometimes it is just a form of informing users of a given website that a company was launched or introduced new products to its offer. Often, sponsored article are a great way for their authors to provide valuable content related to their business activity. For example, a real estate company conducts a market analysis and presents its results in a sponsored article. Of course, it is also possible that such content will be posted for free, as long as publishers of a web portal consider it to be valuable. Then it was more a guest posting rather than a sponsored article.

Currently, the most common solution for such publications is to combine a valuable content with a mention of a given brand. Why? In this case, it is possible that:

  • reader will get familiar with the whole article, find out who is its author and maybe visit his/her website;
  • once user reads the content, he/she will share the article in social media or insert a link to it on his/her blog.

In the case of typical advertising content, in which it is known from the very first sentences that the article is intended to promote business and it doesn’t provide any valuable knowledge, user will probably quickly become discouraged from reading and will simply leave the page.

Sponsored articles can be a great way of building backlink profile of a website. As you already know, backlinks are one of the most important Google ranking factors.

However, according to law regulations in many countries, paid content on websites should be marked as sponsored article, affiliate material or otherwise. If links from such articles can have a positive effect on website visibility, what rules Google recommends to follow?

According to the recommendations provided by this search engine, backlinks to a website should only be obtained naturally, i.e. by creating valuable content users are more likely to link to your articles on their websites. Backlinks obtained in other ways should be properly marked. In 2005, Google introduced the rel=”nofollow” attribute to reduce the amount of spam, which used to appear in comments on websites just to gain links that have impact on ranking in the organic results.

Link with the “nofollow” attribute should look like this:

<a href=https://webaddress.com ref=”nofollow”>Link title</a>

14 years later, Google introduced new types of links, which were partially intended to replace the above-mentioned type. Here I mean rel=”sponsored”, which should appear with paid links, i.e. in sponsored articles, and rel=”ugc” (user-generated content), which Google suggests to use for links in comments and forum messages. Links with these attributes don’t enhance the power of SEO but are used by Google for the search ranking.

Do webmasters use new attributes on their websites? Some of them probably do, but mostly they are not so commonly used. Likewise, where you can leave an active link to your site in comments, they will most often have the “nofollow” attribute, but you can also find many web portals where you can get a “dofollow” link through a comment.

Are Sponsored Articles a Good Idea?

With no doubt, sponsored articles are a valuable form of online marketing. Here are the greatest advantages of sponsored articles:

  • You build brand recognition – you can post quality content on well-known portals so that users will be interested in your company and perhaps turn into its customers.
  • You pay the cost according to your budget – it’s not an expensive advertising form. You decide how much money you are willing to spend and choose websites or web portals on which you post content.
  • You boost your SEO – you can get external links directly from sponsored articles, and if they are valuable, bloggers will link to them from their sites, increasing the power of these links. It is also possible that they will link to the company’s site that created interesting content.Increase online sales with SEO process

Posting Sponsored Articles – Where to Start?

So, you already know the advantages of publishing sponsored articles, but do you know what and how to do? You have several options. First of all, you can contact the publishers of each portal and ask about the possibility of publishing your content. Most often they will give you a positive answer and you will receive various propositions.

However, this is a way that can only work if you do such activities for one or a maximum of several websites. When there are more of such websites, you may have difficulty in managing all your contacts and articles. Then a good solution is content marketing platforms that help at preparing sponsored articles.

What are the most important advantages of using them? You do not need to contact the publishers directly – once you log in you can make an order at the specified price and wait for its publication. All published sponsored articles can also be found in one panel, so you don’t have to worry that you forgot where you bought the sponsored publication and if it was actually published. Another important aspect: you get access to publications in large, well-known portals, to which normally it is not enough to just send an email to the publishers or try to contact the decision-makers and make an order.

Content marketing platforms have, of course, also drawbacks.  They charge a commission, which increases publication costs; usually, not all publishers will offer you a more attractive price, however, it will probably be cheaper. What’s more, content marketing platforms set a publication deadline; unfortunately, it doesn’t mean that publishers comply with them. Sometimes it may even happen that you will have to intervene in this matter by yourself.

So to sum up: if you want to have several sponsored articles published per month, you can do so by contacting your publishers directly instead of using content marketing platforms. However, if you plan a larger-scale marketing campaign, then using such platforms can be very helpful.

Where to Publish Sponsored Articles?

Since publications can provide backlinks that will increase visibility in the search results, this raises the question of how to choose from thousands of websites where obtaining backlinks will really benefit?

Let’s start with the parameters to which platform users pay attention, i.e. which specific parameters should determine the choice of an appropriate website.  Linkhouse has prepared a very exhaustive report, in which you can find quite a lot of useful information concerning the parameters of sponsored articles. As it turns out, the most popular search criteria are at least:

  • Trust Flow – 19.
  • Domain Rating – 28.
  • Web traffic – 24,000.
  • Visibility according to Senuto – 4,000.
  • Reffering Domains – 120.

The study lists parameters that come from different SEO tools. These are:

  • Trust Flow – indicator from Majestic.com. This metric determines the level of authority of a domain. The higher the Trust Flow, the better the link profile a domain has.
  • Domain Rating – this metric from Ahrefs is quite similar to the one mentioned above. So theoretically, the higher it is, the more powerful and reliable the domain is. In our opinion, it is worth to rely on it and publish articles preferably on web portals that have a higher Domain Rating than a site you are linking to.
  • Traffic – i.e. the number of unique users per month. However, it is important whether that amount is just declared by a publisher or web traffic is confirmed by some statistics. In such cases, it is also worthwhile to check what is the web traffic on a given website according to such tools as Ahrefs or SEMrush.
  • Visibility according to Senuto – i.e. the result obtained in the SEO tool Senuto (SEMrush will also be a great tool for checking visibility). It reveals the number of keywords for which a domain appears in TOP50 of the Google search results. In Senuto and SEMrush, you can also check the number of keywords in TOP10 and TOP3.
  • Referring Domains – the number of unique linking domains linking according to Majestic (you can also check it in Ahrefs).

When it comes to the length of content provided by advertisers, the data are as follows:

  • average article length – 3,963 characters including spaces,
  • the longest published article – 28,033 characters including spaces,
  • the shortest published article: 601 characters including spaces.

However, when preparing content, keep in mind that most often publishers specify what the minimum length of an article should be.

So should you follow the above metrics and parameters, which are most often set at this level by users? In practice, analyzing the value of a domain and searching for websites where it is worthwhile to publish an article with a link is a time-consuming and difficult task, which is why having experience plays an important role here. By publishing sponsored articles on websites, you can observe what effects it brings. What’s more, if getting a link on a given website was a good idea a month ago, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it will be the same today.

Users accurately introduce minimum values for several parameters, as this minimizes the risk of making a mistake and focusing on a domain where posting a sponsored article will have no effect. What you need to remember is that the Google algorithm doesn’t really care about the parameters used by Majestic SEO or Ahrefs – high score of the parameters doesn’t always mean that such a link will improve the visibility in the Google search results. Other important issues are:

  • The effect of links from sponsored articles should be analyzed from 1 to about 30 days. It is possible that the change resulted from obtaining such backlink will be visible on the next day, or it may be observed only after one month. Remember that analyzing a given domain is not a simple thing to do, as many factors influence the power of the domain. For this reason it is worthwhile to conduct the analysis not only once, e.g. on the day after the publication of your article, but also in a week or even 3 weeks.  Only then can the results be measured.
  • One link can’t do wonders – even if you get an expensive sponsored article from a popular web portal, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it will result in higher positions. It all depends on your expectations. If your website was in a distant position in the search results, it is likely that obtaining such a link will improve your ranking, but probably you will not reach the first position if right now your website is, for example, in the second position. It’s best to focus on a few keywords and create publications mainly for phrases that are already in TOP10.
  • The number of links in an article – most often publishers limit the number of links in an article to 1, 2 or 3, but you may also find web portals that have different rules. This does not mean, of course, that you should add 20 links in a single article. Well, you can do it, just don’t expect that it will improve the visibility in Google organic results.
  • Links can also cause harm – some time ago, Google reported that poor quality links will not have an impact on ranking, as they are ignored by the algorithm. However, our observations show something completely different. Links from, let’s say, “toxic” domains can be harmful, so link building campaign must be carefully planned.

Certainly, paying attention to just one parameter is not the best solution. Let’s take a look at the example below. This is data on a domain we checked in the Senuto tool. A sponsored article there costs several dozen of dollars, so theoretically it seems like a pretty good offer.

Sponsored articles senuto

But if you look at the visibility, you’ll see a quite significant decrease. What was the reason for that? Is a domain like this really worth your attention just because it has a high Trust Flow score? In this case, it is certainly not possible to estimate whether a sponsored article on such a domain will have a positive impact on the visibility of your site.

Senuto artykuły sponsorowane

A common opinion related to the choice of websites for publication of sponsored articles is to post an article on websites which have high visibility in the search results. Theoretically, since the visibility is increasing and the web portal has been gaining in popularity for a long time, this should mean that for Google it is a trusted domain and the publication of a sponsored article with link(s) should bring results. Surely this approach can minimize the risk that spending a huge amount of money on a sponsored article will bring benefits, but will it always be so?

Here is one of the websites on which you can buy a publication in a content marketing platform. Take a look at the chart below.

sponsored articles publication

As you can see, the site had some ups and downs, has 1.5 thousand phrases in Google TOP50 and overall its visibility is increasing. The problem is that the last non-sponsored article was published in this domain in 2017. So can you be sure that publishing here will have any effect? Probably not.

Publishing Sponsored Articles – Useful Tips

So now you know which criteria are being taken into account by clients who use the Linkhouse platform. Here are some of our suggestions to consider:

  • Thanks to sponsored articles you get more traffic to your website – well, that’s possible, however, you should consider what you write about. If you publish on a popular website with very good parameters, it shouldn’t be difficult to get high positions for non-competitive keywords. Choose a long-tail keyword, which according to tools such as Senuto or SEMrush have at least a hundred searches per month. Don’t exhaust the topic in your article – send users to your site. Even if you get a dozen redirects per month in that way, it’s still worth it.
  • Beware of websites with duplicated content – in the databases of the mentioned platforms you can find portals that have great SEO parameters and quite good price. When you read their content, however, it turns out that all the articles that at first look “normal” come from other sites. These are, for example, information from public authorities’ websites, while other content is sponsored publications. It is quite likely that buying a sponsored article will have a positive effect on SEO, but there is a high risk that over time such a website will lose Google’s trust.
  • Websites with sponsored articles only – when searching for websites on which to publish content, you can find websites where for a long time no articles other than sponsored content can be found. It is better to avoid such websites. In this case too, even if the effects of the publication are visible for a while, the website may quickly lose search engine trust.
  • Publication period – a publisher may specify that he/she guarantees publication, e.g. for only 12 months and then the article will be removed. Another option is the availability of the article until the website exists. It is recommended to post content primarily where it remains permanently.
  • Publication in an existing article – some websites allow you to add links in already existing sponsored articles. It can also give a great SEO effect. If a publisher doesn’t limit the choice of articles to which you can add your link, then select the content related to the topic of your site. To insert a link it’s best to choose one of the most visited subpages. You can check it with, for example, SEMrush. Information you get will help you choose one of the subpages that have high visibility in the Google search results and users read this content.

It is definitely worth investing in sponsored publications, however, it should be well planned.

It is better to publish a few articles on valuable websites than several dozen on preselling pages. Keep in mind that a site that was only created for advertising purposes loses interest over time, and a lack of revenue may cause the abonent not to prolong the domain and then the site will no longer exist.

Delante is an online marketing agency specialized in generating website traffic from search engines and paid ads (SEO / SEM). Over 80% of our clients are from rapidly growing e-commerce industry.
Comments (3)
  1. Nice tips! When I was looking for a website to get a sponsored article I was surprised that there’s so many that earn on sponsored posts and don’t have anything else posted. Good you mention that on the tips – it just doesn’t look good for the brand to be included in such a website I think.

  2. An interesting read and good tips to filter good sites from the pool of bad sites out there.

    It seems there are many bloggers that create website for the sake of publishing guest posts only.

  3. If you’ve paid for the content on another website (such as sponsoring a post), Google requires that any links back to your site be “nofollow” links. Hence, you can reach new audiences by sponsoring posts on other sites, but you won’t get any “link juice” that will help your PageRank by doing so.

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