Sponsored Articles and SEO: Best Tips & Mistakes to Avoid

9min.

Comments:4

Sponsored Articles and SEO: Best Tips & Mistakes to Avoidd-tags
31 October 2023
Link building has always been a big deal for Google rankings. When other websites link to yours, it helps you show up higher in Google searches. But how can you assess the quality of a backlink? How do you know it doesn’t harm your website? That’s where sponsored articles come in. Let’s break down the basics of link quality and see how sponsored articles and SEO can help you rank higher.

9min.

Comments:4

You might have heard of sponsored articles as in-your-face ads, but the truth is, these pieces of writing offer way more than that. You’ll probably agree that today’s campaigns are less about hard selling. They’re more about providing valuable information, building trust with your audience, and creating a genuine connection between your brand and potential customers.

But that’s more to it.

When you combine sponsored articles and SEO, it can help you become visible to your target audience not only by being featured on another website but also by improving the authority of your website. And once you work on your website’s authority, you increase your chances of reaching the top spots in the SERPs.

With that being said, let’s see…

What Is a Sponsored Article and How Can It Help Your SEO?

Sponsored articles are pieces of writing created to promote a product, service, or brand, but without hard-sell tactics. Instead, they aim to inform, educate, and engage the audience, creating a two-way conversation.

So, how do they help your SEO?

Well, first you need to know how to create a converting sponsored article. When it’s ready, your well-crafted sponsored article can be strategically placed on authoritative web pages, offering quality backlinks to your website. These backlinks act as digital votes of confidence for your content, positively affecting your search engine rankings.

Plus, they can drive more organic traffic to your website.

When Do Sponsored Articles Make Sense for SEO?

Sponsored articles are most effective in SEO when your target keywords are already performing well. Before using sponsored articles to improve these keywords, it’s a good idea to get them into the top 10 search results with other safe link building strategies.

Use sponsored articles to improve your existing rankings rather than relying on them as the main way to achieve high search rankings. This way, you can get the most out of sponsored articles while keeping your SEO secure.

By doing this, you make sure that your link building outreach remains safe and follows Google’s guidelines.

How Will You Know If a Sponsored Article Does Its Job?

Assessing the effectiveness of a sponsored article involves looking at its impact on both SEO and your online reputation (ePR).

The primary goal of a sponsored article is often to improve your website’s SEO, right? So your task here is to track how your website’s metrics change before and after acquiring the valuable backlink from the sponsored article. Simply, keep a close look at how it influences your target page’s search engine ranking. At Delante, we meticulously track the performance of each backlink to ensure that our Clients’ budgets aren’t wasted on links that don’t deliver results.

You must also realize that in order to have any impact on your target page, the sponsored article and its associated link must be indexed by search engines. Without indexing, the sponsored link won’t contribute to your SEO efforts at all.

So, after your article is indexed, think about reindexing your target page that the sponsored link is supposed to promote. At Delante, we use tools backed by Google’s API to speed up this process.

Also, keep an eye on your website’s traffic to see if the sponsored article is driving visitors to your website. You can use website analytics tools like Google Analytics 4 to track the increase in traffic originating from the sponsored article.

Given the numerous advantages, are there any potential risks associated with publishing sponsored articles to enhance your SEO?

source: giphy

Are Sponsorship Mentions Always Valuable for SEO?

If you don’t follow Google’s rules, then, sadly, sponsored backlinks may cause you more damage than good.

Once again, unlike traditional advertising content that’s often a turn-off due to its blatant promotion, sponsored articles can be a different story. They offer a unique opportunity to significantly improve your website’s backlink profile – a crucial factor in Google’s ranking criteria.

However, sponsored articles, on their own, aren’t the best foundation for link building. Research has shown that websites with only sponsored and paid articles often suffer in terms of link quality.

Sponsored articles should complement the entire off-site SEO strategy but shouldn’t be its main focus. In other words, while sponsored articles can be a part of your SEO strategy, relying solely on them may harm your website’s SEO efforts.

So, always go by the book when acquiring a sponsored backlink. How can you do that? For example, in many countries, you’re required to clearly label paid content as “sponsored” or “affiliate material.” But Google has its recommendations, too.

According to the search engine giant, backlinks should ideally be earned naturally through valuable content that others want to link to. Google also says that:

Any links that are intended to manipulate rankings in Google Search results may be considered link spam. This includes any behavior that manipulates links to your site or outgoing links from your site.

Google Spam Policies for Google Web Search

The good news is that Google acknowledges the common practice of buying and selling links for advertising and sponsorship on the Internet. To make the process legit, they’ve introduced the attributes: “rel=sponsored” for paid links like those in sponsored articles and “rel=ugc” for user-generated content, like links in comments and forums.

Remember that using sponsored articles to make your website more authoritative for bots isn’t forbidden. However, if you have a go at things like blog networks, paid links, and comment spam, well, this won’t get you far. Sponsored mentions can be valuable for SEO, but always abide by the rules to make sure your SEO efforts stay on the right track. Otherwise, don’t be surprised when some of the Google Spam Updates will hit your website, dragging it down the SERPs.

Now you know what’s at stake, but most importantly, you know that publishing sponsored articles can help you rank higher, provided you follow the Google rules. So, now let’s see…

Where to Post Sponsored Articles for Improved SEO

Choosing the right platforms for posting sponsored articles can help you big time. You need to do this wisely because this way you make sure your content reach your target audience interested in your products or services, which can lead to higher engagement and better SEO results.

Also, high-authority websites boost your website’s credibility and search engine rankings, as they act as trusted sources endorsing your content. Sponsored links coming from reputable sources work wonders for your website’s ranking as quality platforms can give you significant link building benefits.

So, where should you consider posting your sponsored articles to get the best results? Here are the tips for picking the right platforms and websites for your sponsored articles. Start by looking for:
👉 relevant industry blogs and magazines
👉 high-domain authority websites
👉 guest posting platforms
👉 influencer blogs
👉 local business directories
👉 press release websites
👉 niche forums and communities

Be strategic in your choices because the platform you select can have a substantial impact on your results. Here’s what I mean…

Interestingly, the cost of a sponsored link and its metrics aren’t always the best indicators of a platform’s quality. This is because many domains publishing articles on a given topic may have artificially inflated metrics. What should you do then? My advice for you is to look at:

  • a domain’s history over the last three years,
  • its online visibility,
  • estimated traffic, and
  • indexation status.

Relying solely on metrics like Domain Rating (DR) or Domain Authority (DA) can be insufficient, and often misleading.

Actually, the relevance of a page where your backlink sits matters more than the relevance of the whole domain. In other words, it’s no longer just about the main topic of the website that is taken into consideration by bots while assessing the link quality but the context in which your link appears in an article. This shift in perspective means that the content of the specific link is more crucial than the whole website’s relevance, as it was once believed.

source: giphy

🧐 Think of a website as a library. In the past, we believed that the library’s entire collection had to be about a particular subject, like history. But now, search engines are more interested in the relevance of the individual books (here: the sponsored articles) within that library. So, even if the library mostly has history books, it’s the specific history book you choose to read that matters for your research. That’s how search engines see it too – they focus on the context of your link within a web page, not just the website’s general theme.

Avoiding Common Sponsored Links SEO Mistakes

If you want to make sure your sponsored links help your page rank higher in SERP, remember that Google doesn’t put much weight on metrics like those from Majestic SEO or Ahrefs. A high score on these metrics doesn’t guarantee improved visibility in Google search results.

This is one of the most common mistakes that people tend to make with their link building efforts. So if you want to avoid common sponsored links SEO pitfalls, consider doing the following:

TIP #1: Analyze Over Time
Assess the impact of sponsored links over a span of 1 to about 30 days. Changes may be immediate or take a month to become visible. Due to various factors influencing domain strength, it’s way better to analyze repeatedly, not just once, but say, a day after publication, then at one week, and even three weeks afterward.

TIP #2: Manage Expectations
Understand that one link alone won’t work miracles. If your website currently ranks far from the top, a sponsored article may boost your ranking, but it’s unlikely to push your website to the very top. Focus on a few keywords and create content for keywords that are already in the top 10 results.

TIP #3: Mind the Number of Links
Most publishers limit links in an article to 1, 2, or 3. Excessive links won’t necessarily improve your visibility in Google’s organic results.

TIP #4: Beware of Harmful Links
Not all sponsored links are beneficial for your SEO. Links from spammy domains can have a detrimental impact on your website. Plan your link building campaign carefully to avoid such domains.

TIP #5: Holistic Assessment
Don’t rely on a single parameter for evaluation. Consider a domain’s overall performance and its history – as mentioned above.

Indeed, focusing solely on one metric isn’t the best approach you can take while looking for the best place to sit your sponsored backlink. Let me give you an example.

A sponsored article on this domain costs around 45 dollars, which may seem like a good deal.

a screenshot showing a domain metric

[EN] TOP 3 / TOP 10 / TOP 50 / Visibility / Estimated Google Ads Cost ($45) / Ranking in Health and Fitness category

However, when you look at the visibility metric, you’ll notice a significant decrease. This raises questions. Is a domain worth your attention just because it has a high Trust Flow score?

In this case, it’s hard to predict whether a sponsored article on such a domain will positively impact your website’s visibility.

a graph showing a domain's sudden visibility drop

One common belief in choosing platforms for sponsored articles is to target websites with high visibility in search results. The idea is that a website gaining visibility over time indicates trust in Google’s eyes, and publishing a sponsored article with links should bring the desired results.

While this approach can minimize the risk of spending a lot on a sponsored article without benefits, it’s not a guarantee, sadly.

Below there’s a website where you can purchase a sponsored article on a content marketing platform. As you can see, this website has had fluctuations, ranks for 1,500 keywords in Google’s TOP 50, and its overall visibility is on the rise.

a visibility metric graph

[EN] TOP 3 / TOP 10 / TOP 50 / Visibility / Estimated Google Ads Cost ($10) / Ranking in Travel category

The catch is that the last non-sponsored article on this domain was published back in 2017. So, can you be certain that publishing here will have a positive impact on your website?

Probably not.

Summing Up: Sponsored Articles and SEO

Here are the top six key points to master the use of sponsored articles for improving your website’s ranking:

  • Don’t rely only on sponsored articles for building links. They should complement other link-building strategies, not be the main approach.
  • A successful sponsored article should help you improve your website’s SEO and online reputation. Measure its success by how it affects your target page’s ranking and track every sponsored link’s performance to avoid wasting money.
  • Make sure both the article and its link are indexed by search engines. Use tools that help with this and remember to reindex the target page after publishing.
  • Don’t trust metrics like Domain Rating (DR) or Domain Authority (DA) alone. Look at the domain’s history, visibility, traffic, and indexation over the past three years.
  • Focus on the article’s subject, not just the website’s overall relevance – Google values the context of a link within an article more.
  • Sponsored articles work best for keywords already in the top 10. Use other methods to get these keywords into the top 10 safely and in line with Google’s rules.

Ready to give sponsored articles a shot and boost your website’s ranking? It’s a smart move that can improve your online visibility, increase your website’s credibility, and drive more organic traffic.

And remember, if you ever need a hand with acquiring valuable sponsored links or enhancing your SEO strategy, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us. We’re here to help you achieve online success every step of the way.

This is the updated version of the article first published on August 18, 2020.

FAQ: Sponsored Articles and SEO

What are sponsored articles?

Sponsored articles are a form of collaboration between online businesses and online publishers. These articles are written by brands and then featured on a publisher’s website. They aim to offer valuable information or insights connected to the business/industry, and they include a backlink to the business’s website. In exchange, the hosting website usually receives payment or compensation.

How do sponsored articles affect your website’s SEO?

Sponsored articles give your SEO a boost by including backlinks to your website on other trusted websites. These sponsored links act like recommendations from other authoritative entities. The more quality backlinks you get from these articles, the better your SEO becomes.

What should you think about before using sponsored articles for SEO?

Before having a go at sponsored articles, think about

  • your SEO goals. Determine what you want to achieve with your SEO efforts. Are you aiming for better rankings, more website traffic, or increased brand visibility?
  • content quality. Make sure your sponsored articles are high-quality, relevant to your business, and provide value to the readers.
  • link quality. Check that the websites where your sponsored articles will appear are reputable and have a strong online presence.
  • budget. Plan your budget wisely and consider the long-term benefits of your investment. Compliance. Make sure you adhere to legal and ethical guidelines for sponsored content in the target region.
Author
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Author
Delante

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

  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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