Sponsored Content and SEO

9min.

Comments:1

Sponsored Content and SEO
17 February 2023
For many years, link building and sponsored content have been essential elements of every SEO content strategy and one of the most important Google search engine ranking factors. Thanks to obtaining high-quality, unique backlinks from various domains, you can not only improve your website’s positions in the organic search results but also increase your recognition and reach new potential customers. What is sponsored content? How can it support SEO and what factors should you consider before choosing websites for partnership?

9min.

Comments:1

Table of contents: Sponsored content is a form of advertising strategy based on writing paid articles or other content pieces that contain a link to your website and publishing them on different websites with good parameters. This type of content is typically created to support an SEO strategy and promote a website, product, service, or brand. The goal of sponsored content is to improve the parameters of your website which should translate into better visibility, positions in the search results, and traffic. Apart from that, such pieces and articles help to generate brand awareness, can attract new customers, and increase sales. Sponsored content can take many forms, including blog posts, articles, videos, and social media posts. It's typically created to boost website visibility in search results. To achieve the best possible effects, it’s crucial to create high-quality sponsored content that brings value to the target audience. Thanks to it:
  • readers will get familiar with the whole article, may want to learn more about the author and visit the linked website,
  • users may feel encouraged to share the link via their social media platforms which will further increase the reach of the article.
Sponsored articles can be a great way of building a backlink profile for your website. As you probably already know, backlinks are one of the most important Google ranking factors. However, according to law regulations in many countries, paid content should be marked as sponsored articles, affiliate materials, or otherwise. [caption id="attachment_63070" align="aligncenter" width="1291"]sponosred content marked approprietly An example of properly marked sponsored content. Source: Search Engine Journal[/caption] At the same time, Google states that backlinks should be obtained naturally, through valuable content users are likely to share. So, what’s the connection between sponsored content and SEO? Can it have a positive impact on your optimization efforts? Let’s find out!

Does Sponsored Content Help SEO?

The short answer is: yes. Sponsored content can support your SEO efforts but it doesn’t happen directly. Why? Because you need to use a nofollow tag on your links. According to Google Search Central, you should use rel=nofollow to mark paid content and this content will be seen as a part of your website. On the other hand, if you don’t want it to be displayed in search, you should use the no-index tag. In fact, Google has a whole policy on paid links. It confirms that links play a crucial role in determining the relevancy of websites. As stated in the official documentation prepared by Google, all the backlinks intended to manipulate the search results can be considered spam, this includes buying or selling links for ranking purposes. Does it mean that you shouldn’t trust an SEO agency whose offer mentions paid content? Not necessarily. Just take a look at the quote from the official Google’s documentation below:
Google does understand that buying and selling links is a normal part of the economy of the web for advertising and sponsorship purposes. It's not a violation of our policies to have such links as long as they are qualified with a rel="nofollow" or rel="sponsored" attribute value to the <a> tag.
Moreover, Google adds:
Advertising and other paid promotional material on your pages shouldn’t exceed your content. We don’t allow content that conceals or misrepresents sponsored content as independent, editorial content. Sponsorship, including, but not limited to, ownership or affiliate interest, payment, or material support, should be clearly disclosed to readers. The subject of sponsored content shouldn’t focus on the sponsor without clear disclosure.
What does it mean in simple words? Sponsored content mustn’t overrun your content and must be clearly labeled as sponsored. Misrepresenting sponsored content as independent text isn’t allowed and sponsorships should be disclosed to readers. Having mentioned the above conditions, it's worth noting that even sponsored content marked with the no-follow or sponsored tag can support your SEO efforts and improve your website visibility.

What Are the Benefits of Sponsored Content?

As it’s been already mentioned, there’s a correlation between sponsored content and SEO. Paid articles are a valuable form of online marketing that can have a positive impact not only on your visibility in the SERPs but also on brand recognition and numerous other aspects.  Take a moment to see the greatest advantages of sponsored content:
  • Improved brand recognition - you can post quality content on well-known portals to reach even more potential customers. Users may be encouraged to check out your website, browse your offer and they can even convert.
  • Higher website traffic - by offering high-quality and relevant information to the target audience, you can attract their attention and convince them to visit your website. The more intriguing and quality the content, the greater the chance that people will decide to learn more about your business.
  • Increased sales - according to the study conducted by Green Park Content, branded content is the reason why even up to 70% of millennials decide to finalize transactions. Targeting potential buyers with the right message helps brands to drive sales and build more meaningful connections with recipients.
  • Improved trust and engagement - sponsored content is not only about promoting your business. It’s about demonstrating that you care about your customers’ needs, interests, and concerns. By providing valuable content, you show that you’re an expert in the field and a reliable partner.
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What Are the Disadvantages of Sponsored Content?

However, sponsored content isn’t all a bed of roses. There are a few potential disadvantages that should be considered before starting activities:
  • Sponsored content can be expensive - depending on the parameters of the linking domain, sponsored articles can be quite costly. Moreover, it should be kept in mind that it’s not a one-time activity, so publishing one article won’t be enough to significantly improve your traffic, rankings, and recognition.
  • Since you don’t get a dofollow link, sponsored content won’t increase your rankings directly - although sponsored content has a positive impact on numerous factors like brand recognition and trust, you should keep in mind that it probably won’t affect your rankings directly because of the nofollow attribute. So, if you’re hoping to reach the top 10 only thanks to branded articles, you can be disappointed.
  • It can be hard to measure the results - investing in sponsored content is just a part of an SEO and marketing strategy that is a multi-faceted process. For this reason, it may be infeasible to evaluate the impact of paid articles on your traffic and results.

Does Google Index Sponsored Content?

Yes, Google indexes sponsored content as long as it follows its quality guidelines. The search engine indexes both sponsored and non-sponsored texts, meaning that it includes both types of content in its search results. However, it’s important to mention that Google can prioritize non-sponsored content in the SERPs and may demote or lower the visibility of sponsored texts.

Sponsored Content - Where to Start?

So, you already know the advantages and disadvantages of publishing sponsored content, but do you know where to start? First of all, you need to find quality domains for cooperation. What do we mean by quality? As you can probably guess, you have to use tools like SEMrush or Ahrefs to analyze the pages. Pay particular attention to parameters like:
  • Traffic - since paid content is supposed to attract traffic to your website and encourage users to check out your offer, you should make sure that you cooperate with a domain that is actually visited by people. If a site has 0 traffic, you can’t expect that such an article will benefit your SEO and sales.
  • Referring domains - it’s the number of unique linking domains according to Majestic (you can also check it in Ahrefs). If many other websites link to the selected domain, it’s a sign that it’s active and quality.
  • Domain Rating, URL Rating, Page Authority, and Trust Flow - the higher these parameters, the better. A domain with high DR, UR, PA, and TF is renowned by Google. This means that if it links to you, the search engine will automatically think your website is a quality source of information, worthy of being displayed higher in the SERPs.
  • Topicality - you don’t want to obtain backlinks from domains that cover completely different subjects than your area of activity. So, if you run a software company, backlinks from pages on fashion trends won’t benefit your SEO. Moreover, they can look suspicious to users who may think it’s a scam. When doing your research, always make sure that selected websites for publications are thematically related and don’t write about everything.
  • The number of backlinks in the article - ideally, your paid article should link only to your website. This way, you can use the full potential of the backlink and its link juice. Although publishers offering multiple links are generally cheaper, such cooperation may not be so good for your SEO.
How to look for platforms to cooperate with? You can either text domain owners on your own or use special content marketing platforms designed for this purpose. The entire process is simple and buying a sponsored article takes literally a few minutes. To sum up, if you want to have several sponsored articles published per month, you can either contact publishers directly or use content marketing platforms that are perfect for larger-scale marketing campaigns. Analyzing domain parameters and searching for websites where it’s worth publishing articles is a time-consuming and difficult task, which is why having experience plays an important role here. You should also keep in mind that Google is unpredictable. A high score of the parameters like DR, PA, DA, UR in Ahrefs or SEMrush doesn’t always mean that such links will improve your visibility in the Google search results. It’s affected by numerous factors. To increase your chances of success, you should pay particular attention to the visibility of the domain. 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’s a trusted domain. Consequently, the publication of a sponsored article with link(s) should bring great results. Surely this approach can minimize the risk that spending a huge amount of money on a sponsored article won’t bring benefits. What else should you consider before selecting domains for publishing your sponsored content?
  • Beware of websites with duplicated content - in the databases of the mentioned content marketing platforms, you can find portals that have great SEO parameters and quite a good price. When you read their content, however, it turns out that all the articles that at first look “normal” come from other sites. It’s quite likely that buying a sponsored article from such a domain will have a positive effect on SEO, but there is a high risk that over time this domain will lose Google’s trust.
  • Avoid websites with sponsored articles only - when searching for websites on which you want to publish content, you can find pages that post nothing but branded content. It’s better to avoid such websites. In this case, even if the effects of the publication are visible for a while, the website may quickly lose search engine trust.
  • Know that a limited publication period isn’t the best option - a publisher may guarantee publication only for a limited time and then the article will be removed. It’s recommended to look for domains that promise to keep the article and link to your website permanently. This way, you’ll use your budget better and can avoid situations when deleting the backlink deteriorates your positions and visibility.
  • Don’t resign from publications in existing articles - some websites allow you to add links to already existing 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. Use tools like Ahrefs or SEMrush to analyze the page and choose one of the most visited subpages that has high visibility in the search results.
  • Find out where your competitors publish sponsored content - performing a backlink gap analysis is a great way to uncover hidden opportunities and keep up with your market rivals. Check what domains link to your competitors and obtain backlinks from these pages. How to do it? Use Ahrefs, enter the address of a competing site in the search bar, and check out the "Referring Domains" report to get a list of sites that link to your rivals.
  • Analyze basic parameters like Domain Rating, Page Authority, URL Rating, and Trust Flow - we’ve described the importance of these parameters before. So, when choosing a domain for publishing your sponsored content, make sure that the parameters are satisfactory.
  • Check the link profile of the domain you want to obtain backlinks from - it's best to publish a sponsored article on a site that has a valuable and natural link profile. Analyze the link profile of the chosen domain where you want to place your link. To do this, use Ahrefs and verify the number of referring domains and Ahrefs metrics, whether the site is acquiring dofollow or nofollow links and what is the ratio between them, whether the number of links is growing in a natural way.
  • Make sure the page is updated on a regular basis - Google appreciates sites that are regularly updated. If you're looking for a site to publish a sponsored article, choose one that is active and contains valuable content. If there is a lot of useful information on the site, it's a good site to publish your link and article.
  • Check what type of anchor you can use - SEO results are affected not only by the link itself placed in the sponsored article but also by the text of the link, meaning anchor. If you're wondering where to publish a sponsored article, find out what type of anchor you can include in the content. A clean URL, exact match, or partial match? Remember to diversify your links and use different anchors that will help you to boost the SEO activities performed on given subpages.
  • Ask if the article will be promoted - before you write and publish a sponsored article, find out whether the domain of your choice offers additional promotion. It can help your article reach more users and give you even better results.

Sponsored Content SEO - The Takeaway

Sponsored content and SEO are effective ways to boost your visibility in the search results, attract more traffic, reach more potential customers, and improve your brand recognition. However, to enjoy all these benefits, first, you have to think your strategy out and select the right domains for publication. This can be a tedious and time-consuming task if you don’t know what to pay attention to and don’t have the right experience in the field. Hopefully, our article discussing the most important parameters and tips for choosing websites for publishing sponsored content will make your job easier. Not sure where to start? Or maybe you don’t have the time or resources to coordinate sponsored articles and link building process at your company? Contact us! We’ll be happy to take care of it for you.
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Logo Delante
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.

Author
Logo Delante
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.

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