What are the sponsored links?
A sponsored link is a hyperlink that someone pays you to put on your website. You can declare a sponsored link on your page’s HTML in the following way:
<a href=”https://yourwebsitehere.com ” rel=”sponsored”>
Sponsored links can be further categorized into regular sponsored links and affiliate links.
Usually, affiliate marketers will reach out to you and ask you to place a sponsored link on your website/blog if they want to tap into the traffic you get. As an affiliate, you place a link on your site, and every time a user clicks on that link and goes to your partner’s site to purchase something, you make money. The terms and conditions of the relationship may vary, but usually, you make a percentage off of the total money the user spends on the website.
Affiliate links work best if your content is relevant to the product being advertised. For example, if you have a blog that’s all about losing weight, and you get decent traffic regularly, affiliate marketers working for home gym equipment will come knocking at your door.
This is different from the money you can make from Google AdSense because with Adsense you sell real estate on your website for them to place advertisements at the top, on the side, or at any other dedicated space on your page.
An affiliate link will appear as a hyperlink within the text and will appear to the user as one of the many links you have put within your content. Usually, this type of link leads to a product page on an eCommerce website. Users click on the link, go to the website, and if they end up making a purchase, you get a cut of the total money they spent.
Regular sponsored links
A sponsored link that’s not an affiliate link also appears as a hyperlink within the text. It will also appear to the user as one of the many links placed in your content. However, you only get paid once for placing this link within your content. If you have a healthy amount of organic traffic on your site, SEOs and marketers will reach out to you and will be willing to pay you for placing their link on your website.
Why did Google feel the need to differentiate between nofollow, UGC, and sponsored links?
Google announced the new way to manage external links on September 10, 2019. The no-follow category was further divided into nofollow, UGC, and sponsored. When you mark an external link as nofollow, you are telling Google ‘I don’t trust this website, nor do I endorse it’. That is why most SEOs only consider do follow links as backlinks.
By using the rel=”sponsored” tag, you are helping Google differentiate between websites that you don’t trust and those that you do.
When is it okay to put sponsored links on your website?
It is okay to put sponsored links on your website as long as you declare them as sponsored by using the method at the beginning of this article. If you have sponsored links on your site and do not declare them, you run the risk of being penalized by Google. You can have multiple sponsored links on any page as long as you declare them as sponsored.
Should you declare sponsored links or keep them as dofollow links?
Most SEOs and marketers that approach you for sponsored links will ask for a dofollow link. They do this because a dofollow link counts for them as a backlink and improves their link profile. If you are accepting guest posts on your site, you can offer dofollow links without a second thought. When someone approaches you with a piece of content that’s relevant to your website and will be of use to the people that visit the site, they will expect a link in return. However, if you are placing links where they do not necessarily belong and accepting money for them, you should declare them as sponsored. Being forthright about the type of links on your page will help you manage your external link profile in an organized manner.
Do pages that have sponsored links to perform badly in terms of ranking?
No. Pages that have sponsored links do not perform badly just because of the links on the page. There are multiple ranking factors ranging from the content on your page to the link profile of the page and more. If a number of malicious or harmful sites are linking to your page, or you are linking to multiple harmful websites, you run the risk of losing your rankings. If you are linking to high-quality websites, and tagging sponsored links as sponsored, you will be fine.