Sponsored Link

A sponsored link is a backlink to your site that has been acquired as part of a paid promotion.

They are required to have the rel=”sponsored” tag by Google.

Sponsored links are completely legal as long as they are clearly marked as such, and are not to be confused with paid links.

Sponsored Links VS Paid Links

Paid links, on the other hand, are considered to be a “link scheme” by Google and are very much against their guidelines.

These are links that have been placed on someone’s site for a fee, and not part of a legitimate sponsorship, review, or another paid collaboration.

Paid links are also typically unmarked to appear editorial in an attempt to manipulate search rankings.

The following is an example of an email we received trying to sell us “high-quality backlinks”:

paid link email pitch example

Do Sponsored Links Pass PageRank?

No. Sponsored links do not pass on PageRank and are not a direct ranking signal.

This is because Google is against using paid links of any kind to improve your rankings in organic search results.

That isn’t to say, however, that sponsored links are completely useless.

Sponsored Link Benefits

Despite not helping you rank higher in organic search, sponsored links offer a range of pretty solid benefits.

First of all, people can still see and click on sponsored links.

Second of all, the traffic you get from sponsored links can be much more targeted.

A popular targets for sponsored links are “top 10” articles, also known as listicles.

People go on those to find the best product or service for a specific purpose and are already displaying commercial intent.

Putting your product in front of them on such a page immediately puts them further along your pipeline.

This also affects these links’ CTR (click-through rate), making it higher on average than that of “regular” backlinks.

And, of course, putting your name on other people’s sites is good for brand visibility in general.

The downside to sponsored links is that they can be quite costly (some websites charge from $400 to over a thousand for a single sponsored link), and they can sometimes have less of an impact than you expect – especially if you get one on a newer page or one that gets little organic traffic on its own.

The following is an example of a sponsored link for our partner, Visme:

sponsored link example

There are three main ways to get sponsored links. Let’s take a closer look at each one.


The quickest way to get sponsored links is to run a PPC campaign.

Yes – both top and bottom ads on SERPs are considered to be sponsored links.

ppc ad example

And by setting up a Pay-Per-Click campaign, you can get sponsored links pointing you your site directly from SERPs for hundreds of different keywords.

Affiliate Links

All affiliate links are labeled as sponsored as well.

So, recruiting affiliate partners is one of the main ways of generating sponsored links.

Finding and reaching out to affiliates is actually one of Respona’s use cases.

With Respona, you can speed up and automate each step of the process – from prospecting to finding contact information and even personalizing your emails.

When it comes to prospecting, you actually have two options:

  • Finding relevant content in your niche to partner with
  • Export your competitors’ affiliates and reach out to them directly.

Sponsored Posts/Listicle Placements

We already talked about “top 10” articles, or listicles and how they make great targets for placing sponsored links.

Sponsored posts, on the other hand, are fully-fledged pieces of your content that are published either on another website, another business’ social media, or as a social media ad.

Bottom Line

So, even though sponsored links don’t actually contribute to your website’s organic rankings, they shouldn’t be completely dismissed.

Advertisements are also considered a form of sponsored links, and can be an amazing way to drive some highly-targeted traffic to your website.

In addition, listicles and sponsored posts are amazing for your brand’s visibility, and affiliate marketing is one of the most solid ways to safely and reliably generate more sales.

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  • Recruit top-performing affiliates
  • Get featured on popular podcasts
  • Earn press from industry publications

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