Search engine results have become critical to a successful SEO and digital marketing strategy. With search engines like Google dominating the online advertising sphere, ranking high on the search engine results pages is necessary for an online business to survive.

An effective SEO strategy ensures visibility in search results to garner attention for your business, and link building remains an essential facet of increasing brand exposure and website traffic.

But where do sponsored links come into play? Is it worth it to purchase them to improve search engine marketing?

In this article, we take a closer look at sponsored links and how you can use them in your digital marketing campaign.

What Is a Sponsored Link? How Is It Related to Search Engines and Google Ads?

website link on a computer screen

Many companies employ organic links as part of their advertising strategy. Third parties create organic backlinks to recommend or reference the landing page or content behind the link, which can increase traffic to that content and boost the content creator’s website quality score. However, many businesses have looked to paid links to reach more potential customers, thinking SEO should be free.

A single sponsored link is a paid advertisement attached to a keyword or keywords of the link creator’s choosing. When potential customers type in the specific search term, the sponsored ad appears. When a user clicks the ad, the link’s creator must pay a predetermined rate of money that will vary depending on how many others wish to advertise their services under the highly competitive keywords.

This form of advertising is a process known as PPC or pay-per-click advertising, based on the premise that user searches for a specific keyword will encourage a higher click rate and generate more traffic to a business’s website.

Currently, the most prevalent form of PPC is Google Ads (as well as Google Adsense), an advertising service that allows businesses to advertise their services or products across search engines and websites.

However, a company may also purchase links from peers in their industry, a spot on a niche but relevant blog post, or even original sponsored content.

How Can You Differentiate Sponsored Links?

The evolution of social media has led to an audience of users who dislike intrusive ads that interrupt their web searches and will scroll past anything that’s obviously an advertisement. This frustration is especially true in the case of visual and audio content, but website visitors don’t particularly enjoy seeing ads in written content, either.

For this reason, sponsored links feature a design that blends into the surrounding content. You can tailor Google Ads links, advertisements on social media platforms, and sponsored content that may appear on a blog post or third-party website to integrate naturally with the existing feed. Users may easily mistake these ads for standard content, making them less likely to scroll away.

However, it’s easy to differentiate between sponsored and organic links for those with a keen eye. Google policy states that businesses must label paid or sponsored links as such, though they can do so discreetly.

Likewise, sponsored links within original content or featured on websites often contain a distinctive tag, such as the “nofollow” attribute or “rel=sponsored.”

Should You Add “Nofollow” on Sponsored Links?

code on a computer screen

Nofollow links have the “rel=nofollow” HTML tag attached to them. This tag essentially tells a search engine to ignore a link, which ultimately means that such links will have no significant impact on your SERP ranking.

Initially, Google and other search engines created nofollow links to combat comment link spam.

Following this application, Google suggested that all website owners use the tag any time they had a paid ad link. This action allowed Google to use its algorithm to note all the instances where website owners paid for ad links and differentiate between natural and sponsored links, though only sponsored links affected the quality score of a website.

Many who rely on online advertising claim that the nofollow attribute isn’t particularly useful or relevant in a digital marketing campaign. Others argue that adding the tag to your sponsored link may indirectly improve your website’s quality score by expanding your advertisement’s reach to a broader audience.

One of the many ways Google deems your company website trustworthy or not is if you use sponsored, nofollow, or UGC (user-generated content) links. Having these types of links diversifies your link profile, which may protect you from penalties handed down by Google’s algorithm. Likewise, they can indirectly increase traffic, thereby increasing exposure for paid links.

Should You Use Sponsored Links?

All brands, websites, and marketing campaigns are different. While Google Ads’ pay-per-click advertising and sponsored links may work for some, it’s not a one-size-fits-all style of branding, so you need to consider the potential pros and cons of these ad links before you pay for them.

Brand Visibility

lamp shining onto a highlighted piece of paper


You can reap many benefits from a well-crafted, relevant ad link. Whether you choose to use PPC through Google Ads or a sponsored link on a third-party site that garners its own attention, your brand and business will instantly gain visibility.

Generating traffic organically using a strong SEO and keyword analysis strategy remains a necessary component of search engine advertising. Still, it may take time to increase your ranking on the search engine results page using this method. Conversely, sponsored links and ads provide a quick influx of traffic for new brands and product launches.

Highly Targeted Ads

Additionally, sponsored links attached to social media ads and PPC ads offer highly targeted interactions. Google, Facebook, and Instagram feature precise and practical algorithms that hone in on your target customer base as they search for your service or product, displaying your ad at the right moment to increase the likelihood of purchase.

When collaborating with third-party blogs or social media accounts, choosing someone who occupies your niche is key. For your sponsored link ad to garner attention and ultimately lead people to your website, the audience of your collaborator must find your product or service relevant.

A Potential Problem With Sponsored Links: The Price

Sponsored links can elevate your business in the digital world, but using services like Google Ads can cost you. Google gives you considerable control over how much you spend on sponsored links, but if you end up bidding against a competitor for a specific keyword, the cost may make a dent in your budget.

The same concern applies when obtaining a sponsored link from industry peers, bloggers, and other third-party platforms. The larger the potential viewer base, the more you’re likely to pay.

Final Thoughts: Are Sponsored Links Worth It?

Sponsored links and Google PPC promotions provide a quick, efficient means of driving highly targeted traffic to your website and elevating your digital authority. However, they serve only as one piece of a successful marketing campaign.

While sponsored links garner bursts of attention when you need them, you’ll need other SEO strategies to generate organic leads and ensure longevity for your digital presence.

The optimal solution is to have a comprehensive SEO strategy to dominate your niche and get your money’s worth on sponsored links. At Connective, we provide services and are highly knowledgeable in the field of Search Engine Optimization. Contact us today to learn more about our services.

Rodney Warner

Founder & CEO

As the Founder and CEO, he is the driving force behind the company’s vision, spearheading all sales and overseeing the marketing direction. His role encompasses generating big ideas, managing key accounts, and leading a dedicated team. His journey from a small town in Upstate New York to establishing a successful 7-figure marketing agency exemplifies his commitment to growth and excellence.

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