If your blog has steady traffic and covers good reach, sponsored posts is one of the best ways to monetize your blog. When your website attracts right kind of audience and that too a large volume of audience, most of the advertisers would like to publish a sponsored article on your website for some benefit.

The two main benefits of sponsored posts from the advertiser’s point of view is

  • They get traction from a well-known website which has good traffic, reach and audience loyalty
  • They earn a backlink from an authority website which helps them get better rankings on Google.

Most of the advertisers who do a sponsored post do it for the second reason, although sometimes they can publish sponsored posts solely for reach and traction. Backlinks are still a very strong SEO signal and it is not easy to earn good backlinks from high-quality editorial sites who produce really interesting, engaging and unique content on a regular basis. Unless your website is really useful, very popular and provides something which nobody has, it is extremely difficult to earn backlinks naturally.

Which brings us to the next point – advertisers pitching you to publish a sponsored article on your website with a link back to their website.

This is a big money earner for blogs who monetize their content and offer sponsored posts to advertisers. Depending on the traffic, authority, and reach of the website in question, sponsored posts can amount of $2000 per post for a really high quality site with millions of monthly page views.

Search Engines Do Not Like Sponsored Content with Links that Pass Pagerank

However, the catch is that Search Engines do not like sponsored content and are strictly against sponsored posts that pass Pagerank through the links contained in the sponsored post.

The reason is obvious – Google wants to create a level playing field where websites are judged based on their merit, and not because somebody has access to a lot of capital and he can use that capital to climb higher in search results. If a person with a crappy website has access to a lot of money, he will end up buying too many links from other sites and dominate the search results which will create a negative user experience for everyone. Which Google absolutely does not want.

So what do search engines do? Well, the search engines are pretty savvy and they keep getting better with time. They can recognize patterns of links across different websites and precisely detect which link is natural and which link is not natural. If it finds a website with too many unnatural outbound links, it will go ahead and penalize the website with a manual webspam action.

If a website is penalized by Google for manual webspam, their traffic will drop and their business will go down. Which is bad for them, and hence they will have to find a way to lift the Google penalty. Google will tell them to remove all the unnatural links from their website and submit a reconsideration request through Google search console.

So as we can see that Google keeps a tight grip on “Unnatural links” published by advertisers. Google’s webspam team takes action on both the publishers and advertisers whenever a link is not natural as per Google’s definition and reduces the “Organic traffic” of both the advertiser’s and publisher’s website.

For advertisers, it does not hurt them that much since they do not have organic traffic in the first place (which is the very reason why they are advertising for links on other sites). But this seriously hurts publishers because most of the websites and blogs depend on Google for their survival, directly or indirectly. Ranking drops in Google mean loss of traffic and loss of traffic means loss in business through loss in advertising revenue from Google Adsense, Affiliate income, product sales and other monetization channels.

Now we know three things

  • Google does not like advertisers trying to manipulate rankings by “purchasing links” on other sites
  • Sponsored content is a great way to monetize your blog, if you have good traffic, reach and authority in a niche.
  • Advertisers want to win links through sponsored posts that pass PageRank, so that those links will help their sites eventually get better rankings in Google search results.

As it turns out, you can’t keep both parties happy. If you keep the advertisers happy by selling links, Google will not be happy with you. If you keep Google happy by not selling links, the advertisers won’t be happy and they won’t be paying you anymore.

So how do we keep both advertisers and Google happy, while selling Links through Sponsored Posts?

It looks like there is little you can do to keep both advertisers and Google happy.

Please note that Google does not prevent you from publishing sponsored content on your website. What Google says is that if you are publishing a sponsored piece on your blog or website, make sure you use the rel=nofollow attribute in links that do not pass PageRank (more on rel=nofollow here).

But this contradicts the purpose of advertisers. They are paying you to “Win” a “Dofollow” link from a good website to their website and if the link is turned nofollow, it does no good to them. Their investment does not meet its objective.

So as a blogger or a website owner, if you tell the advertisers that you are willing to publish sponsored posts on your website with Nofollow links, the advertisers will not be happy about it and won’t proceed with paying you for the sponsored post.

In this case, there is only one way to resolve this situation. Although, the way mentioned is not fair from the advertiser’s point of view, but it kinda gets the job done.

Here is what you need to do.

  1. Publish the sponsored post on your website or blog and do not use the rel-nofollow attribute in them.
  2. Instead, use the Meta robots tag on that very page which tells Google not to crawl any of the links in that page. You need to use the following meta tag specifically on this page and not across all the pages of your website.<meta name=”ROBOTS” content=”nofollow“>

    This code should be placed before the </head> section of that given page. What this code does is it tells search engines the following directive

    Do not crawl any of the links (internal or external) on this page. I do not want to pass Google pagerank through any links placed on this page of my website. However, all other pages should be as it is, it is this specific page where I do not want you to crawl any of the links.

  3. The advertiser will most likely check the rel attribute in the link which leads to his website. He will check whether it is dofollow or not. Most likely, he will not check the meta robots tag placed in the head section of this particular blog post.
  4. If the advertiser checks the link and does not find the nofollow attribute in them, he will most likely go ahead with paying you for the sponsored post.

In some cases, the advertiser can also check for the meta robots tag. Then you will not be able to claim a fee for the sponsored post. However, in my experience, I have not seen any advertise enquire about the meta robots tag, since it is less documented and bloggers generally do not use to mark nofollow links on a given webpage.

Hence, this useful little trick can be used to publish sponsored posts on your website without offending search engines, without violating Google webmaster quality guidelines and also keeping the nofollow attribute away from Advertiser’s eye.