Link Types

Sponsored Links

Glossary  |  3 mins

Read the next term in our glossary

Sponsored links are any links that have a rel=“sponsored” attribute attached to them, and are a form of advertising where the publisher has indicated to Google that they have received compensation in some form to include the hyperlink to the given page. This informs search engines that they should not be treated in the same way as a natural reference link, for both domains.

Sponsored links generally come in the form of an editorials, but they also feature in advertising banners and other such website advertisements.

In the past, all sponsored backlinks outside of ads were nofollow sponsored links. However, in 2019, Google created a rel=“sponsored” link attribute, intended specifically for use on paid links.

While the jury’s still out on how this attribute affects the SEO value of links compared to a regular rel=”nofollow” attribute, it does add a little extra transparency to backlink profiles.

Using Sponsored Links

Sponsored links, unlike organic links, are less likely improve your site’s chances of improved organic rankings, but they can still serve an important function for your SEO work and broader digital marketing efforts.

One of the key benefits of sponsored links is that they can provide an immediate source of traffic from a high traffic domain. The traffic you can get from natural links within pieces of content will vary heavily from one referring domain to another, but if you have the budget then sponsored links can provide instant visibility from high traffic and high relevancy websites.

From the publisher’s perspective, applying the rel=”sponsored’ attribute to links that have been recompensed provides a layer of protection from future issues that could arise through the sale of links from one website to another.

Back to glossary

EBook Icon eBook

Download a PDF version of our glossary for everything you need to know


Sponsored Links FAQs

Do sponsored backlinks help SEO?

While it is understood that sponsored backlinks don’t have the same impact on your organic rankings as natural reference links, they can still be useful for your broader SEO efforts. Sponsored backlinks can potentially give you an immediate and reliable source of high intent traffic to landing pages that you choose, which can lead to some powerful insights about the way your target audience interacts with the content on your site.

Does Google index sponsored content?

Although Google does index sponsored content, it also treats external links hosted within sponsored content in a similar manner to those with the “nofollow” attribute. This means that while sponsored content can channel traffic to your site, it won’t pass the same link equity on in the same way that a natural, dofollow link does.

Questions to ask your link builder