Sponsored links are ads that are displayed on a website or in a search engine's search results. These links are typically labeled as sponsored to distinguish them from organic search results. Sponsored links are purchased by businesses or individuals who want to promote their products or services to a specific audience.
Sponsored links in SERPs
Sponsored links can be a useful tool for businesses to increase the visibility of their products or services and drive traffic to their website. However, it's important for businesses to carefully consider the placement and relevance of their sponsored links to ensure that they are targeting the right audience and not annoying potential customers. Sponsored links that are not relevant or are displayed in a disruptive way can negatively impact the user experience and may not be effective in driving traffic to a website.
Marking sponsored links
<a href="http://www.example.com" rel="sponsored">Sponsored link</a>
This attribute is a part of the HTML5 standard and can be used to specify the relationship between the current document and the linked document. It is used by search engines and other applications to understand the context in which the link is being used.
Another way to indicate sponsored links is to use a visual indicator, such as a banner or a tag, in combination with the text of the link. For example:
<span class="sponsored-tag">Sponsored</span> <a href="http://www.example.com">Link</a>
You can style the sponsored-tag class with CSS to give it a distinct appearance, such as a different color or background.
It's important to clearly and prominently label sponsored links to ensure that users understand the nature of the content they are being directed to and can make informed decisions about whether to follow the links.
Sponsored links and Google
Google treats sponsored links, also known as paid links, differently from organic links in its search results. Paid links are links that have been purchased by a website owner or an advertiser in order to increase the visibility of their website or a particular page on their website.
Google Webmaster Guidelines (now Google Search Essentials) state that the purchase of links that pass PageRank is considered a violation of Google's guidelines. In other words, Google does not want website owners to use paid links as a way to manipulate the search rankings of their website.
If Google detects that a website is using paid links to manipulate its search rankings, it may take action against the website, such as penalizing or de-indexing it. This is why it's important for website owners to follow best practices when it comes to paid linking.