Sponsored Posts

If you are a blogger then it’s very likely that you are receiving a ton of requests from brands and individuals for sponsored posts (sometimes known as sponsored reviews), guest posts, text links, paid posts, link exchanges, and all sorts of stuff.

They try to pitch us in different ways, like:

Hello,

My name is M and I would like to contribute on your website as a guest author.

I’ve written several tech, internet marketing, SEO and Social media related guest post articles, and I would like to write an article about the matters closely related to your website.

Please feel free to suggest to me any topic, and I will write an article specifically for your blog/website!

The content will be around 700-1000 word including images and videos and it will be original, informative and 100% unique.

I can also suggest you great topics for your website.

I will send you article ASAP with details. You can review the article and let me know if you can publish on your website.

Looking forward to our successful cooperation!

Kindest regards,
M

And some of them even mention straight away that they willing to pay for it. Basically, they are all after one thing: “dofollow links” —  to boost their search rankings. That’s right! Some of them mention it when they pitch us and some don’t.

A good percentage of bloggers accept such offers without caring about search engine guidelines or user experience.

If you have been following my blog for a while then you might have already noticed that I never accepted any guest posts or paid posts or text links for SEO. But a couple of months back I accepted the first sponsored review on my blog. And then I realized the true value of a sponsored review with nofollow links for a brand.

I was not accepting sponsored posts on this blog before that as most of the products were of little interest to me. But a few months back, I created an advertising page to display the available advertising options on my blog.

Read: 51 Blogging And Publishing Platforms To Showcase Your Awesomeness

Soon after that, I got the first enquiry for a  sponsored review from Perfect Audience (a retargeting platform). Since they contacted me via my newly created advertising page I assumed that they were okay with nofollow links.

So, I responded by saying that I was already aware about Perfect Audience brand and would be glad to do a sponsored review. In fact, I also personally wanted to try retargeting someday.

I published the review after a month or so and obviously it came with disclosures and all the links were nofollowed. Actually, I was the first blogger they have worked with for a sponsored review.

And the result? They got a new customer — me. And then, I spent my time learning and trying retargeting and finally wrote a guide to kickstarting a retargeting campaign with Perfect Audience.

That’s not all! I started generating hundreds of leads as an affiliate and I also started promoting Perfect Audience on other relevant blog posts as well — in return for nothing.

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First Things First. What Is A Nofollow Link?

When we link to another website search engines, assume that we are giving an upvote. So, it obviously impacts the search rankings of the target website. Now, if we add a nofollow tag to the link then search engines don’t follow it.

Nofollow” provides a way for webmasters to tell search engines “Don’t follow links on this page” or “Don’t follow this specific link.”

In other words, building a ton of nofollow links to a website won’t improve (and won’t hurt too) its ranking as it doesn’t transfer any PageRank to the target website.

Leverage Sponsored Reviews With Nofollow Links

So, how can you leverage  sponsored posts? When you pitch a blogger for a sponsored review, you don’t really have to worry about the nofollow links as long as your goal is to increase the visibility of your website. In fact, you should tell the blogger to nofollow it even if they’re offering dofollow links.

And if you think that it’s not worth it then imagine what happens when you write a guest post. When you write a guest post for a blog it’s less likely that people click your bio links (unless your guest post is a masterpiece and people want to know more about you).

So, it basically means that you are getting zero traffic to your website from all your mediocre guest posts. Of course, you get a backlink. But it’s not as worthy as it used to be. And that exactly is the reason why Google took action against guest blogging for SEO.

Now, what happens when you buy a sponsored review?

When it comes to sponsored reviews, you are actually paying bloggers to review your product/service and they will personally review your website and will blog about it (with a proper disclosure and nofollow links). In other words, you are actually paying for their time.

The best thing? Sponsored reviews sends real traffic to your website and it builds great awareness about your brand.

It’s absolutely possible that the sponsored reviews might send some leads and sales as well — in no time. Because you are advertising your product or service in front of the right audience.

And you don’t have to worry about search engine guidelines or a future penalty. Even better, bloggers love to do sponsored reviews as long as they’re relevant. Yes, it’s all about relevancy.

But it doesn’t really mean that you should go ahead and buy sponsored reviews aggressively. Why? Because if you pick the wrong website then it literally has the same effect as a guest post. Zero traffic.

And what about guest posts or paid posts?

When you are doing a guest post or is buying a paid post then you are at the risk of getting a penalty sooner or later.

Even big brands like Rap Genius, Interflora, Forbes, Overstock, JC Penney, etc. were penalized by Google for violating webmaster guidelines. They all were engaged in different link schemes.

In fact, if you are offering your products for free in exchange for links then it’s also considered as a link scheme by Google.

Buying or selling links that pass PageRank. This includes exchanging money for links, or posts that contain links; exchanging goods or services for links; or sending someone a “free” product in exchange for them writing about it and including a link

Last year, Interflora (a flower delivery network) was rumored to be penalized by Google as they were giving gifts to bloggers in exchange for links.

Exploring Related Opportunities

A few months back, I got an email from the SEMrush and they invited me to join their affiliate program. They even offered a complimentary six month SEMrush account worth over $400.

And that was first time time I actually accepted an offer from a brand. Because it was just an invitation and they didn’t ask anything in return. And the best thing? SEMrush is one of the most popular competitor analysis tools and it offers great value for bloggers and marketers.

Read: Over 101 SEO Tools (Free & Premium) You’ll Ever Need

I obviously became excited and decided to pitch few brands from my side for more such offers. The first one was sent to the affiliate team of One.com Hosting.

I expressed my interest in promoting their affiliate program as I was impressed with their web hosting pricing. It’s one of the cheapest hosting plan (even after the first term) with cPanel.

So, I asked for a one month demo hosting account (as I didn’t want to sign up myself or use my credit card) and without asking anything they offered me a 1 year free hosting plan with a free domain name.

I didn’t stop.

It was the time I was getting frequent “Account Resource Overage” emails from my web hosting company — InMotion Hosting. So, I was looking for a Content Delivery Network to balance my server load. And the next pitch was to MaxCDN.

Once again, I sent a pitch to MaxCDN’s affiliate team and asked if they wanted to sponsor my blog’s CDN. Because I already knew that they were sponsoring popular blogs. Bingo, it worked!

Their affiliate team reviewed my blog (to see if it’s relevant and whether there is potential) and upgraded my MaxCDN trial account to free — valued at $108. A dollar saved is a dollar earned. :)

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Conclusion

Sponsored posts are so effective that it can double your advertising income and can deliver overnight results to brands. But it doesn’t really mean that you should accept all sponsored offers (even if they are willing to pay you a premium) that you are getting.

It’s always a good idea to work with only limited brands that you admire the most, so that you can pitch them about a sponsored review or even a giveaway. But make sure you don’t publish sponsored posts too often as it can annoy your readers.

Happy New Year!! :)

Image Credit: Flickr

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Mahesh Mohan

Agnostic, Apolitical, Bluephile, Brutally honest, Curious, Digital Creator, Finance geek, Marketing ninja, Microsoft fanatic, Multi-passionate nerd, Overthinker, Perfectionist, Workaholic.

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About Mahesh (@maheshone)

Mahesh Mohan

Agnostic, Apolitical, Bluephile, Brutally honest, Curious, Digital Creator, Finance geek, Marketing ninja, Microsoft fanatic, Multi-passionate nerd, Overthinker, Perfectionist, Workaholic.

Say hi: @maheshone

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