What are sponsored articles and how will they help you with SEO?

SEO SEO copywriting
Iza GorzkowskaIza Gorzkowska
Published: 19.05.2020
23 minute

The eyes and ears of potential customers are no longer responsive to standard advertising. If you want to get them interested in your company, you need to change your approach. Instead of attacking with pushy messages, give something from yourself. Create a valuable sponsored article with a subtle mention of your brand and watch what happens..

You have a chance to reach a much wider range of potential customers – as long as you take care of SEO issues. By creating a sponsored article, you can help build your link profile – one of the key issues related to link building. Check out how to use the power of this type of publication.

Read also: The SEO tutorial for a copywriter. What as a copywriter you need to know about SEO?.

This situation

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Someone is watching an exciting movie with lots of surprising twists and turns until suddenly… an advertisement! Surely you are able to imagine the level of annoyance and not at all surprised to completely ignore the advertising message. The same is true on the Internet – pop-ups interrupting the reading of an engaging publication can raise the pressure.

Added to this are “trite” advertising slogans… No wonder more and more people stop responding to standard messages. With help comes native advertising in the form of sponsored articles, which is a compromise between the company’s assumptions and audience expectations. If you use it well, you will build a solid foundation for link building – so important for SEO.

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A sponsored article is a text published for a fee, in which a brand, product, service, etc. may be mentioned. It is a commonly used solution, which – although mainly associated with the Internet – also appears in printed newspapers or magazines.

Many such articles are written in such a way that it is impossible to distinguish them from standard entries – were it not for one detail, i.e., proper text marking. According to the current Press Law of January 26, 1984, this type of advertising must be properly marked.

The main idea of sponsored articles is to provide valuable content with a mention of a particular company, its offerings, etc. However, it is possible to include logos, graphics or links. This must not be pushy advertising .

More than an advertisement

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A good sponsored article should carry much more than just a skillfully woven advertising message. If you want to increase its effectiveness and interest the recipient, you need to offer something. Something that will be useful from a potential customer’s point of view. All kinds of tutorials that explain the problem, give ready-made solutions, etc. work great.

Let’s use the article from the screenshot as an example. The sponsored article was created to showcase the Storytel brand and its offerings. Instead of dry advertising information, the text is a collection of audiobook benefits. .

From the article one can learn that listening to books in audio version develops imagination, trains concentration, helps develop memory, and is even a way to have a more enjoyable trip – without having to stare at a smartphone or tablet screen. In addition, a short description of popular audiobooks for children appears. There is also a guide to help you choose the right books in the listening version.

Mention of the brand Storytel appears in only one sentence – the name has been interjected as if in passing. There also appears a graphic presenting a particular fairy tale and a link to suggestions of audiobooks for children.

Types of sponsored articles

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Sponsored articles can be divided into 3 basic types.

  • Advertising sponsored article

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This type of sponsored article is the most classic form. The distinctive feature is that it directly informs about the brand, product or service. Although all the text is about a specific company, it should be written as objectively and “with taste” as possible.

Example: https://natemat.pl/289573,collagen-reconstructor-marki-janda-to-linia-kosmetykow-z-kolagenem.

  • Themed sponsored article referring to advertiser

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The essence of this type of sponsored article is to push a specific issue related to the customer’s offer. Thus, in the content there is a reference to the company / product / service – in the most natural, non-intrusive way possible.

Example: https://cyfrowa.rp.pl/sponsorowane/46626-home-office-dobra-organizacja-to-klucz-do-sukcesu.

  • Expert sponsored article

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An expert article is value content that describes a given issue in a professional, comprehensive manner. Information about the company is usually “smuggled in” in the form of citing a representative’s statement.

Example: https://www.newsweek.pl/trendy-i-inspiracje/motoryzacja/moj-samochod-ma-truc-mniej-niz-auto-sasiada-moda-na-eko-wkracza-do-marek-premium/hp14566.

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Internet users are aware of the purpose for which sponsored articles are published. Despite this, they do not reject them at the start – if the headline or lead arouses their interest, they will read it in full. What does this mean for you as an advertiser?

  • The ability to reach a wider audience

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According to the “Content Marketing 2019” report prepared by Interaktywnie.com, even 40% of Internet users block graphic ads. Users are immune to such messages, and with the help of sponsored articles you can reach them. Such texts not only promote a specific company, but, above all, carry added value –they provide valuable and useful information.

Internet users do not consider sponsored articles less reliable at all. More than 44% of readers have the same trust in them as in the rest of editorial texts. Interestingly – nearly 16% of users trust sponsored articles more than other content published on websites..

  • Increase brand awareness

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Being able to publish a sponsored article on a site with a huge reach allows you to reach hundreds of potential customers. Among them will certainly be people who have not yet had the opportunity to learn about your company and your offerings.

  • Building an expert image

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Even if potential customers have heard of your company, they don’t necessarily put it on a par with others – recognized by them as experts. Through sponsored articles, you can change that.

Publishing valuable texts with quoted statements, content in the form of interviews, etc. will not only translate into increased popularity. In this way you will show users that you are knowledgeable. And knowledge is a solid foundation for being recognized as an industry specialist.

If you become an expert in the eyes of your customers, you will increase trust in your company. Positive associations and credibility are the key to success, because if a customer trusts you…they like and buy.

  • Sales support

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Shopping online or using online services is much less spontaneous compared to the offline space. However, in both cases, it is on the Internet that consumers look for information about products and prices.

According to an EY study, 57% of Poles shop online, and more than two-thirds of users search for product data.

So there is a high probability that asponsored article found – even if by accident – will help you make a desired purchasing decision. This is entirely feasible, because, as a survey commissioned by the Think Kong agency shows, consumers happen to make a purchase under the influence of information contained in a sponsored article.

So don’t be afraid that a sponsored article will be overlooked. If it attracts attention with a headline and contains content that is as objective as possible, it will trigger sales potential. This is because, among other things, the reader gets a good dose of valuable information, thanks to which he can solve his problem, dispel his doubts, etc.

  • Support for SEO activities

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Google has long “premiumized” valuable articles that carry value for the user. It doesn’t matter to the search engine whether it’s sponsored content or editorial text.

Sponsored articles are one of the most widely practiced ways to acquire backlinks. There are thousands of third-party sites at your disposal, which – once the article is published – can direct to your company website / landing page, etc.

As the role of sponsored articles in SEO (especially in building a domain’s link profile) is huge, I will devote a separate paragraph to this topic – read on.

How to write a sponsored article?

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Just because you pay to publish a sponsored article (I’ll expand on this topic later, too) doesn’t mean that the content isn’t important. On the contrary, you need to put a strong effort to encourage the Internet user to click. The “sponsored article” label alone can sometimes put you at a loss, so I advise you to make an effort ☺. Remember that over 20% of users have less trust in this type of text (Think Kong report).

  • Construction

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In terms of design, a sponsored article is no different from any other article. It must be clear and make the content scannable, which is why a block of text without mid-headings, bullets and other elements is often ignored by users.

Which article would you like to read? The one on the left or the one on the right?

I’m already leaving aside the issue of the guidelines of a particular publisher, which would certainly reject a sponsored article with the design proposed on the left.

  • Select topic

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The topic of the article sponsored must be related to your industry – this is obvious. The choice cannot be random, as it should take into account the interests, needs and expectations of users.

What to write about Here a lot depends on your stated goal, but through articles you can:

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      • present the brand
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      • inform about new products/services
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Example 1. Suppose you introduce a new line of natural cosmetics. You could announce it through a sponsored article on the benefits of such preparations, mentioning your product line in passing – as below.

Remember! Regardless of the subject matter, a sponsored article should be written as objectively as possible. Exaggerated bragging, pointing out the competition as inferior, pushy urging to take advantage of the offer – are not welcome by readers.

  • Appropriate form

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A sponsored article can take virtually any form – as long as it fits within the publisher’s guidelines. Nothing prevents it from being a classic press release, however… this type of content is unlikely to resonate. What instead?

Much better forms of sponsored articles include:.

  • guides – such text will help solve the user’s problem, dispel doubts, make a choice
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  • reviews / case studies – such text will help to get acquainted with the details of the product / service
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  • storytelling – this is one of the most effective tools for building relationships; by influencing emotions and imagination, you can present your brand and increase its awareness in the minds of potential customers
  • interview – can be helpful to present, for example, the value of the products/services offered.

Although tutorials are very popular, you don’t have to limit yourself to them. Above all, choose all those forms of sponsored articles that allow you to include your company name or product mention in the most natural way.

Example 2. Let’s assume that natural cosmetics are a novelty product. You can communicate it in the form of a review – as below.

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The review presents detailed information about cosmetics, e.g. properties, composition. The entire review is accompanied by photos – including label graphics.

  • Length

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There are no guidelines for the length of sponsored articles. Much depends on the form you choose and the topic being addressed. Nothing prevents you from writing a long text – as long as you have only valuable information to share and do not “pour water”.

However, my experience shows that the most popular are articles of about 3000-4000 characters – for such texts the clients of our agency apply most often. This is dictated, among other things, by financial considerations. Meanwhile, it often happens that such a number of characters requires the need to carry out a thorough selection of information and select only those aspects that are most relevant.

Test if article length affects SEO! Download the e-book “Content marketing and SEO in e-commerce”

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I think there needs to be some flexibility when it comes to the length of sponsored articles. I wouldn’t lock myself into a specific character range – especially if the topic requires a comprehensive approach. I can’t imagine a good review or a solid case study being limited to just 3,000 characters.

Remember! Often the length of a sponsored article is determined by the publisher. Make sure the text meets the conditions before submitting it for publication.

An SEO-compliant sponsored article, that is…?

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If you want to take full advantage of the opportunities inherent in a sponsored article, do not limit yourself to an attractive form and interesting subject matter. Such text – since it is published on the Internet – should comply with SEO rules.

Read also: SEO texts – 5 rules you can’t forget.

Remember! If a sponsored article appears high in Google search results, it will reach a wider audience. And the more people who read it, the greater the chance of achieving your business goal.

  • Keywords

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Keywords are the cornerstone of SEO efforts – you’re probably aware of that. You also know that there is no room here for choosing random phrases. Everything has to be carefully thought out – even though the sponsored article is intended, for example, to strengthen brand awareness or build an expert image. If the keywords are random, you have little chance of reaching a larger audience with your message.

You do not have to rely solely on your intuition when choosing phrases. Specialized tools – available for free as well as for a fee – can help.

Google Keyword Planner

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The keyword planner from Google is a tool provided free of charge for those with a Google Ads account.

Allows you to search for phrases and analyze them taking into account, for example, search frequency, competitiveness, rates.

Senuto

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Senuto is a paid tool that supports SEO on many levels simultaneously. Important for you is the keyword database, based on which you can target relevant phrases. There is narrow search (results directly related to the phrase) and wide search (results thematically related to the phrase).

In addition, the tool presents average number of monthly searches, reports on trends, seasonality by month, etc. Also available are keywords in the form of questions, words dependent, word groups. Such functions allow you to create a maximally relevant set of phrases.

  • Suggestions

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In addition to the fact that the use of mid-headings helps to increase the clarity of the article, their use also enhances SEO potential. Why? Midheads of lower rows (H2 and below) are a good place to “smuggle in” keywords.

In the sample article, the keyword (also in the form of the question “what natural cosmetics”) appears not only in the title, but also in the lower-level headings.

  • Linking

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According to the rules for publishing sponsored articles, links can appear in the content – and it’s good for them to appear. Why? These types of links positively affect the search engine position of our site.

An outbound link can lead to the home page, an offer tab or any other related to your company/brand. However, you must remember to weave it in naturally.

Example 1.Below is an example of a naturally placed link – referring to the indicated address for more information related to the topic of the article.

Example 2. The following is an example of a naturally placed link – a sub-linked company name next to an expert’s statement.

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Remember! Publishers allow links in sponsored articles (e.g., branded links, URLs). However, these may not always be links with the dofollow attribute (which add power to your site). Sometimes only nofollow links are allowed (they have less impact on SEO, but generate traffic and diversify the site’s link profile). So before publishing, it’s a good idea to read the linking rules set by publishers.

Linking – you can’t miss this

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The ability to include links in sponsored articles is largely the essence of publishing texts on external portals. Thanks to this, you can – and in a completely natural way – increase the number of links leading to the company website. This translates not only into strengthening brand awareness, but, above all, into supporting SEO efforts.

Linking is invaluable for building a domain’s link profile. It is one of the best and most popular ways of effective link building, which influences the ranking of pages in SERPs. Outbound links from sites directing to another site are a signal to Google that this site is valuable. This helps boost its position in search results – especially if it has many links from other quality sites directing to it.

Specially valuable are links:.

  • with the dofollow attribute – they help to convey “power” to the linked page; they provide information to indexing robots that the content of the sub-linked page is valuable; at this point it is worth noting that nofollow links are also useful, so they should not be abandoned altogether;
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  • from a domain that has good search engine visibility – visibility is measured based on keywords and their positions; this is a parameter that indicates potential traffic from SEO; this parameter can be checked in Senuto, among others;
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You may now be wondering how to distinguish quality links from links with less potential. This is helped by the so-called URL Rating – an indicator available in the Ahrefs tool. Where to get such information from? If you are going to use a platform for publishing sponsored articles, you will get access to such data. You will learn what is the average UR value of articles published on a particular site. The UR value is the link strength of a particular subpage on a scale from 0 to 100 – the higher the value, the better.

Publishing sponsored articles

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Once you have a sponsored article ready, you’re halfway done. It’s time to make the text see the light of day. How to go about it?

You don’t have to search on your own for sites that will agree to publish the article for a fee. “Knocking from door to door” is a time-consuming process, and you certainly have things to do. Therefore, the best solution is to use special platforms that mediate between publishers and advertisers. Deciding on such an option, you get the opportunity to publish articles in the largest and most popular online portals and/or in local or nationwide services. This allows you to reach a wide audience, all at a relatively low cost.

Accessible platforms

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Companies interested in publishing sponsored articles can do so on one of the three most popular platforms.

Whitepress.co.uk

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More than 14,800 sites – you can take advantage of such a base by choosing to use the Whitepress platform.

As one of the most popular, Whitepress helps you conduct content marketing activities by publishing sponsored articles. CPC campaigns and influencer marketing are additional options.

How does this look like in practice?.

Step 1. You register on the site, and then – in the “Advertiser” tab you select “My projects”. You add a new project, then select it and click “Publish”.

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Step 2. You can search for services that meet certain criteria, such as subject matter, type of portal, quality of service, prices. You can also see all available services – just click “View Offer” for details of the offer.

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Step 3. After clicking on “View Offer”, you can learn about the quality requirements for the article, the net price, the possibility of dofollow links, etc.

Step 4. You choose a specific service, and then decide whether: you order the writing of an article or post your own. You add to the shopping cart and complete the formalities.

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If you want to outsource the writing of a sponsored article, you have several options to choose from. Depending on your needs, expectations and available budget, you can order the following versions: standard, extended, specialized, premium and premium plus. In each of the variants, you can check an example to assess the length, style and quality of the article.

Next, you specify guidelines to create a matching article.

Using the Whitepress.co.uk platform is quite intuitive. However, if any problems arise, the answers to most doubts can be found in the video tutorials.

Linkhouse.pl

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Linkhouse.pl is a platform through which you can publish sponsored articles. There are more than 14,000 sites with different reach and potential available to advertisers.

How does ordering publications look like in practice?

Step 1. After registering as an advertiser, you log in to the site. Then you use the database of offers – as an advertiser. You can search for the services you are interested in on your own, or learn about all the portals that publish sponsored articles.

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Step 2. You select a specific service and check the details of the offer.

Step 3. At this stage, you choose the publishing option – with your own sponsored article or have the content written (you specify the length of the article).

Step 4. You proceed to the shopping cart and finalize the transaction.

The platform allows you to plan and execute content marketing campaigns through thousands of sites of varying popularity.

ReachABlogger.co.uk

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It is not a typical platform for publishing sponsored articles. The essence of functioning is intermediation between advertisers and bloggers and influencers.

Step 1. After logging into the service, you can browse through the directory of blogger listings. It’s worth using the filtering option to get the most relevant results right away.

Step 2. To start working with the selected blogger, such as requesting a customized quote or finalizing a deal, you need to fund your account with a minimum amount of PLN 30 or a multiple thereof.

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ReachABlogger is an easy-to-use platform, and the only limitation that makes it difficult to discern how it works is the need to fund your account.

Platforms – similarities and differences

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Platforms mediating the publication of sponsored articles have several similarities, but also quite a few differences. It is worth familiarizing yourself with them in order to choose the solution that best fits your needs and expectations. I’ve outlined the main points below.

  • Requirement for registration

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To access the platforms, registration is a necessity. This is obvious, as it allows you to take full advantage of your profile’s capabilities, such as having access to a list of published articles, statistics, etc.

Joining platform users is free. Only in the case of ReachABlogger, you need to fund your account in order to connect with the blogger.

  • Number of available services

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In the case of Whitepress.co.uk and Linkhouse.co.uk, the number of services allowing the publication of sponsored articles is similar – it is more than 14,000. The situation is different in ReachABlogger – here almost 6,000 blogs are available and the possibility of publishing content on social media appears. Each platform also provides opportunities for publication of articles on foreign sites.

  • Possibility to order a sponsored article

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The three platforms not only allow you to publish your own article (e.g., ordered from a copywriting agency), but also give you access to order text that meets the publisher’s guidelines.

  • Article promotion option

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Only Whitepress.co.uk gives you the opportunity to run sponsored article promotion campaigns. In the case of ReachABlogger, additional text promotion can be agreed individually – depending on the rules of cooperation with a particular blogger.

How to choose services for publication?

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Price, number of unique users? Trust Flow? What to pay attention to when choosing sites for publishing sponsored articles? This is quite a complex issue that requires consideration of many different parameters.

  • Topic

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The subject matter must be thematically related to the industry in which your site operates. Otherwise, you may not only face refusal to publish, but above all, you will not reach your target audience with your message.

The issue of selecting the theme of the site is also important in the context of SEO. Link acquisition should be done only from thematically related portals. Given that the platforms offer access to thousands of websites, you can easily match the service to your industry.

  • Unique users

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The number of unique users reflects the average traffic to the site per month. The higher it is, the greater the chance of reaching a wide audience – potential customers.

  • Visibility

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Visibility is defined as estimated monthly traffic from organic search results. The data comes from Senuto, among others. This parameter is useful for comparing individual sites in terms of the traffic they can achieve, as well as the power that the links they acquire carry as a result.

  • Trust Flow

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Trust Flow is a trusted link flow indicator, which can reflect the quality and credibility of a site. A scale of 0-100 is used here, but an index of 30-40 points already indicates a good quality site.

  • Price

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The cost of publishing sponsored articles varies greatly – from a few tens of zlotys to even several thousand zlotys. It all depends on the popularity of the site, the traffic generated, the location of the article.

When the publisher says “NO”…

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You have a sponsored article ready, you have paid the fee for its publication and… you receive a rejection notice. You wonder what went wrong, since you paid for it? It turns out that the appearance of a sponsored article on the site is not so obvious at all. The publisher has the right to refuse publication if, for example, the text:.

  • does not fit the theme of the portal
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  • represents a very low level of content
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  • contains stylistic, spelling and other errors
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  • by its content violates Polish law
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  • constitutes an advertisement of an entity that is a competitor of the publisher
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That is why it is so important to prepare the article properly and follow the publisher’s instructions.

How much does it cost?

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The cost of publishing sponsored articles varies widely – from several tens of zlotys to even several thousand zlotys, which is due to, among other things:

For example, you will pay up to PLN 2,898 for publishing an article on pogoda.interia.pl. In return, the text will appear on the homepage and will be able to reach more than 2 million unique users (that’s the average monthly traffic on the site). The Trust Flow index is also high – as high as 51. Overall, the site received a high rating in terms of content (8/10) and technical rating (7/10).

In comparison, you will pay 28.75 PLN for publishing an article on downloadtesty.pl. The text will “hang” on the homepage for 10 days. You will pay not much, but also the content will not reach a wide audience – the average monthly number of users is 3,469. While the Trust Flow index is only 2. Content and technical evaluation also leave much to be desired.

Of course, low price does not always go hand in hand with poor site ratings. If you have a limited budget, you can easily find high-potential portals offering publication at an acceptable price level. Thus, activities can be tailored to the available financial resources. This allows not only large companies to promote themselves, but also smaller companies with limited marketing budgets.

Summary

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Sponsored articles are one of the easiest ways to promote your brand online. The key to success is not only a properly written text carrying content value and containing only a discreet mention of the company.

You need to keep SEO issues in mind – there is huge potential in external linking allowing you to effectively build your company website’s link profile to strengthen your presence in search results. This way you will increase your chances of reaching new customers and improve your sales results.

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Iza Gorzkowska

Założycielka i Head of Content w Sago Media – agencji copywriterskiej zajmującej się tworzeniem tekstów pozwalających na prowadzenie skutecznych kampanii marketingowych online. Z branżą związana od ponad 10 lat.

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