Marketing sponsorships present significant value beyond brand visibility and website traffic. Sophisticated marketers today are looking to get the most out of sponsorships, and one way to do so is utilizing the benefits of search engine optimization. In order to improve marketing sponsorships with SEO, you need to identify the different sponsorship types available and the key criteria necessary in analyzing SEO value.
Traditional Media – Print, TV, Radio
Sponsorships through traditional media typically come in the form of ad placements or live endorsements on programs (e.g., “This message is brought to you by…” ). While this can be a great way to drive users to your website, it contains little SEO value in itself.
Yet it is possible to leverage the power of site traffic to support your SEO initiatives. For instance, if you are offering prospects incentives for visiting your website via a sponsorship, give them the option to share the page they land on through methods such as social sharing buttons and email. Social shares can send “signals” back to search engines and present the opportunity for people to link back to your website through other sites like blogs and forums.
Advertorials can provide great SEO value when structured and implemented properly. There are important considerations when addressing the value of an advertorial.
- PageRank – Although Google may not put as much stock as they used to in PageRank, the value hasn't gone away completely. It's still one of the best ways to determine the power of outbound links on a particular website.
- Relevancy – Websites that link back to you are best when they are authoritative and relevant. When possible, utilize the SEO power of linking partners with content pertinent to your industry and products/services.
- Outbound Links – This is often an overlooked metric, but one that is growing in importance as Google updates their algorithms. A high volume of outbound links from a website can appear “spammy” to the search engines. If you're offered an advertorial and the page your content will reside on is filled with Google Adsense or links out to the other sponsors, it might be a good idea to pass.
Social Media Sponsorships
Social media sponsorships can carry SEO value, and their influence on SEO is likely to increase as social networks continue to expand. If you're offered a sponsored Tweet or Facebook post as part of a partnership, you should weigh the value in common sense metrics.
Does this company have a high volume of Twitter followers or Facebook fans? Perhaps more importantly, do they have a high engagement rate amongst their community members? If you decide to pursue a sponsorship that includes social media mentions, be sure to write the Tweet or Facebook post with SEO in mind.
Include product or service names you are focused on, as well as a link back to your website. Popularity is one of the most important signals sent to search engines from social networks. Ensure that your social media team is re-tweeting or sharing posts to drive the highest engagement possible.
Keep in mind that the search engines will read social signals and attribute these to your overall website popularity, but the value will wane if you don't continue to send these signals. Try to secure sponsorships that promote your brand through social media in a consistent manner.
Video sponsorships typically come in the form of pre-roll or adjacent ad placements on video based social sites. Ad placements such as these can send traffic to your website, but they contain little SEO value beyond that- unless the video sponsorship opportunity is on a popular, high-traffic site like Youtube.
To get started, check with the potential partner to see if they will provide a permanent link for you within the video description. If possible, this link should be surrounded by a description of the page it is linking to (including 1 or 2 target keywords) as well as a link with a keyword-rich anchor text.
It's important to point out that links from social media sites such as Youtube are considered “no-follow,” however, many of us in the SEO field believe that no-follow links from social are becoming more valuable, and like the aforementioned social media sponsorship example, will continue to grow in the future.
Many sponsorship packages will include a listing within a “Sponsors” section on the partner's website. These listing pages can act similar to directories, which today still present great SEO opportunity. There are a couple of critical considerations for pages such as these;
- PageRank – As mentioned in the advertorial section, check the PageRank of the website that will feature you in a dedicated sponsorship section- the higher, the better.
- Description and Links – Try to ensure you not only get featured on a sponsor page, but that you also have a bit of description and have a text link back to your website. Logos are typically an easy way to set up these pages. A link from a logo will carry some value, but you really want to seek out a text link and if possible, write a custom description of your business, products, etc. (with keyword focus).
In conclusion, sponsorships can carry significant SEO value when assessed and implemented properly. Each sponsorship opportunity is unique, and each implementation recommendation should be custom.