Why SEO Optimization Matters for Sponsored Content

It’s no secret: SEO is quite the buzzword right now. And with good cause!

Anyone who has been hit hard by changes to social media algorithms can attest that having diversity among your traffic sources is as important as having a diversified revenue stream.

While search performance is never 100% within our control (thanks, Google), changes to search algorithms are often easier to manage than social media algorithm changes.

But how often do we use our SEO skills as a selling point to brands when negotiating sponsored work?

I’d be willing to bet that the answer is “not nearly enough” when the answer should be “100% of the time!”

So today, let’s talk about why brands should care about your content being optimized for search.

LONG CONTENT IS KING

We talk all the time about lengthening your content here at Mediavine. It’s a big part of increasing your RPM and making more of that sweet, sweet money.

But why should brands care?

First off, many of our long-content recommendations, such as increasing font size and line height, make content easier to read across devices. We know that people click away from hard-to-read content – that goes for brands, too!

Writing long, useful content also demonstrates an ability to engage your readers.

Something I often recommend is to share your average time on page as part of your media kit. A long average time on page shows that readers are really taking in your content, and thus a brand’s messaging.

ANSWER READER QUESTIONS

Google loves content that is useful to readers. One way to make your content more useful is by answering commonly asked questions within the body of your post.

Brands should also love content that is useful to readers. They want to be associated in a reader’s mind with high-quality content.

Additionally, keeping readers on your post and answering their questions keeps a reader from potentially finding the answer from your sponsor’s competitor.

Let’s say you work with Paint Company A. They hire you to create a post on repainting your bedroom.

Scenario 1:

Your post talks about how great Paint Company A is, but doesn’t include any bedroom-painting FAQs. Your reader still has questions after reading the post, so they search and find the answers on Paint Company B’s website.

Now Paint Company B is top-of-mind for them when they head to the store.

Scenario 2:

Your post goes on to answer questions on what brushes or rollers work best when painting the corners of a room, how long you need to wait between coats of paint, and how to clean your walls in future so as not to ruin your paint job.

Now your reader has not only learned about Paint Company A, they have had all of their questions answered, and Paint Company A is top-of-mind as they prepare to repaint their own bedroom.

In which scenario do you think Paint Company A is going to find more value? (Hint: it’s 2!)

KEEP YOUR READERS READIN’

Increasing a reader’s duration on your site by linking to yourself within your posts is obviously extremely beneficial to you, but is it beneficial to your sponsors?

Yes! It absolutely can be!

We always recommend making sure that the content you’re creating for a brand is evergreen and worth promoting and linking to long after the initial campaign period has ended.

If a brand sees that you frequently link to your old content, they will know there is a good chance that you could link to their evergreen content in the future as well.

Long term eyeballs on a brand’s content = long term ROI for them.

SITE SPEED IS YOUR FRIEND

We’re a little obsessed with site speed around here. That’s certainly a well-known fact.

We’re obsessed because Google is obsessed, and Google is obsessed because readers are impatient and want to see content RIGHT NOW.

Well, brand reps are readers, too! And just like easy-to-read content, they want to see fast content and are likely to click away from slow-to-load pages.

HOW DOES YOUR CONTENT RANK?

At the end of the day, all of these little things can add up to big changes in your search rankings.

Remember how we must always, always use nofollow links within sponsored content?

The nofollow attribute changes how Google views a link to the brand. Your link to them may not be boosting their search results directly, but demonstrating that your content often ranks on your target keywords can show them that their branded content could still be found in search.

Are all brand reps thinking in this way with the big picture in mind? Sadly, no.

But you have the ability to help change their ways of thinking!

Part of creating authentic sponsored content is communicating with the brand.

During your negotiations, share some of these points with them. Include some of these facts and figures in your pitches and media kit.

Is it your job to educate every brand rep out there? Certainly not.

But as you develop relationships with the brands you work with, be mindful of opportunities to expand how they think about the ways in which SEO relates to sponsored work.

After all, a rising tide raises all ships.

Learn more from Stephie in her chat on Teal Talk earlier this year!