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Should you use rel=sponsored on internal links? Here is the scenario: a company accepts money from one of their partners to place a prominent link on their home page. That link goes to an internal page on the company's website that contains information about that partner's service.

If this was an external link that the partner was paying for, then you would obviously use rel="sponsored" but since this is a link that goes from awebsite.example to awebsite.example/some-page/, it seems odd to qualify that link in this way.

Does this change if the link contains a "sponsored" label in the text (not in the rel qualifier)? Does this change if this link looks more like an ad (i.e. a banner image) vs. regular text (i.e. a link in a paragraph)?

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  • Does the page about the product have links on it? Does it have a way to buy the product? Oct 25, 2021 at 18:09
  • The internal page linked to should only have other internal links on it. If it had external links, those would have sponsor or nofollow attributes. Yes, there would be a way to buy the service offered on the internal page being linked to (so the partner is buying the link on the company's website to get more people buying the service through this company's website). Oct 25, 2021 at 18:31

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I wouldn't. This might rub some the wrong way, but unless the site gets a ton of traffic (thus the primary benefit) and building authority is not a goal, I can't imagine why anyone would want to pay for a rel="sponsored" link.

I'm not sure it's even expected on internal links. I agree this is sort of odd to imagine.

To my knowledge,rel="sponsored is meant for things like affiliate links and ads. Where you might not even know the entity linked at a given time.

The site featuring info on the provider's service must trust/endorse a site enough to call them a "partner", yeah? If yes, for that reason I'd probably just leave it followed. If no, then there might be other things to consider.

If the partner site is linked on the internal page, I might use <meta name="robots" content="nofollow"> on that page. Doing this will disassociate the host site from the linked site's reputation.

But if the entity is a "partner", I'd think Google would assume there's some meaningful reason for it being featured, and that it's not just because a transaction was involved.

If I was Google, I'd probably expect a followed link with that sort of relationship.

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    Hey Mike - thanks for this reply. Your answer tracks with what I was thinking too that Google would assume an internal link exists for a valid, editorial reason. The company in question here was concerned that since they were getting paid to place these links that it could seem questionable but they do have the final editorial say--it isn't just based around the transaction. Oct 27, 2021 at 13:07
  • @MatthewEdgar Sounds good! Glad to validate your reasoning. Oct 27, 2021 at 15:56

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