Recently while on CNN Money I noticed a “Paid partner content” section and curious to see if they were using Outbrain or something similar I did a quick inspect element and noticed that no, they’re not using a platform, at least not for all of them. Of the six partners sections they have listed there only one is using a third party tool (Dianomi) and that one is properly set to nofollow the links.
The rest look don’t appear to be using any advertising platform, instead just displaying a list of followed article links. Looking at the backlink profile in Ahrefs of some of the partners listed, you can see that some have over 10,000 followed links from CNN.com, others have over 30,000. You read that right, thirty thousand paid links from one of the biggest sites on the internet.Well, maybe some of them are natural, it’s hard to tell with all the paid ones.
That is a whole lot of link juice.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not in favor of any of these sites getting a penalty. Ideally Google can get in touch with CNN and get those changed to nofollow links so they aren’t actively participating in link schemes. It’s best to have a level playing field for everyone but it’s possible the CNN team managing that section just aren’t aware of follow/nofollow and the issues involved with it as it relates to paid links.
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