In recent years, a number of digital news media outlets have begun to include paid links in their content. This study seeks to identify and analyse this content whose sole purpose is to improve the website authority of the advertisers and their search engine rankings. To do so, it employs two basic methodologies: first, it undertakes a systematic review of off-page SEO practices, the digital press and native advertising; and, second, it reports a case study based on the identification and analysis of 150 news items that contain specially commissioned links resulting from a commercial transaction. The study provides evidence of a new revenue stream for the digital news media, one that is not clearly disclosed and which is based on the sale of links. The article includes a discussion of the case study findings, and presents future guidelines for the use of paid links based on the emerging concept of ‘native advertising’.

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Published on 11/01/19
Accepted on 11/01/19
Submitted on 11/01/19

Volume 28, Issue 1, 2019
DOI: 10.3145/epi.2019.ene.07
Licence: CC BY-NC-SA license

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