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Okay, so I sat down the other day to tap in some affiliate links to the site. Nothing looks funkier than a 3000 char URL. Seriously. I actually meant to fill in exactly how I did this the other day when I did it, but naturally, something else came up and here I am trying to remember exactly how I did it.

Here we go.

Goal

Add affiliate link (or even a general link) in as easy a way as possible without a huge long URL. Make it easily modifiable with a minimum of muss and fuss if desired in the future.

Notes to consider:

  • There is some evidence that Google does not smile as favorably on affiliate links as it does normal links. Except AdSense I’m sure.
  • You may decide that you want to repoint it down the road.  Need a mechanism to allow this without having to do major searching across your website, particularly if it’s more than a few pages.
  • There are nice PHP ways of doing things. I use WordPress.  We want solutions that work easily and quickly from the WordPress interface. No major PHP scripts that have to be planted in backend code.

Steps:

Get the Plugins

While I am an old school guy, in this case, I want to be using plugins to make life easier in the future.  We don’t want to have to remember a lot of code we’ve hacked into the backend and all that.  While some of the gurus of Internet Marketing suggest using some PHP codes, I’m not in the running for a 6 figure income from internet marketing at this point.  I’m happy to even get 1 sale. The following plugins work well for me to add in a nice affiliate link system

Simple URLs – This is the plugin that will allow you to create a friendly looking URL that actually will be easy to remember.  It creates links in the format http://domain.com/to/easytorememberslug. Get rid of ugly affiliate links forever!

SEO Auto Linker – Now THIS plugin is good for more than just affiliate linking. This is actually good for a number of SEO purposes – sort of like the name suggests.  IT can be used to create sitewide links to particular pages.  I, for example, use it to create regular links to my pages most needing love and feeding – like my business computer page.  Anytime the page contains the phrase “business computer”, the page will be rendered with an automatic link to my Business Computer page.  You can adjust the number of links on a page.  So if you don’t want your customers hammered with 20 links on a page – depending on how common the phrase is – you can set the plugin to only show, for example, 2 links per page.

Neither of these plugins are brain killers so I will leave the config details out here.  They’re pretty easy and straightforward.

Get your affiliate program URL lined up

There are a ton of ’em out there. And if you’re reading this, odds are good you have a better handle on them than I do.  I like Commission Junction.  I’d love Amazon, but since I live in North Carolina and the NC Dept of Revenue decided to get into a p*ssing contest with with them, affiliate sales with them directly are off the table.  Anyway, get your URL to basically alias.

Add your Affiliate URL (or other) to Simple URLs

You obviously want to add the URL that contains your affiliate information.  The link will NOT show anything along those lines when it’s actually rendered.  It will show something of your choosing like http://domainname.com/to/myproductname.  Copy and paste the created permalink that you have created. You will use this in the next step.

Add your autolinking goodness for your affiliate

Go to the SEO Auto Linker tab on the left and “Add New Link”.  Drop in your keywords separated by a comma, and then drop in the URL that you created in the prior step.  I normally set my links to 2 unless I have a reason.  On some pages where I want to make SURE that someone can find a link, I increase the limit.  I set the target to “_blank” usually to increase hang time on my website.  I am happy if people find what they want on my site and move on, but Google feels that they need to stay. So we do what we need to do to get them to stay as long as possible.  I choose no self links and leave the NoFollow This Link unchecked.  I check the Posts and Pages options.  Of course, make sure that the status is “Enabled” and then save it.  You should be good to go now.

Test Your Configuration

There’s no use going through all this and discovering a lot of missed clicks later that you don’t have something setup right.  Let’s test.  Create a post (or visit an existing post/page) that has the keyword phrase from the SEO Auto Linker in there.  Visit it via your browser. Make sure the link is there.  Click it and make sure that things are going where they are supposed to be.  As well, check to make sure when your window opens to your affiliate target that the proper URL is showing.  Again, if you’re not getting credit for it, what’s the point??