As an affiliate marketer, link redirects and cloaking have a number of advantages. Besides the pure aesthetics of a short, descriptive link, it can also have a considerable impact on the success of your business venture. It's seemingly a small detail, but one that adds a seal of quality and professionalism to your marketing content.
What a reader sees when hovering over a link in the body of your text, or when a URL appears in the address bar, can be a deciding factor. It has a subliminal influence on whether the reader follows the link, and that fraction of a second can make all the difference.
Finding a way to create, organize and manage redirects for all your links – especially in a way that fits seamlessly into your WordPress environment – can be problematic. Pretty Links was created specifically to solve that problem.
With that in mind, this post reveals five compelling reasons why setting up redirects for your links with Pretty Links is a smart addition to your affiliate marketing strategy.
Let's get cracking!
1. Increase Click-Through Rates
Your affiliate ID is the unique number used to track and record activity on your affiliate account. An affiliate link (with your ID included) typically looks something like this:
Each time a customer clicks on a link of yours, the data is stored in a cookie, and you get the commission.
Unfortunately, an obvious affiliate link can harm your credibility. If that unsightly link appears in the browser's address bar, it could quite possibly have a negative impact on your marketing efforts.
Psychologically, asking your readers to click a super long affiliate link with plenty of url parameters may send the wrong message – that you're ‘in it for the money' or even that you're ‘tracking every move they make.' No matter how well-written your copy is, and how attractive your images are, if your link gives the wrong kind of impression about your motives, your click-through rate can suffer.
Creating redirects for your links is easy with Pretty Links – simply paste the URL you want to setup a redirect for into the Target URL box and the plugin does the rest. You'll see your new short, descriptive link below the original, along with a four character slug (of course you can modify your link slug to anything you'd like).
To be clear this approach should never be used to obscure the fact that your link is an affiliate link. Before creating a pretty link redirect for your affiliate link you should check with your affiliate program to determine what their rules are on redirects and cloaking. But above all make sure you disclose each of your affiliate links — FTC rules state that you must fully disclose each affiliate link you have on your website (including on each page where you use the affiliate link). Whether your link is a direct affiliate link or redirects to an affiliate link it must be disclosed.
2. Avoid Ranking Penalties
Ranking penalties relate to how likely your page is to be found on a search engine such as Google. Search engines have complex algorithms that take lots of factors into consideration, and one of those factors is the number of affiliate links on your page.
Obviously, search engine traffic directly affects the commission from your affiliate links, so you can't afford to jeopardize your page's ability to be found.
Fortunately, there are ways around the issue of ranking penalties as they pertain to affiliate links. You could manually add “rel=nofollow” every time you create an affiliate link, but that's a tedious way to go about it.
Pretty Links makes the whole process much easier. It gives you the option to ‘nofollow' your pretty links from within the plugin's interface, without having to add a single line of code (these nofollows happen in the http headers rather than html so don't be alarmed if you don't see the nofollow in the link html). This means that when search engines crawl your site, they should skip over your affiliate links. While having too many affiliate or sponsored links can result in a penalty from Google, when they're redirected, your rankings will remain unaffected.
With Pretty Links, it's a walk in the park. Head to the plugin's dashboard, and navigate to Options > SEO Options. Tick ‘Nofollow' this link, after creating your shortened link, and you're good to go:
In addition to being able to add no-follows to the http headers of your pretty links, you can also add a ‘rel=”nofollow”‘ to all of your affiliate links when generating them using Pretty Links's keyword replacement feature.
3. Prevent Link Theft
Link theft or link swapping is when your affiliate link is deliberately removed or swapped for another before your customer's purchase is registered. An individual with bad intentions (and an affiliate account), could substitute your link with their own. The result is that you would lose the commission you would otherwise have earned.
Affiliate marketing has come a long way, and measures are taken to ensure that both companies and marketers comply with fair trade practices and Federal Trade Commission (FTC) regulations. Still, there will always be those individuals who try to find unscrupulous ways to milk the system.
Creating pretty link redirects for your links with Pretty Links protects you. Since your affiliate link isn't visible in the html, it can't easily be removed or swapped by anyone other than you, and your commission earnings remain safe.
4. Outsmart Ad Blockers
Nobody likes to be bombarded by adverts. Because of this, some of your readers might be using browser extensions such as AdBlock Plus. Unfortunately, those kinds of browser extensions can suppress your page because of your affiliate links.
Setting up redirects your links is the solution – often making your page available on browsers with ad blockers installed.
To ensure banner ads display correctly, you'll need to take one more precaution: Instead of hot-linking banners from the merchant's domain, download them, and host them directly from your own site preferably using an awesome ad-management plugin like AdSanity.
5. Make Link Management Easier
Product links expire and affiliate programs change, or even close for business. If you're trying to keep track of all your links with a spreadsheet, keeping up with all those changes can become a nightmare.
If you're a member of more than one affiliate program, you might find that you lose track of which products belong to the different programs. That means logging in and going through each one until you find what you're looking for.
Pretty Links makes it easy to update your links automatically, no matter how many times you've included them in your content. There's no need to keep a separate log.
You can also add a descriptive title for each link you create. This isn't displayed as part of your short link, it's simply there to help you stay organized when you're keeping track of your links. What's more, there's also the option to create groups for all your links – keeping everything nice and tidy:
You'll be able to see this information at a glance in the Links section. Here, your latest links are displayed first, along with the descriptive title you specified and the groups you've assigned:
Ultimately, the most important reason to set up pretty link redirects your links is to protect and to boost your commission earnings. While there are manual ways to get around the above problems, an automated solution will save you a great deal of time and give you peace of mind.
To summarize, here's why setting up redirects with Pretty Links makes sense … you can:
- Replace an unsightly URL link with a descriptive one that sits well with your audience and encourages click-throughs (but making sure to always comply with FTC rules by disclosing each affiliate link you use, on the page the link is listed on).
- Minimize the risk of ranking penalties from search engines.
- Protect your links from theft and swapping.
- Bypass ad-blocking apps.
- Make the whole process easier and more efficient.
Do you have an opinion on how link cloaking impacts your affiliate marketing? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!