Protecting Affiliate Links
by Chatel Musgrove
Affiliate marketing is huge on the Internet. If you are reading this, you are probably one of the hundreds of thousands of affiliates that generate a large percentage of sales on the web. Some affiliates supplement their incomes through promoting affiliate programs, others count on their commissions for their livelihood.
But let me ask you, are you giving away a percentage of your commissions?
If you promote the links most affiliate systems provide you "as is," then the answer is probably yes and you may not even know it!
Let me explain.
If you get a link from an affiliate program and just copy and paste it into your newsletter, web site or article, then you're leaving yourself "exposed" to commission thieves.
For example. If you get a link that looks something like:
and you copy and paste this link into your newsletter, chances are that some of your readers will chop off your affiliate ID, and either replace it with their own, or just cut off the affiliate code all together.
Studies show that upwards of 30% of all affiliate links are stolen or chopped off, costing affiliates hundreds of thousands of dollars. Almost one out of every three links!
So how can you protect your affiliate links?
Here are three things you can do today:
1 - Create a redirect page for every affiliate link. When you get an affiliate link, create a HTML page. Name it to match the affiliate program you are promoting, and add a "redirect" META tag using the affiliate link you received. This is sometimes called a "redirect" page. Some hosting companies offer this option in their control panels, or you can easily create one.
Then instead of promoting the affiliate link directly, you promote the page you just created at your site.
For example, if I was promoting a weight loss program, I might use a link like:
There are several benefits to this:
- you are promoting YOUR web site, and keeping your name in front of your visitors - the link is shorter and more professional looking - you can check your host statistics to tell how many visitors clicked on your link, and compare it to the affiliate stats for this program (which can help determine if a promotion is working or not) - if the affiliate program you are promoting ends, or the company goes out of business, you just change the link inside your page. You control the traffic.
2 - Use a domain name and point it to your affiliate link.
For example, if you promoted an affiliate program that sold discount auto parts, you could register a name related to the auto parts business (using the most popular keywords that users search for) and have the domain automatically forward to that affiliate link. Some web hosting companies offer this service, and there are others that specialize in domain forwarding.
3 - Use a tracking service.
Although the links don't look very clean and don't promote your site, tracking links will protect your affiliate links, and will keep track of how many visitors clicked on your affiliate links. A few services now offer sales tracking also, which allows you to easily tell what promotions are working best in real-time.
4 - Use a link protection application to automatically hide your affiliate links.
There are several "link protection" systems and software available. Some that you download, some that are web based. Most also encrypt the affiliate link in one way or another, automatically create an HTML page and save them to your hard drive to allow you to promote your links as mentioned above.
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One of the benefits of using the pages from some of these systems is that you can submit the affiliate link page to the search engines.
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