Smart affiliate marketers always hide their affiliate links. They don’t just share their long and ugly affiliate links in their marketing campaigns. They use short and pretty links instead.
What Is An Affiliate Link
An affiliate link is just a URL encoded with some code so that the affiliate program knows that the visitor came from your affiliate link. The affiliate program will then award you commissions if a purchase was made by the visitor from your link.
This is how standard not shortened affiliate links may look like:
Just stare are the above links for a bit. Lets be honest now, would you really click on them without thinking twice about it?
Here are some of the questions that might pop into your visitor’s head when they see such links:
- They’ve got some cryptic codes in the link.
- Where will the link bring me to?
- The link is going to install something into my system.
- I will be charged for something on my mobile when I click.
- This link leads to some junk site.
These are how shortened and pretty affiliate link looks like:
Now, these links look more decent, don’t you think. You could probably click on any of them without worrying about those things mentioned earlier.
Why Shorten An Affiliate Link?
Those who are new to affiliate marketing must be thinking..
“Why do I need to shorten my affiliate links? Is it a requirement?”
Well, it is not a requirement. You are not breaking any law if you want to share your long and ugly links with the world. No one is going to penalize or give you a ticket for it.
However, you do gain some added benefits if you were to shorten your affiliate links. There are many benefits, but I mainly shorten my links because of the following:
1. They look nicer.
2. They give your visitors some level of knowledge about what they are clicking on.
3. You can create different short links for different promotional locations – one link for Facebook, another for your blog and so on.
4. You can track which links are getting more clicks.
Once you have more experience in Affiliate Marketing, you will probably have your own set of reasons why you shorten your links.
Then, of course, there are some SEO stuff to ponder about affiliate links too.
Why Not Use Link Shorteners?
Bit.ly, Ow.ly, TinyUrl and Goo.gl are some of the more famous link shortening services available. I do use them. As a matter of fact, I use all of them. However, when it comes to shortening my affiliate links, I use my own link shortening service.
Yes, I have my very own link shortening service here in KodeeXII.Net. That is why you see links like “http://kodeexii.net/go/somewhere” in here. Those are links which have been shortened by a link shortening plugin in WordPress.
Why don’t I use a third party service for my affiliate links?
Well, I like to be in control of my money making assets. I consider those affiliate links as my assets because they are my army of passive income generators. I create them and send them out there to silently make money for me. Some make a lot, some make a few, others just lie dormant.
Having your own link shortening services allows you to easily manage your links. Your links remain alive as long as you keep your domain and hosting running. It’s you in control.
Affiliate programs and products come an go. Something you are promoting today may not be the best product in the future. The affiliate program might also change to a different system and your links are now different.
If your links are hosted on a third party site, you may not be able to modify your short links. Thus, making your army of links useless. Use your own service and you can just modify the links at your end. You don’t have to worry about your link army pointing to an outdated URL.
By using my own URL shortening service, I am also not bothered if any of the external shortening services were to shutdown. Rest assured, I will keep my service running for as long as I can.
How To Shorten Affiliate Links In WordPress
There are so many URL shortening scripts available out there. Some free, others not. However, since we are looking strictly at a shortening solution for the WordPress platform, lets just focus on the few plugins that is available for WordPress.
- Simple URLS
Developed by the good people at studiopress, Simple URLs is a complete URL management system that allows you create, manage, and track outbound links from your site by using custom post types and 301 redirects.
- WordPress Link Cloaking
Affiliate link cloaking can hide affiliate links from visitors so that you don’t worry about visitors remove your affiliate id and visit product website directly. It also can be used as link shrink plugin. It can shrink link and make it to be short url/short link. When visitors click shrinked link, it will redirect to your original link.
- Pretty Link Pro
Pretty Link Pro is more than a mere Affiliate Link Cloaker or URL shortener — it will revolutionize how you approach your business by allowing you to automate repetitive tasks, optimize your site with testing, see the results of your campaigns immediately and virally spread your links—including all your Affiliate Links within minutes!
Simple URLs and WordPress Link Cloaking are both free plugin. Both are about similar in features. Simple URLs automatically creates a subfolder in your links. With Simple URLs your short links will be something like http://yourdomain.com/go/link1.
On the other hand, with WordPress Link Cloaking, you can choose your own subfolder if you wish to have one. Thus, you link can be like http://yourdomain.com/link1 or http://yourdomain.com/subfoldername/link1. You decided how your link will be like.
Pretty Link Pro is a premium plugin. It is one of the most widely used premium plugin for shortening urls in WordPress. Pretty Link Pro allows you to create many types of shortened URLs.
The 307 and 301 redirects are standard types of short links which are also created by the above two free plugins. Pretty Link Pro adds the following additional redirection types:
The actual target URL is not displayed on the user’s browser. They see your URL instead.
- Pretty Bar
Similar to Cloaked. In addition, a top bar is displayed at the top of the browser interface. You can customize this bar with your own branding and message. Click this to see pretty bar in action.
This is not actually a redirection. It functions more as a tracking mechanism. If you want to track how many times your email message (HTML format) is opened, for instance.
Adds a timer before redirection.
- Meta Refresh
Note: Many affiliate programs do not allow the use of url cloaking methods that hide the actual target URL from the user’s browser. Thus making only the standard 301 and 307 redirection types the only type of shortening allowed. So, before you decide to use the other more fancy redirection types, make sure your affiliate program is ok with it.
Here are merchants that I know who do not allow URL cloaking – Google, Bing/Yahoo, Amazon, and ClickBank. Use the standard 301 or 307 with these. There are probably more. Don’t forget to ask first.
There are surely more WordPress plugins that can shorten urls. You can do your own due diligence on the others. I’ve only ever used these three and I know they work splendid.