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Browsing posts in: Affiliate Marketing

Hiding or ‘Cloaking’ Affiliate Links

If you take much interest in what site you’ll be delivered to when you impart a click (as most of us internet marketers do), you may have noticed the increasing prevalence of ‘cloaking links’ over the recent, and not so recent years.

By cloaking – in this particular context – what I mean is that when you hover over a link instead of being advised in the status bar that you’ll be visiting jeffsaffiliateshop.com, you’ll see thissite.com/go/jeffs if you’re in any part curious as to why this is, allow me to explain. It may come as news to some, but perhaps not all.

The reasons that webmasters will cloak their links are, in my opinion, and certainly my experience 3-fold. As always, I more than welcome any comments – either in agreement and support, or abject dispute.

Hiding from Google

I don’t believe it’s any particular secret that Google is not the greatest fan of affiliate links, they may not go around de-listing sites for a few affiliate links here and there, but on the whole they don’t revere and promote them.

Therefore changing how Google crawls and sees a link on your site from something like affiliatelink.com/affil-123-iate to thissite.com/go/123, is a positive step in changing Google’s perception of your site and your intentions. I previously worked on a high traffic (1.2million uniques a month) affiliate site and to protect the site reputation, every affiliate link was passed through an internal handler and applied with the nofollow attribute. I can’t be certain that the Page Rank of 6, or strong SERPs positioning would be retained without doing this, but it seemed wise to not risk it.

Hiding from your users

This is a somewhat contentious point, but: users will be more likely to click on a link that they don’t feel will take them elsewhere. Some will say that this is likely to increase conversion as it will put more users in front of an affiliate product they are (potentially) interested in, having read copy on it.

I’m kindof split on this, I believe that if you wish to retain users (retention is always easier, cheaper and better than acquisition) absolute clarity is key. To start sending users off-site in a misleading fashion is never going to give a positive user experience, and will not encourage repeat visit.

Easier link management

If you have one document, function, database or plugin where all of your affiliate links are held and redirected, then it’s considered an easier way to make amends should one of your merchants change their site structure and leave you with a dead link.

Although having said that, on re-skinning this site recently it seems to have removed all my tracking links. The irony, it hurts.

So how do you cloak them?

There are many ways to to deploy an internal redirect mechanism, although the scale and language the site is built in will likely determine this. If your site is built in ColdFusion or PHP, and you’re looking for a custom solution, then please do get in contact and perhaps I can be of assistance.

Although for now I will focus solely on using with WordPress Plugins seeing as that is the platform I’m currently writing on.

Using a WordPress Plugin

  1. Hidden Affiliate Links
  2. Pretty Link Lite
  3. Link Hopper
  4. WP Link Changer

Any queries at all, please either drop a comment below or do get in contact with me. Would love to hear any thoughts at all.

Amazon Associates Program

Amazon Associates is surely one of the web’s best affiliate programs on the web, as well as a key driving force in the growth of the e-tailing giant. Having spent this morning pondering over products to select write about and link to, I’ve binned it off in favour of just writing about the program in general.

This will be a short and sweet article because if you’re a site owner I’d encourage you to head on over to Amazon and check it out instead of reading about it.

The elements in its favour are plentiful and varied, this is off the top of my head so anything I’ve missed, feel free to add in as a comment below…

  • First off – it’s awesomely simple to sign up; no fees, no endless forms, no phone calls, just create your account and start driving some traffic.
  • Second – Amazon sell pretty much anything you can think of, so regardless of your site’s topic, you’re pretty much guaranteed to find relevant products you can recommend to your visitors.
  • Third – the UI is beautifully constructed and absurdly easy to use, providing a number of ways to link to your products including: carousels, plain links, store widgets etc. They seem to cater for any which way you want to promote their products.

I could go on an on but it’s probably best you check it out for yourself. Honestly it’s so flexible that you’ll find it hard not to integrate into your site. As a side note – I don’t actually earn any money that way, admittedly (at the time of writing) I only have a couple of affiliate links on my site on this ColdFusion Article I wrote. Therefore am putting it down more to my laziness in deploying rather than by being ineffective. Though I do intend to substantially ramp this up in the coming months, so do check back in, and as always I’ll be completely open and honest with any commissions etc.

Try the Amazon Associates Program

Affiliate Marketing Research

Affiliate Marketing Research Article

Starting Out in Affiliate Marketing

Over the past 3 months or so I’ve half-heartedly dabbled with Affiliate Marketing. That is to say I’ve read about industry practices, bought domains and produced sites. Though throughout this time I have to say I haven’t adhered to the golden rule that is iterated time and time again: choose a niche. Well, this time around I have done just that.

Previous Outings

The affiliate site that I threw quite a lot of effort into sits at GiftJunkies.co.uk – a particularly ambitious and ill-thought project where it was believed that pure SEO and unique content for every product would position the site well in the SERPs. No SEM, no black-hat, just unique content and an ethical approach. Well who knows, it may just have done had we persevered with it. Though upon cranking out unique copy for the 50th+ product, the realisation suddenly dawned that “gifts” was no niche and certainly not an area for a first-timer with no budget to attempt; as the scope and level of competition is simply overwhelming.

Maybe one day GiftJunkies will be revisited, revamped and turned into a high-revenue site, though for now it’s being left in the background to totter along picking up marginal SEO traffic, the occasional click-through and no conversions.

It All Takes Time

Appreciated, creating a site then abandoning it the web’s wilderness within just a few months, discounting it as “not-feasible” will never provide any success in affiliate marketing, as it’s a long slog rather than quick buck (in most cases). This is understood. Yet when something is simply too large a project to tackle with little prior experience, it can often be best just to step back and admit your mistakes, rather than push on with a project that will yield little – if any – positive results. Though the knowledge learned about proper research and forward planning is invaluable.

Why This Post?

I’m not entirely sure to be honest, I read and re-read hundreds of posts and tips advising to select and target a niche, though foolishly I did not listen. So just thought I’d share a little snippet of one of my ventures to highlight the time wasted and headache that randomly targeting such a broad market can bring.

So now I’m off to target a niche of a niche and see where exactly this can take me on my affiliate travels, any feedback, as always I’d love to hear.

Affiliate Marketing

The New Media industries are amongst the most fascinating and bewildering in existence. The power of the medium to communicate, the sheer volume of niches and the perpetual evolution of the technologies and strategies are enough to draw most people in; then when learning of the often ludicrous remuneration that comes in these industries, one would be a fool if one did not even take a peek into them.

There is no way that I will be able to cover all industries in one article without producing a piece that span the length of the web, so with the reader in mind I’ll look at covering only one or two areas per article, though I’m not making any promises as I do tend to get carried away.

Affiliate marketing is essentially the estate agent of the web; their only offering is the knowledge and ability to push and generate sales. Though they have less responsibility than estate agents. An affiliate site will present a product and link through to the store that sells that product, if a user clicks on the link and purchases the item, then the affiliate site will be paid a commission from the sale. When all the technicalities are stripped out, then that is essentially what it is in its’ barest form.

In order to generate higher-quality sales leads that you are driving towards the retailer, added value will need to be introduced to your sales page. For example some advertising copy, a video review, or the ultimate in affiliate marketing: a price comparison website. The higher the quality of the traffic driven to the retailer, will result in greater commissions earned.

Of course it’s not just a case of throwing up a site with links to retailers in, then sitting back and watching the cash pile up. Valuable content needs to be produced, time needs investing in marketing – search engine optimisation, SEM or both – and products need to be selected. The marketing proves to be the most time-intensive aspect of the site, not to mention being a highly-skilled task.

Currently I am co-running a gift affiliate site located at giftjunkies.co.uk. All the written content is unique and nothing is duplicated – somewhat of an anomaly in an industry driven by product feeds containing written content relating to the product. But this is our angle, this is what makes us unique. We’re keeping a diary of our progress, so please do check in with our progress if you find our mission of interest.

Well that’s my entry on affiliate marketing, not overly-long as I do spend a lot of time writing for it and indulging in it – both for freelance projects and as the terms of my contracted employment – so perhaps understandably it gets a little tiresome after a while.