Curious about what free solutions are available for affiliate link management?
In the first part of this series I showed you the scope of the problem, that management of affiliate links combined with cloaking of those links, while desperately needed by affiliate bloggers, can be accomplished in a number of ways from within WordPress.
Today we’re going to look at a couple free and lightweight tools that, while not comprehensive, do a pretty nice job!
One advantage of the tools I’m going to cover today are free, easy setup -and- if you only need half the functionality you can pick and choose which one you install!
Anytime we can minimize using too clunky of a plugin (which is hard to maintain), too many plugins (which bog our server/blog down), too complicated plugins (which give us a headache), and too expensive of a plugin (which is detrimental to cash flow unless its REALLY good)… we should. These are really things to keep in mind any time you consider plugin purchases (or any purchase!) for your business!
In part one of this series, we pointed at that we wanted a solution to three problems and this pair is going to let us address two separate problems:
(1) making the link visually friendly to improve click-through and
(2) auto-linking that link throughout our blog, when we use specified keywords, saving us time, energy and headache.
GoCodes: An incredibly simple way
to make clean redirect URLs from your ugly affiliate links
GoCodes is a free plugin in the WordPress repository (plugin collection) that lets you quickly and easily turn an ugly link into a domain based link.
For example, you can turn:
This is a perfect, easy to use solution for someone that only has a handful of affiliate links to manage. Its simple design won’t give you or your blog a headache.
However, the downside is that GoCodes does not enable cloaking/masking to protect the link and there is no easy way to search for, group or otherwise manage a high number of affiliate links. Even from the time I was only a few months in, I rapidly had WAY too many links for this solution to be optimal. (Don’t worry, I’ve got more solutions coming later in this series!) Also, while it’s always had a good history, I would say this plugin may be slowly on the way out as it’s not being actively developed at this time.
You can learn more about WordPress GoCodes here.
SEO Smart Links:
Auto-Linking Your Keywords & Text,
So You Can Focus On Blogging
In a (brief) nutshell, SEO Smart Links automatically takes the keywords and phrases from the post you’re busy writing, with appropriate links to posts/pages/keywords/tags from other content on your blog. This, by itself is a HUGE time-saver because it saves us from having to spend hours, routinely, over and over again being sure that we’ve kept all of our old pages linked to our new ones and new pages linked to our old ones, as is called for in good SEO. For this purpose, it works pretty much straight out of the box, with its default settings.
If you haven’t been fully introduced to what interlinking is and why it’s important for SEO please be sure you drop by my post on interlinking for WordPress.
However, the downside of SEO Smart Links (which is true of all plugins of this type) is that you must individually add each URL of your post into it and set up the keywords you want that post to be auto-linked for. Many people forget to do this and expect the plugin to do all the magic with no work from themselves.
Its SEO features alone make SEO Smart Links (or another plugin we’ll discuss in the next post) a “needed” for the all bloggers even if you’re not using it to auto-link redirected affiliate links. Its super simple to set up and you’re going to love the time saving benefits.
You can learn more about WordPress SEO Smartlinks here.
A Third Alternative: Affiliate Link Cloaker
A Newer Free Plugin That Combines The Features
I mention this plugin with a note of caution. It’s newer and not extensively tested. However, because it’s designed to help geotarget Amazon links, if you are an Amazon affiliate it might be worth considering.
“Affiliate Link Cloaker” brings together the features of the prior two plugins in a more standardized interface. It is also, as of the time of this writing, being currently maintained which is always a good sign. While I have no reason to dis-trust this plugin, the fact that many major IM’ers are still passing it over in factor of my upcoming solutions serves as an interesting sign that it’s not yet fully trusted in the community.
You can learn more about Affiliate Link Cloaker here.
I personally used both GoCodes & SEO Smart Links together until I moved to others that I will be covering later in this series.
This is a pair of really strong free WordPress plugins that will assist you in affiliate link management. The SEO benefits just sweeten the deal! You absolutely can NOT go wrong with SEO Smart Links… and if you only have a few affiliate links to manage, GoCodes. They’re lightweight and easy to use.
If however you’re looking for a way to create some cohesion and link-back to all of the community blogs you recommend and/or using affiliate links extensively the way I’m now starting to… I suggest you pass on GoCodes and hold out to see what I have in store for you in the upcoming parts 3 & 4!
Your Partner In Online Success
PS Be sure to leave your comments below, I look forward to hearing from you! (And thank in advance if you decide to share this with others!)