Affiliate Links Done Right

Affiliate marketing can be a good way to monetize a website. It’s not a get rich quick method, but we have seen people earning thousands a month from established websites.

The key is to have a good website that gets plenty of traffic and to have plenty of persuasive links to products. Sometimes putting the links in in the easiest way doesn’t give you the most persuasive links.

Here you see what happened when we inserted the premade affiilate link for a book into a client’s website: we got a small picture, badly placed, and a few paragraphs that will be found on all the websites that use the same affiliate marketing arrangement.


Below you can see the post we actually ended up with: a large picture of the book’s cover, nicely wrapped with original content.

The second version of the post is clearly more attractive to human readers. It’s also better from the point of view of SEO, since it has original content and an image with alt text (words describing the picture that search engines can read).

The problem of duplicate content is one of the reasons affiliate sites so often have bad results in search. And, though search engines can’t see pictures and layout, the problem of unattractive web pages is one of the reasons affiliate sites often have bad results with visitors, too.

The website we’re working with is More Than a Review, a book review site that also rates books on the amount of salty language, sex, drugs, and violence each book contains. Visitors can identify books that they’d find offensive or which they wouldn’t want to add to their classroom libraries or choose as a gift for their grandmas. Some of the books are linked to online bookstores for easy purchase, and the site owner has an affiliate relationship with some of those bookstores.

The idea when the bookstores provide affiliate links is that the website owner can just copy the code and place it on their websites. As we’ve seen, it’s not always that simple.

Here are step-by-step instructions for making the better affiliate link:

Get the link to the product from your affiliate site. You can also copy the image of the item you’ll be showing. The bookstore clearly has given us permission to use the image by including it in the link.

Upload the image to your blog post as you usually would. Then look at the HTML editor of your CMS (content management system). The example below is from a WordPress site, but the steps will be the same at Blogger or another blog site. You’ll see something like this:

The first part of the sentence, shown below, is the actual link. It says “a (anchor text) href (hypertext reference) is equal to URL (web address).” This tells the browser that when someone clicks on the link — in this case, the picture– they should be taken to the web address we specify. We have taken the web address from the pre-made affiliate link and tucked it into the place where the URL of the picture was.

The URL from the affiliate had a special code in it (we’ve erased it) to say which site it came from, as well as some other extra information. That’s really all we needed from the pre-made link.

We’ve added the title and author of the book where the code says “alt=” so people who are searching for the book might see our book cover. WordPress lets us automatically specify the size of the picture and set it to the left; it also sets a margin for the text (if your theme doesn’t do this, contact your designer and ask to have that fixed).

Now we can go back to the Visual editor (Blogger calls it “Compose”) and add plenty of useful information about the book. Our client’s chances of getting a sale are higher, the site’s visitors will have a better experience, and we’re more likely to come up in search.

Not a bad payoff for a little copy and paste.


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