If you have a website that promotes services or products with the intention of earning money online then you will need to know how to add affiliate links to your website.
A successful affiliate marketing business makes money from commissions. How do you earn these commissions? By referring your website visitors to the incredible products you promote. And how do you refer people to these incredible products? Yes, you’ve guessed – with affiliate links!
As many online marketers use WordPress, simply because it’s probably the best platform to build a site, this post will explain how to add affiliate links in WordPress.
What Is An Affiliate Link?
Let’s start with the basics! An affiliate link is a unique link provided to affiliates that promote a service or product. The affiliate link is coded with a cookie that tracks people who click on the link.
By tracking people who click on your unique link, the company you send your visitors to will know where they came from and who to credit any commissions. You will only be paid if the person who clicks the link goes on to make a purchase.
Some affiliate links have a cookie that lasts for 24 hours while others may last for up to 90 days. For a 90 day cookie, this means that anybody who clicks on your link and buys from the merchant in the period of 90 days will earn you a commission. The only thing that could stop you earning a commission during this period is if the user clears their cookies in their web browser.
Say you have a website that promotes products on Amazon
- A visitor clicks your Amazon affiliate link
- A cookie is placed on their browser (a 24-hour cookie is normal for Amazon)
- The cookie tracks them on Amazon to see if they purchase or not
- If they make a purchase on Amazon within 24 hours you will earn a commission. It can be for any products, not just the product they were originally interested in.
Related post: Affiliate Marketing for Beginners – How to Get Started
Finding Affiliate Programs
To obtain your affiliate links you will need to join affiliate programs or affiliate networks. There are very many different affiliate programs available and what you choose will depend on your niche.
Some manufacturers have their own affiliate programs and some use affiliate networks.
Affiliate Networks are the middlemen between the merchant and the affiliate. They are essentially marketplaces where the merchants can find a large number of affiliates and vice versa.
The networks are responsible for processing the payments from the customers, keeping track of affiliate commissions and paying the affiliates.
It’s easy to sign up to an affiliate network but it’s a good idea to have a website.
- With some networks, once you have signed up you can promote any products in their marketplace.
- For others after signing up with the affiliate network, you then have to put in an application to the individual affiliate programs. They may ask you which website you plan to use to promote their product, how you will promote their product and why they should approve you. Usually, if you have a website that is in a niche relative to the product you will be accepted.
A word of warning! Certain affiliate networks promote some very low-quality products, that you shouldn’t promote. Always thoroughly check out any products, before recommending them to your readers.
You can also promote products without going through the affiliate networks. Many companies have their own affiliate programs, this enables them to increase their profit margin or perhaps pay higher commission to their affiliates.
The easiest way to find an affiliate program is to search on Google. Say your niche is mosquito traps you enter mosquito traps + affiliate programs. Below is the first result.
One of the most popular affiliate programs is Amazon. Many bloggers and manufacturers rely on Amazon to make commissions or to sell their products.
When To Add Affiliate Links
When your website is online and ideally has a few posts you might want to start adding affiliate links.
Many affiliate marketers start adding affiliate links right after they publish their first post. However, it’s better to wait until you have published several posts and have them ranking in the search engines.
- This will build trust with Google
- It shows your blog isn’t there primarily to make money but its goal is to help people
- Anyway if you’re not ranked on the first pages you won’t have any visitors.
This is especially true if you’ve just signed up as an Amazon affiliate as you have 180 days to make your first sale. This sounds like a long time! But if you start adding your affiliate links before you’re getting any traffic you may struggle to get a sale within the time limit. I’ve seen it happen to many, me included!
Having said that it’s not the end of the world, you can always reapply to Amazon. But it’s better to save the hassle if you can! Most other affiliate programs have no time limits.
Adding Affiliate Links In WordPress
Now you have your affiliate links you can start adding them to your website. There are several places you can add your links such as the sidebar, in a blog post or on a resources page.
The best way to add your affiliate links is in the text of your articles, as below:
- Obtain your exclusive affiliate link. In this example, I’m using a link from ClickBank
- Copy your affiliate link
- Highlight the text where you want your affiliate link to appear. For example: find out more here
- Then click on the link button on your WordPress dashboard
- This will open a box where you paste your link. Click on the blue arrow to insert it into your post.
Now you have a link that looks like this “find out more here“.
You can also add affiliate links to images in your posts.
- Click on the image to select it
- Then click on the link button
- Add your affiliate link as above
This works particularly well if you’re an affiliate with Amazon Associates.
As you can see it’s very easy to add affiliate links in WordPress. Below are a few additional tips!
Affiliate Links – 5 Tips
1. Use text links
Use text links rather than just placing your raw affiliate link within your content. See the difference below.
The wrong way to post an affiliate link:
This is a very useful program check it out for free, here is the link:
The correct way:
This is a very useful program, check it out for free!
The second option looks much better and more professional. Which would you be more likely to click?
2. Don’t add too many affiliate links
I don’t think anyone really knows if you will be penalized for too many affiliate links or what is too many links in a post. However, I have read of someone being penalized by Google for having 100 Amazon links in a post. 100 links are not normal but it shows this can affect your rankings.
An affiliate link to a product where it makes sense probably does no harm. I try to include 1 or 2 affiliate links in a post.
There’s also another debate about whether you should add affiliate links to every article you publish. This is fairly easy to get around! You write an in depth product review with affiliate links to the product you are recommending. Then you write other posts related to the product and link to your review page.
3. Cloak your affiliate links
What’s link cloaking
Cloaking affiliate links mean you are creating a URL on your website that redirects to an affiliate link.
For example, this is my affiliate link to Elegant themes:
And this is the same link after it has been cloaked:
Both links go to Elegant Themes and both links will track visitors who come from my site.
One thing to note: Amazon doesn’t allow you to cloak links. It’s against their Associates Program Policies, section 2 Disqualified Purchases (e). So beware!
How to cloak your links
In this post, Yoast.com show you how to cloak links without a plugin. This will probably be too complicated for most, so the easiest solution is to use a plugin.
The plugin that I and many internet marketers use is Pretty Links (Lite). A free plugin that cloaks your links, tracks the number of clicks per link and more. You can find out more here at wordpress.org.
4. Make your affiliate links nofollow
Your affiliate links should be nofollow. When you make a link nofollow you tell the search engines not to follow the link.
Google likes affiliate links to be nofollow as it could be considered you are linking to a website for a reward. Any site you link to where you have some sort of paid relationship should be a nofollow link. Google doesn’t want these links affecting the search results by passing on link juice.
To make a link nofollow, you need to click on the text editor, find your link and then add rel=”nofollow” as you can see below.
Original followed link: <a href=”https://awebsite.com”>affiliate link</a>
No followed link: <a href=”https://awebsite.com” rel=”nofollow”>affiliate link</a>
If you use a cloaking plugin you can add the nofollow tag from there or there are other plugins that will do it quickly.
5. Add an affiliate disclosure
This is another subject that is debated a lot and you can see several different opinions from affiliate marketers. Most agree that we need to have an affiliate disclosure but not everyone thinks we need to follow the FTC guidelines.
Personally, I have an affiliate disclosure in the footer of each page, but according to the FTC you need the disclosure “to be clear and conspicuous”. In addition, it should be as near to your recommendation as possible and should be in clear, understandable language.
Using the term “affiliate link” isn’t acceptable as some people may not understand the meaning of this term. You should use a disclosure like “As an affiliate, I may receive a commission if you purchase using this link”
This means myself and many other affiliate marketers have some work to do, to meet these criteria. Some affiliate marketers say the FTC only makes recommendations but doesn’t enforce these. At the moment this may be true but for how long?
Clearly, you should include an affiliate disclaimer near your affiliate links, so your visitors know you may make a commission if they click your affiliate links. I have seen some well-known affiliate marketers like Pat Flynn doing this and it’s not intrusive and doesn’t distract me from the blog post.
Being totally open with your visitors can only build trust!
Certain programs may have their own requirements for affiliate disclosures, so check out the rules for each program to avoid being excluded.
I hope you have learned something about affiliate links from this post. WordPress makes it quite easy to add affiliate links to your website.
A quick recap on some of the important points:
- Write a few articles before including your affiliate links, try to wait until you start ranking on the first pages
- Sign up to affiliate programs or affiliate networks to get your unique link
- Add your affiliate link to the text and images of your posts
- Only 1 or 2 affiliate links per post
- Cloak your links and make them nofollow
- Add an affiliate disclosure
Have you any tips to add or if have you any questions please leave them in the comments section below. I would love to help you out!
Thanks for reading,