Affiliate URLs are often a mile long, don’t match your domain, and are a dead give-away that the links might generate commissions. Why are affiliate URLs so long? They usually contain the affiliate’s user i.d. as well as channel information. In addition, they are often designed to generate a cookie and/or track a visitor across different pages on an e-commerce site.
It’s always best to mark affiliate links (aff.) or disclose that your site uses such links. Still, shortening the links makes them less foreboding to your visitors, easier to track/manage, and much easier to paste into posts, comments, and emails.
#1 – Use PHP
As long as your server is running PHP, it a snap to create a small file that can be used to generate a clean URL. The most commonly used code is:
Copy and paste the code into Notepad (or equivalent), replace the URL with your affiliate URL, and save the file with a short name and PHP extension.
As an example, you could insert the Amazon Associates link for a Red Zune player:
If you save the file with the name ‘red-zune.php’ and upload it to a folder on your server named ‘go’, the new URL will look like this:
#2 – Use TinyURL.com
You have probably used TinyURL.com to generate short URLs for email. Long URLs don’t wrap properly resulting in broken links in some email clients. You can also use the same technique for affiliate links. The downside is that the URLs don’t match your domain or contain keywords. And, it’s uncertain to your visitors as to what they will find when they click the tiny URL.
#3 – Use a WordPress plugin
This technique has yet to find widespread use among WordPress users. However, it offers fast link generation, domain matching, and click tracking. I am currently using the Redirection plugin by Urban Giraffe here on RL Digital. It provides a handy page in your WordPress admin panel to generate and track redirected URLs. Keep in the mind that this plugin requires WordPress 2.1+.
You can easy convert the Amazon Associates URL shown above to: http://www.mysite/go/red-zune/
Another plugin worth mentioning is the Short URL plugin by Harley Quine. This plugin also has an admin page and a click counter so you can easily shorten and track your affiliate URLs. The plugin generates a URL that looks like this:
The domain is matched and URL is greatly shorten. However, the URL does not contain any keywords.