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If you monetise your site through affiliate marketing, you will know that keeping track of your affiliate links can be a real challenge. It is for this reason that we always recommend that you use an affiliate management tool.
Not using an affiliate management tool can be a big mistake and one that you will no doubt regret as your site grows. For example, let’s say you need to update one of your affiliate links. You will have to first work out where in your posts you have mentioned that particular affiliate product. If your blog has hundreds of posts this can be a real challenge. You will next need to manually update each affiliate link one by one which can be a time consuming and tedious task.
With an affiliate management tool however, you only need to update the affiliate link in one place, which then gets reflected across all your posts where you have linked to it. Updating an affiliate link with a plugin, only takes a few seconds. While if you’re not using one, this task could take you up to a couple of days to complete especially if you have hundreds to thousands of posts to update.
Apart of helping keep track of affiliate links, affiliate management tools can help you to cloak affiliate links as well as automatically creating nofollow links. They also allow you to track who is clicking on your affiliate links and from which articles, which is vital information if you want to succeed with affiliate marketing.
In the article we will cover ThirstyAffiliates which is an easy to use but powerful affiliate management tool which we would definitely recommend. By the end of the article you will know how to install, configure, and use ThirstyAffiliates in order to help you monetise your site with affiliate marketing.
Why Use ThirstyAffiliates?
There are a number of affiliate management plugins out there which you can use on your WordPess site. One of the best plugins out there we believe is ThirstyAffiliates and one which we use. It comes with a number of features including:
Easily Cloak Affiliate Links
ThirstyAffiliates allows you to easily cloak affiliate links. Cloaking essentially means making affiliates links shorter. A typical affiliate may look like the following:
As you can see it is rather long and difficult to remember. Using ThirstyAffiliates, you can convert the above link to something similar to the below, which is definitely much more visually appealing and easier to remember.
Another benefit of cloaking your affiliate links is that your affiliate ID is not exposed anymore and therefore reduces the risk of commission hijacking. It also allows for easier tracking as the affiliate can track the clicks when using their own URL.
For affiliate programs and networks where the use of cloaked links is banned, for example in the case of Amazon, you can configure the plugin so that it uncloaks links for certain programs or networks that you are using.
Another feature of the plugin is that it allows you to sort your affiliate links into categories. For example, let’s say you have a niche site on cats, you may want to create separate categories for cat toys, food, books, general wellbeing etc. This is a really useful feature and one you will definitely be using if you have a large number of affiliate links on your site.
Auto Keyword Linking
The plugin also provides auto keyword linking capabilities. This is where you can convert specific keywords/phrases within your posts to affiliate links automatically. It also allows you to limit how many times a keyword is converted to a link. Let’s say you mention an affiliate product 15 times within a post, you however only want it to convert the first four mentions of it, you can simply just set a limit.
With the keyword linking feature, you will never have to waste any more time manually going through your posts converting your affiliate products into links. It’s certainly a great time saving feature.
With the geolocation functionality, you can target visitors based on their country they are visiting from. Let’s say you’re promoting an Amazon product, and a UK visitor clicks on the corresponding affiliate link, the person will be redirected to Amazon.co.uk. While if a US visitors clicks on the same link, they will be redirected to Amazon.com. Never miss out on commission ever again!
Link Health Checker
Keeping track of whether your affiliate links are still working can be a problem, especially if you’re promoting lots of affiliate products. If an affiliate link stops working, it means you’re potentially losing out on affiliate commission. Fortunately you don’t have to worry about this anymore if you use ThirstyAffiliates as it can scan you affiliate links on a regular basis to find broken links and warn you about them.
Easily Insert Affiliate Links
Inserting affiliate links using an affiliate management tool should be extremely easy, and this is the case for ThirstyAffiliates. You can insert an affiliate link straight from the post editor just like you would do with a normal link.
How to Install and Configure ThirstyAffiliates
ThirstyAffiliates is a free plugin, although if you require additional features such as automatic keyword linking, geolocation, Amazon API importing, automatic link health checker, CSV import/export and statistical reporting, you will need to purchase the premium add-on.
The premium add-on for a one site license is only $49. If you have multiple sites, you can purchase a 5 site license for only $79. Purchasing the premium add-on is a worthy investment and one that will pay back in no time.
Step 1: Installing ThirstyAffiliates
In order to install the Thirsty Affiliates plugin log into your WordPress dashboard.
Next, from the sidebar select Plugins > Add New.
In the search box enter ThirstyAffiliates. Locate ThirstyAffiliates and click on the Install button. Once the plugin has installed click on the Activate button.
If you require the premium add-on, simply head over to the ThirstyAffiliates website and purchase the relevant license. Once you have made the purchase, simply download the separate premium add-on plugin from the ThirstyAffiliates website.
In order to install premium add-on plugin, select Plugins > Add New from the WordPress dashboard. On the Add Plugins page, click on the Upload Plugin button and navigate to where you have downloaded the plugin and install it.
Step 2: Configuring ThirstyAffiliates
Once you have installed and activated the plugin, a new ThirstyAffiliates menu entry should appear in your WordPress sidebar. Before we start using ThirstyAffiliates, we first need to make some configuration changes. These changes will vary depending on your needs. In general though we would recommend you make the following changes.
First, from the WordPress sidebar, select ThirstyAffiliates > Settings.
In the General settings, you can leave the settings as they are.
Next, select Link Appearance. Here you will need to decide on the link prefix you want to use for your cloaked links. The default prefix is /recommends/. There are a number of options you can use from review, go, suggests, product etc. For example, if you select recommends, your cloaked affiliate link will look something similar to the below:
You can also choose whether you want the link category to appear after the link prefix in your cloaked link. If you enable the Link Category in URL setting, your cloaked link will look something similar to the following:
If you believe this adds any benefit, you can enable this option.
Further down the page, there is the Use no follow on links? setting. We recommend that you select Yes to this option, this way you don’t transfer link juice to the advertiser. You won’t need to worry about manually setting every individual affiliate link to nofollow, which you can easily forget to do.
Underneath this setting, there’s the Open links in new window? setting. We recommend you set this to Yes.
At the bottom of the page, you can specify what categories (you need to set-up the relevant categories beforehand, more on this later) you want to use uncloaked links for. For example, Amazon forbids the use of cloaked links. In this example, we have created a category called Amazon, any affiliate links that appear in this category will show up as uncloaked.
Once you have made the necessary changes for the Link Appearance section, remember to click on the Save Changes button.
The next section is Modules, depending on your needs, you can enable or disable the individual modules as required.
After Modules, there’s Amazon Import. If you use Amazon Associates, you can fill out your API Amazon details here. If you don’t, just leave the settings as they are.
Following Modules, Autolinker allows you to specify settings relating to keyword auto-linking. Here you can specify such things as how many times a keyword should be converted into an affiliate link on a post, page. You can also specify where you want to enable autolinking i.e. only on posts or pages and posts.
For the remaining sections, you should be able to leave the settings as they are.
Step 3: Setting Up Categories
Once you have finished configuring the plugin, the next step is to create the relevant categories.
In order to do this, from the sidebar select ThirstyAffiliates > Link Categories.
In order to set-up a category, enter the category name, slug and description. If required, you can assign a category to a parent category as well. Remember to give the category a clear name so it’s easy to identify later on.
Finally click on the Add New Category to save the category. Repeat this until you have created all the relevant categories that you require.
Step 4: Setting up Affiliate Links
Now we’re ready to start adding our affiliate links. To do this, select ThirstyAffiliates > Affiliate Links > New Affiliate Link from the sidebar.
The Add Affiliate Link page, consists of 10 sections. We will cover each section below:
1. Link Name:
This is the name you give your affiliate link, this will usually be your product name. The name you use will appear in your cloaked link.
For example, let’s say, you’re promoting GoDaddy, you would name your link GoDaddy. Once you save your link, the cloaked link will appear as follows:
2. Destination URL:
This is your affiliate link, the URL that your visitor will be taken to when they click on your cloaked link.
3. Attach Images:
If you would like to display an image whenever you mention an affiliate product, you can use this feature.
4. Autolink Keywords:
Here you can specify keywords that get linked to your particular affiliate product automatically. If you define a keyword, you won’t need to worry about manually adding affiliate links within your articles, as this is done automatically saving you time and effort.
Don’t forget to set the Limit (per keyword) setting. This allows you to configure how many times within your article you want the keyword to be converted to an affiliate link.
5. Geolink URLs:
If you would like to target visitors based on their country they are visiting from, you can use the Geolink URLs setting. Simply add the countries and corresponding URL’s and users will be redirected to the relevant links depending on where they are visiting from.
6. Link Categories:
This is the section where you can assign your link to the relevant categories that you have set-up. If you don’t specify a category, it will be saved under uncategorized.
7. Link Options:
If you would like to override the general settings (defined in ThirstyAffiliates > Settings > Link Appearance) relating to such things as no follow links, uncloaking links, opening the link in new window, redirect types etc you can do this from this section.
8. Link Scheduler:
This allows you to specify when the affiliate link becomes active. You can also specify an expiry date as well.
9. Click Data Parameters:
The Preset Click Data Parameters relates to tracking. I really shouldn’t worry about configuring this section.
10. Link Inserted Scanner:
The link inserted scanner as the name suggests, scans all your pages and posts, to identify where that particular link has been included. You will have no use for this feature when setting up the affiliate link, although it may prove useful if you ever need to switch to a new affiliate product.
How to Insert Affiliate Links in Posts with ThirstyAffiliates
ThirstyAffiliates provides two ways of inserting affiliate links into your blog posts.
If you have already created the affiliate link, you can perform the following steps:
1. From the post editor screen, select the text you want to link.
2. Click on the TA button in the visual editor or the Affiliate Link button in the text editor.
3. Search for the product name that you want to insert a link to. Alternatively, you can click on the cog icon if you want to browse for your link or insert via shortcode or image.
Alternatively, if haven’t already created the affiliate link, but you want to create the link and insert it from the editor screen, perform the following steps:
1. From the post editor screen, click on the TA+ button in the visual editor or the Quick Add Affiliate Link button in the text editor.
2. Enter the Link Name, Destination URL, and assign it a Category. If you need to modify the default settings relating to Redirect Type, No Follow This Link, Open this link in a new Window make the required changes. Finally click on the Add Link & Insert into Post.
Managing Affiliate Links with ThirstyAffiliates
Managing affiliate links with ThirstyAffiliates is extremely easy. Simply select ThirstyAffiliates > Affiliate Links.
From this screen, you easily search for affiliate links by category, date added or by the affiliate product itself.
Once you have located the affiliate link, just hover over the name click on the edit link to make any changes as needed.
Tracking Affiliate Links with ThirstyAffiliates
ThirstyAffiliates allows you to track affiliate statistics. For example, you can see the number of clicks on your affiliate links broken down by category, time period, and geolocation. We would recommend however that use a MonsterInsights to do this instead, especially as we believe tracking is more accurate. See our article on how to use and set-up MonsterInsights for free to track your affiliate links easily.