Affiliate Links – 14 Things You Should Know

Affiliate Links - Things You Should Know

Affiliates are often confused about these questions about affiliate links.

They either assume they know the answer to them or they deem them too basic to bother with.

Take a few minutes to find out some of the important things you should know about affiliate links and potentially save yourself a lot of headache in the future.

Let’s start!

What is an affiliate link?

Affiliate links are unique URL’s that enable affiliate program owners to track where the visitors come from in order to properly attribute sales and payout commissions to the right affiliates.

No two affiliate links are the same which is exactly what makes the entire affiliate marketing system possible.

How do I get affiliate links?

The process of getting affiliate links typically goes as follows – once the affiliate joins the affiliate program, they get access to the affiliate program dashboard where unique affiliate links are generated.

Once the affiliate logs in to the affiliate program dashboard, the process of creating the link comes down to simply pressing the “Create Link” or similarly named button.

The affiliate program will then generates a unique affiliate link that can be used immediately and store the link in a database for future reference.

What does an affiliate link look like?

In the past, affiliate links used to be long strings of letters, numbers, and symbols that looked awkward and untrustworthy.

The affiliate then used a URL shortener to “beautify” and shorten these long and ugly strings.

Now, affiliate programs typically allow affiliates to custom tailor their own unique links that look much better while serving the same purpose.

What does Amazon affiliate link look like?

Amazon Assosiates program still generates affiliate links that look like they were sent by Nigerian princes.

Here’s an example:

Amazon Affiliate Link Example

Amazon affiliate links will always have the product ID and the affiliate ID.

How does an affiliate link work?

Affiliate links work like any other links – they’re one-way portals of sorts that send visitors from the page they’re posted to another page on the internet.

Because all affiliate links are unique, the affiliate program knows which affiliate to attribute the sale to if the visit results in a sale.

How do I know my affiliate link is working?

Most affiliate programs will have a dashboard that will track and report your performance metrics like Clicks, Conversion Rate, EPC, and more.

Affiliate Program Clicks Graph

To reassure yourself that your affiliate link is working, simply click on it in one of your live articles and see if the click registered on the dashboard.

Faulty links are not a major concern in affiliate marketing because the links are usually generated automatically and there’s not a lot of room for failure.

Where can I post affiliate links for free?

Posting a “naked” affiliate link is frowned upon on some platforms and downright prohibited on others.

Naked affiliate links are links that lead straight to the offer with no effort of creating a piece of content that provides value first, and links to an affiliate offer second.

The days of spamming affiliate links anywhere and everywhere on the internet are over.

The only place you can safely post affiliate links for free is a platform that you own like your website.

Posting affiliate links on social media platforms, for example, opens you to a range of undesired consequences ranging from removal of your links to banning you from using the platform.

Can I buy from my own affiliate link?

Clicking on your own affiliate links and buying products for either yourself or someone else through them is prohibited by most affiliate programs.

In many cases, the system will outright recognize this behavior through IP address or other checks and disqualify the purchase.

By doing this, you risk getting kicked out of the affiliate program that you might not be accepted into again.

Do I have to hide my affiliate links?

Hiding or “cloaking” your affiliate links is an advanced technique that’s not used to trick the visitor but your competition.

The idea is to make it harder for your competition to enter your site in an SEO tool, list all the outbound links from your site, and see all the affiliate programs you’re using.

People do this in order to find out what affiliate programs are popular and worth using in their niche so they can focus on what works for their competition.

Beginner affiliate marketers need not concern themselves with hiding or cloaking their affiliate links, however.

Once you’re at the point of earning considerable revenue from your affiliate marketing business, it might be time to consider ninja tactics like this.

Until then, it’s a waste of your time and effort.

Should I use nofollow on affiliate links?

Up until Feb 2020, there were “follow” and “nofollow” link attributes.

Many affiliates used and considered the “nofollow” attribute for affiliate links as best practice.

But then Google added the “sponsored” attribute into the mix.

Here’s Google’s John Meuller explicitly saying Google doesn’t mind affiliate links at all but they should clearly be marked with the “sponsored” attribute.

John Meuller on affiliate links

If for some reason you can’t use the “sponsored” link attribute, the “nofollow” attribute will do.

It’s noteworthy to add that you can even mark your affiliate links with both the “sponsored” and “nofollow” attributes at the same time if you want.

This means that rel=”nofollow sponsored” is valid.

Do affiliate links expire?

Affiliate links do not expire for as long as you are in good standing with the affiliate program the links belong to.

Affiliate links will “expire” in some sense in cases like these:

  • Your access to the affiliate program is revoked
  • Page the link is pointing to no longer exists
  • Product the link is pointing to no longer exists in the same capacity

A good practice is to always keep track of your affiliate links and make sure they’re in order because expired affiliate links will potentially make you lose revenue.

Does Google Adwords allow affiliate links?

The first step is to find out whether the affiliate program in question allows direct or indirect contextual ads.

Some companies don’t want affiliates running ads even if the affiliate is linking to the affiliate program indirectly, meaning, to a landing page on their own website that contains an affiliate link.

The second step is to make sure Google Adwords accepts your industry by going over the Google Ads policies.

If the company doesn’t mind their affiliates running contextual ads and your industry is accepted by Google Adwords, the best practice is to still not use the naked affiliate link in Adwords.

Rather, create your own landing page or website with content that provides value and, ultimately, sends the visitors to the product page through affiliate links placed within your own content.

Can I put affiliate links in emails?

Some affiliate programs prohibit affiliates from sending their naked affiliate links via email.

Also, if you’re planning to use email autoresponders to send naked affiliate links be aware that some email autoresponders prohibit this.

In both cases, creating a page on your own website with useful content around the affiliate offer you want to promote is a safe way of bypassing both of these potential violations.

Are affiliate links bad for SEO?

Affiliate links are not bad for SEO which has been stated numerous times by Google employees.

Just last year, Google’s John Meuller said in a Tweet: “Affiliate links are not bad. It’s fine to monetize your site. Google’s OK with that. There’s no need to hide them…”

Affiliates often accuse Google of penalizing sites that have a lot of affiliate-geared content but that’s been largely unwarranted so far.

The fact is that sometimes affiliate sites indeed do get hit by the major Google updates, but it’s not for because Google hates affiliate links.

Usually, the culprit is the rather poor content quality that a lot of affiliate sites suffer from and not the affiliate marketing itself.

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