Automatically Increased Affiliate Revenue by 15%

Last week I got round to one of those jobs that I’ve wanted to do for a while and that’s making my affiliate links a bit more visitor friendly and readable. I’ve mentioned before how I automatically convert links to sites that I have a relationship with to their corresponding affiliate links, I’ve now taken this a stage further and have created a Word Press plug-in to make it easy to add new affiliates as I find them.

The way the plug-in works is it searches for the domain of merchants that I have an affiliate program with adjusts it accordingly, for example would be converted on the fly to the equivalent affiliate link of :

As you can see the affiliate link is pretty darn ugly and to the (slighty) trained eye it is obviously an affiliate link which does put some people (especially tech savvy webmasters) off clicking it.

My previous solution was to use a bit of Javascript to disguise the fact it was an affiliate link, like this:

<a href=”http:\\bloodylongafflink” onmouseover=”window.status=’http://www.ThinkGeekcom’;return true;” onmouseout=”window.status=’ ‘;return true;”>My Affiliate Link<a>

Which would then display like: My Affiliate Link, normally when you hover over a link the URL appears in the status bar at the bottom of the browser by using the onmouseover and onmouseout you can control what is displayed in the status, so instead of displaying a long affiliate code you simply show the original URL. Unfortunately this only works in IE, in FireFox nothing is displayed which will also put some people off from clicking (the example link will not demonstrate what I am explaining as Word Press strips the code).

The solution that I implemented last week was to convert all relevant outgoing links to an internal link that will automatically forward to the affiliate offer. So instead of having a mega long affiliate link that I can only hide from some browsers I now have what I think is a much more friendly status bar link so clicking here will take the visitor to my og.php (outgoing) page which then forwards them to the appropriate offer.

The next part of the project was to code the forwarding page, which forwards the regular URL to the affiliate page. I won’t go into how this works as it’s just a simple coding exercise that is out of the remit of this article.

I have however created a quick and dirty plug-in (I think all my plug-ins are quick and dirty) that you are free to use on your own WordPress blogs. To use simple download, unzip and upload the files to your plugin directory. Once the plug-in is activated you will have an options page where you can enter before and after URLs.

In the “URLs that start with” edit box add the URLs to the sites that you would like to be converted. On the corresponding line of the “Replace with” edit box enter the affiliate link that you would like your visitors to be forwarded to. There are a couple of paramters that you can use:

  • %TARGET% - This is the original URL (useful for deeplinking)
  • %ENCODED_TARGET% - This is the target encoded into a HTML string which some affiliate URLs need

I’ve created a few default affiliate converters, which you can change to suit.

If you need any help or have questions or suggestions please leave a comment,

I’ve only been running this script for about a week but so far commission have increased around 15% which is always nice to see 🙂

About Al Carlton

Al quit the 9 to 5 rat race in January of 2007, before then he was a software engineer and systems architect of financial system. Nowadays Al spends the days running his various businesses and experimenting with different ideas and opportunities.
Al can be found on twitter at AlCarlton.


  1. This seems much easier than having to code my own so I think I will try it out. Thanks for the plug in.

  2. Excellent for sharing. I’ve just downloaded and uploaded - running live now. How did you configure the ThinkGeek code for your affiliate number - I’m searching in CJ but not getting it.

    BTW - signed up for BlogRush via your affiliate 🙂

    • The way I did it was to create the link in the CJ control panel and then dissect it to see which bit did what, if that doesn’t help post again and I’ll see if I can explain it further.

      I thought I’d follow the hype and use BlogRush as one of the samples, so cheers for signing up 🙂

  3. In the past I’ve had problems with TradeDoubler not tracking the header("location: $lNewURL"); URLs correctly. If you use TD, I recommend you see if the header() function has any negative impact on your earnings.

    On a side note, the title “Automatically Increased Affiliate Revenue by 15%” is not explained further in your copy (although I think that the new URLs will improve earnings by 15%). I would prefer a title like “Disguise your afilliate links in both Firefox and IE”.

    • Your right Andreas that would of been a better title, I think when I wrote this post I had my coding head on so didn’t really go into the stats. The 15% was a bit of a gestimate, I have seen increases but I can’t guarantee all were down to the new links, seems to be worth doing though and it also makes it really easy to add new ones in the future.

  4. It’s interesting that there is almost always this “jealousy” thing.

    You do your research, spend time and money to find something useful and people don’t want to click on the link since they know you’ll make some money.

    So sad.

    And once you hide this (as you did) visitors are more inclined to click through and make a sale for you.

  5. Thanks Al. I’ve been looking for something like this for awhile now.

  6. This is very similar to what I do, except all my links get added to a database and then the user would see my affiliate links as:

    http :// (spaces included as not sure how this will get formatted)

  7. I’ts nice to see you doing these things to gain a couple of points on conversion. After a very long time of rebuilding our online businesses data/base where I work I’m now getting to spend most of my day looking at things like this now.

    For those of us who can’t just go write the code or have very simple sites, I do similar to the coded version directly linking to a page in my site
    which then redirects straight to the affiliate page.

  8. I use the Redirection plugin for this.

    Makes life SO much easier. There’s a proper admin page, with logging to see how many times a link was clicked, and what the referring page was, etc.

    Very helpful for masking affiliate links as well as finding incoming links that are incorrect via the 404 log and setting up redirections to fix them.

  9. nice one

    thanks Al

    I’ll definatly use this plug in from now for any aff links I have on my blog.

    Thanks again

  10. It’s under 24 hours old and there’s already a new version. The previous one didn’t cope with paramters the new one does so just upload again.

  11. I am a tiny bit confused about what I need to do to get this to work.. for the following affiliate url:

    I put that in the ‘replace with’ box and then place into the ‘urls that start with’ box..

    and thats all I have to do ? I dont understand what I need to do with %target% and %encoded_target% (they are optional?)

    can you explain this to me in a way a baby can understand 🙂

    also, what about affiliate links… lets say I have one blog post where I want an amazon affiliate link to point to the dell 24 inch lcd product page and then in another blog post I write I want the affiliate url to point to a harry potter book.. I dont quite understand how I can make that work if all urls are encoded to be replaced with just one amazon affiliate url..(in the ‘replace with’ box)

    Thanks in advance for any tips to ease my brain damage!

  12. I tried installing and setting up the plugin at

    I was unable to get the affiliate links to cloak.

    This site is using a database fed dynamic php script.

    The product url’s go to…..(long line of product id info and affiliate id).

    Can you please help me with this. Just let me know what info you need to explain the problem or what is keeping it from working.

    Thanks very much.

  13. This is a great time saver and I love the cloaking frature.

  14. This is a simple but excellent plugin that will save me so much time. I have set up many of the regular commercial sites that I blog about but struggled with deep links on one site that are in the following format :

    I assumed I would be able to set this up as an encoded target like below :

    This does not work however. How do I handle deeplinks with url parameters ?


    Matt’s last blog post..White Superga Wedding Trainers

    • Matt, you can use the plugin Pretty Link for WordPress. If you don’t use WordPress here is a script that will work. If you don’t use PHP, translate it to javascript or any other you use.

      <?php $url=””;

      Place that in an index.php file, place it in a directory, and you can address it as http://yourdomain/directorywhereyouputtheindexfile

      Hope this helps.

  15. Actually, there are several plugins that do what you want, Pretty Link is one.It also tracks clicks on the link. You could also have created a directory containing the default file to change the header to the link you want, then just address it as

    I will give an example in reply to Matt at

  16. Here is a link that uses Pretty Links plugin for WordPress. Can you guess where it leads?

    It is nested 4 directories deep.

  17. Well since reading this post 2 years ago, I decided that I wanted to create something similar for where if you wanted to register a domain you simply go to and then it transfers you to godaddy!

    I have to agree though, since implementing this page, sales have gone up!!!

    I think at the time it was a good idea! and not very common. Now adays, there are plenty! Credit should be given for the initial spark tho!

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