Learning the Hard Way - Check Your Affiliate Links

This is a fantastic time of year for Christmas product related sites and it’s where the work you’ve done throughout the year can really reap rewards. Over the last 2 weeks I’ve seen all income streams increase between 50 and 250%, which makes checking stats every morning a very exciting time. Each day I’m looking for and pushing new affiliate products to my existing visitors and feed subscribers and I’m checking stats for pages that are getting bit of traffic to see if there are any related products I can push there.

The Clickbank product I mentioned a couple of weeks ago has now generated just over $600 in commissions, which considering I just added an extra paragragh and affiliate link to an existing page is a pretty nice return IMO. However by my own daftness I’ve managed to lose in the region of $5,000 over the last 6 weeks or so by giving away my traffic.

The $5K figure is a bit of a guesstimate as I can’t actually calculate how many sales but from past experience I know it’s going to be a fair few. I was checking stats and pages as usual to see what I could optimise.

One of my pages that received over 80K views in October was this one about stormtrooper costumes. I reckon people were looking for Halloween costumes and as the page included an affiliate link I should of made some sales, however I only had a link to a UK shop (most traffic was from the US) and it was to a crazily expensive collectors edition costume, not exactly suitable for a fancy dress party, and the icing on the cake of the balls up was seeing this when following the affiliate link:

Firebox 404 Error

Whoops, when finding this I obviously modified the page to include links to cheaper (and available) versions from US based shops but as I didn’t find out about it until after October 31st the damage had already been done.

My next boob was not noticing that Think Geek had stopped selling the GPS tracker I’ve raved about before, so again I sent 1000s of visitors to a totally unrelated and non profitable page. I’ve now modified the post to send visitors to Amazon and am seeing multiple sales each day so I’m thankful I caught it before the BIG Christmas spending spree.

Following a similar vein, is another product that I won’t disclose but it is an ideal Christmas gift, available from Amazon. I rank #1 for various related terms and the conversion is usually excellent, that is until Amazon changed the URL of the page (no idea why), so this will of been another months worth of lost sales, I changed my affiliate link to match and again daily sales are coming in again but how many I lost I don’t know.

So the moral of the story is check your campaigns and don’t give your traffic away for free, I’m now looking into a way of automating a check so that this doesn’t happen again because at the moment I still may be sending visitors to terminated products and not even know about it. If you have any suggestions or comments about solutions I’d love to hear them.

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. Nothing I hate more than when merchants change url’s and leave a 404 page without redirecting.

    • Yeah I know what you mean, I was pissed off when I found out but then happy that I had found out. I could understand Firebox as there’s was a limited edition product that they sold out of (then again they should really of kept a no longer available page IMO), whilst Thing Geek just stopped stocking it and redirected to a category page (no explanation or anything) whilst Amazon were probably worst just changing the URL and displaying:
      Looking for something?
      We’re sorry. The Web address you entered is not a functioning page on our site

  2. I’ve not really gone down the affiliate route yet. I dabbled in it with PPC a year or three ago but didn’t make anything. I want to look at the affiliate route for the forum I run, but have yet to find a decent way for serving US ads to US people, UK ads to UK people etc etc as my forum has members from all over the globe. Currently I just make use of adsense….. hmmm going a little off topic here, sorry :)

  3. I have only been doing this for a few months but I have managed to place hundreds of aff links all over the place. I have often wondered about how often I would need to update, replace ect these links.

    I have been checking traffic reports for page views and then checking the pages with the most traffic but I know I am leaving out tons of links.

  4. Would this help in finding the broken links?

  5. A quick google search came up with this, and I’m sure there are many variations on the theme.


    Do affiliates not get annoyed though if they see lots of automated pings checking that the deals are still there, which would artificially lower the “success” rate of those links? Or don’t they care?

    • I guess it depends on how you link through to check. If you were to go direct to the product and do a quick scan once a day then I doubt anyone would care or notice. If you were going through aff links that forwarded to the URL and checking all the time then it might cause problems.

      • Only issue with not going through the affiliate link is a lot of time the offer is still there but might have been dropped from your network. I suggest going through an affiliate link personally. If you wanted to be sneaky just find someone ones else id and use that then it won’t mess up your stats. Most likely they’re not running your offer anyways. But you didn’t hear that from me. Or if you have a good relationship with your affiliate company ask for a second ID. Or you can sign up for multiple accounts with things like CJ. But that’s just my 2 cents.

    • Marc, I have to say I don’t think they care. But if they do this is why they shouldn’t. We’re taking 100% of the risk as the affiliate. I invest 1-2$/click to send traffic to their offer that could very well not convert. Are they out even a dime? Nope not one red cent, however I could be out 1-2k bucks sending traffic to a dead offer. I’m not suggesting ping the offer every 5 seconds, maybe set it to ping once an hour just so you don’t wind up a day or two down the road sending traffic to no where. That can be a VERY costly mistake.

      On that same note I’m in my office 14 hours a day usually working away but had to go to a trade show this whole week. Well I woke up got ready, checked stats and then bolted out of the house at about 6am. Well at this show there was no internet unless you were going to pay $1500 so I just opt’ed out on that. Well when I got home at 9 pm after a cocktail party I found my server was down from about 7am. So all the 1-2$/click I was paying for Payday traffic was going no where. I guess what I’m getting at is spend a couple bucks on monitoring for your servers with people to reset them. I didn’t think I needed this as I’m always at home. Guess what I was wrong!

      Good ol’ school of hard knox. I could have paid for a lifetime of monitoring for all my servers for what that mistake cost me. Get monitoring if your spending money on PPC advertising.

  6. Over the summer holiday after my GCSE’s I worked on a little application that will check if the person you exchanged links with still has your link. And if they don’t then you are notified.

    I am pretty sure it can be modified a bit to fit in with your needs.

    I will look into it when I have some time. (Yet another idea lol)

  7. I’ve just found an old site of mine that has been getting a fair bit of very targetted traffic but hasn’t made any money, it seems my aff links were dead aswell, so a quick search revealed amazon as the only source of the product now, so a quick switch of the links and I’m now seeing about £1.50 a day…

    So thanks for the tip as I hadn’t checked the stats on this site for ages.

  8. Dude…that sucks. I hate making small errors like that which cause major lose of revenue. Hope you did well with your other Halloween promotions.

  9. Nice post. Unfortunately this is part of this whole affiliate marketing. I still remember how many dead links I found after investigating on some of the affiliate programs I promote. Really not a piece of cake if you have to check them one by one and do the necessary changes. Fortunately some affiliate programs redirect the traffic to some other products but it can be misleading for your promotions.


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