The eagle eyed amongst you may have noticed something new on the site today – our recommendations page. It’s something I’ve been meaning to put up for a while, as I often am in situations where people need some guidance on providers of complementary products or services. Some of the relevant ones are in a sidebar widget towards the bottom of each page, but it’s limited to 8 which isn’t ideal.

Setting up your own recommendations page

I’d like to talk you through how I’ve set up this page, in case that’s something you might want to do yourself. Assuming you have a WordPress website, it’s very easy, although there’s a little quick in how I’ve done it that you might want to use too just to make life even easier when pointing people at your recommendations.

If you have a look at the page, you’ll see that there are a number of websites listed, but all the links are internal, i.e. they all start https://www.fourlakes.co.uk/recommends/… followed by the name of the service. There’s a good reason for that, which I’ll explain after we digress onto the subject of affiliate links for a minute.

Affiliate links

Affiliate MarketingIn common with many purveyors of online services, I have signed up to a number of affiliate marketing schemes. If you don’t know what affiliate marketing is, then follow the link and read up a bit, it’s pretty essential knowledge for the rest of this post.

OK, up to speed? Great. So let’s look at affiliate schemes. Now some people believe they are bad. Actually, not just bad, but the spawn of the devil. Why? Put simply, they question the motives of anyone using an affiliate link.

As one of those people, I might take exception to that, but I can understand where they’re coming from. Would I recommend a product or service if I wasn’t getting something out of it? I can say I would, but as a casual browser of this site how would you know otherwise? I may just be promoting the affiliate scheme that makes the most money for me.

Giveaways

Sometimes, though, it’s pretty easy to spot someone who’s ‘playing the system’. If any of the following apply to someone’s list of recommendations, then you should beware:

  • Dozens, or even hundreds, of affiliate links
  • No disclaimer (are they trying to hide something?)
  • No relation between their site and the affiliate product/service

My Promise

For what it’s worth, I have the following to say about the companies, products and services I recommend:

I will only recommend anything which I have used myself and found to be worth the time, effort and/or cost.

Blind trust

Having said that, I would always recommend that, if you are considering using a service I recommend, that you do your own research too. A Google search can often reveal information that hasn’t been produced by the company’s marketing department, as can conversations on relevant forums too. Much as I appreciate blind trust in my recommendations, I am as aware as anyone that circumstance are never the same, and what works for me might not be best for you.

Creating your affiliate links

Anyway, should you decide to put some affiliate links on your site, you might want to replicate what I’ve done.

  1. Have a single page – much easier to say “Go to the ‘recommendations’ page on my website” than “Go to any page on my website other than the home page, scroll down a bit, and find the images in the sidebar”.
  2. Organise it…people hate having to wade through a bunch of links in random order.
  3. I avoid using image links, although that’s as much personal preference as anything. Whilst a bunch of 125×125 images in the sidebar look OK, I don’t think that would translate to a page as well. If you want to organise your page differently, go for it.
  4. Equally, using the WordPress ‘Links’ section is down to preference too. It may help you organise the page more easily, or like me you might want a bit more flexibility. If you do use links, then the Link Library plugin is your friend.
  5. Install the ‘Quick Page/Post Redirect‘ plugin. Don’t argue, just do it 🙂
  6. For each item on your recommends page, create a link in the format http://your-sitename/pagename/recommendation e.g. https://www.fourlakes.co.uk/recommends/ezpz This is so you can easily remember the affiliate link, as quite often they use a fairly random code to identify which affiliate has sent traffic their way.
  7. In the Redirect plugin, create a ‘quick redirect’ that goes from /pagename/recommendation/ to the actual affiliate link. e.g. from /recommends/ezpz/ to http://www.ezpzhosting.co.uk/affiliate-code

If your site doesn’t use WordPress, then you will have to find another way of doing the redirects, possibly within your control panel, but this solution keeps everything within the WordPress admin screens.

Conclusion

So there you have it, a foolproof way to make affiliate links easy to remember, and my thoughts on how to make them look honest and sincere (which of course the are, right?). Do you have any tips on how to get started with affiliate marketing schemes?

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