We are often asked about affiliate marketing tips for WordPress powered blogs and websites. What is the secret to affiliate marketing success? What is the best affiliate marketing plugin for WordPress? As we have mentioned on our disclosure page that we do make some money at WPBeginner from affiliate links. There is actually no big secret to our affiliate marketing strategy. We only recommend products and services that we use or that we would use. For example, we have recommended Sucuri for WordPress security and monitoring. You can read our article on 5 reasons why we use Sucuri. We have a blueprint page that talks about all the tools/plugins/services that we are using on WPBeginner along with an explanation of why we use them. The only affiliate marketing WordPress plugin that every blogger need is something to manage their affiliate links. In this article, we will show you how to easily manage your affiliate links in WordPress with ThirstyAffiliates.
What is ThirstyAffiliates
ThirstyAffiliates is an affiliate link management plugin for WordPress. It allows you to store your affiliate links, organize them in categories, and manage them in an efficient manner. It also helps you create branded affiliate URLs and automatically replace specific keywords with affiliate links. Most affiliate links look like this:
Those URLs are hard to remember, and it also looks pretty ugly. Using ThirstyAffiliates, this can be branded or cloaked into:
Links can be sorted into categories and sub-categories. You can even add the category slug into your cloaked link.
ThirstyAffiliates uses built-in WordPress functionality by creating a custom post type. This makes it compatible with all other WordPress plugins, including backup plugins. It has a built-in search feature which allows you to easily search for an affiliate link. Inserting links into posts and pages is as simple as adding any other link into your posts. You can search for affiliate links right from the Insert Link box in the post editor.
How to Install and Set up Thirsty Affiliates plugin
Go to ThirstyAffiliates website and choose a subscription plan. At the time of writing, there are three subscription plans available. Standard, Premium and Professional. We have purchased the professional package of the plugin because it has one feature that will double if not triple your affiliate income. That feature is the auto-linker add-on.
While the other features (Importer and Stats) are nice, the auto-linker is the single most useful feature of this plugin aside from the management. No matter which plan you choose, you can use the plugin on unlimited websites. If you have multiple websites, then this is the best deal.
Once you have purchased the plugin, you need to install and activate it. If you purhased premium or professional plan, then you will get add-on plugins too. These are separate plugins and need to be installed separately. Look at our guide on how to install plugins in WordPress. Once you have activated ThirstyAffiliates plugin and add-ons, it will add a new Thirsty Affiliates menu-item in your WordPress admin sidebar. Go to plugin’s settings page located under ThirstyAffiliates » Settings.
On the settings page the first option is to choose a Link Prefix. This prefix will be used in your cloaked link before your link slug. The plugin comes pre-loaded with commonly used prefixes such as: recommends, fly, proceed, goto, etc. You can choose custom prefixe as well and add your own prefix. At WPBeginner we use refer as the prefix for our affiliate links.
The second option is to show link category in the URL. This will add link category into the URL after the link prefix and before the link slug. We don’t use this option on our websites because we feel that it makes the link lengthier. For example:
Third option on the settings page is to add “nofollow” attribute to your affiliate links. We recommend that you check this box and add nofollow to all your affiliate links. There is also the option to open affiliate links in a new window. We would suggest that you check this too. Last option is to record logged in users. If you are running a WordPress website where users can create accounts, then we would recommend that you enable this feature. However, if you are running a site where only a few people can log in to your website, then you can leave this option unchecked. Now that you are done, click save changes and you are ready to use thirsty affiliates on your website.
How to add Affiliate Links using ThirstyAffiliates
Adding affiliate links in ThirstyAffiliates is simple and straight forward. Simply go to ThirstyAffiliates » Add New to add an affiliate link.
Link Name: The name of your link should be easy to identify and remember. This name will be used in the cloaked URL. Using the product name as the link title is probably the best naming practice.
Destination URL: This is the full URL of the page with your affiliate id. This is where you will paste your long affiliate link. Below this field, you will see the checkboxes to make a link nofollow and open it in a new window. If you have not enabled these on the plugin’s settings page, then you can override those settings here.
Attach Images: You can attach images to your affiliate links in Thirsty Affiliates. This is probably useful for websites that want to display affiliate links in sidebars or have templates where links can be shown with images.
Autolink Keywords This powerful feature is available as an add on plugin and comes with ThirstyAffiliates when you buy the professional package. It allows you to add a set of keywords which will be automatically linked to this particular affiliate link. This will save you a lot of time when writing on your site. You can just write your posts and not worry about adding links in the articles. For example if we mention the word HostGator, Sucuri, MaxCDN, and they will all be linked automatically.
However, we have also noticed that some publishers fail to use this feature efficiently. Make sure that you are using very focused keywords for auto-linking. Once again, adding the product name as the keyword is most common practice. Below the keywords you will see two checkboxes. The first checkbox allows ThirstyAffiliates to add links to keywords used in titles. This only applies to heading tags used inside article content not the post title itself. The second checkbox allows you to set a limit on keywords. This option is particularly helpful if the keyword is repeated through out the article and you don’t want to add the same link repteadly. We recommend that you do not link heading tags, and the number of keywords being replaced should be no more than 3.
Link Categories: You can sort your links into categories. These link categories work like post categories. You can add new categories when adding a new link, or you can go to ThirstyAffiliates » Link Categories to manually add link categories.
Adding Affiliate Links in WordPress Posts and Pages
Aside from the auto-linker, sometimes you may want to manually add affiliate links in your WordPress posts and pages. ThirstyAffiliates adds a button into WordPress visual post editor.
Clicking on the button will open ThirstyAffiliates link search in a popup. You can either select the link from the list of links or search for a link. You can then insert the plain link, a shortcode, or an image link.
For those users who prefer to use text editor in WordPress post edit area, they can simply click on the link button and search for a link. Links added through ThirstyAffiliates will appear as affiliate link in search, like this:
Managing Affiliate Links in ThirstyAffiliates
ThirstyAffiliates uses built-in WordPress functionality to manage links. Links added via ThirstyAffiliates plugins are added into a custom post type which makes it really simple to add, edit, or delete an affiliate link. If you have statistics add-on activated, then it will also show you the number of clicks for each link broken down into daily, weekly and monthly clicks.
The statistics add-on for ThirstyAffiliates also adds detailed statistics for all your affiliate link activity on statistics page. This can help you show which link categories are performing better, which links are getting more clicks and less sign ups, which links are getting less clicks and more signups. You can then improve your content strategy to maximize your earning potential.
All your affiliate links can be exported in WordPress XML format and can easily be imported into any other WordPress website using the default WordPress import/export tools.
We hope that this article helped you learn how to manage affiliate links in WordPress with ThirstyAffiliates. You may also want to see our list of the best affiliate marketing tools and plugins for WordPress.