For the next Affiliate Best Practices article I’d like to discuss our Affiliate Link Encoder (ALE) tool.

Bloggers and forum owners should pay special attention to the ALE, but any Affiliate site can benefit from this innovative tool we rolled out in October of 2007. In a nutshell, the ALE allows webmasters to place one line of Javascript on any page and/or site-wide template, and if a direct link (without Affiliate tracking data) to an AvantLink merchant exists on the page, the script will automatically convert the direct link to a tracking link on the end user’s browser. The script scans the page for domain matches, than does it’s thing.

Please note with the ALE that Google and the other search engines will still see the direct link as it exists in the html code. So if you mouse over a store link on an Affiliate page utilizing the ALE, you’ll see (in the browser status bar) the tracking details. However, if you view the source code of that same page, all you’ll see for the merchant URL is the direct href link code. And if you look hard enough, you’ll see the ALE Javascript on that page as well! To see a great working example of the ALE in action check out the ALE information page on our site.

Now on to the best practices for the ALE…

For bloggers and/or forum owners, the benefits should be easily apparent. In fact, with direct input from Greg at (read Greg’s testimonial on this blog), and a few other valued Affiliates, it was apparent that they were sending loads of traffic (and sales!) to merchants without necessarily getting credit. This was because their community members would often post direct links to outdoor retailers that are a part of AvantLink. Rather than editing the content of the community, Greg was more interested in finding a way to convert the click on the fly to one that would rightly set a cookie and credit him for any subsequent sales.

So for forum owners that may be in the same boat, here’s the secret. And it’s quite complicated…not! Simply login to your Affiliate account and generate an ALE script for a particular site configured in the network. Once you have the one line of Javascript, simply place it in a site-wide template (for example, your header or footer) and wala. Instant tracking on any direct to merchant link that exists anywhere on your forum (as long as the merchant is in AvantLink). You should also note that this include ALL direct to merchant links, even archived links from months or years ago!

For bloggers, same concept. You might have years worth of archived content that can be monetized just by adding this one line of Javascript. Talk about easy money. And we do have multiple success stories already in regards to bloggers benefiting greatly from the ALE. Here’s just one example: Lou runs a legendary blog for backcountry skiing enthusiasts called Over the years, Lou has posted links to and other retailers quite regularly when he reviews products, etc. Since Lou’s a blogger, and not necessarily an Affiliate marketer, the thought alone of logging into a network to generate a tracking link every time he linked to a retailer was tedious. So he added the ALE and instantly began generating revenue on years worth of archived content. Of course, this includes the links people posted in the comments’ section of each post.

General use of the ALE is also encouraged for people custom building many optimized pages. Rather than taking the time to use our Custom Link Builder tool (which, btw, is easy as pie), simply include the ALE Javascript in your base template. Once that’s in place it’s just a matter of writing your editorial, using the merchant image source for the product, and adding a deep link to the product detail on the merchant web site. No logging into the network for link code is necessary.

So there you have it! To generate the Affiliate Link Encoder for your site, follow these simple steps:

  1. Login as an Affiliate, and click “Tools” from the main menu.
  2. Under “Ad/Link Tools”, click on “Affiliate Link Encoder”.
  3. Select your website, and add a custom tracking code (which is optional).
  4. Click “Get Html”, and you’re done!

I hope this helps and Happy Converting!

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