How to Integrate Google Analytics with Pretty Link Pro (And Why You Should)

Traffic numbers can be a strong indicator of your business’ success. After all, the more eyes on your site, the more potential leads your business has. However, the tracking process can seem complicated, and you may find yourself overwhelmed by the steps involved.

Fortunately, Pretty Link Pro enables you to easily integrate a tool such as Google Analytics, and track traffic and other website metrics in a flash. With this information, you can make the necessary changes to your website and begin to improve your business’ competitive position.

In this post, we’ll first introduce you to Google Analytics, including why you should consider using it. Then, we’ll show you how to integrate Google Analytics with Pretty Link Pro, and offer a few tips for using this integration to the fullest. Let’s get started!

What Google Analytics Is (And Why You Should Use It)

Google Analytics audience overview report

The Audience Overview screen is one of Google Analytics’ most popular tracking features.

Google Analytics is a free service that generates in-depth statistics about visitors and sources of website traffic, and also tracks measurable data such as website conversions and sales. This can be a useful tool for affiliate marketers, or any website owner who’d like a behind-the-scenes look at their website.

There is a wealth of information available to you with Google Analytics, but here are a few specific reasons to use it on your site. You can:

  1. Track traffic. A solid understanding of your site’s traffic sources can help you to better target your audience.
  2. Notice trends. Trends – such as web browser usage and bounce rates – can provide you with an understanding of your audience and their needs.
  3. Maximize marketing effortsWith a look at audience behaviors and other such data, you can alter your current marketing plans to get more in line with reality.

In comparison to its competitors, Google Analytics is a mature program, offering advanced features and extensive resources. And as we mentioned, it’s also free!

How to Integrate Google Analytics with Pretty Link Pro

For this step you’ll need to have installed and activated the Pretty Link Pro plugin first. To begin the integration process, download a suitable Google Analytics plugin to your WordPress site. Google Analyticator enables you to see your statistics within WordPress, and is supported by Pretty Link Pro:

The Google Analyticator plugin.

Next, go to Pretty Link > Options > Link Options within your WordPress dashboardTo enable Google Analytics, simply check the box next to the Google Analytics option, which makes the option available every time you create a link with Pretty Link Pro:

Enable Google Analytics in Pretty Link Pro link options

Finally, keep in mind that links can only be tracked if they are one of the following redirect types: cloak, pretty bar, javascript, and meta-refresh. Once you’re up and running, you can look to leverage your integration’s power and flexibility.

How to Get the Most from Your Google Analytics and Pretty Link Pro Integration (3 Tips)

Now you know how to integrate Google Analytics with Pretty Link Pro, let’s take a look at three tips to help you make the most of it.

1. Understand What Google Analytics Can Do For You

Google Analytic's traffic source feature

One of Google Analytics’ many features is traffic source tracking.

Google Analytics has an extensive list of metrics, and discussing them all could fill several books! To use the tool optimally, you’ll need to at least be familiar with the basics. Some of Google Analytics’ most useful metrics for affiliate marketers relate to e-commerce, and you’ll also find handy features such as audience segment reports. However, there’s much more on offer.

If you’re unsure which metrics to pay attention to, here are a couple to get you started:

  1. Unique Visitors and Page ViewsTogether, they provide a clear indication of the true levels of traffic on your site, and tell you what visitors are looking at.
  2. Bounce Rate. Visitors who aren’t compelled to click through to links will ‘bounce’, so this metric dictates whether you need to reassess your content at a base level.

While the plethora of metrics and features on offer can seem overwhelming at first, time and experience will ultimately enable you to make sense of it all.

2. Integrate (And Track) Your Website Goals

Google Analytics create new goal page

In Google Analytics, you can create your own website goals.

Goals are a key element for your website’s success, and will provide you with clarity and direction. Google Analytics also include features related to goal setting and tracking – and they’re a breeze to use.

To begin, follow these simple steps:

  1. Create your goals in Google Analytics. In short, you’ll need to go to Admin > Goals on the left side of the Google Analytics dashboard. From here, click New Goal, then select a pre-built template or create a custom one. Select the goal type, enter in the details, and click Save.
  2. Track your goal’s results. By navigating to Conversions > Goals > Overview, you can look at your goal’s tracked results, and make adjustments as needed.

The more website goals you set, the better able you’ll be to meet your personal and business goals, such as higher traffic and more conversions. So it pays (sometimes literally!) to spend some time here.

3. Create Custom Reports

custom report creation page in Google Analytics

Custom reports are similar to goals, but with a bit more flexibility.

Simply put, custom reports are ones that you define yourself. They enable you to set specific parameters for your reports based on web browser, traffic source, and even location.

As with the other steps, creating a custom report in Google Analytics is simple:

  1. Choose the best dimensions and metrics. There are a variety of dimension-metrics combinations you can utilize. You can experiment and even change them as you go along.
  2. Interpret the results. This will help you to get an idea of where your site is currently, and make plans for the future.

Similar to goals, custom reports offer you a valuable look at the actuality of your current website situation. With this insight, you can then make the tweaks necessary to reach your goals.

Conclusion

Proper tracking of your website’s traffic – along with a few other analytics – can help you to better gauge your site’s goals (such as improving traffic sources and boosting your income). Overall, this can help you to make the changes necessary to meet and exceed them.

In this post, we’ve showed you how to integrate Google Analytics with Pretty Link Pro, and optimize their integration. To quickly recap:

  1. Get acquainted with Google Analytics’ offerings.
  2. Integrate (and track) your website goals.
  3. Create custom reports.

Do you have any questions about how to integrate Google Analytics with Pretty Link Pro? Let us know in the comments section below!

A/B Testing: What It Is and How To Do It With Pretty Link Pro

When setting up your website or sending out email campaigns, it can be difficult to know how readers will perceive different aspects of your design and content. This is true for many things, including link placement and usage.

With A/B testing, you can get as close to mind reading as possible. Ultimately, with a better understanding of your audience’s behavior, this technique will enable you to increase your conversion rate, and as a result, increase your profits.

In this post, we’ll introduce you to A/B testing, specifically using links. We’ll show you how to use this testing to get a better understanding of your audience, resulting in a boost to your business’ bottom line, as well as how Pretty Link Pro can be used to A/B test your links. Let’s get started!

What A/B Testing Is (And Why You Should Use It)

Pretty Link Pro A/B split testing

A/B testing set up in Pretty Link Pro.

A/B testing (also referred to as ‘split testing’) is a method used by marketers to test out different aspects of their marketing strategy and implementation. A/B testing is a more controlled form of split testing, where only two variants (A and B) are tested at the same time.

There are numerous benefits that marketers can reap through the use of A/B testing. Two of the mains benefits are:

  1. It gives you insights into target audience behavior.
  2. It helps you to tweak your current practices to better provoke desired audience behavior (e.g. making purchases).

While there are alternative techniques available (such as experimental design), A/B testing is one of the simplest and most direct methods for improving conversion rates. This makes it a good option for marketers, as it can provide you with clear results with very little effort on your part.

How to Use A/B Testing to Improve Your Business (3 Key Tips)

Whether you’re new to marketing or a veteran in the field, A/B testing can drastically improve your business methods. Let’s take a look at how!

1. Compare Link Placement Methods

As a marketer, you depend on your readers to click the links on your website and in your email campaigns. What you may not have considered is the importance of where you place such links. Consider, for example, that a 2016 study revealed how links placed in the “top-left region” of an email newsletter had a “higher impact” than those placed elsewhere.

Studies like the above are just the tip of the iceberg; you only need to consciously observe your own behavior on websites to quickly realize how link placement drives what you click on and what you choose to ignore (or even miss entirely).

Fortunately, A/B testing enables you to gain access to data that can show you where links should be placed for maximum impact. More specifically, you can test two different placements of the same link, and run a test that determines which placement attracts the higher percentage of clicks. Once you have concluded the test, you can adopt the optimal placement, and enjoy higher Click-Through Rates (CTRs) as a result.

2. Track Your Links’ Conversion Rates

Conversion rates tell you how many of your site’s visitors (or email readers) have picked up on the cues you’ve used in an attempt to ‘convert’ them. This may mean they click a link that brings them to a product’s sales page, or sign up for your email list, or even just follow your social media page.

Tracking these links is vital to understanding your readers. If you want to know what makes them click, you need to have solid evidence to back it up.

Among other things, A/B testing enables you to track link conversion rates. How can these results help you?

  1. It helps you to better understand your audience.
  2. It enables you to improve future practices, increasing your conversions easily.

Don’t make the mistake of relying on CTRs alone. Conversion rates are a more important indicator of your business’s success, and their tracking enables you to improve upon them.

3. Test Different URL Destinations

Not all landing pages are created the same. However, if you aren’t testing the destinations, you won’t know which ones are better for your business.

Testing different URL destinations – and variations of each – can improve your business significantly. Most of all, this can lead to:

  1. Increased understanding of visitor needs. The pages your sites visitors react to more positively will, ultimately, tell you what they’re looking for from you and your niche.
  2. More effective landing pages. A/B testing will show you which landing pages are more effective for sales or other conversions.

Landing pages are the main platform for your sales pitches. This is why it’s essential to tweak them to perfection based on your visitors’ needs and behavior.

How Pretty Link Pro Can Help With A/B Testing

Pretty Link Pro screenshot

As a link shortening plugin, you may think that Pretty Link Pro’s features end there. Among its wide variety of other features, Pretty Link Pro also offers A/B testing.

One of the greatest things about Pretty Link Pro’s A/B testing feature is how easy it is to set up! In just a few minutes, you can create split links for all the website and email links you would like to test. Then, once users have begun using the links, you can check out the results by clicking Split Test Report under the links you’re testing on the Pretty Link page.

Conclusion

Links are the foundation of your marketing efforts. That means it’s vital to know the best practices for their use on your website, on social media, and in your email marketing campaigns. With A/B testing, you can do just that by learning about – and taking advantage of – audience actions and behavior.

In the above post, we showed you how to use A/B testing to improve your business. To recap, you can:

  1. Compare link placement methods.
  2. Track your links’ conversion rates.
  3. Test different URL destinations.

Do you have any questions about A/B testing, or how Pretty Link Pro can help? Let us know in the comments section below!

Affiliate Link Disclosures: An Introduction and Best Practices


Links are the foundation of affiliate marketing. As such, some marketers may add paid-for links to their blogs and websites freely, without a thought to any repercussions. Unfortunately, undisclosed links of this kind can create a legal nightmare.

That’s where affiliate link disclosures come in. This practice enables you to link to affiliate sites without worry, and protects you – and the consumer – from unethical business practices.

In this post, we’ll first introduce you to affiliate link disclosures, including what they are and why their use is necessary. Then, we’ll provide you with three best practices you can easily apply to your website and blog.

Let’s get started!

What Affiliate Link Disclosures Are (And Why They’re Necessary)

Affiliate link disclosure example

An affiliate link disclosure as seen on Amy Lynn Andrews.

Affiliate link disclosures are an FTC-mandated practice. Essentially, whenever a link is used on your website that results in a commission, you must disclose this information to site visitors. This extends beyond affiliate links, and must also be done for endorsements, sponsorships, and the like.

While this may seem like a hassle, there are two very big reasons that disclosures are necessary:

  1. They ensure fair business practices. This gives all marketers an even playing field, and gives buyers the chance to purchase from marketers they trust.
  2. They provide transparency to your site’s readers. Trust is important for marketers, and can only be achieved through complete transparency.

Remember, disclosures aren’t punishments. Instead, they’re a practice used for the benefit of consumers and marketers alike.

3 Best Practices for Affiliate Link Disclosures

Affiliate link disclosures are fairly easy to implement, but there are ways to optimize their use. Let’s take a look at three practices that – when used – result in FTC-compliant disclosures.

1. Place Disclosures in Obvious Areas

‘Obvious’ can be quite subjective, but all this means is that any disclosures on your site must be in open view, easy for visitors to see.

An example of obvious disclosure placement.

For all blog posts containing affiliate links, Michelle from Making Sense of Cents places a basic disclosure at the top of the post.

This practice builds trust. Disclosures that are hidden in page footers or on a separate page look as if you’re trying to comply without actually doing so. This doesn’t fly with the FTC, and it won’t go down well with a lot of readers, either.

To ensure that you’re following this practice, here are two key tips for disclosure placement on your website or blog:

  1. Always add your disclosure at the top of blog posts. This gives the reader a chance to bounce from the page if they aren’t fans of affiliate links, and it protects you from accusations of deception.
  2. Place a reference to your disclosure near affiliate links. You don’t have to interrupt your post’s flow to do so. Simply add an asterisk or other indicator near the link, then repeat the disclosure at the end of the post.

Your readers shouldn’t have to do any extra legwork in order to see the disclosure. If you keep this in mind, it’s fairly easy to determine the best placements on your site and blog.

2. Be Proactive in Disclosing

You may sometimes find yourself wondering whether a disclosure is necessary. To avoid legal troubles, it’s best to be proactive and disclose.

Here’s a few guidelines to help you determine when to disclose:

  • Disclose when you’ve been paid. This includes sponsorships, paid reviews, and links to products that aren’t your own (i.e. an affiliate product).
  • Disclose on each page a link is used. Even if you’ve previously disclosed a particular affiliate link, it’s necessary to do so again when it’s used in a different area of your site.
  • When unsure, disclose anyway. This won’t cause any harm, and may actually prevent legal headaches down the road.

The main takeaway is that proactive disclosing is best. You should disclose whenever possible, and be open about your practices from the start.

3. Use Clear Language

Clear language ensures that your site’s readers understand the relationship you have to affiliate sites.

Again, this really comes down to transparency. Clear, direct language shows that you respect your readers, while complex language can confuse and drive away potential customers.

To ensure that you’re writing clear affiliate disclosures, here are a few key points to keep in mind:

  1. Be direct. Keep the disclosure short, and don’t beat around the bush.
  2. Use ‘trigger words’. It’s best to use words that let your reader know immediately that you may receive compensation from your links. These words include “compensation” and “commission”.
  3. Avoid niche jargon. Avoid the use of words that the general public may not know, such as “affiliate”, “pay-per-click” (in reference to ads), etc., unless you also provide a direct explanation for them in your disclosure.

You can also create a disclosure template, enabling you to provide readers with a consistent experience across all website pages.

How Pretty Link Pro Can Help You Disclose Your Affiliate Links

Pretty Link Pro screenshot

If you’re ready to implement affiliate disclosures on your site, then Pretty Link Pro can help. More than just a link shortener, this WordPress plugin has plenty of features to help you manage your site’s links. These include the abilities to redirect and share your links, as well as automate the processes involved in their use.

The best part is that setting up affiliate link disclosures is simple. In just five steps, you can have this feature set up across your site.

Conclusion

Affiliate link disclosures are a legal necessity, but their use can also build reader trust in both you and your affiliate products. With a link management tool such as Pretty Link Pro, you can create affiliate disclosures for your website in minutes, and you can even automate the process.

In the above post, we provided you with three affiliate disclosure best practices. To recap:

  1. Place disclosures in obvious areas.
  2. Be proactive in disclosing.
  3. Use clear language.

Do you have any questions about affiliate link disclosures or how to set them up with Pretty Link Pro? Let us know in the comments section below!

How to Boost Your Brand Power with Vanity URLs

Custom domains used for marketing purposes (i.e ‘vanity URLs’) are a powerful way to boost your branding. However, choosing one is not always a simple process. Ultimately, a poor vanity URL won’t reflect well on your brand, and will likely stymie your business’ growth. Fortunately, there are a number of best practices you can follow that may serve to maximize the effectiveness and fit of your vanity URL. Choosing one is more to do with common sense and logic rather than creativity.



In this article, we’re firstly going to discuss what a vanity URL is, then walk you through the steps you need to choose and purchase one. Finally, we’ll offer some advice about integrating it into your marketing strategy.

Let’s get started!

What a Vanity URL Is (and 3 Tips for Choosing One)

Simply put, a vanity URL is a custom domain for a specific page on your website that’s been branded for marketing purposes. For example, if you’d like to offer users an easy way to your online store, you could go with mywebsitestore.com rather than let users navigate to store.mywebsite.com.

Using vanity URLs offers a number of benefits. Firstly, aside from creating a memorable handle to help users get back to a particular page on your site, they also strengthen your branding efforts by enhancing your business’ credibility. Also, vanity URLs provide the potential for custom-branded business email addresses, which helps to strengthen your professionalism.

In addition, vanity URLs can directly lead to increased traffic. This is because having your custom domain name on display in search engine results and ads enhances Click-Through Rates (CTR), potentially bringing more business to your site.

Fortunately, choosing a vanity URL follows a similar path to choosing a regular domain:

  1. Make it memorable. Catchy, short URLs help readers remember how to navigate to your site the next time they want to visit.


  2. Make it pronounceable. Memorable and pronounceable often go hand in hand, and a ‘natural-sounding’ URL can aid retention.
  3. Avoid potential infringements. Simply put, you don’t want to end up in court. Take caution, and make sure you’re not treading on the toes of another company with your vanity URL.

All in all, choosing a vanity URL isn’t a ‘dark art’. By using some common sense and thinking about the bigger picture, you’ll be well placed to think about making a purchase.

How to Choose and Purchase a Vanity URL (in 3 Steps)

Now we’ve discussed some pointers for choosing a vanity URL, let’s look at how to actually select and purchase your new custom domain.

 

Step 1. Choose a Suitable Name

While sometimes the name of your desired vanity URL will be self explanatory, you may also need some assistance – especially if you’re looking to promote a particularly niche page. Fortunately there are a couple of great resources to give you a helping hand:

  1. Shopify’s Business Name Generator.  This tool will generate available domain names based on the keywords you enter. You can then choose to reserve your branded address directly through Shopify.
  2. BustAName. This works much like Shopify’s Business Name Generator, offering a word combiner that assists in selecting the perfect domain in addition to a quick domain check.

Once you have a suitable domain name, it’s time to shop for the best price.

 

Step 2. Carry Out a Price Comparison

Of course, different domain registrars offer different prices. Sometimes the same vanity URL will go for a lower price at a different registrar, so it’s always best to shop around regardless of your budgetary concerns.

That being said, unlike other price comparison industries and niches, there’s no real way to compare domain registrars. However, sites such as TLD List make matters easier by providing a comprehensive comparison of top-level domains:

This step will require some mucking in to find the best price, but the savings you’ll make will ultimately outweigh any time you’ve spent researching.

 

Step 3. Choose and Purchase a Vanity URL



The final step is to make your purchase. If your budget isn’t a concern, or you’re simply looking for a recommendation, we’d suggest either NameCheap or GoDaddy. Both are stellar registrars, with a range of available Top-Level Domains (TLDs) on hand.

Purchasing your chosen domain will likely be the easiest part of the process. Essentially, if you have your payment details, and if you’re used to the online purchasing process, you can buy a domain!

Now you have a vanity URL in hand, you can begin to consider your marketing.

How to Integrate a Vanity URL into Your Marketing Strategy

When it comes to integrating vanity URLs into your marketing strategy, they’re essentially useful when honing in on certain aspects of your business you’d like to promote.

For example, take a food company (ACME Food) that offers among other services, a seated cafe. Normally, you would create subdomains or folders for each (for example, acmefood.com/cafe). However, purchasing a vanity URL such as acmecafe.com enables you to offer branded email addresses, as well as something that can be added to flyers, business cards, and social media.

You can also do the same for your different locations or branches. For example, you have two establishments both uptown and downtown. Rather than direct visitors to acmecafe.com/uptown, you can offer acmecafeuptown.com. You’ll also be adhering to Search Engine Optimization (SEO) best practices too, which is a bonus.

Finally, there’s Pretty Link Pro. This is a WordPress plugin that – unlike other link shorteners – leaves your custom vanity URL branding intact. It also offers a bevy of other features, including:

  1. Powerful social sharing.
  2. Automated page and post short link creation.
  3. Server-side 301 permanent redirects (essential for implementing vanity URLs).
  4. Click tracking and related analytics.

It’s an easy to use plugin that can help you implement your vanity URLs correctly, with no impact to your SEO, and enhance the work you’ll have done to implement a strategy.

Conclusion

It’s a fallacy that choosing a domain name is a simple aspect of establishing your business’ online identity. However, choosing a poor vanity URL could inhibit your product and/or company’s growth.



In this piece, we’ve shown you how to boost your brand power by using vanity URLs. Let’s quickly recap how to do it:

  1. Choose a suitable, well-considered name.
  2. Carry out a price comparison by shopping around.
  3. Choose and purchase vanity URLs using preferred domain registrars.

You can also leverage the power of Pretty Link Pro to enjoy a host of marketing benefits while still retaining your custom, branded vanity URL.

Do you have any questions about choosing a vanity URL? Let us know in the comments section below!

Pretty Link 2.0 is Here!

It’s been a long time coming, but we’re proud to announce that Pretty Link Pro 2.0 is now here!

We have completely refactored the code base to ensure that the plugin will be easier to both maintain and extend as WordPress continues to evolve.

Along the way we’ve completed a major cleanup to the interface, improved performance of the plugin/links, added a bunch of new (awesome) features, and fixed countless bugs. We’re so thrilled about the changes, and we hope you will be too!

So what’s new?

Great question! With literally thousands of lines of code moved, deleted and/or optimized — there’s literally too many changes to list here. So we’ll cut to the chase and highlight the one’s you’re gonna want to know about.

 

NEW WYSIWYG INSERT LINK POP-UP

Starting with what likely is the best new feature of 2.0 — you can now click the star button when editing a post or page on your website to reveal this Insert Pretty Link pop-up dialogue. Here you can create a brand-new pretty link or search for an existing one. With a few simple clicks, your Pretty Link will be embedded in your content. Finally no more switching between windows and copying/pasting just to insert a link into the content!

 

BASE SLUG PREFIX

Create links like https://yoursite.com/go/xyz! This allows you to add a default base slug that should be used for all newly created Pretty Links, it does not affect existing links. We recommend using something short like “go” or “out” to help keep your links short (and pretty). This new feature has a lot of potential uses such as omitting your pretty links from caching plugins/hosts to ensure that tracking and reporting isn’t affected. It can also be used to limit search engines from indexing your links by adding short lines to your robots.txt files.

 

CUSTOM POST TYPE SUPPORT

You can now automatically create Pretty Links for and display the social sharing buttons on selected Custom Post Types just like you could before with Posts and Pages.

 

AFFILIATE LINK DISCLOSURES

This is part of our Keyword replacements. With the FTC getting more serious about cracking down on proper affiliate link disclosures we thought it might be cool to add a feature where your Pretty Link’d Keywords are automatically disclosed for you. When enabled it will show a small text next to your replaced Keyword links so the user will know that link is an affiliate link. Further, you can even show a link to your full affiliate link disclosure statement at the top and/or bottom of each post on your site.

 

GEOGRAPHICAL (GEO) REDIRECTS

You can define an unlimited number of geo-based redirects. This means you can send users to different target URL’s based on their location. We’re excited to see the various ways you all come up with to use this new feature!

 

TECHNOLOGY REDIRECTS

You can now also choose to redirect to different target URL’s based on the user’s device info. Such as their device type, Operating System, and even their browser!

 

TIME BASED REDIRECTS

Redirect to different target URL’s based on the current date and time. You can now set time intervals and specify which target URL the user will be redirected to based on the current date and time. Set as many time periods as you want!

 

LINK EXPIRATIONS

We had a lot of requests for this, and it’s finally here. We hope you use it and appreciate it. Your Pretty Links can now be set to expire after a certain time, or after a certain number of unique clicks. Maybe you want to run a promotion for only the first X people who subscribe, or for folks who subscribe before a certain time get a free T-shirt etc. Best of all, after the link expires, you have the option to redirect them somewhere else instead.

 

MORE ROTATIONS

You’re no longer limited to just five rotation URL’s. Now you can add up to 20 rotating URL’s per Pretty Link.

 

NEW AND PRETTIER SOCIAL SHARING BUTTONS

The social sharing buttons have been completely replaced with some new modern-looking sharing buttons.

 

LARGER QR CODES

Pretty Link already supported QR codes, but we’ve increased the generated size of the codes so you can use them in your print media and campaigns.

 

AUTO URL REPLACEMENT BLACKLIST

In addition to some serious performance improvements with the Automatic URL Replacement feature, we’ve also added a domain blacklist feature as well. This means you can now omit certain domains from ever being automatically replaced. Perhaps you only want to automatically replace external (outgoing) links with pretty links, and leave your internal links alone. Now that is possible with this new domain blacklist feature.

 

AUTO TRIM CLICKS

Many of you have been very successful, and with that success comes more traffic. We now have an option which will automatically trim (permanently delete) clicks which are older than 90 days. This will keep the clicks database table fresh and prevent it from becoming so bloated that it affects site performance and other queries etc. These hits are lost forever once deleted, though we highly recommend using this new feature, please be aware that once they’re deleted – they’re gone forever unless you have some kind of incremental database backup solution in place.

 

CUSTOM HEAD SCRIPTS

You can now define custom scripts which should be used in the HTML <head> section on every supported redirect type. You can also define scripts which should only be used on individual links as well. This could be useful for tracking scripts like Facebook retargeting, analytics etc. This feature works on all redirect types except for server side (30x) redirect types.

 

OTHER CHANGES

  • Cleaner, more modern interface
  • Serious performance improvements and options
  • We’ve extended some of the data that can be imported/exported – with more to come in a future release
  • Complete refactor of the core code
  • New license key system (no more entering your username/password to activate the plugin)
  • Lite and Pro options have been merged into one page
  • Tools have been better separated out into their own page
  • Hundreds of other small changes and bug fixes too numerous to list
  • Auto twitter posting has been removed, better auto-social posting options are available such as Buffer and Hootsuite
  • Tweet badge has been removed

How to Implement 301 Redirects on Your Website

It goes without saying that if your site isn’t ranking well on major search engines, nobody will be able to find you. If you’ve worked hard at improving your ranking, then change your URL or move your website, it can all be unravelled in a flash.

301 redirects automatically send visitors and search engines to your new URL, and making appropriate use of them is vital for maintaining your current search ranking. What’s more, plugins such as Pretty Link Pro can make implementing them a snap.

In this post, we’ll explain what 301 redirects are, the process of implementing them manually, and how Pretty Link Pro can help. Let’s get started!

What 301 Redirects Are

Put simply, a 301 redirect is a permanent redirection from one URL to another – such as www.yoursite.com/version1 to www.yoursite.com/version2. The number refers to the HTTP status code for this type of redirect. Once implemented, any visitor or search bot visiting the original URL would be funneled directly to the new one.

It’s worth pointing out that 301 redirects should only be used as a means for permanent redirection, and is normally used to preserve the user’s experience while search engines catch up with your changes.

Why You Should Use 301 Redirects

Changing your URL without using a 301 redirect is similar to moving your business to a new address and not notifying customers. They’ll keep turning up to the old location for a while, but after some time, will eventually go elsewhere – leaving your business in ruins.

It’s the same thing with Search Engine Optimization (SEO) – if no one knows where to find you, you can’t gain traffic.

When moving domain, 301 redirects are ideal for the following reasons:

 

  1. You can resolve different URLs to the same location. People have their individual habits when it comes to inputting web addresses – some preferring to enter www, others not. 301 redirects make sure all instances take visitors to the right site.
  2. You can rebrand a website with a different URL. There are a myriad of reasons to change your URL. Whatever the reason, you can do this while preserving most of your PageRank.
  3. You can redirect traffic from different URLs owned by the same company. Some companies may need multiple domains to redirect to the same site. With 301 redirects, you’re free to do so.

 

While using 301 redirects isn’t rocket science, it can be confusing if you haven’t done it before. Don’t sweat it – we have you covered! Let’s take a look at how to do it.

How to Implement 301 Redirects on Your Website

Implementing 301 redirects manually is normally carried out through your .htaccess file. In short, this is a server configuration file that stores important settings related to your WordPress website. It can be found within your site’s root directory (normally called public_html or www), or in the top-level directory of your WordPress installation.

You’ll certainly need to access your site via File Transfer Protocol (FTP) in order to edit .htaccess. In this article we’ll be using the popular (and free) FileZilla application. If you’re uneasy about using FTP, consult both the documentation and your web host’s instructions before you get cracking.

Once you’re logged into your server, you may not see your .htaccess file. That can be remedied by selecting Server > Force showing hidden files from the FileZilla menu.

If you’re still struggling, you may not even have a .htaccess file. To fix this, log into your WordPress dashboard, navigate to Settings > Permalinks, choose any of the permalink settings, then save your changes. This forces WordPress to create a new .htaccess file. Make sure you revert back to your original permalink settings afterwards!

From here, you’ll want to carry out one more task before getting started: backing up your site.

Simply put, you should always back up before making any changes to your WordPress installation. That way, you have a good, clean version of your site to revert to in case the worst happens. Our recommendation is the UpdraftPlus plugin:

Using the plugin is a breeze – so there’s really no excuse for skipping this step. Alternatively, you can also opt for a premium option, such as VaultPress.

Next, log into your server using FileZilla, locate your .htaccess file, and edit it using your favorite plain text editor – any other application could potentially ‘break’ it. It’s important not to edit any pre-existing code too (i.e. everything between BEGIN WordPress and END WordPress).

To implement a 301 redirect, you’ll need to add the following code to the very bottom of your file:

 

# BEGIN 301 Redirects

Redirect 301 /old-post/ http://www.yourwebsite.com/new-post/

# END 301 Redirects

 

Simply replace /old-post/ with your old URL, then add the new URL to replace http://www.yourwebsite.com/new-post/. Save your changes, and that’s it!

How Pretty Link Pro Can Help With 301 Redirects

Our Pretty Link Pro plugin is more than just another URL shortener. It enables you to shorten, shrink, cloak, track, organize, share, and test all of your links:

In addition to shortening your URLs, Pretty Link Pro also offers multiple redirect options, including 301 redirects – all set directly from within your WordPress dashboard:

So, while the manual method has its place, Pretty Link Pro offers just as much power, without you having to touch a single line of code.

Conclusion

Moving your website or changing your URL can wreak havoc with your search engine rankings. It’s a good job, therefore, that 301 redirects can help reduce the pain involved. What’s more, Pretty Link Pro can help you implement them on your site quickly and easily.

In this post, we’ve shown you how to implement 301 redirects manually on your site. Let’s recap the necessary steps:

  1. Back up your site (we recommend UpdraftPlus or VaultPress).
  2. Log into your server via FTP (with a tool such as FileZilla).
  3. Add the necessary code to your .htaccess file, and save your changes.

Do you have any questions about 301 redirects or how Pretty Link Pro can help? Ask away in the comments section below!

Link Shortening: The Secret Weapon in Social Media Marketing

url

Hidden behind the scenes of digital marketing is a little detail that has made the world of difference. The Uniform Resource Locator (URL) is at the heart of the internet’s evolution, and yet it’s an often overlooked element until its format presents a problem.

Unwieldy URLs can become something of an eyesore – and a hassle – particularly for social media marketing. Long, unintelligible strings of text distract the reader’s attention, upstage your content, and are also difficult to track. That’s where link shortening (and tracking) comes in – and it’s the secret weapon in your social media marketing.

In this post, we’ll examine the origin of link shortening, illustrate why it’s so important to your current social media marketing campaigns, and finally show you how to harness its potential for your gain. Let’s get started!

A Very Brief History of the URL

To put link shortening into the proper context, let’s take a quick look at how it fits into the overall history of the internet.

Between 1989 and 1991 Sir Tim Berners-Lee invented the web, developing HyperText Markup Language (HTML), Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP), and of course, the URL. Together, these form the basis of all we do online. Soon after, the public were invited to link to the first prototype, and the internet grew from there.

Ten years later, the first URL redirection service (V3.com) was set up. This enabled URL shortening, prevented broken links, and helped guide navigation into and out of web pages through a memorable, short URL.

Social media expanded rapidly from the early 2000s, with sites such as Photobucket and Flickr facilitating online photo sharing. YouTube arrived in the first half of the decade, followed by Facebook. Digital marketers soon found these to be the perfect platform for sharing links and content.

Twitter launched around the same time with its 140 character limit – which presented a brand new challenge for long URLs, adding more motivation for finding a way to shorten them, revamp them, and (of course) track them.

In early 2000, mobile phones started to access high-speed 3G networks, enabling them to connect to the internet. Display sizes soon became a burning issue. Before 2011, the display area on virtually every phone on the market measured between 2.5 and 4 inches. Since 2013, phones with displays under four inches are rare, yet display size still remains a problem for web designers.

The internet has now evolved into a versatile, powerful marketing tool – strung together by that one small detail we tend to forget about – the URL.

Why URL Shortening Has Become Vital

In the early days of the web, the average person didn’t have to worry about URLs too much. Those mysterious strings of text had a job to do, and were never given a second thought. Unless you were creating software, you didn’t really need to bother about using, cloaking, or tracking them.

Gradually that has changed. At first, longer and more complex URLs became a problem when pasting them into an email. Because the string of text would often be too long for a single line, text wrapping would break things, and clicking on the link didn’t always work.

With the explosion of social media, the problem became even more urgent. Now, URLs form part of your link building and sharing strategy, and they also need to fit into a limited space. Link shortening makes the whole process more manageable, and enables you to squeeze more links into the same space.

Besides just looking better on the screen, you can also tap into another very useful property of the shortened URL: It’s now possible to track what happens to your link – and that information is invaluable for your digital marketing campaigns.

Simply put, it lets you understand your audience, figure out what they’re doing with your content, and enables you to create better campaigns in the future.

The Perfect WordPress Link Shortening Tool

Using a third-party service has its advantages, but you’ll lose a certain amount of control over the process. For a start, there’s no guarantee you’ll always have access to your links, and that means there’s a risk to your credibility if a service ceases to exist.

In contrast, WordPress users come in all shapes and sizes. Some are able to code their own redirection software, but most don’t have the background – the vast majority are bloggers and small business owners. Therefore, the perfect solution should offer power and flexibility, while being easy to navigate and use.

The answer is to use a plugin such as Pretty Link Pro. It offers hassle-free link shortening, giving you the control you require, and also offers the tracking functionality you’ll need. Social links, redirects, and affiliate links are all taken care of, and no coding experience is required. It’s simply a matter of purchasing, installing, and activating the plugin.

What’s more, the software will automatically create short links for all of your pages and posts. You also get the ability to automatically tweet a customizable message to multiple Twitter accounts when a post is published.

Conclusion

The web has given us lots of scope for expansion. Whether we’re part of a worldwide team or running a small business, it’s important to keep up with any changes. If there’s a way to get the edge on the competition, it should be explored.

The URL is at the heart of web technology, and by extension, link shortening. A versatile, inexpensive tool such as Pretty Link Pro that unlocks its potential is vital to any WordPress user. To recap:

  1. The URL is often overlooked, but in reality it’s at the heart of web connectivity. Link shortening and cloaking is a secret weapon in modern social media marketing.
  2. With the evolution of the web, link shortening has become vital to better manage URLs.
  3. Unwieldy URLs should be replaced with short, pretty ones, and tracking and managing them needs to be easy.

Do you have any questions about URL shortening and Pretty Link Pro? Ask away in the comments section below!

How to Find The Right Affiliate Offers to Promote for Your Audience

With relative ease, affiliate programs can be found on almost every corner of the Internet. But not every affiliate program has been created equally. As an ethical and responsible marketer, you need to be able to source out affiliate offers that are beneficial to both you and your audience.

In this post, we’re going to cover some ways to find and evaluate affiliate offers that not only match your audience but create a win-win scenario for both you and your visitors.

The Importance of Picking a Good Affiliate Offer

CJcom

Finding good affiliate programs that serve both your readers and your business can present a few challenges. There are a lot of different options to pick from and no affiliate program is ever guaranteed. However, there are a few things you can watch out for and steps you can take to be sure you’re making the right choice.

Affiliate marketing – at least the good kind – is built upon your ability to establish a trusting relationship with your visitors. If you pick an affiliate program that is profitable for you, while short-changing your audience, then the trust you worked so hard to develop will be quickly destroyed.

Balancing your needs with those of your audience makes the process of sourcing high-quality affiliate offers more important than ever.

So how exactly can you go about finding the best affiliate programs, and what separates the good from the bad?

How to Pick an Affiliate Offer

While there are many sources of potential affiliate offers, one of the best things you can do to avoid running into problems is to stick with the larger, well-established affiliate programs.

Some of these may be run in-house by the companies themselves (like Amazon), while some may be offered through a third party affiliate network (like CJ Affiliate). When assessing affiliate offers take the following into consideration:

  • Does the company or affiliate network appear to be stable?
  • Does the company or affiliate network have a history of affiliate payouts?
  • Will you be able to comply with their terms and conditions?

If all the items on this list appear to fit the bill, you’re set. Just remember that you should never place all your eggs in one basket. No affiliate offer is guaranteed to last forever and sometimes finding more than one affiliate program for the same type of product or service is a good idea (although not always possible).

Affiliate Networks vs Flying Solo

Neverblue

Most (if not all) of the major brands typically use a large affiliate network. This includes retailers like Zulily and manufacturers like Adidas. A few of the more popular affiliate networks include:

Typically, getting set up with an affiliate network involves an application process and sometimes a phone call with an account rep. As affiliate networks act as third parties, they provide advantages to both affiliates and advertisers alike. These advantages include:

  • Access to a large number of affiliate offers. For example, at the time of writing this article, ShareASale showed 3995 affiliate programs in their database.
  • An easy way to consolidate payouts and track a large number of affiliate programs.
  • A way for advertisers to maintain brand integrity. If you break the rules, you can find yourself banned from the entire affiliate network.

Affiliate networks can also make it easier to find appropriate offers for your audience. You’ll discover that with the larger networks, you can search for offers based on categories, keywords, seasons, and more.

Even with the advantages of using an affiliate network, some companies decide to run their own affiliate program. While it’s certainly not common, you should always perform some extra due-diligence when dealing with small or independent affiliate programs. After all, your welfare and reputation are depending on it.

Here are the basic considerations when it comes to picking an ideal affiliate program:

  • Rate the overall quality of each advertiser that you promote. Would you personally buy from them? Have you? How would you rate your experience with either the retailer or the product they are selling?
  • If their product or service is something you’d like to recommend, will they compensate you enough to do so? Don’t just look at the commission rate. You need to look at the big picture including earnings per click (EPC), average order value, average commission, and the tracking gap (the longer your cookie lasts, the better).
  • Consider their order reversal rate. How often do customers cancel their orders? This can also be a great indicator of customer satisfaction.
  • Are there banner ads or display ads (these are also called creatives) available that match the overall look and feel of your website?

How to Know What You Visitors Want to Buy

Actually discovering what your visitors want to buy should, in theory, be an easy process. I’m going to make the assumption that you are actively involved with your website.

Before we jump into finding the actual affiliate offers, let’s think about how to decide which products or services you should be promoting.

Start With Your Home Base

Since you’re actively involved with your site, it usually means that you also have a personal interest in the topic you are promoting. Use that personal interest to your advantage by promoting the products and services you rely on every day.

Also, if you’ve developed an active community either through blog commenting, Facebook, or a forum, listen to what your community is talking about. By discovering the common problems and challenges people are facing, you’ll have an opportunity to create solutions.

Instead of just finding a solution to promote, do some research. Talk to people, gather opinions, test products or services, and try out the competition. That’s how you can provide real value to your audience and earn their trust.

Performing Product Research

Sometimes, finding products and affiliate offers worth promoting comes down to research. That means you’ll need to roll-up your sleeves and do some good old fashioned hard work.

Amazon

Terapeak

For physical products, one of the best places you can start your search is Amazon.com. With just under $90 billion in 2014 sales, Amazon represents as good a source as any when it comes to researching consumer trends. As if you weren’t already aware, Amazon also runs what is probably the biggest independent affiliate network.

With relative ease, you can visit Amazon and within seconds begin searching for products that are appropriate to your audience. If you see Amazon as one of your better choices in terms of affiliate programs, you might also consider third party software called Terapeak. Terapeak  provides a more user-friendly interface and better insight into trends within your target market. It also makes the process of scouring through Amazon much easier.

Google

You can also turn to Google in your search for appropriate affiliate offers. A quick search for “affiliate programs pet insurance” turned up an entire page of results. Same scenario with “affiliate programs BBQ supplies”. With just a little effort, you’ll be able to source a variety of offers for almost any niche.

Company Websites

If your audience relies on your expertise, you probably have several standby products or services that you rely on day in and day out. These companies are a great place to start when you begin your search. Most of the time, you’ll find a simple link in the footer that says something like “affiliates,” “promote XYZ,” or “join us”.

Conclusion

Uncovering the ideal affiliate offers for your target audience will require a little bit of detective work. Most of the time it’s easier to start with the company websites you are familiar with and slowly progress up the food chain until you are searching through the databases of large affiliate networks.

Any time you find an affiliate offer that you think is appropriate, try to find 1-3 others that you can use as a comparison. Line the offers up against one another and figure out which one will work the best for you and your audience.

Remember, the most important thing you can do is to remain true and loyal to your audience. Without them, you’ve got nothing to sell.

What are some of your favorite sources when it comes to searching for affiliate offers? How do you decide what is and what isn’t a good fit for your audience? Please share your thoughts and questions in the comments section below.

How Pretty Link Pro has Helped planet5d.com Create a Thriving Brand

Since I released Pretty Link Pro (PLP), I’ve become friends with some fantastic bloggers. Many of these PLP users are really top notch bloggers and have used Pretty Link Pro in ways that I never anticipated. One of these PLP users is Mitch “planetMitch” Aunger over at planet5d.com.

Great Content + Awesome Marketing = A Thriving Brand

PlanetMitch knows just about everything about Canon Cameras, Accessories and Photographic techniques and his site is definitely proof of this fact. He’s only been at it for 2 years and in that short time has built an impressive blog and brand that is a destination site for anyone interested in Photography. His articles have been picked up by several major news sites because his content is so timely and relevant.

How planetMitch Does It

PlanetMitch has been using Pretty Link Pro to accelerate the success of his blog and brand for a year now. Here’s what planetMitch has to say about Pretty Link Pro:

planetMitchYup, it is true, I’m a Pretty Link Pro fanatic and that’s because I know it has helped turn my blog into a hugely popular destination for photographers. If you’re a WordPress blogger, you probably know that blogging actually takes time – shocking I know! But as you spend time working on your blog, you look for tools to improve your user’s experience as well as ways to make the process of blogging easier. Pretty Link Pro is a must have tool for both.

New bloggers (and even experienced ones) don’t spend enough time working on branding themselves and their blog. Pretty Link’s Pretty Bar and URL shortening tools are phenomenal ways to let readers see your brand and share your brand with others. The more readers see your brand, the more they’ll think about coming back – isn’t this what advertisers know how to do? Well, you should be doing the same things to build your brand – and Pretty Link does just that.

I have one case where other people were sharing a page that I linked in one of my blog posts (that was created with the URL shortener and with the Pretty Bar attached) with others – and they were copying my branded link to share. My post had over 1000 hits, but thru sharing my branded URL with the Pretty Bar has been shared over 50,000 times. Imagine your brand being shared so many times with just one simple link that PLP created!

And let’s not forget the time savers. PLP’s keyword replacement tool alone saves me hours and hours – because all I have to do is to include a keyword (“training” for example) in a post and PLP automatically inserts a link to my training page – apply that to your affiliate links – type a product name and PLP inserts your affiliate link – simple. I have hundreds of keywords built up. Imagine the amount of time that saves! And that’s just one of several different time savers included.

[Pretty Link Pro] replaces several other wordpress plugins – Blair has included several features that do the same things as other plugins (re-tweet, social media bars etc) – using only one plugin saves resources and reduces plugin conflicts.

Would my blog be as popular as it is without Pretty Link Pro? Maybe – but I know that it makes my blogging life easier and I know it has helped branding my site. I darn well won’t give it up!

Here are a couple of links to planetMitch‘s blog that will showcase his use of PLP’s Tweet Count Badge and PLP’s branded pretty bar:

http://blog.planet5d.com/vvq — Just an example of some of planetMitch‘s phenomenal content and his use of PLP’s Automated Keyword Replacement (the red links in his content body)

http://blog.planet5d.com/zs5 — Many of planetMitch‘s articles get re-tweeted like crazy

http://blog.planet5d.com/5dadb — Even when planetMitch‘s external links are shared, they retain his branding — helping his site be more viral

PlanetMitch over at planet5d.com is a great example of someone who has used PLP to streamline his blog and to create a thriving brand — I think anyone trying to build a brand could take a lesson or two from him.