An Introduction to Pretty Bar: A Pretty Link Pro Exclusive Feature

External links help to improve Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and boost brand authority. However, they can also lead readers away from your site. This is the downside to external link usage, especially if you’ve done a lot of work to bring traffic to your website.

Fortunately, you can reap the benefits of external linking while also avoiding its main consequence: loss of readers. An exclusive Pretty Link Pro feature, Pretty Bar, enables you to use external links while keeping your brand present on external pages.

In this post, we’ll introduce you to Pretty Bar, including its benefits. You’ll learn three best practices for its use, as well as how to set up and begin using it on your website immediately. Let’s get started!

An Introduction to Pretty Link Pro’s Pretty Bar

An example of what Pretty Bar looks like on a webpage

An example of how Pretty Bar appears at the top of a webpage.

Pretty Bar is one of eight redirection types offered by Pretty Link Pro. It works by cloaking the target link and adding a banner to the top of linked sites.

This unique cloaking feature has two major benefits.

  1. It incorporates your branding into external links. Your website stays in the forefront of your readers’ minds, even as they navigate to other websites.
  2. It makes it simple for users to return to your site. You get to keep your readers engaged with your own content while still sharing relevant links from external sites.

3 Best Practices for Using Pretty Bar on Your Website

While Pretty Bar can provide you with a number of benefits, there are a few best practices to keep in mind. Let’s take a look.

1. Know When to Use Pretty Bar

Pretty Bar is a useful tool that serves a specific purpose; in fact, knowing when to use it is almost as important as knowing how. In some situations, there may be other redirect types that are more beneficial for your needs.

Two criteria will help you determine whether to use Pretty Bar for your link. Before selecting it as the Redirection type, consider the following:

  1. Use it when you intend for site visitors to return. This is Pretty Bar’s main purpose. Using it when you don’t intend for site visitors to return will not benefit you or your visitors.
  2. Use it only with non-branded content. Don’t use Pretty Bar if you’re redirecting to an external site related to your brand (such as another website owned by you). It will seem redundant.

As shown above, there are many times that Pretty Bar will be the perfect solution for your needs. However, there’s one case where you’ll want to avoid using Pretty Bar (mentioned below).

2. Avoid Using Pretty Bar With Affiliate Links

Affiliate links are a major component of many websites. The main reason to avoid using Pretty Bar with affiliate links is that some merchants block cloaked links. Pretty Bar is a form of cloaking. Therefore, using it on affiliate links can mean a loss of sales.

However, there is a way to redirect affiliate links without jeopardizing sales. This is known as ‘nofollow’ – an attribute intended to prevent the passing of your website’s ‘link juice’ to the linked site.

Adding the nofollow attribute to your links is simple. First, go to the Text tab in the top right of the WordPress editor. Find the link you would like to nofollow, which should look similar in format to this:

An HTML "dofollow" link in WordPress editor

Now, all you need to do is add a snippet of code to the link’s HTML. To do so, place your cursor between the closing double quote and the angled bracket. Next, add a space, then type rel=”nofollow”:

An HTML "nofollow" link in WordPress editor

The use of nofollow does more than just enable your site’s visitors to go to the affiliate site without issue; it can also help you to avoid link-related Google penalties.

3. Use Eye-Catching Features

The point of Pretty Bar is to keep website visitors focused on your brand. You can customize your Pretty Bar design with eye-catching features that make it easy and appealing for readers to return to your site. After all, getting visitors back to your site is the goal.

To best incorporate eye-catching features, focus on two aspects of the Pretty Bar’s design:

  1. Add an image icon to the bar. This is a great place for a branded image (such as business logo). Use this feature to maximize your brand presence.
  2. Use contrasting background and text colors. Contrast makes it easier for the website visitor to read, and will continually catch their eye as they scroll through the linked site.

How to Set Up and Use Pretty Bar on Your WordPress Website

One of the greatest things about Pretty Bar – and, really, all features in Pretty Link Pro – is how easy it is to set up and use.

To set up Pretty Bar, you can edit a previously created link (go to Pretty Link > Pretty Link) or create a new link (Pretty Link > Add New Link). Within the Edit Link page, you’ll be able to select Pretty Bar from the Redirection dropdown:

Pretty Bar in the redirection dropdown

Customizing Pretty Bar is just as simple as setting it up. To do so, head to Pretty Link > Options and select the Pretty Bar tab on the left of the Options page:

Pretty Bar options in Pretty Link Pro plugin

The plugin already has a default image link and background image selected. Of course, feel free to change these, as well as background color, text color, and so much more.

Conclusion

While external links are beneficial for your website, they can lead readers astray. To avoid losing readers, you want to keep your branding present even as site visitors navigate to external links. That’s exactly what Pretty Bar helps you accomplish.

In this post, we’ve highlighted the benefits of using Pretty Bar, as well as three best practices for use. In addition, you’ve learned how to set up Pretty Bar within Pretty Link Pro, and customize it to fit your brand.

Do you have questions about Pretty Bar, or how you can begin to use it on your site? 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!

The Pros and Cons of Link Shortening

Sharing long, complex URLs online is not ideal – hence the need for link shorteners. However, while they have many benefits, they’re not a totally perfect solution. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to ascertain when and where it’s best to use a URL shortener, and when it’s smarter to reconsider your strategy.


The crux of it all is this: The simplest and most effective way to avoid the pitfalls is to understand how link shorteners operate. Through this knowledge, you can seek to understand how shortened URLs behave in different situations, enabling you to harness the benefits for your own gain.

In this piece, we’re going to provide a rundown of both the pros and cons of link shortening, and what they mean for you. To start, let’s briefly discuss the background behind link shorteners, then jump right in!

An Introduction to Link Shortening

The TinyURL welcome screen

Link shorteners have been around for longer than most people realize. A popular example is Tiny URL, which was launched by web developer Kevin Gilbertson in January 2002, and still remains popular.

Originally, link shorteners were primarily used to keep long URLs from becoming fragmented within email clients. This was due to text wrapping concerns with displays used at the time. However, today URL shorteners are particularly popular for social media applications. Short URLs are both aesthetically and functionally more beneficial for platforms such as Twitter, where long URLs hamper ease of reading.

There are quite a number of popular URL shorteners today such as Bitly, Tr.im, is.gd, and Google’s goo.gl. While these services offer plenty to today’s marketers, a tool such as Pretty Link Pro can offer much more power and flexibility – as we’ll see later.

The Pros and Cons of Link Shortening

Now we’ve established the background behind link shorteners, let’s look at both the pros and cons of using them. We’ll start with the positives!

Pros

Let’s begin with the most obvious: URL shortening services simply make hyperlink text look more attractive. Normally, website URLs take up a bunch of space. They’re often unattractive strings of random letters and numbers, and can be distracting and aesthetically unpleasing.

However, it’s more than just aesthetics. Shortened links make the reading experience smoother, particularly on social media platforms. In addition, they make it easier for your viewers to share content, as it’s less likely they’ll make an error when copying over links (although this is less of a concern when using modern smartphones). Not only that, but there’s no danger of losing any hard-won SEO benefits – Google are smart enough to pass on link juice for any 301 or permanent redirects implemented.

There’s also click tracking to consider, and measuring the success of your marketing efforts is always imperative. In a nutshell, you can’t improve on targeting your audience if you don’t know how they respond to your content. Link shorteners provide analytics to show you who has clicked your links, and they’re often available through a centralized dashboard view:

Shortened links also play nicely with UTM (Urchin Tracking Module) codes, which enables you to track clicks across specific campaigns, keeping analytics from one platform (Twitter, Facebook, Google+, etc.) separate from the others.

Finally, some URL shortening services even provide custom editing of links – more on which later.

Cons

While there are a bevy of benefits to using link shorteners, nothing’s perfect.

For starters, the increasing proliferation of so-called ‘fake news’ means online viewers are potentially more likely to be wary of shortened links. That can lead to distrust, resulting in fewer clicks. This isn’t an inherent problem with link shortening per se, but can still be harmful nonetheless.

Also, the nature of redirections introduces many potential points of failure between a user clicking the link, and visiting the desired website. Sometimes, a shortened URL may send the user through two, three, or more redirects, and if one fails, it means a user who could potentially head to a competitor – a serious problem.

Additionally, if you’re using a link shortening service rather than a dedicated tool such as Pretty Link Pro, your shortened URL may go down. Services aren’t guaranteed to last forever, and once a service goes down, so do any links tied to it. What’s more, ISPs occasionally blacklist URL shorteners in an effort to impede the efforts of spammers who use link shortening for malicious purposes. If this occurs, again, expect a frustrated reader who will likely head to your competition.

Finally, many URL shorteners use their own branding, which dilutes the mention of your own domain, and arguably causes your own brand to suffer.

How Pretty Link Pro Can Help You Implement Link Shortening

Unlike other link shortening services, Pretty Link Pro leaves your branding intact. This is a premium plugin that can offer the functionality of a link shortening service, with more flexibility to boot.

A look at Pretty Link Pro within the WordPress dashboard

 

Just some of the features included are:

  1. The ability to group and track clicks across all your shortened links.
  2. Powerful social sharing options, including automatic aggregation of any tweets made about your posts, enabling visitors to easily make retweets.
  3. Automated page and post short link creation.
  4. Automated link replacement for site-wide keywords.
  5. SEO-friendly, server-side 301 permanent redirects, as well as temporary 302 and 307 redirects.
  6. Almost complete control over how your links appear, and how you redirect users.


What’s more, getting started with Pretty Link Pro is exactly the same as any other WordPress plugin: purchase the right license for you, upload the plugin’s ZIP file to your site, then install and activate it. Simple!

Conclusion

Link shorteners offer a range of pros and cons, and it can be difficult to know when it’s best to make use of them. However, knowledge is power, and studying the positives and the negatives will offer some insight into whether they’re right for you.

Pretty Link Pro specifically helps to mitigate the negatives of link shortening by combining good aesthetics with powerful social sharing, 301 permanent redirects, and robust analytics. Also, unlike so many URL shortening services, Pretty Link Pro enables you to bolster your branding efforts through the retention of your custom domain.

What benefits of link shortening mean the most to you? 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 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.