The Top #1 Affiliate Marketing Mistake That You Want to Avoid

Affiliate Marketing

There are tons of articles about “best affiliate marketing tips” or the “worst affiliate marketing mistakes”, but they’re all mostly fluff.

I often get asked about what do you think is the top affiliate marketing mistake that beginners make?

And when I share it, even the more experienced bloggers have their AHA moment.

Some have even come up to me at a later date thanking me because this tip helped double their affiliate earnings.

Yes, there’s a very good chance that you’re making this affiliate marketing mistake too and in the process losing out on a lot of potential earnings.

So what’s this top affiliate marketing mistake?

It’s actually a two-part mistake:

  1. Not having a Link Management System
  2. Not doing Auto Keyword Replacement

If you don’t know what either of those means, then let me explain what they are, and how they can help you recover your lost affiliate earnings.

Affiliate Link Management

When you first start out, you simply find great products to recommend and directly add those affiliate links in your blog posts, tweets, YouTube videos, etc.

These links may look something like this:

Now as more time passes, you add a link like this and other affiliate links in your blog posts, tens if not hundreds of times.

You lose track of everywhere you have mentioned the link until one day you get an email from that company. It reads something like this:

Dear Syed, we want to thank you for your continued support. In order to better track conversions and give you even better tools / reporting to promote Product X, we’re switching to a new affiliate program. Please signup and update your links because the old links will stop working in 1 week.

That’s when you have that OH CRAP moment.

Now you have to go find all the places you have mentioned that link and update it, so you don’t lose your affiliate earnings.

If you’re not savvy with MySQL databases, then this can become a chore. Sure there are search and replace plugins for WordPress, but these things are always scary.

That’s when link management comes in handy.

You can organize all your links in your WordPress dashboard, sort them by categories, and control the redirect from a single location.

Affiliate Link Management

So that long ugly link becomes a branded link which is much easier to remember. Now instead of linking to brand with the long link, I’d link it to:

Since I’m creating a redirect to the affiliate link, I have full control. Should the company decide to switch affiliate programs, all I have to do is go to my link management dashboard and update where my pretty link needs to redirect to. 1 click and done. Yup it’s that simple.

Now this might sound like a complicated system, but it really isn’t because there are two easy to use WordPress plugins that can do all of this for you.

They are Thirsty Affiliates and Pretty Links Pro (choose one – you really can’t go wrong).

Basically you can set your custom prefix such as refer, go, offer, suggest, etc.

Then just start adding your affiliate links in your WordPress dashboard for easy linking, organization, and more control.

Here’s a screenshot of how easy it really is:

Create Affiliate Links in WordPress

This has saved me time and time again.

I’ve been in the blogging / affiliate marketing space for almost 10 years, and I have seen companies come and go. There are times when a company may go out of business or simply discontinue their affiliate program.

In that case, with just one click, I can redirect all mentions of this company to a competitor product or to another helpful resource.

For example, I really liked a premium WordPress theme named Standard Theme. They went out of business.

Now I didn’t have the time to go back and update my recommendations on all the posts that I had mentioned them. Instead, I decided to redirect my affiliate link to a helpful resource page.

Go ahead click on it:

Now a user can read this page and buy one of the other themes through my affiliate link.

Ok so enough about link management, redirection, and cloaking.

While this helps keep you from losing money and time, the next affiliate marketing tip is really magic.

It truly has the power of doubling and in some cases tripling your affiliate revenue.

Yes, I’m talking about automatic keyword replacement.

Automatic Keyword Replacement

Just like the name sounds, automatic keyword replacement is a system that scans through your content and replace all specified keywords into affiliate links.

For example, if I mention the word MaxCDN and forgot to make it an affiliate link, then the plugin will automatically convert this keyword into my affiliate link (just like it did in this sentence).

And the best part is that it works retroactively meaning every time you add a new link, it will go through all your posts including the old ones to replace the specified keywords into links.

Both Thirsty Affiliates and Pretty Links Pro can do this, and this feature is limited to PRO versions only which is totally worth the investment considering the return.

So how does it work? Basically when you’re adding a new affiliate link, you can specify the keywords (see screenshot below).

Autolinker Screenshot

I can specify as many keywords as I want and select the number of times I want the autolinker to convert keywords into links.

For this example, I told the plugin to automatically convert the keywords such as Sucuri, malware cleanup, and WordPress security into my affiliate links up to 3 times in a blog post.

^^^ see what I did there…

This plugin is even more handy when you have multiple authors working on your blog because they will often mention a brand but forget to link to it.

The autolinker goes in and fixes that, so you don’t lose out on your affiliate earnings.

If you aren’t doing it already, but have a lot of posts on your blog, then try this now. I bet you that you’ll see a significant increase in revenue (I know I did when I first implemented this technique in 2007).


I have been in the blogging and affiliate marketing space for almost 10 years. When someone ask me what’s my #1 affiliate marketing tip or what’s the #1 affiliate marketing mistake they should avoid, I give them the exact same answer.

Add link management and automatically replace keywords.

When you do these two things, you’re sure to maximize your affiliate earnings over a long period of time.

Go ahead and get your site all setup with either Thirsty Affiliates OR Pretty Links Pro.

If you’re serious about affiliate marketing, then consider attending Affiliate Summit – it’s the largest affiliate marketing conference in the world. It’s happening in January, and I will be speaking there. Would love to connect.

Looking for some cool products to promote that pay great commissions? Check out the list below:

WPEngine – $200
InMotion Hosting – $100
Gravity Forms – $39.80
OptinMonster – $39.80
SoliloquyWP – $19.80
BackupBuddy – $20
Envira Gallery – $19.80
MaxCDN – $20 – $12,500
Sucuri – $29 – $210

For more, join ShareASale because they have a list of thousands of other companies. It’s free to join.

While you’re working on your blog, I’m sure you’ll enjoy my 14-point blog post checklist to use before you hit publish.

I really hope that you found these affiliate marketing tips helpful. If you did, then please share it with your friends and colleagues.

Also make sure you’re following me on Twitter and Facebook because I share tons of awesome resources there.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

9 thoughts on “The Top #1 Affiliate Marketing Mistake That You Want to Avoid

  1. Man you never disappoint, always bringing top notch articles that are useful.
    I just wanted to ask, if you can do a post on how to set up mailchimp newsletter, your newsletter is set up really nice.

  2. I love this article. I know when I read something written by you I’m not going to get the bullshit that I get from other “Online Marketers”. This is an excellent tip and a huge time saver. I can’t wait to implement it on my blog.

  3. Hi, thank you for this helpful post. I can’t decide between Thirsty Affiliates or Pretty Links. Maybe you could add a sentence or two about the pros/cons of each one?

    • Both are equally as good. I know the founders of both. I’m using ThirstyAff right now because I had that on my site already. I may give PLP a try on my newer sites. I have tested it, and the performance is about the same.

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