ThirstyAffiliates Review: Cloak And Manage Affiliate Links in WordPress
Affiliate links are ugly. I said it.
And not only are they ugly, they’re difficult to keep track of. You use them all over the place, so it’s easy to forget where all of your affiliate links are located. That’s fine…until the affiliate program changes networks and you have to swap out all your links for the new one.
Then, you’re in for a fun weekend swapping out links, right?
ThirstyAffiliates changes that by offering you a much easier way to cloak, manage, and track all of the affiliate links that you use on your site.
It’s what we use to manage affiliate links here at WPLift, and the free version of Thirsty Affiliates is also what I use to manage the affiliate links that I use on my personal site.
Now, I get to dig into the Pro version for this ThirstyAffiliates review and give you a look at what it has to offer. The ThirstyAffiliates team just released a pretty massive update – so even if you’ve previously come across the plugin, I encourage you to read my review to check out the changes.
Thirsty Affiliates Review: What Does It Do?
As I mentioned in the intro, the three core features of ThirstyAffiliates are helping you:
- Cloak affiliate links
- Manage affiliate links
- Track clicks on your affiliate links
But when you go with ThirstyAffiliates Pro, you also get a number of smaller features to help you accomplish those goals. Those features are:
- Autolinked keywords – automatically link specific keywords in your content to make sure you don’t miss any earning opportunities.
- Affiliate link picker tool – no need to track down affiliate links manually – ThirstyAffiliates includes a user-friendly tool that lets you add affiliate links right from the WordPress Editor.
- Geolocation links – provide different destinations depending on which country a visitor is coming from. This is super helpful if you’re linking to an offer that doesn’t accept international traffic, or if you’re linking to a geolocated store like Amazon.
- Smart uncloaking – uncloak certain links in order to stay compliant. For example, Amazon doesn’t allow link cloaking, so this gives you the other benefits of ThirstyAffiliates without getting you booted from Amazon Associates.
- Automatic 404 checker – if one of your affiliate links stops working, ThirstyAffiliates will let you know so that you don’t miss out any money.
- 3rd party imports – easily import from third-party APIs like the Amazon Products API.
- Google Analytics Events – sync with Google Analytics Event Tracking to view click stats right inside your Google Analytics dashboard.
- Link categorization – this helps you easily manage all of your affiliate links on the backend.
- Event Notifications – get notified when a link has been clicked a certain number of times.
Let’s go hands-on with ThirstyAffiliates and see how those features actually work out in practice…
Hands-on With ThirstyAffiliates Pro
Remember – for the purposes of this ThirstyAffiliates review, I’ll be using the Pro version.
The setup process is pretty simple – you first need to install the free version of ThirstyAffiliates from WordPress.org. Then, you install the Pro version as an add-on on top of the free version.
Once you do those two things, you’re ready to start using ThirstyAffiliates.
A Look At The ThirstyAffiliates Configuration Options
Before you start adding affiliate links, you’ll probably want to peruse the ThirstyAffiliates Settings because you’ll need to make some basic choices about how your affiliate links function.
You have a whole heap of options and I’m not going to be able to cover every single one. But here are some of the most interesting features.
In the Link Appearance tab, you can configure:
- Link Prefix – this affects the default prefix for your cloaked links. For example, if you look at the affiliate links we use on WPLift, you’ll see that our prefix is “go”. For example, here’s the structure for our Divi theme affiliate link: “https://wplift.com/go/elegantdivi30”
- Link Redirect Type – most people seem to recommend 302 redirects, but you can choose from 301, 302, or 307. It’s not especially important because you should be disallowing the Link Prefix in your Robots.txt file anyway.
In the Modules tab, you can turn individual features on or off. I always like when plugins include such a tab because it lets you only put resources towards the specific features you actually want:
I’m going to leave them all turned on for this review – but in real life, you’d probably want to turn some of them off.
If you’re using the Autolinker feature, the Autolinker tab helps you set important details like:
- The maximum number of links ThirstyAffiliates will insert for each keyword (per post). This helps you avoid putting an obnoxious number of affiliate links in a post.
- Disabling autolinks on the archive and/or home page.
- Disabling/enabling autolinker on certain post types.
And if you’re running a bbPress forum, you’ll probably dig the option to automatically link keywords in bbPress topics.
In some of the remaining tabs, you can:
- Configure which geolocation database to use (if you’re using the geolocation module)
- Add a custom event category name for Google Analytics Event Tracking
- Import/export your affiliate links between sites
Once you get things configured, you’re ready to start adding affiliate links.
Adding Your First Affiliate Link To ThirstyAffiliates
To add a new affiliate link, you go to ThirstyAffiliates → New Affiliate Link.
Depending on which modules you have activated, you may see a ton of options, or just a few.
At the top, you’ll want to enter the Destination URL – this is the actual affiliate link that you want to send your visitors to. You’ll also want to enter a Title – this is the portion of the link that will go after the Link Prefer.
In the sidebar, you can also:
- Add categories for easier link management
- Configure certain technical details on a per-link basis
Below that, you can also:
- Set up which keywords to autolink, including giving preference to certain keywords over others
- Add different URLs for different countries if you’re using the geolocation feature
Then you click Save Link to finish things up.
Inserting Affiliate Links Into Your Content
ThirstyAffiliates makes it easy to manually insert links into your content as needed.
It adds two buttons to the TinyMCE Editor:
The first allows you to insert an affiliate link just by searching for it. It works exactly the same as the regular Add Link button – that is, you just highlight the text you want to link and click the button.
Then, you can search for your link and automatically insert the correct URL:
The second ThirstyAffiliates button lets you quickly add new affiliate links without leaving the WordPress Editor.
It’s not as detailed as the previous interface that I showed you – but it is quicker if you just want to add a new affiliate link to that post:
Plus, you can always go back and edit the link in more detail later on to set up autolinked keywords + more.
Viewing Click Reports For Your Affiliate Links
Beyond the Google Analytics Event Tracking integration, ThirstyAffiliates also includes a built-in affiliate link tracking system.
You can view click stats for:
- All your affiliate links
- Specific categories
- Specific affiliate links
This helps you get a quick snapshot of your top-performing affiliate links.
Managing Your Existing Affiliate Links
For this section, I’m going to hop over to the WPLift interface because I think it’s more interesting to see a busy affiliate section.
WPLift currently has over 1,500 different affiliate links which, as you might guess, would be absolutely overwhelming without a plugin like ThirstyAffiliates.
But with ThirstyAffiliates, all I need to do is search for a specific link to get information:
If you use categories, you’ll also be able to filter out specific categories of affiliate links.
Again – if you only have a couple affiliate links, this might not seem like a big deal. But as you get into the hundreds or thousands of affiliate links, it’s an absolute lifesaver.
How Much Does ThirstyAffiliates Cost?
Before this recent launch of ThirstyAffiliates Pro, you used to have to purchase different add-ons depending on which features you wanted.
Now, things are much simpler. There’s just one Pro version with all of the features and you pay based on the number of sites you’re planning to use it on:
- 1 site license – $59
- 5 site license – $99
- Unlimited site license – $179
There’s also a basic free version that’s listed at WordPress.org.
Final Thoughts On ThirstyAffiliates
If you’re serious about affiliate marketing on WordPress, having a tool to help manage your links is a massive help.
ThirstyAffiliates gives you all the important features you need to do that.
I’d love to see a split testing or rotation feature like Pretty Links Pro at some point in the future. But I think that’s a niche feature that most people won’t use, anyway.
Like I said, it’s what we use here at WPLift, so we’re practicing what we preach!
If you’re interested, click the buttons below to get started with ThirstyAffiliates