Affiliate widgets and links can stand out against a blog’s brand and identity like a sore thumb. They do not work seamlessly with one’s site. If you follow my #SmarterSaturday newsletter, you know that in my most recent project – The Mix – integrating affiliate opportunities was a point of focus. While The Mix was a custom design site with certain features specific to her needs, I have three best practices that are optimal for both your brand and your brand’s SEO.
1 | Interactive Sidebar with Your Favorite Products
Ads from media companies like Mode and Lifestyle Collective can wreck havoc on your site, and the payouts are often not worth it. Instead (or in addition to), you can add links to your favorite brands and products on your sidebar. In The Mix by Tara K, Ultimate Tabbed Widgets Plugin to add tabbed content to your sidebar. Users can click each tab to view more content. This plugin allows you to display content without a super long sidebar. Although, if you want it to look pretty, it is going to require some basic understanding of CSS to override the default settings which are a bit dated.
HTML QUICKTIP: To add an a text link with your favorite affiliate, you want to follow the following structure:
<a href="http://www.youraffiliatelink.com" target="_blank">Affiliate Name</a>
So for example, if I wanted to use one for Bluehost, I would replace “youraffiliatelink.com” and “Affiliate Name” with the following:
<a href="http://www.bluehost.com/track/wocreative" target="_blank">Bluehost</a>
The link will display as Bluehost, and target=”_blank” will open up the link in a new tab or window so that the reader still stays on your site!
2 | Include Affiliate Widgets in Your Excerpt View
If you are using one of my premade blog themes or a theme that displays an abbreviated post view on the home page, you can copy and paste your RewardStyle or Shopsense widget into the EXCERPT view. To view your EXCERPT in your post editor, go to SCREEN OPTIONS, and make sure the EXCERPT box is checked. The EXCERPT box should then appear below your YOAST SEO box in the post editor. Once it is there, you can add 2-3 sentence excerpt that will appear along with your affiliate widget. You can view a demo of how this looks with the premade theme Elm + Pine.
Incorporating your affiliate widget into the excerpt view, you are providing readers with an interactive piece of content besides your featured image and description. If you put the widget in your excerpt, you will also need to put it in the post to appear in both places (home page and individual view).
3 | Maximizing Your Affiliate Shop Page
RewardStyle and ShopSense have different widget features where you can create a large selection of your favorite products for an affiliate shop. For most bloggers, copying and pasting this code into a page has been the standard practice. However, you can optimize it and jazz it up by getting smart and purposeful with your content.
SEO Keyword: “Shop” is doing nothing to your content. Are your picks affordable? beauty? for petite women? for the home? Instead of just calling this page “shop”, identify a stronger keyword that unites these products. Use this keyword for your permalink as well as focus keyword.
High-Quality Rich Content: Traditional affiliate shop pages often have very low SEO due to lack of text and images. Once you’ve identified your keyword, use an on-brand image as the feature/hero image of the page and provide ideally 300 words on why you’ve selected these products and created the shop. Adding these two features will help you achieve a green score.
Case Study: The Mix
In The Mix, I created a custom post type to display her featured products, so that Tara would not have to rely on those widgets. You can create something similar, but not as dynamic, using Column Shortcode Widgets.
- Create a list of all the products you want featured. Start pulling these images from the web. Ideally you want them to all have the same perspective and be on a white background.
- Clean up the images. Each image should have the same width and height; I recommend 600 pixels wide by 600 pixels tall.
- Install and activate the Column Shortcodes plugin on your site. Column Shortcodes splits your website up into fractional portions. So, if you want two columns, you would use halves. If you want four columns, you would use fourths!
- Once you’ve put in your hero copy (discussed above), you then want to put your affiliate links and images. To create image links, read this tutorial.
Essentially, in the post editor text version, my affiliate links would like like this:
<a href="http://www.YourAffiliateLink.com" target="_blank"><img src="LINK TO YOUR IMAGE" alt="Name of Product"></a>
The downside of this method is that you are manually uploading and maintaining everything. However, it is a DIY approach that will help you align your shop page to your overall content.
Unsure about Disclosing Affiliate links? Make sure you check out the FTC’s Guidelines and FAQs about incorporating disclosures above your affiliate links within your blog!