3 Ways To Stay On Top Of The Ever-Changing Affiliate Landscape

I generally build Affiliate Websites with passive income in mind. The goal is to create the site, promote it and get it established, and then let the site generate revenue on autopilot. This also works with a one-page affiliate promotion, which you can read more about in my Lazy Affiliate Method.

It's best to use established affiliate programs that you can work with long-term. Short-term campaigns, such as seasonal promotions or limited time offers, are a more active model and usually do best with Pay-Per-Click advertising or on content sites that you plan to update often.

But even with the Lazy/Passive approach, you may find yourself updating affiliate links more often than you would like. Merchants make changes, switch Affiliate Networks or update products at a rate that keeps you on your toes making updates to your affiliate sites.

Read on and I'll share 3 easy tricks that you can use to keep your affiliate sites updated more easily and cut out much of the time-consuming workload when merchants make major changes...

1. Include SSI In Site Templates

SSI stands for Server Side Includes and is a simple way to make your site super-easy to update. You basically create one file, and then you can 'include' that file within any section of your html pages (web pages).

If you create an SSI file for basic elements of your website such as navigation, header or footer, then you only have to edit that one file and it will update across your entire website. No need to edit your site page by page, updating each page individually.

This can come in particularly handy when you want to add a new product category to the navigation of your site. You can also create an SSI file for sections that contain affiliate banners or affiliate links that you may need to update site-wide from time to time.

If you publish Google Adsense ads across your website, using SSI is an easy way to change the color scheme or ad format so that you can test site-wide changes by editing one file and then tracking the results.

2. Set Up Redirects For Affiliate Links

If you use affiliate links in places you cannot easily edit or control, it is best to use a link from your own domain that redirects to your affiliate link. Examples might include blog posts, within ebooks or reports, in forum posts, etc.

Let's say that I include links to Rosalind Gardner's Super Affiliate Handbook (which is sold through ClickBank) in numerous places across the web. I mention it in blog posts, recommend it on forums and even include it as a resource in one of my reports on affiliate marketing. If Rosalind later changes to an independent affiliate manager and requests that all affilitaes 'update their links'... that could equal a lot of updating.

If you create a link on your own domain name that redirects, you can easily continue enjoying commissions by simply updating the affiliate link in your redirect.

For example, I might use http://www.clicknewz.com/super-affiliate-handbook.htm to redirect to http://www.superaffiliatehandbook.com/cbae/?a=wLZZaVZ . Then if my affiliate link ever changes, I only have to edit one file (my redirect).

To set up a redirect, create an html page with this code:

[title]Super Affiliate Handbook[/title]
[META HTTP-EQUIV="refresh" content="0;URL=http://www.superaffiliatehandbook.com/cbae/?a=wLZZaVZ"]

You only need to edit the Title and URL, save it as filename.html and then use that link instead of your affiliate link. (You will also need to replace all [ and ] with < and >). This will also allow you to track click-through's with your hosts website statistics package.

3. Use Datafeeds To Display Affiliate Products

Another option is to use affiliate data feeds to display affiliate products on your website. This is a little bit more technical, as there doesnt seem to be an industry standard and using any individual datafeed comes with it's own learning curve.

Other negatives include the fact that some programs will create long and ugly URLs for individual pages, and there is no unique content in the data feed. Meaning your affiliate site will contain identical content as any other affiliate who uses the same data feed to create their website.

There are work-arounds though, but you can expect to make a substantial time investment creating a self-updating affiliate site that has enough unique content to achieve decent rankings in the major search engines.

A good article with several examples and solutions can be found here: Data Feeds for Newbies

Even when you take all measures to automate your affiliate business, you may still find yourself with a large task at hand from time to time. I've been through that personally.

Several years ago I chose a solid affiliate program through a trusted affiliate network, and developed a huge site around their product line. I chose a secondary program for back-up and a third program to supplement the site as well.

Everything ran along smooth for the first year or so, and the site was earning a decent monthly income without requiring any updates. All of a sudden the merchant switched networks, which meant thousands of product links on hundreds of pages no longer earned their commissions. Within two months, my secondary program moved to another network as well. A complete nightmare!

In these types of situations, you have to resort to Tip #4: Outsource it! While you delegate the mundane task of page and link updates to someone who is happy to have that job, you can spend your time setting up pay-per-click advertising campaigns, writing articles, developing your autoresponder series, etc.

These tips will help you build and maintain control over your steady affiliate income, instead of running in circles trying to keep things updated in an effort to avoid losing your affiliate commissions.


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About Lynn Terry

Lynn Terry is a full-time Internet Marketer with over 17 years experience in online business. Subscribe to ClickNewz for the latest Internet Marketing trends & strategies, Lynn's unique case studies, creative marketing ideas, and candid reviews...more»


  1. Case Stevens says

    >> Include SSI In Site Templates
    To use SSI, in general, you have to change the extension of your pages to .shtml.

    You can achieve the same if you always use the extension .php.
    PHP is a scripting language, but even if you don't know squat about it, you still can use the extension and some very nice features.

    One of them being includes.
    In exactly the same way as SSI you create files that you can call (include) from within your pages:

    <?php include ("http://www.path-to-file-you-want-to-include/includefile.php"); ?>

    <?php means: start PHP to interpret the next line(s) of coding until you discover:
    ?> means: end PHP now.

    include means: well, eh... include and
    what's between parenthesis () is the path and the file you want to include at that point.

    From the outside there's not much difference in SSI and PHP includes, but PHP has many other advantages, for instance

    >>Set Up Redirects For Affiliate Links

    Over the past period of time, the use of meta tag refresh redirection has often been abused for uses in relation to SPAM. Therefore the search engines are very suspicious whenever they discover such redirect.

    Here's how you do it in PHP.

    Create a blank file and give it a name, ending with .php.

    In there, copy this line:

    <?php header("Location: anydomain.com/destination.php"); ?>

    Done! All you have to do is link to the file you just created.

    I realize people are afraid to use PHP, but there's nothing to worry about by only changing the normal .html or .htm into .php.
    PHP makes your life easy.

    Here's another example.

    Want to display the date? Can be done with javascript, but here's how you do it in PHP:

    <?php echo date("F d, Y "); ?>

    Prints something like June 9, 2007 (for more details, see http://www.php.net/manual/en/function.date.php)

    Try PHP. It's useful.

  2. Case Stevens says

    Oops, seems Teli and I posted at the same time.
    Also Teli's PHP redirect is correct, mine is missing http:// Had to be careful not to have the code executed.

  3. Teli Adlam says

    Nice reminders, Lynn. I still have flashbacks from one merchant who completely changed companies which mean updating thousands of affiliate links across one website -- can you say nightmare? 😀

    I'd just add another option for creating link redirects as some people have meta refresh disabled by default. To redirect someone from the server side, you can use PHP:

    <?php header('Location: http://www.link.to/affiliate/site'); ?>

    Of course, your server needs to support PHP. Also, having a ton of those single files can be a bear to manage, so I resorted to creating a basic link manager/redirect script so they can be tracked from a simple admin account. 🙂

    I'm also loving the bonus tip (outsourcing)...just need to practice it a lot more.

    ~ Teli

  4. Ianternet says

    great - when you create a website or webpage for the affiliate is it just a standard landing page or a page with information?

    because from reading I assume you do not promote via banners but by providing information surrounding the affiliate link

  5. It depends, really - I actually use several methods across my different affiliate campaigns. Sometimes I build an entire website around a product line (ie product-based shopping site) and sometimes I build a website around a niche topic (ie content-based site). I have also created landing pages that are part of bigger more general sites, and stand-alone landing pages as well.

  6. Juliette (new baby on the way) Gold says

    Hi Lynn,

    I'm glad to see that people are posting about solid traditional ways of doing redirects. I get a bit mad when I see people selling expensive scripts to handle redirects, when this can be done yourself for free, with very little technical knowledge.

    Maybe you could update the blog post to explain the META redirect and the PHP redirect. They're both extremely simple, and can be cut and pasted by people who don't understand the technicalities.


  7. Lynn, 3 good ways to automate your web site - I was using 1 and 3, but for product-related news feeds only.

    @Case Stevens: for the data function, note that javascript will give you the browser's time, but PHP will give you the server's time/date - so watch out if you have visitors in different time zones 😉


  8. this is not the same as using cloaking software to cloak your links?

  9. Hey miss Terry... Love your work. Just a heads up, your link at data feeds for newbies seems to be broken:( How ironic right?

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