If you’re working with paid traffic, what’s the #1 thing that everyone tells you to do? It’s to track EVERYTHING. Being able to figure out which keywords and ads are converting for your campaign and weeding out the unprofitable ones, is the difference between raking in the cash and losing your shirt. And a whole host of tracking tools like Prosper202 and CPVLab have been built to help people do just that.
But what about for SEO? Is there any way to track which keywords you are ranking for are leading to sales? Well, for the longest time no. I’ve personally made more than 6-figures this past year with SEO and I didn’t have a clue about what actual keywords were making me money. Sure, I’m guessing that product name and product name review keyword are the ones making me sales, but is that really the case?
Fortunately my good friend Chris Fong has developed a wordpress plugin that I think will change the way we track our SEO efforts. It’s called Smart Affiliate Links and I’m going to review it for you guys today.
How It Works
First of all, Smart Affiliate Links will help you manage the affiliate links on your blog. With it installed, I can setup redirects for my affiliate links so I can create nice looking URLs like http://joshkotsay.com/go/productname. This is much cleaner than your standard ugly affiliate link, and it won’t scare people from clicking on it.
That’s nice, but there are many other plugins that can do this. Where Smart Affiliate Links does its magic is with affiliate links that support tracking IDs, like Clickbank, Shareasale, CJ.com and most other major affiliate networks. With these, you can use one of two append options when you setup your links.
The first of these is ‘Append Search Keyword’. So lets say someone goes onto Google and types in the keyword “genesis child themes”. They see my Prose Theme review show up in the results and they click through. And lets assume they liked my review and subsequently bought the theme through my Smart Affiliate Link. The plugin will then append the keyword “genesischildthemes” to the end of my Shareasale affiliate link like so:
And in my affiliate earnings report, it will show up like this:
But what if you don’t want your affiliate manager to know what keywords are converting for you though. Or maybe you want to know more details about your converting visitor, besides the keyword info.
This is what the ‘Append Click ID’ option is for. If you use this option, a number (the click ID) is appended to the end of your affiliate link instead, and that number will appear in your affiliate reports.
You can then take that number over to your Smart Affiliate Link settings and search for it using the ‘Lookup Click ID’ function. This will bring up a Click Report with some really useful information about your converting visitor, including date/time of click, IP address, referring url, keyword, permalink (the page that link was clicked on), and tag.
Tagging is actually a really cool new feature that was added to the most recent update of the plugin. Lets say I setup an affiliate link like http://joshkotsay.com/go/prosetheme and I want to place this same link in three spots of my blog.
Let say at the top of my post, bottom of my post, and on a sitewide banner ad. You can do this normally, but how can you tell which particular link was clicked?
That’s where tagging comes in. With tagging, you can insert your link into the three areas like this:
Notice the extra segment at the end of the link which will show up as a Tag in your Click Report. This is great, because it lets me easily identify which specific links my visitors are clicking on.
Smart Affiliate Links also keeps track of the click counts on all your links. You can also drill down and see the details of the clicks for each link, which is always interesting to look at.
This is probably the area where the plugin could use more work. I would love to have some more detailed reporting options and maybe an option to save my click data to a CSV file for future processing.
So how has Smart Affiliate Links helped my business? I’ve only been using it for a few weeks now, but it’s already revealed some interesting long tail keywords that I’ve been making sales with.
These are keywords I wouldn’t have known to rank for previously, but now that I know, I definitely will put more effort into them. And since they’re low competition keywords in general, ranking #1 for them shouldn’t be a problem.
I had been using the Pretty Link plugin for my affiliate links, but I’ve now replaced it with Smart Affiliate Links on all my sites. I really like it that much. Plus it sells for only $47 which is quite reasonable as a one-time payment and there are no site license restrictions either. So if you are making sales with SEO all, you are going to want to start using this.