One of the most tedious aspects of running a website that profits from affiliate marketing is changing old or broken affiliate links.
Inevitably, a program is no longer profitable (or shuts down in 24 hours), an entire network closes its doors, or your affiliate links stop working due to a program changing their URL structure.
After your, ‘Oh, shit.’ moment (if it’s from a program shutting down), it’s time to take action.
Luckily, there are tons of tools that exist today that assist in the finding and changing of affiliate links.
Even though this article is about changing links due to an external force (ie a platform shuts down), I still recommend auditing your affiliate links once a year and this tutorial details how to do that.
My personal tool of choice is RavenTools.
Using RavenTools Site Auditor Tool to Audit Your Affiliate Links
RavenTools is my swiss army knife of SEO tools. I can’t live without it.
From Link Monitoring to Report Creation, this baby does it all (Except Rank Tracking. They (sadly) shut that down about a year ago and I now rely on SERPS.com).
But my favorite feature of all is their Site Auditor.
By using the Site Auditor tool, you can filter out massive amounts of data to find exactly what is wrong with your site and use that data to take actionable steps.
In this case, we want to fix affiliate links.
And you can learn how in two ways:
- Keep reading and learn via screenshots.
- Watch this video that explains it all
Hey, everyone—Perry Rosenbloom with SEOSherpas here. Today I’m going to show you how to use Raventools’ Site Auditor to find broken and old affiliate links so that you can change them. So, let’s say you have Program A and Program A is shutting down, so you want to change all your affiliate links to Program B. Or if an entire network is shutting down, like Google Affiliate Network is currently doing. You want to get all your links transitioned over from GAN to a new program.
So, right now I’m logged into Raventools with my site allbestbinoculars.com. I’ve already run the audit and it brings back all this information. As you can see, I have a lot of issues, mainly related to my images. But that’s not what this tutorial is for. Instead, what I’m going to show you how to do is actually focus on your links. So, the image issues I need to take care of, but that can wait for now.
So, what I’m going to do is go to the Links tab in Raventools, and you can filter by Internal, External, and then Broken Links, No Link Text, Nofollow Links. It gives you a lot of great tools for you to be able to filter your data down to find important data so that you can take actionable steps. In this case, we’re talking about Affiliate Links. So, I’m going to External, and here are all of my external links. What you can then do is save it to a CSV file, which takes anywhere from 20 seconds to 30 seconds, and then download it. Open the file up and you get all this information on all of your external links. I have a lot of Amazon, I have a lot of GAN, etc.
Now, what you can do with this, let’s say you want to make sure all of these links still work. So, what you can do is take all of this, take the spreadsheet, go to Mechanical Turk, outsource it, and tell them to fill in instead of putting a column in for Destination Accurate, something like that. That’s not really the best example, but that’s something you can do.
What I’m going to do right now, actually, is show you how I’m going to change it from Program A to Program B. So Google Affiliate Network is closing down in about a week and a half, so what I need to do is find all of my GAN links throughout my site and change them. In this case, I’m going to change them over to Amazon. So, what I’m going to do is go back to Raventools and filter by GAN. Now, let’s say I wanted to… Let’s just filter by GAN. If there was a program specifically on Commission Junction, you can filter by certain codes based off of the Affiliate Merchant Tracking ID, and then you can change all from Specific Merchant A to Specific Merchant B. In this case, we’re taking it from Affiliate Network A to Affiliate Network B.
So, once again, I’m going to export this data so I just have all the GAN info. I could have taken the original spreadsheet and did a little filter, but this just makes things a little easier. So, now we have all the GAN links. Now, what I’m going to do is I’m going to have my Virtual Assistant—I use a Virtual Assistant for most things as opposed to Mechanical Turk these days—So, I’m going to delete this type, I’m going to delete the Broken column, I’m going to delete Nofollow, and what I’m instead going to do is put New Link. So, what I’m going to have my Virtual Assistant do is a few things. What you can do is—Actually, let me pause the video. I’m going to log into my binoculars site and walk you through that.
Alright, so now I’m in my binoculars site, and I’ve installed a plugin called Search & Replace. What this does is it queries your MySQL databases for certain code and you can replace it site-wide. So, it makes it really useful when replacing affiliate links if you’re not using a tool such as Affiliate Link Cloaker. So, what I’m going to do is, and what I’ll have my Virtual Assistant do is first, what I would have them do is go to the audit report that we pulled down, copy the URL, open it in a window and see what the destination is. In this case, it’s a search query for wide angle binoculars. Let’s say I want to change this to Amazon. So, what I’m going to have my Assistant do is do a search for wide angle binoculars, link to this page with the correct tracking ID, copy this URL, and then go back to the spreadsheet and put that as a new URL.
Now, to test things, what we’re going to do is find where this link actually is on my site. So, let’s do a search for wide angle binoculars, do a little refining here. So, here’s where this page is. You can see that goes to GAN. So, what we’re going to do is go to the Search & Replace tool, click the Content, search in Content only, and we’re going to search for this old link and replace it with this new link. Click Go—Hmm, and it wasn’t found. That’s odd. I’m not sure why that happened. Let me pause this video and figure that out.
Alright, so I’m not quite sure why that happened, but what we’re going to do is change this, go back to the Search & Replace using the same parameters, but instead, I’m going to click All this time so that it searches all of the databases. I’m going to click Go, and again, it’s not working. That’s really bizarre. Let’s refresh this page here and make sure. So, let’s compare these two URLs and make sure. So, it seems like Raventools messed up and for some reason it’s putting in an escape character there, or not Raventools but Thesis is, or my WordPress Theme is. So, let’s change that instead across the board. Let’s find &pubid and replace it with &pubid and let’s try this again. Alright, let’s do that, Search for, and I hope it works this time. Here’s the new link. We’ll replace it with that. Select All, Go—It’s still not working.
So, this is really odd. I did not expect this to happen. It’s most likely due to something going on with Thesis. So, I can edit my category here and just replace it myself manually. But for some reason, I don’t get why that’s not working. Regardless, let’s change this up. Let’s not use that Search & Replace plugin. And what you can do instead is what I did to find it. So, let’s start with this one. Let’s do the Birding Binoculars Here one. So, let’s copy this GAN link, let’s paste it in. Hmm, so now it’s telling me it’s an invalid link.
Alright, so let’s go back. This is the original spreadsheet. Let’s copy that link, paste it in. It should take us to a query for Bird Watching Binoculars, or to the Bird Watching Binoculars page. So, let’s go to Amazon again and let’s do a search for bird watching binoculars. And I’m going to link to this page. You know what, I’ll make it a little more refined. Is there a way to sort this a little better? Alright, we’ll just use this. We’ll link to this page, select the correct tracking ID, copy the URL, and what we’re now going to do is look for Birding Binoculars Here in Google. So, we’re going to do allbestbinoculars.com + birding binoculars here in quotes, and that allows us to find a link real quickly. There’s that GAN link, so let’s edit the category. This is probably quicker than using the Search & Replace tool anyway. Here’s the link—Let’s replace it with the Amazon link, update the category, make sure that it has actually changed. Where was that? There’s the Amazon link, and there we go.
So, that’s a little bit of a roundabout way —Well, not really roundabout but that’s a longwinded way because the Search & Replace tool wasn’t working—of finding broken links or affiliate links that you want to change via the Raventools Site Auditor plugin. It allows you to export the data and create replacement URLs pretty quickly, find the pages where they were and replace it. I mean, if I wasn’t creating this video, the rest of this work would probably take me about 15 minutes to do to change all of these 19 links. Then I’ve gotten all of my Google Affiliate Network links changed in time for GAN to shut down. If there was a different specific program shutting down, such as Amazon was shutting down, I could just filter out all the—Or, a different example, let’s say REI was shutting down—I could filter things out based on the Affiliate Merchant ID if it was in Commission Junction and replace all the links that way.
So, if you have any questions, feel free to come on over to SEOSherpas.com. I’m happy to answer any questions you have. Again, Perry Rosenbloom, SEOSherpas.com. We help small businesses and aspiring Internet entrepreneurs create thriving, profitable web presences. Thanks a lot, and I hope you enjoyed the video.
Step 1. Get the Data
Easy enough. Run the Site Auditor. Go for a hike. Come back and export your data.
Here’s how to export the right data:
Basic Overview of Site Auditor
Links Page to Export Data
Step 2. Get New Links
I personally prefer to outsource this step to my Virtual Assistant that I found via elance. Him and I have been working together for over a year now and he does great work for me, turning it around in a timely fashion.
I find it most efficient to get all the data in one place before making changes. Here’s the steps you need to take:
Adjust Your Spreadsheet Columns to Look Like This:
Have your Virtual Assistant (or you do it manually), copy A1 into their browser. Using the old destination page as a guideline, determine where in your new platform or program you should be directing your visitors.
Put that new affiliate link in D1.
Step 3. Find and Replace Links
Then you need to find where on your site this link exists. In the video, I tried using a plugin called Search and Replace to find and replace my affiliate links. For one reason or another, it didn’t work.
But using the data from B2 and a Google search enables you to find and replace the data almost as quickly.
Take B2 Data:
And search Google using a query of: site.com + “B2″
Step 4. Kick Back & Relax
Congrats! Once you’ve rinsed and repeated this as many times as needed, all your affiliate links will be changed to new destinations and you won’t be losing money from bad, underperforming or shut down affiliate programs.
Tools Mentioned in This Article
Please note, these links are affiliate links. I ONLY promote products I use, know and love on a regular basis.
If you click on one and then purchase something, I get a small commission. You don’t need to use these links, but I appreciate your support if you do.
Do You Need the Help of a Pro?
SEOSherpas is an Internet Marketing company that offers SEO consulting to businesses across the world. We also offer blog coaching to help you escape the 9-5, just like Perry did.
Feel free to contact us for more information.