Pretty Link Tutorial

Pretty Link The Smart Way – Know What Links Are Clicked And From Where

This Pretty Link Lite tutorial will show you a better method, that you probably haven’t seen yet, of using the free WordPress plugin. There are many other tutorials on the link tracking tool but I’m going to show you how to use the free version of Pretty Link to track your affiliate links on various sites and social networks. Track how many times your affiliate links are clicked AND know where they were clicked.

A Side Note

Real quick, for those don’t already know it, for several years I owned an all-paid ad tracking membership site. This was a successful membership site because marketers know the value of link tracking. As bloggers, at least those of you that have monetized, link tracking should be something you are paying attention to. The following method of link tracking is very basic and doesn’t give you many details but it’s super easy to use and reliable.

What Does Pretty Link Lite Do?

The Pretty Link plugin takes the ugly and obvious affiliate links and cleans them up by turning them into more friendly looking URLs. Turn this

http://www.shareasale.com/r.cfm?B=346198&U=828861&M=28169&urllink=

Into this:

http://hotblogtips.com/genesis

The links you setup in your plugin (in your WordPress dashboard after it’s installed) will redirect to the destination URL (Target URL). Basically, both URLs are visited, it’s just started with your custom link setup in Pretty Link.

Pretty Link Tracking

We can track the number of clicks, along with the IP Address, of the various clicks on the links we setup in the plugin. This can shed some light on the effectiveness of your campaigns, even social media (keep reading).

Last night, I setup a very basic “convenience link” to use for Facebook. It’s not an affiliate link but it’s nice to know if people are clicking over to your social networks, and from where (keep reading). So I setup

https://www.facebook.com/HotBlogTips

to

http://hotblogtips.com/facebook

Pretty straight forward, right? Now I have a super easy way to send people over to our Facebook page and even keep track of how many people have clicked the link.

The Power Of Knowledge

Here’s the amazing part of knowing how many clicks you are getting, aside from the obvious of knowing which campaigns are working the best. I sent a single tweet using that pretty link at 11:10 PM last night (Saturday). So it’s Saturday night and there’s not a lot going on. The tweet didn’t seem to get any attention; no retweets, favorites or replies. A waist of time, right? Well, let’s look:

image - 32 hits from TwitterWithin minutes, we had 32 clicks on that link.  That’s the power of Twitter but it’s also the power of knowing; without some sort of link tracking, we might assume our tweet was completely ignored. That doesn’t necessarily mean it will turn into a sale, but how many people have given up because they thought no one noticed a tweet, update, post or email?

The Advanced Method – Knowing Where The Link Was Clicked

So now for the part where I show you how to know where the links are being clicked. Don’t worry, “advanced” doesn’t mean it’s difficult; anyone can do this within minutes.

So let’s go back to my Genesis Framework affiliate link. Rather than just using the above example for every link I place online, we set one up for every place we’re going to use it.

I like to use a simple “code” in the tracking link that allows me to see where I used it. Here’s an example of my code but you can use whatever works best for you:

  • e = email
  • f = Facebook
  • g = Google Plus
  • p = Pinterest
  • t = Twitter

How To Setup Your Affiliate Link “Custom Code”:

So rather than using http://hotblogtips.com/genesis everywhere, I setup what looks like a directory:

http://hotblogtips.com/t/genesis for links to be used on Twitter

http://hotblogtips.com/f/genesis for links to be used on Facebook

image - Pretty Link Code Example

You get the point; every website and social network gets their own Pretty Link and I get to see where I’m getting clicks.

More Pretty Link Tips On The Video

Pretty Link – Fast and Simple Link Tracking Method for Bloggers

Action Step

It doesn’t get any easier; log into your WordPress dashboard, click plugins in the left column, click on “add new” and search “Pretty Link Lite“. Install, activate and setup your links. It’s free, it’s easy and you will have a better understanding of what campaigns are generating clicks, and what isn’t.

Over To You, My Fellow Blogger

There you go, simple as pie yet I haven’t seen anyone else explain this. I hope it helps, be sure to watch the video and we’d love your input in the comments below. We’re now using a commenting system that allows you to comment via the traditional WordPress platform, Facebook or Google Plus – just click the appropriate tab. :)

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  • http://thatgamingcritic.com Scott Craighead

    That’s a pretty neat looking trick and would be great to mask affiliate links. But I’m in love with Jetpack stats. To me it’s the best stat tracker on earth, it tells me what I want to know and I don’t have to fumble around Google Anay. looking for certain things. But I should try this at least once and see the impact. – Scott Craighead

    • http://hotblogtips.com/ Brian D. Hawkins

      Thanks Scott, Jetpack looks cool but I haven’t tried it. I looks like a pretty heavy plugin with a lot of redundant features. I might try it on one of the niche blogs I’m working on.

  • http://www.EffortlessLivingOnline.com Carmen

    Love the tip you have on organzing the links. Thank you. I’ll have to check out this plug in. Xx

    • http://hotblogtips.com/ Brian D. Hawkins

      Thanks Carmen, It’s not just organizing them, it’s also tracking them so we can see we we have actual activity.

  • http://www.reginaldchan.net Reginald

    Hi Brian,

    Thanks for sharing this. I don’t use Pretty link but I am using Thirsty Affiliate. I heard a lot of thing about pretty links but I have to use it.

    I like the explanation of what you said and thanks for that. Really appreciate it and this could be the reason why I might use Pretty Links on my secondary sites to test it out.

    Have a great weekend mate!

    • http://hotblogtips.com/ Brian D. Hawkins

      Thank you Reginald, I actually looked at Thirsty Affiliates but it looks like many of the features are add-ons that need to be purchased; like tacking and stats downloading, for example, at $29/each. There’s nothing wrong with that, I just wanted a free and simple to use tracking plugin for our readers. I’ve used Pretty Link on several sites so I know it’s reliable and safe. Thanks or participating Reginald, I appreciate that. :)

  • http://IMwithSusanVelez.com Susan Velez

    Pretty links looks really cool, I especially like the way that you can track the links. I used to use a plugin like this, but this one seems to do so much more.

    This may be something that I need to pick up to help me track my links and to make them look prettier than using the ugly affiliate links.

    Thanks for sharing this info. I really was amazed that you got 32 clicks in just a few minutes on Twitter.

    • http://hotblogtips.com/ Brian D. Hawkins

      Hi Susan, I was using WinkPress Affiliate Links Manager just to clean-up my links but there’s no tracking involved. It is another free plugin and’s super easy to use for those not interested in the click stats though. Thanks :)

  • Josh Kotsay

    I’ve used Pretty Links Lite with a couple of sites and it works pretty well. I’m always worried about the accuracy of the stats though. Does it include bot clicks in the click stats?

    • http://hotblogtips.com/ Brian D. Hawkins

      Great question Josh, in the options tab, we can exclude bots and even our own IP addresses (which Pretty Link will detect and display for us). I might mention that point in the video we’re recording in an hour, I just wanted to keep this post as simple as possible.

  • http://techlomedia.in/ Deepanker

    This is really useful while adding affiliate links. i also use this to hide affiliate links and know clicks count

    • http://hotblogtips.com/ Brian D. Hawkins

      Thanks Deepanker, while I think we want to cleanup affiliate links and make it a little tougher to strip off the identifier (our link extension), I don’t recommend we hide the fact they are affiliate links. In fact, here in North America at least, the law says we must disclose the that fact. Being honest will our readership is the only way to begin building that great reputation that will strengthen relationships and insure long term success.

      See CAN-SPAM Act

  • http://thetysonreport.com Robert Tyson

    Like the ‘directory’ idea a lot Brian. I love Pretty Link but hadn’t thought of that. Cheers!

    • http://hotblogtips.com/ Brian D. Hawkins

      Thanks Robert, I hope it helps. I used to change the affiliate links slightly to track results. For example, on Twitter I might add #twitter to the destination link but the problem is, we don’t always know if that’s going to break the tracking and cause us to lose credit. Since we have the ability to modify the link on our end, I just let the affiliate URL ride as is.

  • http://www.sweetsfoods.com/ Gera

    Hi Brian,

    I use Pretty Link Lite in one of my blogs and it’s very reliable. I never used it to track the social clicks – very interesting point :)

    I saw tons of clicks in some cases and I’m sure are bots, I’ll need to filter them to have better stats.

    Cheers and thanks for these tips,

    Gera

    • http://hotblogtips.com/ Brian D. Hawkins

      Hi Gera, those bots are crawling around our sites all of the time. I’m glad this tool allows us to filter them out.

  • http://newgalaxys5v.com/ Vidushi Jain

    Its a nice way for tracking the link. Looking forward to use it. Currently i am using Jetpack, but now I think its time for me to try Pretty Link Lite. Thanks for sharing the information. :)

    • http://hotblogtips.com/ Brian D. Hawkins

      Hi Vidushi, you’re the second or third person to say you’re using Jetpack. That must be a pretty popular tool as well. Thanks for letting us know. :)

    • http://www.epicpedia.com/ nazib

      hello Vidushi i agree with you
      When you track a link in an HTML email, nobody sees the redirect link behind the scenes. They just see “Click here.”
      In your plain-text alternative email, you can’t hide your link code. You can’t make text like “Visit our website” clickable like you can in HTML email. When you want to point people to your website from a plain-text email, it’ll have to look like:
      see more info >>http://www.epicpedia.com/

      • http://hotblogtips.com/ Brian D. Hawkins

        Alright Nazib, that’s so clever I’m actually going to let it go. Just once though. ;)

  • http://aa-accidentattorneys.com/ Paul Lee

    Having the ability to clean up your link URLs can also be more pleasing to the eye I think. This is just a hunch on my part, but I think large URLs with jumbled numbers and letters can scare off potential clicks. If you can clearly read a URL, I think you are more likely to click through.

    • http://hotblogtips.com/ Brian D. Hawkins

      Oh, absolutely Paul, I couldn’t agree more. We want to know what we’re clicking and reading the URL is something many of us do before we click. I always find myself hovering over anchor test to see where it’s going to take me; we’ve all been tricked before. If the ad link looks the slightest bit odd, and most of them do, click throughs will be down.

  • http://crackaninterview.com/ Jennifer Hardy

    Nice informative article you have shared here. I am definitely going to try out these soon myself.

    • http://hotblogtips.com/ Brian D. Hawkins

      Thanks Jennifer, let us know how well it works out for you.

  • http://www.dailyworkhorse.com/ Samuel Nolan

    I’ve been using Pretty Links for a while now and I must admit it has made life a lot easier for me. I have been typing the links into a text pad and that works fine for me when it comes to tracking, but your method makes a lot more sense in order to make tracking easier.

    • http://hotblogtips.com/ Brian D. Hawkins

      You lost me on the text pad Samuel, I have no idea how that works.

  • Jeevan Jacob John

    Great Tips, Brian :)

    I have heard of pretty link, but never used it. I do plan to do affiliate marketing on my upcoming blog, so this plugin will definitely help (Thanks for the advanced tutorial too – It’s a handy trick to track the sources).

    I usually use Bitly to track all my links (but, I suppose Pretty link is more friendly, especially when tweeting other own content/page etc.)

    Anyways, thanks for the tutorial, Brian. Appreciate it!

    By the way, how are you? I haven’t been blogging for a while – about one year now. Just got back to blogging (well, commenting). It’s certainly good to see that everyone is still blogging :D

    • http://hotblogtips.com/ Brian D. Hawkins

      Hey Jeevan, it’s nice to see you around again. No link? I use Bitly too but it’s easier for me to control and edit from my own blogs plus a lot of people are reluctant to click a Bitly link – including myself unless it’s from someone I know and trust.

  • http://techwayz.com Pramod

    Hi Brian !
    This is an excellent tutorial ! I always wondered how it was possible for an affiliate link on WP blogs to be clean without any numbers and symbols like “?-” . I didn’t know that the WP plugin was behind the scenes .This is an useful plugin as it not only makes the URL look good but also tracks the number of clicks . I would be trying this plugin for a few of my posts . Thanks for sharing the tutorial and details .

    -Pramod

    • http://hotblogtips.com/ Brian D. Hawkins

      No problem Pramod, it can help prevent people from stipping off the affilate part of the link too.

  • http://mixsprouts.com Sandeep Kumar

    I am also using pretty link since last one year.
    It is a good way to hide your actual affiliate link from others and it also provide cool options to make it nofollow/dofollow and best of all – it provides click tracking as well.

    • http://hotblogtips.com/ Brian D. Hawkins

      Yes Sandeep, but keep in mind you should always disclose the fact that it’s an affiliate link, not try to hide it.

  • http://www.mommacan.com/ Pam List

    Great post and yet one more item about blogging that I was totally clueless about. Blogging is my Sunday Crossword Puzzle and Sudoku. lol

    Pam

    • http://hotblogtips.com/ Brian D. Hawkins

      Glad to help Pam and there’s nothing wrong with enjoying your blog like that. :)

  • http://www.yourcvbuilder.com/rss.xml Mitch

    Hey Brian,
    This looks like a useful tool, to make things easier but can we approach this from an S.E.O point of view??
    what if Google cant figure out that all the shortened URLs point toward the same content ?? won’t you lose rankings and S.E.O juice with this ??
    Many thanks and Best wishes!

    • http://hotblogtips.com/ Brian D. Hawkins

      Hi Mitch, the term S.E.O/Link juice is a little outdated but you wouldn’t want to pass pagerank to an affiliate link anyway; Google have been very consistent in relaying that message, as well as taking action on those that ignore it. So with or without Pretty Link, I recommend you no-follow any affiliate or advertising links.

      I’m sure Google can determine the destination URL but if it’s a link back from an authority site, for example, I’d recommend providing them with a direct link; Google Analytics will provide the tracking for inbound links like that. If you’re using Pretty Link for internal pages, I’m assuming you’re linking back from social networks or your own site.

  • http://www.bloggersmakemoney.com Wade Harman

    Brian, I’m ashamed to say that the only way I know that a link has been clicked is by the WordPress notification in the Jetpack. I’m not that great at all of this and when I first set up my blog I had a feeling that nothing was going to come of it.

    Even though I make 5 figures every month, I have no idea where it comes from…the Paypal fairy just delivers it to my account every month! I’ve got to do better bro!

    • http://hotblogtips.com/ Brian D. Hawkins

      There’s that Jetpack again, Wade. That looks like more than a plugin but it sure does seem very popular. Ten+ Grand a month? very nice. :)

  • http://www.squarefishinc.com/blog/best-seo-tools-resources.html Lisa Chaves

    Is this for free? This is such a very interesting tool to include in my linkbuilding efforts.

    • http://hotblogtips.com/ Brian D. Hawkins

      Absolutely free Lisa, give it a try.

  • http://iamgoutam.blogspot.com Gautam Biswas

    Hello Brain,

    I have not tried it but it seems a pretty good idea. I will try it for one of my blogs and i will return here will inform you about the result.

    Thanks,
    Gautam

    • http://hotblogtips.com/ Brian D. Hawkins

      Thanks Gautam, I look forward to it.

  • http://nancybadillo.com/101-plus-ways-to-increase-website-traffic/ Nancy Badillo

    Thank you for sharing this wonderful tool! I am glad is a free tool. I will be trying it out.

  • http://www.aterriblehusband.com Nick

    I’ve been playing around with pretty link lite and the stats seem pretty inaccurate. For example, one day I had more “hits” on a pretty link that’s only on my site than hits on my actual site. Any idea why this could happen?

    • http://hotblogtips.com/ Brian D. Hawkins

      I’m not sure Nick. I used to run an ad tracking membership site and I know there’s no perfect solution. It might be worth a little test running the same link through two trackers; one being Pretty Link and the other using any of the free online trackers. Like I said, nothing is foolproof but they should at least be close.

  • http://www.snugglenado.com Alyssa

    I love Pretty Link Lite! This is one of my new WordPress plugins of the past year. It is so great to be able to track links in one place, and cloak any necessary links. It’s great to share the knowledge!

  • http://SmartOfficeHelp.com Elizabeth Hall (@SmartOfficeHelp)

    I just started using pretty links and your additioanl tips about adding additional pieces of info to the link for tracking is great. I will definitely start doing this. Thanks. Fantastic post.