Building trust with your customers is essential to your business website. You always want to disclose affiliate links to make sure that trust isn’t breached.
What is an affiliate link?
An affiliate link is a link to a product or service that you get paid a fee for if something is purchased.
That’s why it’s so easy to mislead. If you don’t disclose an affiliate link it looks very shady that you’re essentially trying to trick people into buying something just so you can make some money.
It’s extremely important to disclose that affiliate link so people understand the link they click on could benefit you financially.
Not only will undisclosed affiliate links breach trust but they can also be a legal issue. You can’t mislead and in many countries intentionally misleading is illegal.
It’s always safest to disclose affiliate links so you’re sure that visitors to your website understand how and to what extent you use affiliate links.
Disclosing affiliate links doesn’t have to be hard either. In fact, it’s must easier to disclose your affiliate links than it is to open yourself up to legal troubles.
By disclosing affiliate links you’re being honest to visitors of your website and you’re laying out exactly what link could earn you money. It’s also good to lay out why you provided an affiliate link.
Are All Affiliate Links Bad?
No! Absolutely not.
Many times there’s a perfectly good reason for including an affiliate link.
If you truly believe in a product then you’re going to recommend it whether you’re an affiliate or not.
If you’re going to recommend it then you might as well make some money from it as long as you’re honest about it.Affiliate links aren't bad as long as they're properly disclosed. Click To Tweet
Even if you aren’t vouching for the excellence of a product or service it’s okay to use an affiliate link.
Sometimes you write something where it’s relevant to mention another company with or without recommending them. In that case, it’s also okay to include an affiliate link as long as it’s plainly explained.
In all cases, affiliate links aren’t bad as long as they’re properly noted in the contest around the affiliate link.
Every time you use an affiliate link you must disclose it.
There are many different options to disclose affiliate links. The most visible method of disclosure is the one you should always use.
Disclose Affiliate Links
If you use affiliate links in your content then you should disclose it.
Disclosing affiliate links in your content is the most important place to disclose affiliate links.
Disclose In Text
Disclose an affiliate link every time you include an affiliate link on a page of your website.
You can simply work in the disclosure in the text right before or after the disclosure or use parenthesis right after the link.
It’s really as simple as that.
As someone is reading your content and you call out an affiliate link the reader can’t help but know the link is to an affiliate.
What about those who don’t know what affiliate programs are?
Many people know what an affiliate link is but some do not.Next to each affiliate link should be a note that it is an affiliate link. Click To Tweet
It may be the most effective to say “this link is an affiliate link and I make money off of it if you buy something on their site.”
Yes, it’s a bit long-winded but it does spell out the intention of the affiliate link exactly.
You may even go one step further and mention that you do make money off a link if the reader buys something. You can also mention that it’s not because of the affiliate link that you recommend the product or service though.
To clarify even more you can state why you have the affiliate link. Do you absolutely recommend the company even with no payment or are you simply providing the affiliate link because you already had the link there anyway?
I do this in my GoDaddy vs. Bluehost article. I don’t recommend either one but I do include an affiliate link simply because the companies are mentioned.
Include Affiliate Disclosure Page On Your Website
In addition to mentioning next to an affiliate link what it is, a page that lays out your practice for affiliate links is important.
I created an affiliate disclosure page on my website which covers my stance on affiliate links. I am upfront and honest about it because it’s the right thing to do and it builds trust.
It’s as simple as explaining how you use affiliate links and why they’re there. There are also a few companies whose affiliate programs I belong to complete with links.
Having an affiliate disclosure page on your website is an essential part of building trust and being an honest business.
With all these affiliate links you’re likely to use throughout your site over time you need an easy way to keep track of them all.
Keep Track Of Affiliate Links
Putting the actual affiliate link from each company isn’t a good way to manage affiliate links.
All it takes is one change to your link from the affiliate and you’ll have a lot of reworking to do throughout your website.
A simple affiliate tracking plugin for your content management system (hopefully you’re using a CMS) is all you need.
An affiliate link tracker is a redirect in its simplest form.
Your affiliate link will go from https://www.siteground.com/index.htm?afcode=8257fbaae90672981340f213987d9a2e (that’s ugly!) to https://www.exprance.com/refer/siteground/.
The second one is much cleaner and easier to manage.A simple redirect or affiliate management plugin makes affiliate links easy to manage. Click To Tweet
Now if your affiliate link ever changes you simply have to update it in your CMS in one place. It’ll be updated throughout your entire website because it’s a simple redirect.
If you’re using WordPress for your CMS then there are many affiliate link plugins to choose from. Easy Affiliate Links is highly recommended by users with excellent ratings.
You can also use a simple redirect plugin with a 301 redirect. Most affiliate link plugins use the 301 redirect anyway.
Because affiliate link plugins make links not look like affiliate links it’s important you tell visitors it’s an affiliate link.
If you disclose your intentions with affiliate links and are upfront about it you shouldn’t have any legal or trust troubles.
Keep Your Website Legal and Trustworthy
While I can’t give you official legal advice because I’m not a lawyer but I have given you some ethical pointers.
Of course, ethics and law often don’t go together but I won’t bore you with all that.
To get official legal advice on this and make sure you’re 100% following the law, review all of this with a lawyer. That means you should always take up affiliate disclosure issues with your lawyer to fully comply with the law.
A website that is complete, professional, and trustworthy comes with time and dedication to great content. An Online Presence Report is a good first step to understanding how your business appears to others online.