Ability to track link clicks is one among many reasons why bloggers want to cloak their affiliate links.
There is a good deal of discussions on link cloaking. If you go through them, you’ll find that most of them stress on pretty-looking affiliate links as the main reason, especially if you want to email the links to your subscribers.
However, if you do not track link clicks you’ll never know which affiliate product is doing well, and on which page or place.
Let’s say you’ve placed an affiliate link on the sidebar, and have also placed it inside several blog posts you’ve written on the product.
You may have emailed the affiliate link to your subscribers twice. Further, you may have embedded the link on a guest post, and on the sidebar of another blog owned by you.
After making all these efforts, suppose you make 20 sales, and for each sale make earnings of $100. For 20 sales, your earnings will be $2,000, which is awesome.
The question now is, do you know which links from which sources have given you the most clicks and sales?
If you know this basic information, you can easily boost your earnings by concentrating more on those places, instead of repeating the same steps as before.
You need to track link clicks
Look at the series of schematics below.
I’ve taken 3 sets of arbitrary examples to explain how you can benefit when you track the link clicks for your affiliate products.
In the first experiment, let’s say you make $2,000 from 661 link clicks from 7 sources.
As you track link clicks, the distribution of clicks and their respective percentages are presented in the following pie chart.
As you can see, the 2 sidebars got the largest number of clicks, 54% between them. This is followed by 2 emails which collectively brought in 164 link clicks or 24% of the total.
Thus, the sidebars and the emails brought in a whopping 523 clicks, or 78% of the total.
It is logical to conclude that maximum sales of the affiliate product would have been generated from these 4 sources.
Armed with this information by tracking link clicks, you now decide to focus on these 4 sources for a second affiliate product.
Let’s say, in this experiment, you find your earnings dropping to $1200 from 12 sales ($100 each) even though the number of clicks have increased to 576 from 523 earlier.
This is puzzling, so you decide to write 2 guest posts, and track link clicks from there.
To your amazement, you find that you’ve made 9 sales or $900 from the 2 guest posts, coming from just 66 link clicks.
Now you can conclude easily that the guest posts are the biggest keys to your increased earnings, and this you could only find when you decided to track link clicks.
Different link URLs to track link clicks
It is evident that for each destination page you must have different link URLs so that you can track link clicks for each of them.
How to do that?
Look at the following schematic.
As you can see, even though the destination URL of the affiliate product webpage is the same, there are many different URLs leading to it.
You can create these different URLs in your WordPress admin with the help of a plugin. Name the extensions conveniently, and use them depending on their locations to track link clicks from each location.
I’ll shortly come to the plugin below, but remember you can use other URL shortening services to track link clicks, like, for example, Google URL Shortener.
Using goo.gl to track link clicks
Let’s look at Google URL Shortener.
You may use your Google account – or, even without an account – to use the tool. If you use your Google account, you’ll have the chance to check the detailed statistics to track link clicks.
See the screenshot below.
Here are some main features (both pros and cons) with Google URL Shortener.
- You can have as many short links as you want for the same destination page to track link clicks.
- Get a QR code for every link, you can get this with other free services.
- You can check the detailed statistics for every short link, including referring websites, countries, browsers, and the number of clicks.
- You may not be able to use identification tags on URLs to pinpoint the sources (e.g. sidebars, guest posts, emails, etc.) of link clicks. This can be circumvented by keeping a list of short URLs on a notepad or somewhere else, but can quickly become problematic to track link clicks.
- All goo.gl URLs and click analytics are public and can be accessed by anyone. Don’t want this? Don’t use goo.gl.
- You can hide a short link from your analytics table, but it remains public and accessible by anyone. Again, if you don’t want this, don’t use Google URL Shortener.
Here is the screenshot of analytics for a link with goo.gl.
How to track link clicks of any URL to any URL inside WordPress
Okay, let’s now check out the plugin to track links clicks inside WordPress. It’s not as fancy as Google URL Shortener, but has some powerful features.
Here are the steps to use it.
Before that, look at the following screenshot that shows how to track link clicks from one website to the destination URL on a 2nd website by making the click pass through a 3rd website.