If you promote an affiliate program and are not redirecting your affiliate links, you may be missing out on traffic and commissions opportunities. Redirecting your affiliate program links helps to minimize spam filtering of your email campaigns, increase the acceptance of article submissions, build backlinks to your site, and reduce "click fear".
Minimize Spam Filtering
If you are promoting an affiliate program through email, other (unscrupulous) affiliates of the same company may be indirectly hurting the delivery rate of your messages. Email filters will block messages that contain content or links associated with spam. Even if you send your message only to subscribers who have double opted-in to your list, your messages may still be blocked if it contains a URL used by spammers.
Search Engine Optimization
Most affiliate program URLs look something like http://www.example.com/?id=123. Unfortunately, most search engines have limited or no ability to read these links.
Google(TM) warns, "If you decide to use dynamic pages (i.e., the URL contains a "?" character), be aware that not every search engine spider crawls dynamic pages as well as static pages. It helps to keep the parameters short and the number of them few." Google goes on to tell us "Don't use "&id=" as a parameter in your URLs, as we don't include these pages in our index."
Furthermore, if you are publishing your affiliate link on other sites such as blogs, forums, etc., you are missing out on the opportunity to build valuable backlinks that could increase your search engine rankings.
Submitting articles to web publishers and article directories is a powerful way to build backlinks to your site. Unfortunately, many publishers and directories do not accept articles that include affiliate links. However, virtually all will accept links to your own site. By replacing your affiliate link with a link to your own site, even one that redirects to your affiliate link, you will increase the number of article submissions accepted by publishers and directories.
Reduce "Click Fear"
Thanks to those few sites on the Web that distribute adware, spyware, viruses, etc., many web users are fearful of clicking on links, especially those that look "suspicious". To the average user who has no special knowledge of the internal workings of the Web, a link that has "unusual" characters such as those in dynamic URLs (e.g. http://www.example.com/?id=123&sub=456) will appear less trustworthy than a static link.
How to Redirect Your Affiliate Program URL
There are several ways to redirect your affiliate program links. The most "search engine friendly" method is the 301 Permanent redirect with the .htaccess file. You can use this method if your site is hosted on an Apache (Linux, Unix) based server.
To create a permanent redirect, open (or create) the .htaccess file. On a single line add the following code to the file:
redirect 301 /example.html http://www.example.com/?id=123&sub=456
This code tells the server to redirect "http://www.yoursite.com/example.html" to your affiliate link "http://www.example.com/?id=123&sub=456".
Other methods of redirecting include using PHP's header() function and HTML's meta refresh.
No matter what affiliate program you're promoting, you will benefit by redirecting your links. Redirecting your affiliate links can improve the delivery rate of your email campaigns as well as increase CTR. Your articles may be more readily accepted by article directories and web publishers. Furthermore, redirecting replaces links to your merchant with valuable backlinks to your own site.
David Meindl offers tips for Dish Network affiliates @ http://www.powersatelliteaffiliate.com/dishprograms.php. He is also the publisher of a Dish Network affiliate program directory.