Wednesday, September 06, 2006

How to Use Subdomains and URL Forwarding to Improve Your Web Presence

by Glenn Haertlein

Two of the biggest problems faced by online marketers are long, hard-to-remember web addresses, and lost referrals. This article will show you how to make your affiliate links shorter and easier to advertise, as well as how to protect your referrals.

The Problem with Long Web Addresses

People have enough information to keep track of. A long web address is the last thing anyone wants to add to their list of things to remember. If you have anything more difficult than something like www.WhateverSomeWebBusinessIs.com, you can be sure to lose a large number of your customers, unless they can click on the link right away. Even so, if the link is hard to remember and your customers forget to bookmark your site, you can kiss return visits goodbye. If you’re putting a long or difficult web address on print ads, or on radio or TV, you can forget getting much of a return as well. And if you are adding ad tracking info on the end of your web address, good luck!

To be effective, a web address has to be brief and memorable.

Protecting Your Referrals

Consider this: You give a user your web address: www.SomeWebBusiness.com/affiliateID. The affiliate ID is there so you can get credit for the referral. It’s how you get paid. But for reasons that sometimes defy explanation, instead of putting in the whole address, Joe User lops off the ‘/affilateID’ part and just goes to www.SomeWebBusiness.com.

Unless the affiliate program you work with is really good about only accepting people with legitimate user ID referrals, you just lost a sale. Why? Because without the affiliate ID you won’t get credit for that referral. Even more insidious are ‘web marketers’ who look for affiliate links and user IDs and purposely substitute their own ID for yours, thus robbing you of even more income.

To protect yourself, you need to make your web address as bulletproof as possible.

The Simple Solution

So, how do you turn www.PleaseClickOnMyLinkSoIcanMakeABuck.com/and/don’t/forget/my/affiliateID into something more manageable, and protect your referrals? In a word – actually several – subdomains and URL forwarding. Good use of both can help greatly improve your online efforts.

“URL” stands for Uniform Resource Locator. It’s the address you type into your browser to surf the web. URL forwarding is the practice of using one web address to point to another. Typically, you use a less difficult address to point to a more complex one. For example, you would use www.SomeWebBusiness.com to point to your longer, more complex affiliate link. The shorter address is easier to remember, and works well both on the web and in other media where you might choose to advertise.

A subdomain, as the name suggests, is a subdivision of a larger domain. Let’s say you have an ad tracking URL you want to use to test the effectiveness of a particular campaign. The system I use generates what are called ad tracking links. Many affiliate programs do this. But here’s the problem: On top of an already long name, they’ll tack on yet another item so your ads can be tracked. So, www.AlreadyLongName.com/with/AffiliateID becomes www.AlreadyLongName.com/with/AffiliateID/andTrackingID.

Who wants to type all that in?

With a subdomain you can still use the ad tracking link without burdening or confusing your potential customers with a long name. So, let’s say I wanted to do an ad campaign for www.SomeWebBusiness.com. I would go to my domain name provider and create a subdomain called CheckOut.SomeWebBusiness.com, and I would use URL forwarding to have that subdomain ‘point’ to my more complicated ad tracking address. The one disadvantage is that the user might forget the dot between CheckOut and SomeWebBusiness.com, but still it’s much easier to use than a LONG web address.

So, how do you get a domain name and subdomains? There are plenty of domain name providers out there. The one I use is mydomains.com. They offer domain names for as low as $8.95, and the price includes subdomains and URL forwarding free of charge. If the affiliate program you use already offers you a pre-made website, then all you need is your domain name and you’re ready to go.

Here are the steps you need to follow:


Register your domain name and turn on URL forwarding according to the instructions of your provider.
Use your provider’s URL forwarding feature to point your new web address to your affiliate site.
If your provider offers stealth forwarding, DO NOT use it. This could cause your affiliate program not to see or recognize your affilliate ID. Besides, you just need the domain name as front-end promotion tool.
Create subdomains (optional) according to your provider’s instructions. Have the subdomains point to other opportunities, or to your ad tracking links.
That’s it! By having your own domain name you can create a web address that’s easy to remember, and that will protect your referrals. Plus, it gives you the added benefit of giving your business a professional look because you can direct people to a nice, neat web address instead of an unwieldy mile-long link.

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Glenn is a freelance writer and web business entrepreneur. If you’re looking for a good online business opportunity, check out his site at
http://www.DoorsToWealth.com

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