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Broken affiliate links: How to find them and why it’s important to your affiliate program

Affiliate links are the bread and butter of an affiliate marketing program. Without them, you don’t have a campaign. You don’t have traffic driving into your website, and therefore you’re going to have far less customers, relying on them organically finding your business.

So, it’s important to make sure all your affiliate links are functioning to their full ability. In this guide we will cover how to find broken affiliate links, and how to fix them.

Why does it matter?

If you have broken affiliate links, you are losing money.

Broken affiliate links are a small nuisance that can snowball into your company losing customers and therefore sales. If a customer comes across your link, and it doesn’t work, the customer will be met with a 404 Not Found page rather than your website. They can’t look around your site, they can’t get any information, and crucially, they can’t buy anything.

A broken affiliate link will also put customers off your brand entirely, as it can make you look unprofessional, or your site can look out of date.

You could lose a lot of business this way, because after all, it’s not just that one customer clicking the link. You will have chosen the location of the affiliate link because of the great number of eyes on it, be it a blog or an influencer’s social media, etc. If the link isn’t working, their audience goes to waste.

Broken links can also affect your SEO ranking. Customers will abandon your site entirely if they can’t link to it, causing you to sink further down the Google ranking. Google could presume that customers are leaving your site for another reason such as not providing the information your customers were looking for and therefore allow you to drop down the ranking.

How do dead affiliate links occur?

From the affiliate program’s point of view, there are only two ways that affiliate links will break, and that is when an affiliate company switches affiliate platform, or when the affiliate program closes down.

When you make a change, all your links will have to correlate, and when they’re spread across various partners, hunting them all down can be time consuming. All the tracking URLs in your content and banners will have to change as well as in your partners’ content. Some of these can slip through the cracks, creating a link to a website that no longer exists.

But from the other end, there are a variety of ways a link can become broken. So, if nothing has changed on your end, consider having your affiliate partners look over their links.

The most common and simple is that the URL given to the link has been misspelled or contains a typo. This can lead users to the wrong site or no site at all. There might also be issues with compatibility, if your affiliate partner is using WordPress for example, and their plugins aren’t compatible with your site’s files.

How do you fix them?

You don’t necessarily need to go testing every link on every page, although it wouldn’t be the worst thing to ask your partners to quickly click the links you gave them to make sure they are still working, but there are other options online.

You can use a web-based SEO audit tool like Ahrefs, which will identify, and repair broken links by scanning your site and creating a report of their broken links.

If you don’t wish to pay for a tool you can use the Google Search Console to track, manage and troubleshoot where your site appears in Google search results. It requires that you verify your website before you can use it, but once you do you will have access to Google’s broken link detection tool. It will test out all your affiliate links for you and report back any that returned a 404-error page. Unfortunately, that doesn’t do anything for the links that might be accidentally sending customers to another site.

You can also use an online tool like BrokenLinkCheck.com, which will allow you to review 3,000 pages for free. It’s a good option if the site you’re using isn’t very big.

There is also usually a plugin featured with most website builders like WordPress or Wix. WordPress offers the Broken Link Checker plugin that will scan your blogs and test each link for their functionality. Once that’s done, you will be able to see through the WordPress platform, what links are broken and adjust them.

With all your affiliate links restored, you should see traffic drive back to your site. It’s vital to correct this mistake as soon as possible. After all, affiliate links that aren’t driving traffic is a waste of money.

For more information, or for some tailored advice, book a free call with a member of our team for more assistance in affiliate marketing.

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