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Thirsty Affiliates Review – An Affiliate Link Manager System

Some type of Superpower must have been listening when I was most recently complaining about a way to manage my affiliate links better. Few weeks back I was introduced to Thirsty Affiliates, an affiliate link manager system that in my opinion performs better than any other link management that I have tried.

I will tell you why. But before I do that, it’s important to discuss why an affiliate link manager program is important to appreciate what Thirsty Affiliates enables you to do.

Affiliate Marketing: Changing / Updating Your Affiliate Links

As your website or blog grows over time, so do your affiliate links presuming affiliate marketing is one of your revenue generation strategies.  As the number of your links grow and are scattered across several blog posts, pages and even websites, it becomes difficult to track what you have and make timely changes.

I own a successful paid survey referral website that generates income through lead generation.  Many times in the past vendors that I promote have changed their affiliate links.  A vendor may decide to do this when they move affiliate platforms, say from Commission Junction to ShareASale for example.

As an affiliate marketer, how do you know where all your links are?  Not only that, now you have to edit each and every link manually. Think about the amount of time that will take? Not to mention demoralization and de-motivation.

Managing the NoFollow Attribute Tag

When you link to an external web property, you are leaking some of your page rank (PR) away to the site you are linking to. The way to prevent that is to add a nofollow attribute to your link structure.

There may be some links which you want to be dofollow links, such as paid advertisers while others that you want to be nofollow, such as affiliate links.  Many times bloggers blog away building dofollow links overtime. When they realize what this does to their blog, it’s often too late and they have to go back and make changes to each and every link in previously published posts and pages. Not fun at all.

A robust affiliate link manager allows you to switch from dofollow to nofollow within seconds. You can do this on a link by link basis, or as a mass edit as I will share with you below.  Read my post on NoFollow DoFollow Links to learn more about this topic and its significance to your success online.

Opening Affiliate Links in Existing vs. New Windows

Similar to nofollow dofollow, as a website owner you need to decide whether you want your links to open in a new or existing window.  This often comes down to your objective (what you want the reader to do) as well as how you want the overall reader experience to be. i.e. do you want them to remain on your website or go to the affiliate link landing page?

A robust affiliate link manager should also enable you to make these switches within seconds, either on a link by link basis, or as a mass change across the website like I will show you below.  Because our strategies often change with time, it is important that we possess a tool that enables us to make changes easily when needed.

Commission Theft – Link Cloaking

A common problem in the internet marketing industry is commission theft that is perpetrated by tech savvy companies and individuals who set up malware of some sort on people’s browsers so that your unique affiliate ID or code is replaced with theirs. This happens with Google Adsense as well.

So while you work hard on building your business and getting all that traffic to your website, it is them who are benefiting from all the commissions earned.  Not fair! But guess what, it happens all the time everywhere.

Link cloaking is one way web property owners prevent such theft by disguising an affiliate link and “removing the unique code or ID” and incorporating a redirect instead to protect their commissions.  Too technical, messy and confusing if one was to do this manually.  Thirsty Affiliates enables you to protect your affiliate commissions from theft by cloaking your links automatically.

The Thirsty Affiliate Link Manager

Thirsty Affiliates is an impressive affiliate link management system that addresses all these concerns with ease.  Have a look at one of the options where you can apply mass changes to your links:

making mass changes

Here is what the plugin looks like when integrated with WordPress:

thirsty affiliates integrated

Simply click the link to insert links in one of three different ways, image, auto link or CSS link which allows you to style and specify any type of underlying text you want.  This plugin is a one and done operation.

Here is what the menu looks like when you click the button to add an affiliate link:

affiliate link manager

Simply highlight the text you want converted to an affiliate link and click on the affiliate link of your choice. This will turn the highlighted text into a pretty affiliate link.

affiliate link highlight

enabled affiliate link

Once you have set up your affiliate links in the affiliate link manager, you have unlimited flexibility in how you use them and make edits to them over time. What is nice about this layout is that you can categorize your affiliate links similar to how you’d categorize your blog posts.

This allows you to easily locate a link when you need to. This is particularly important as you grow over time. Here is how link categorization looks like in the affiliate link manager:

affiliate link categories

The affiliate link manager also has an import and export function, which allows you to transport all your links in masses.  Let’s say you find a better tool down the road, or you want to create multiple other blogs to form a blog network and use the same affiliate links, you can use the export function and migrate your links within seconds.

To summarize the features, Thirsty Affiliates allows you to perform several tasks in a matter of seconds. These tasks include link cloaking, management of follow and nofollow tags, opening links in existing or new windows, hierarchical link categorization, importing and exporting and link picking through a tool that easily inserts various types of links when authoring posts (including images).

In addition to the benefits discussed above, there are a couple other attributes in the Thirsty Affiliates plugin that I’d like to highlight.  As you saw in the image above, once installed, the plugin integrates with WordPress very nicely as if it’s a part of it.  With the import link function and automated scheduled backups, you can ensure you never lose your data. Moreover, if and when you set up other blogs and websites, you don’t have to re set up your affiliate links as you can simply import them over.

The best part of using Thirsty Affiliates is that it felt invisible to me as the focus is clearly on the ease of affiliate link management.  I personally spoke to Josh Kohlbach, founder of Thirsty Affiliates and was delighted to experience his enthusiasm about this plugin.

He and his team are and will continue to be active with the development efforts behind this product, so it will likely only continue to improve over time. He mentioned that they have been gathering people’s ideas and already have a healthy pipeline of features to add.

You can go through a full tour of this affiliate link manager system here.

Affiliate Link Traffic Tracking

I also like the affiliate link stats section, which allows you to track each successful click on your affiliate link that leads to the affiliate offer.  You can use this feature in conjunction with Google Analytics goal tracking or the stats software of the affiliate program you are promoting to measure conversion rates.

Link traffic tracking is important because without such data or intelligence, a marketer is simply shooting darts in the dark.  With the affiliate link stats section, you can eliminate al the guessing game and pinpoint which one of your affiliate ads is working better than the others.

Here is what the link stats section looks like under one of the new affiliate links I just created in Thirsty Affiliates:

Affiliate Link Stats

What Does This Mean for You?

As always, I like to relate each post to what it means for you.  This blog is all about expedited wealth building.  And if you are going to choose or have chosen to expedite your wealth creation by leveraging the internet, either as a blogger or internet marketer, you can’t afford to lose valuable hours, days and even weeks depending on how big your site is chasing around nonsense because someone who you have no control over did something to affect you (sigh).

As successful individuals, time is our limited commodity, not money. I recommend using some of that discretionary money to make your life better, easier and expedite the results you are attempting to achieve with your online endeavors.

Maximize your limited resource and focus on what’s important to help your business grow.  Can you do without this affiliate link management system? Yes, of course. Do I recommend using a tool like this to expedite results? Absolutely.

Conclusion

I am still in the process of testing this plugin, hoping it would break and clunk at some point so I can uninstall and return it (joking). So far the experience has been great. I think Josh and his team are onto something with this product.

Regarding price, I was expecting the plugin to be priced closer to other similar plugins, which are typically in the $79+ range. Compared to that however, Thirsty Affiliates is selling at a bargain.

The bottom line is that for non-technical bloggers and internet marketers, such that read this blog, the main reason to purchase this plugin is the sheer ease of affiliate link management so that you can make changes without going through each and every post or page of your website. Instead, you have one convenient place where you can make changes due to changes in law, changes in vendor affiliate company platforms, etc.

Affiliate Disclaimer

I am affiliate of this product and receive a modest commission for every sale made through my affiliate link.  This plugin comes with a 30 day money back guarantee that as of the time of this review had never been used (so I was told).  I can see that after having taken Thirsty Affiliates for a test drive.

The website has a comprehensive FAQ page where you can find answers to some of the most common questions customers ask about the product. If you can’t find your answer, you can email the product’s founder Josh directly at josh (at) thirstyaffiliates.com

I hope you found this review helpful, and I am sure you will find the product simply the best at what it does.  If you are going to play in the internet marketing landscape for good, you cannot afford to keep going without a robust affiliate link manager like Thirsty Affiliates.

Readers: Any experience using this product or one of similar functionality?  What are your thoughts? Do you think a product like this is important and can assist you achieve your objectives? What are your pain points with affiliate marketing? What did you wish these plugins enabled you to do that you cannot today?

Note: I will be giving out 2 free versions of Thirsty Affiliates to two lucky readers. Stay tuned – but in the mean time let me know your thoughts in the comments section below.

Sunil
Managing Effectively

Directory Maximizer Review: Get Quality Back Links from Directory Submissions

The following is a review of Directory Maximizer, the best directory submission tool I have come across online.

Building quality back links through directory submissions is a must do activity if you are serious about your success on the internet.

Whether you have a website or blog, getting quality back links from directories will help you rank higher in search engine search results, and as a result drive more organic traffic to your website.

But more importantly, it will stabilize your website in search engine’ index and ensure you are not dropped the next time engines alter their search algorithms and recalibrate their index (rankings).

Ever seen sudden dips in your website’s traffic patterns? The lack of incoming links to your website is the primary reason for this traffic fluctuation phenomenon, especially when the website or blog is relatively new.  Today you might see it on Google’s top 100, tomorrow you won’t.  Not so strange once we understand why . .

What are Directory Submissions?

Directory submissions are exactly what they sound like.  Think about the old phone book or Yellow Pages that used to sit under your side table in the living room. In order to get listed in it, you had to submit an application.  Online directories are exactly the same, except they are online and not under your table.

Since people now go to the Internet for their searches (instead of the thick books which are nowhere to be found in my household today), it is important that you submit your website or blog for inclusion in these.

Online directories are large websites organized by various categories (an index).  Within each category is a sub category and within each sub cat are individual websites and blogs.  For example: Home & Garden –> Landscaping –> Your Landscaping Website

The Importance and Effect of Back Links

Because quality incoming links to your website or blog is a critical component of your success on the Internet, you must proactively work to build these links.

Unless your website is the next CNN or Facebook, quality inbound links will not automatically come to you.  You must go out and get them, especially if your website or blog is relatively new; say less than 18 months old.

The Best First Move for Your Website or Blog

Submitting your website or blog to directories is one of the best first “off-page” moves you can make.  When I say “off-page”, I mean everything not impacting your physical website or blog, such as search engine optimization which involves meta coding for example.

Off page marketing activities typically involve submissions of some sort. Think articles, press releases, blog comments, forum posts, social bookmarks etc.  These activities are also commonly referred to as internet marketing activities.

Submitting your website to directories is one of the best first moves because 1) it is very easy to execute 2) doesn’t take long 3) gives you the best chance for inclusion/acceptance (low rejection rates) 4) instantly builds quality back-links (credibility) to your website.

Here is an example:

Search Sight is a Page Rank (PR) 5 Directory that looks like this.

Search Sight Online Directory

Look at the top right and see where is says “Submit Your Site”?  Simply click on it and fill in a few fields and boom you’re done.

Search Sight Online Directory

There are a total of 6 whopping fields that take 45 seconds to complete. Another 5 seconds to click the “Submit” button on the bottom and you potentially have one PR 5 back link to your website in less than a minute.

Submitting to directories early in your website’s lifespan is also important because many online directories frown upon “commercial websites”. A commercial website is any website that is generating revenues.  So if you have Google Adsense ads up on your blog, directories will review your submission under different criteria.

Some directories would simply reject your submission, while others will ask you to pony up an inclusion fee, which could range from $2 to $250 depending on the caliber of the online directory. That said, it is never too late to submit to directories.

If you have a website or blog that is 2 years old or older but are still struggling with traffic and building incoming links, stop what you are doing right now and focus on directory submissions for a full week.  I guarantee you will see some results.

Here is what I typically do.

Whenever I have the first 10 pages of any new niche content website I build live on the server, the first thing I do is schedule 100 directory submissions each month for a full year. I will talk about how I do this below. If you are a blogger, 10 pages is equivalent to 10 quality posts.

By starting the directory submission process early in, I am able to continue to build my website’s content (web pages) while my website is automatically being submitted to directories over time in parallel.

This ensure that months later when my website is ready for the world, I will already have hundreds of quality back links to my website, solidifying my position on search engine rankings and ensuring I maximize the organic traffic generated to my website.

The Mother and Grand Daddy of All Directories

There are thousands of directories on the Internet today (large, small and specialty niche types). DMOZ (The Open Project) and Yahoo were the two largest and most credible online directories since the day the Internet stood still, and still are to my knowledge.

Because these directories have blown up in proportion to others, their inclusion criteria is very strict, not to mention that inclusion space is “limited”.  Acceptance rates today in either one of these is very, very low.

However, the few minutes you spend submitting your website or blog to these directories is well worth your time. It may take months before you get listed, or not listed at all, but the few minutes you put in today can make a world of a difference in the long run. You might just be surprised.

These directories manually and individually review each submission.  If accepted, you will notice a tremendous boost in your rankings and traffic a result. These directories are extremely credible and they have a high Page Rank.

DMOZ is still free to apply to today, while Yahoo has both a free and paid section.  If you haven’t implemented monetization methods on your website yet, make sure you select the free option. If you are considered a “commercial” or “money-generating website”, you need to decide whether you want to fork up a couple hundred dollars for the application fee.

Keep in mind that Yahoo charges this fee just for the review of your application. This does not guarantee acceptance or link inclusion.  If approved, you will have to pay this fee annually.

Is it worth it? It sure is if you can afford it.  But don’t be too heart-broken if you either do not want to pay, cannot afford to pay or get rejected.  Of the several websites I own, only 3 are included in the Yahoo directory.

You can always go back and pay Yahoo for inclusion later on when you start making money from your website or blog.  For now, life goes on 🙂

Website Traffic Impact

The primary purpose of directory submissions is to build quality back links to your website, and benefit from the search engine traffic you get as a result of having your website ranked high in search engine search results.  Remember that incoming links from directory submissions is a component of your website or blog’s high search engine ranking or position.

The purpose of directory submissions however IS NOT to get traffic directly from web surfers clicking your directory link and landing on your website as a result.  That said, you WILL get some traffic from direct clicks to your directory listings.

For example, below is the traffic breakdown of one of my website’s over a couple month period. Notice that over 16%, or almost 65,000 unique visitors reached my website from “Referring Sites”, of which directories are a part of.

Traffic Breakdown

So while direct traffic is not the primary purpose behind website submissions to directories, you will get a trickle of traffic from these as a collateral benefit.

Manual Directory Submissions

As discussed above, it doesn’t take long to submit your website’s address (URL) to an online directory. But where do you find these directories?

Fire up a search engine of your choice and simply type in the following:  “your website’s topic” + “directory”.  If your website is about red roses, you want to type in “red roses” + “directory”.

Here are three good resources that list out some directories you can start submitting to today:

My problem with manual directory submissions is that it takes too much time.  Yeah yeah I said less than a minute, but what if you want 1,000 back links to your website? It does add up.

In addition, the task is mindless, tedious and most importantly, with advancements in technology today, it has become VERY CHEAP to execute automatically with just a few steps up front to get the ball rolling.

Automatic Directory Submissions – Directory Maximizer

I haven’t submitted to directories manually since having discovered the Directory Maximizer Service.

This is a directory submission firm that is based out of India and does an excellent job for a price that initially had made me quite skeptical. However, after trying them out and experiencing the quality and effectiveness of what they do, I have done business with them on a recurring basis.

For just a few pennies per submission, you can have them submit your website to as many as 1,300+ directories in their database. What I like about this firm is that they periodically update their database of directories, ensuring that your URL is submitted only to legitimate and quality directories.

These guys even have a list of all their directories, listed with each directory’s URL as well as latest PR, which they update quarterly. If you’d like, you can easily leverage their work in putting this list together to start submitting on your own.

An alternative to Directory Maximizer is the free Directory Submitter tool. This is an excellent free tool that will save you a lot of time during the submission process. However, there is some up front work involved in setting up your website or blog’s information for submission.

I used this tool initially before I discovered Directory Maximizer.  What I don’t like about the free tool is that it restricts you to only 350 directories.  In addition, many of these are now stale as they don’t update the list.  I had later upgraded to the full paid version, which expanded my submission reach. However, I feel the free tool is pretty good too.

Risk of Over Saturation & Raising Red Flags

I know what you are thinking right now. Several hundred, and possibly over one thousand back links to your website within a short time frame can raise a red flag couldn’t it?

For a website that is brand new, yes it can. For a seasoned website of 6, 8, 12 or more months old? No. That is precisely why it is never too late to consider directory submissions. In fact, I highly recommend you do no matter how new or old your website or blog is.

For a brand new website however, slow, steady and gradual growth of back links is advisable because it looks more “natural” to search engines.  You can either manually apply to a handful every month for the next X months, or you can take advantage of Directory Maximizer’s auto submission process which allows you to set submissions on auto pilot.

This is one of the biggest reasons I use their services for every niche content website that I build.  You can set up your account so that your website or blog is submitted to any number of directories you want over a period of 2, 3, 4 or 5 weeks, or 3, 6, 9, 12 or more months.

The option I always go with is the 100 submissions per month for 12 months option.  This costs me $14 per month, or a per directory submission cost of just .14 cents! Can I afford to pay that little to free up my time so I can make a lot more money with it? Of course I can. It is a no brainer for me.

Here is what the account management dashboard looks like:

Directory Maximizer

As you can see, you have a variety of options. You can submit to all (you can get by doing this if you have a seasoned website), or specify however many submissions you want and spread it over any number of weeks, or submit 100 every month for as many months up to a year.

However you want to do it, you can set up auto payments via PayPal or a credit card.  This way, you set up your account for submission only once and are never again bothered about it.

Each time your URL is submitted, you will receive an email from the directory confirming your submission.  In addition, you can login to your Directory Maximizer account at any time to view your submission status reports.

As good as this service firm is, there is one factor that absolutely sold me to them more than any other.  Their Customer Service.  These guys are extremely responsive over email and very helpful in addressing all questions, concerns and reservations.  I highly recommend you check them out.

Directory Submission Myths

Directory submissions are a thing of the past.  This is complete BS from my personal experience.  Think about the nature of the Internet and how search engines work. If directory submissions are obsolete, then why do we submit articles to article directories? Isn’t the concept the same?

Another myth is that you should only submit to high PR directories.  Again, there is no sense in this. Think about it. Was the directory that is now a PR 6 a PR 6 when it first started? No. Every website starts with a Goose Egg.

In fact, high PR directories have more stringent requirements, and many charge fees. Acceptance rates in lower PR directories are higher.  Many of these low PR directories grow to become popular high PR directories later on. By having your URL accepted early in their evolution, you will give yourself a chance to ride their waive of success in the future.

That said, I suggest mixing up the directories you submit to. What is more important is that you start submitting.

Niche Directories

This post will not be complete without discussion of specialty, or niche directories. While submitting to just any directory can get you back links to your website or blog, submitting to directories relevant to your topic or niche can give you extra “oomph” in the eyes of search engines.

Search engines are continuing to become more sophisticated than ever before, moving toward artificial human-like intelligence capabilities.  The more sophisticated engines become in the future, the more back link relevancy will start to matter.

Although search engines do not disclose their search algorithm methodologies, one can argue that the effect of the “artificial intelligence factor” can already be felt today. I would agree with this.

But what does all jargon that mean for you? This means that until we do not know for a fact that directory submissions are going to be ignored if not relevant to the website or blog’s topic, we can continue to benefit from them as revealed by the website traffic pie chart shown above.

However, this also means that to the extent possible, we also need to find and submit our websites and blogs to directories that are relevant to our content.  This appears to be the direction in which search engines are moving toward, and it wouldn’t be prudent to ignore the Gods who determine our fates online.

I use SBI’s Search It! function, the most powerful special purpose internet marketing search engine I have come across.

Site Build It! Search It

Concluding Thoughts

While directory submissions are an excellent way to kick start your website or blog’s presence online, there are several other ways to build quality back-links as well.  Some examples include guest blogging, article marketing, press release marketing, blog and forum commenting, social bookmarking etc.

I plan on writing about each of these in detail similar to this post. For now however, I hope that you found this information helpful.

Did I miss anything on building quality backlinks through directory submissions? Do you have anything to add to make this review of directory submissions a bit more comprehensive?

Note:  I am an affiliate of Directory Maximizer and am rewarded with a commission when a reader subscribes to the Directory Maximizer submission program.

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