We regularly consult for sites that monetize, in part, with affiliate links. We usually advise people to redirect affiliate links. In the past, we noticed that there wasn’t a proper script available online that could handle this for us, so we created one to tackle this problem. In this post, I explain how you can get your hands on it and how you can get it running on your website.

Why should I cloak my affiliate links?

A quick online search will result in tons of reasons as to why you should redirect your affiliate links. The “historical” reason for this is hiding from search engines that you’re an affiliate. It would be naive to think that search engines don’t understand what’s happening, but nevertheless this seems like a valid reason.

There are also a few more advantages to cloaking your affiliate links, such as:

  1. Ease of management
    Sometimes you might need to change your affiliate links. If said links are spread out across your blog, this could become a quite time-intensive task. By centralizing the affiliate links, you have one location to manage all of them.
  2. Prevents leaking PageRank to advertisers
    Affiliate links are ads and should be nofollowed or otherwise altered to prevent leaking PageRank to the advertiser. Instead of having to do this manually for every individual affiliate link, you can do this is a single location without much hassle. This also prevents the possibility of forgetting to add nofollow to one of the links.
  3. “Clean” links
    Different affiliate programs tend to use different permalink structures. Some might have relatively ‘clean’ links, whereas others tend to add a lot of gibberish. Using the redirect script can help you deal with this issue because the cloaked URL will always follow the same structure. This makes it a lot clearer for the user where the link is taking them to!

Get the most out of Yoast SEO, learn every feature and best practice in our Yoast SEO for WordPress training! »

Yoast SEO for WordPress training$ 99 - Buy now » Info

Cloaking affiliate links, the how to

The basic process of cloaking affiliate links is simple:

  1. Create a folder from where you’ll serve your redirects. At Yoast we use /out/.
  2. Block the /out/ folder in your robots.txt file by adding:
    Disallow: /out/
  3. Use a script in your redirect folder to redirect to your affiliate URLs.

Step 2 ensures search engines won’t follow the redirects, but we’ll add some extra security measures in our script to prevent accidental indexation of our affiliate links. Step 3 is as easy as manually adding each redirect to your redirect directory’s .htaccess file, assuming you’re running your website on an Apache-based server. Alternatively, you can use the script we produced to make it easier on yourself. The added bonus of this script is that it also works for servers running Nginx!

Affiliate link redirect script

The script we created consists of three files, one of which is optional: an index.php file, a redirects.txt file and, to finish it all off, a .htaccess file to prettify your URLs.

Index.php

This file contains the logic that handles the actual redirection by performing a 302 redirect. Additionally, it sends a X-Robots-Tag header along to ensure search engines that can detect this header, obey the noindex, nofollow rules we pass along in it. We do this as an extra security measure in case you might forget to exclude the affiliate link in your robots.txt.

Redirects.txt

The redirects.txt file is a comma-separated file that contains a list of names and destination URLs like so:

yoast,https://yoast.com

Note that the file should always contain the following line at the very top to ensure people don’t attempt to redirect themselves to a non-existing URL:

default,http://example.com

Just change example.com to your own domain and you’re ready to go!

.htaccess

If you only install the above two files, you’ll already have enough in place to get things running. However, we advise you prettify the URLs, because this dramatically increases the readability. Without prettifying your URLs, you’ll end up with something like /out/?id=yoast instead of /out/yoast.

Prettifying can be achieved by adding a .htaccess file to the mix. This small file also helps ensure people can’t access your redirects.txt file to take a peek and see what affiliate links are available.

What about plugins?

In the past we’ve received questions about using WordPress plugins to tackle this cloaking issue. Despite there being a lot of valid options, they have one small caveat: speed. Because these plugins depend on WordPress’ core code, they need to wait for it to be fully booted before being able to execute themselves. This can easily add a second or two to the total loading and redirecting time if you’re on a slow server.
Our non-plugin solution is faster because it doesn’t depend on WordPress to run.

Ultimately, the best option depends on your needs. If you want to collect statistics on your affiliate links, you might be better off with a plugin. Otherwise, just use our script to keep things fast.

The files

If you’re interested in running this nifty script on your own website, head on over to GitHub. Feeling adventurous? You can find the source code here. People running Nginx can find sample code in this gist to see how to make it work for them.

Read more: ‘Playing with the X-Robots-Tag HTTP header’ »

startPardon me with the title, it’s the first headline that came across my mind and I’ve decided to just go with it!

Let’s focus on the second part of it – “Here’s Where to Get Started”

I’m happy to announce a new page on newInternetOrder.com. It’s a “getting started page” – as in, how to get started with newInternetOrder.com and why would you even want to start in the first place.

In a (two) word, it’s a road sign pointing the way to the core content on this site.

But first…

Why did I even create it?

Since we’re talking online business for normal people here, let me share one observation.

Maybe it’s just me, but I’m noticing more and more beginner advice online that would be in fact very difficult to apply for a starting entrepreneur who just happens to be a normal human being.

For instance, advice like “learn SEO if you want to get a good spot on Google,” “read the forums,” “spend days crafting your content,” “engage with the community by commenting on other sites” and so on.

Although these all sound okay-ish, considering the fact that most people start their online businesses as side projects, I can only say (quoting the classic), that:

“Ain’t nobody got time fo’ that!”

If that’s not enough, there’s also the “create quality content” advice that’s in a league of its own. I honestly don’t know what the expression “quality content” means. Really, no joke. It is by far the most overused and meaningless phrase in online business and blogging.

Actually, whenever someone says that you need to “create quality content,” what they are actually saying is “hey, I don’t have any real piece of advice for you, so let me just say that you should create quality content.”

Finally, there’s also a lot of messed up advice and products circulating around the web. Things like:

  • tips on how to create simple PDF products (which are crap 90% of the time and provide no value whatsoever),
  • advice on how to get rich with simple affiliate promotions,
  • tools that promise great rankings in Google when in fact all they do is spam,
  • or even educational products that promise to teach you how to build a profitable business overnight.

None of the above is for normal people!

The goal

So, the goal I’m trying to achieve here at newInternetOrder.com is to take all this online entrepreneurship down to the basics and provide some actual advice for normal people. Again, normal people; not spammers, not felons, not big brands with massive budgets, not people with 48 hours a day of free time.

That’s why I’ve been publishing all those resource/hub pages lately and that’s also why I’ve created this getting started page. Here it is finally:

Get Started Here

Even if you’ve been a reader here for a while now, I still encourage you to check it out. It’s not a long read anyway.

Since I’m at it, feel free to comment and point out some quality online business sites where you’re getting your online business education from. I’d be happy to pay them a visit too.


Oh, You Again … Here’s Where to Get Started | newInternetOrder.com

This site is for a company in New Hampshire which trains clients for fitness and competition.

The site is powered by WordPress, which enables the owners to edit content, and the WooCommerce engine, which takes orders online. It uses a highly customised version of the AutofocusPro theme to showcase post images, and features a front-page slider to highlight competitors trained by the company.

The design is by Urban Legend web.

CliqueFirst things first, are you on any “guru” marketers’ email lists?

Sure you are.

Everybody is.

You signed up maybe just to check out what they are doing and what methods they are using to bring new customers and maybe to even buy some stuff from them.

I actually have a completely separate email address just for receiving this sort of “quality newsletters” (they are nowhere near being quality, by the way), purely because there’s just so much stuff out there that giving them my primary email address would ruin me in days.

Anyway, there are times when I’m amazed at how certain marketing and selling methods get repeated over and over again, with yet another product launch. I mean, does this stuff still work?

So today I just want to take a page from the internet marketer’s playbook and list the main elements of a proper guru product sell.

(By the way, don’t do this! The following information is for entertainment purposes only.)

1. Information products only!

Come on, this is just basic. Who would want to waste their time on creating anything of actual value and any tangible presence. PDF products are all you need. Inception!

2. Quote an exact amount of money

For instance, if you’re selling a new “make money” product, make sure to quote an exact sum of money that you’ve made using the techniques you’re teaching inside the product. Say something like:

“Find out how I made $13,567.23 in just two days by using these underground techniques.”

The idea is that for some reason, people are supposedly more likely to believe a marketing message if it quotes a specific amount. In practice, it just looks ridiculous.

3. Use a lot of hype words

Words like “underground” as in “underground techniques.”

Or “push-button” as in “push-button solution.”

Or “blueprint” as in “your business launch blueprint.”

Or “under the radar” as in “stay under the radar of your competitors.”

The rule of thumb is: The more the better.

4. Stupid name for modules

If your guru product has some modules as part of it, which it does, then don’t forget to give these modules some really corny names, like “Traffic Avalanche” or “Product Launch Conspiracy.”

I guess the main idea is that stupid things get noticed and stick.

5. Say gurus are bad but you are cool

This is something you absolutely must do because if you don’t, your prospective customers might get the impression that you are one of the bad guys.

By addressing this, you’re breaking down their guard and getting some instant credibility.

Of course, at the same time, do exactly the same thing every guru would do – promote your stuff with false promises and a lot of hype. Distraction!

6. Make the sales video hours long

This is becoming a rule in the online business world by now…but only for crappy products. For instance, when Apple wants to sell us their new iPhone, all they say is “Here’s the new iPhone, go buy it!” And they really need nothing else because we can already imagine that the product will be awesome.

When some internet marketing guru sells a product, they need at least 30 minutes of video to convince us that the product maybe kind of isn’t crap. You tell me, is this a healthy situation?

Oh, and by the way, say that you’re going to take the video down soon … and then totally never actually take it down.

7. Promise a guarantee where people can keep the product

Why? Because your product is crap anyway so why shouldn’t anyone be able to keep it even if they ask for a refund?

Let me use my Apple example again. Can you imagine asking for a refund after buying a new iPhone and being allowed to keep the device anyway? Hell no! Simply because the device has some actual value.

8. Portray your product as being life-changing

If it’s a “make money” product then just say something like:

“Can you imagine just $2000 of additional income? This doesn’t seem like much but it can actually get your car payment and your rent handled. Imagine how great it would feel to never have to worry about your bills again.”

Remember, you’re selling a new lifestyle not just a crappy information product PDF.

9. Say that the price is low

This is quite amazing. Every time I watch a sales video, the guy says that the price he asks for his product is low. No matter what it actually is.

If it’s $100, he will compare it to the amount of money you spend on beer every month. If it’s $500, he will compare it to more traditional solutions to a given problem. If it’s $5000, he will say that the price is really nothing because of the new lifestyle you’re getting.

The rule of thumb: Put any price tag you want on your product and then say that it’s cheap anyway.

{BACK TO REALITY MARKER}

Okay, it’s time to get back to the real world. The above 9 practices are actually more common than you’d think is reasonable. Hundreds and hundreds of new marketers use these every day. Really, everyone who’s new to internet marketing gets an immediate impression that this is the way to do business.

So please, don’t jump on the bandwagon too. You’re better than this.

By the way, any idea for something else that could go as the #10 on this list?


Want to Join the Guru Clique? Here’s How to Sell a Product in 9 Steps | newInternetOrder.com

Github logoOur WordPress SEO plugin has been getting more and more downloads, bringing it to the top of the most downloaded plugin chart on WordPress.org fairly regularly. With that comes more interest from other developers as well, which is something we absolutely love, but is kind of impossible to manage properly on WordPress.org. Which is why we’ve now decided to fully move to Github.

New developer

Recently there were some unfortunate events in the US which caused BlueGlass, a company lots of my friends worked at, to go bust. As with all negatives, there was a good thing that came out of this, as I was able to hire Linh Pham, one of their incredible developers. He’s now come on board full time as a remote worker to fix bugs and develop new functionality across all our free and premium plugins. You’ll probably see him on github if you decide to become active there.

Roadmap

I have many, many ideas for WordPress SEO. I’m slowly speccing these ideas as Issues in github, where you will currently find an 1.6 milestone and a 2.0 milestone. WordPress SEO 1.6 will contain a lot of bugfixes and some smaller enhancements, combined with one bigger new feature: a wpseo_sitemap shortcode that generates an HTML sitemap.

The 2.0 branch already contains a first stab at Google Webmaster Tools integration, allowing for:

  • Easy website verification.
  • Verified submission of the XML index sitemap.
  • Retrieval of crawl errors.

I’m very excited about the potential of that new feature.

Internationalization

This is probably a good time to remind you that if you want to become active in the internationalization of the WordPress SEO plugin, we have a fully functioning GlotPress install on translate.yoast.com. You can register here if you want to help translate. The internationalization for all our plugins, both free and premium is managed by the awesome Remkus de Vries. We currently have 382 registered translators, of which more than half have actually been active in translating, but we can always use more active translators.

As a thank you, for our premium plugins you can get a free single license of a plugin if you translate the plugin into a new language.

Patches welcome!

I have taken the freedom to look at how the Easy Digital Downloads github community is set up and basically copied, pasted and modified some of what they did, resulting in most notably our new contribution guide. But what I really want to say is, we really welcome your pull requests!

I’m very excited about this change and hope it means more people will dive in and help us improve what’s already the most advanced WordPress SEO plugin available today!

WordPress SEO Community & Roadmap is a post by on Yoast - The Art & Science of Website Optimization. A good WordPress blog needs good hosting, you don't want your blog to be slow, or, even worse, down, do you? Check out my thoughts on WordPress hosting!

WordPress 3.6 Beta 3 is now available!

This is software still in development and we really don’t recommend that you run it on a production site — set up a test site just to play with the new version. To test WordPress 3.6, try the WordPress Beta Tester plugin (you’ll want “bleeding edge nightlies”). Or you can download the beta here (zip).

Beta 3 contains about a hundred changes, including improvements to the image Post Format flow (yay, drag-and-drop image upload!), a more polished revision comparison screen, and a more quote-like quote format for Twenty Thirteen.

As a bonus, we now have oEmbed support for the popular music-streaming services Rdio and Spotify (the latter of which kindly created an oEmbed endpoint a mere 24 hours after we lamented their lack of one). Here’s an album that’s been getting a lot of play as I’ve been working on WordPress 3.6:

Plugin developers, theme developers, and WordPress hosts should be testing beta 3 extensively. The more you test the beta, the more stable our release candidates and our final release will be.

As always, if you think you’ve found a bug, you can post to the Alpha/Beta area in the support forums. Or, if you’re comfortable writing a reproducible bug report, file one on the WordPress Trac. There, you can also find a list of known bugs and everything we’ve fixed so far.

We’re looking forward to your feedback. If you find a bug, please report it, and if you’re a developer, try to help us fix it. We’ve already had more than 150 contributors to version 3.6 — it’s not too late to join in!

A while ago, I received an email from a man by the name of Aldo Baker. He was promoting an infographic titled “The Modern Marketer: Part Artist, Part Scientist” and asking me whether I’d be willing to share it with you through my site.

Although 99% of such email gets an automatic “no” or, more often, no answer at all, this one got me thinking. Is online business art or science? Or maybe, a little bit of both?

First of all, let me give credit where credit’s due; here’s the infographic that Aldo wanted me to share (so mission accomplished, Aldo):

artist-scientist

Now let’s answer the main three questions:

  • Are you an artist? Or
  • Are you a scientist?
  • And finally: Which is best?

The concept of twofold nature

Actually, this concept of twofold nature is commonly known in the business world; mostly when we’re dealing with partnerships where two co-founders build a company together.

I think that this happens naturally rather than as a deliberate arrangement. But as it turns out, many partnerships consists of two completely different personas: the creator and the person that gets shit done (or at least tries to get it done).

The creator is the creative mind (duh) of the business. They have a lot of ideas, a lot of new projects on their mind, a lot of new ways to expand the business and so on.

The executor is the person who takes it upon themselves to turn ideas into an actual reality. They are the ones with some kind of methodology, with a productivity system, with tactics and so on.

Such partnerships are often much more effective than one-person businesses. The interesting thing is that venture capitalists seem to have understood this a long time ago. Quite frankly, if you’re looking for some funds, you are more likely to get it if you have a co-founder. As it turns out, it’s a lot easier to succeed if you have two sides of the spectrum of personas covered – the creator and the executor, or in other words, the artist and the scientist.

So, which are you? You must be able to determine your persona especially if you’re running a business on your own.

Are you an artist?

Before I can attempt to tell you which persona is best, let’s list some symptoms of each “condition.” Therefore, you might be an artist if you:

  • focus on what to do,
  • like to list the opportunities,
  • tend to brainstorm hundreds of ideas all at the same time,
  • like to get into every new project on the horizon,
  • like to get into every new promotional method,
  • like to join every new social media site,
  • prefer to act on impulse,
  • like creating new content,
  • enjoy reaching out to new contacts,
  • feel a bit unorganized at some times,
  • prefer to work at different times of the day when you’re in the zone,
  • get a lot of inspiration from regular everyday activities,
  • like to consume content (posts, advice, books, etc.),
  • buy things because you like them.

There’s probably a million more traits like these, but I guess we can stop here and switch to the other persona.

Are you a scientist?

You might be a scientist if you:

  • focus on how to do things,
  • like to execute on one opportunity at a time,
  • tend to break down individual ideas in detail,
  • like to finish projects you’re already a part of before getting into new ones,
  • like to test and examine the promotional methods you have,
  • like to master social media sites one by one,
  • prefer to act based on data,
  • like measuring the efficiency of content,
  • enjoy growing existing relationships,
  • feel too organized at some times,
  • prefer to work on a fixed schedule even if running your own business,
  • get a lot of inspiration from how others do they work (mentors, peer, etc.),
  • like to consume only the content you need for a specific purpose,
  • buy things because you need them.

Do you see the pattern? Even though the artist is not as obvious as sitting in front of a blank canvas and painting some flowers, and the scientist is not the one with the calculator, a clear picture starts to present itself.

To put it simply, artists in business like to think that they can only succeed if they try a thousand of different things and then see what works. Scientists like to get into just a handful of things and perfect them until they bring success.

So, I’m sure that by now you can choose sides…

Which one is it?

For me, I’m the scientist.

Which is best?

I’m really REALLY sorry for giving you this sort of answer because I know that a kitten dies whenever someone says this, but IT DEPENDS.

You see, the kicker is that if you’re 100% scientist or 100% artist, you are doomed to fail.

An artist without at least part scientist will never execute plans as effective as possible. In most cases, they will find themselves jumping from one idea to another until the end of time.

On the other hand, a scientist without at least part artist, will always miss new opportunities and will not be able to move on or kill a project when a better one presents itself.

So what to do, then? Be a Jack of all trades?

The answer is simple (yet not easy). Here goes:

  1. Identify your persona.
  2. Start researching the other persona.
  3. Spend at least 25% of your time doing the things the other persona would do.

For example, since I’m the scientist, I know that I have to review the list of activities for the artist and focus at least 25% of my work time doing things the artist would do.

Now, I have to be honest with you … this is a theoretical concept, but it seems to be an accurate one considering the fact how business partnerships work and how every investor is more likely to work with partnerships rather than solo-preneurs. Also, every business preacher says that business is both art and science, so it kind of makes sense that you should learn how to be both if you want to succeed.

That being said, there’s also the short path – find yourself a counter-persona and make them your business partner (probably a good topic for a separate post).

Anyway, what’s your opinion on this? And most importantly, are you the artist or the scientist?


Online Business Battle: Artists vs. Scientists | newInternetOrder.com

And we’re back to SEO again… sorry about this. But it just so happens that I’ve been browsing some of the guest posts I had the privilege to publish in the recent months and I’ve decided to share three of them with you. As you’d have guessed it, they are about SEO. To be more particular, it’s about how easy it is to screw up your site.

I’m sure you can see why this is highly relevant to running an online business. Quite frankly, if you mess up your reputation with Google, then you have very limited possibilities when it comes to promotion on the web. I mean, there’s still paid advertising, social media and direct visits from guest posts, but for most businesses, the loss of Google rankings still equals a huge knockout blow.

seo-posts

To be honest, I have to admit that I was kind of getting the whole SEO game wrong. I mean, I knew the easy part, which is that rankings = traffic. But as it turns out, this is a big BIG simplification.

Mainly, rankings are not the important part in SEO. And as counterintuitive as this sounds, it is true. To find out what I’m on about I’m inviting you to the first post on the list:

Rankings Are Not Important In SEO! Then What Is?

I believe that the above is a crucial thing to understand if we want to protect ourselves from making some silly mistakes and ultimately, killing our reputation with Google.

Just think about it, if you don’t know what exactly you’re aiming at with SEO, then Google will likely get a grasp of your uncertainty very quickly and then penalize you for it. Well, that’s the short version of the story.

Next, we have a range of issues that can present themselves when you already have a plan, but you’re starting to overkill on the execution, so to speak.

As it turns out, it’s very easy to over-optimize a site. I, for example, have done it repeatedly in the past year or so. All it takes is just this one new SEO automation plugin, this one new nofollow link here, this one new site-wide link there and before you know it, you’re screwed. Sorry, that’s just the way it is.

Here are two posts of mine that explain some of the common problems in detail. The first, WordPress-specific one:

WordPress SEO Guide: Things to be Careful With

And the second one:

5 SEO Mistakes That Will Kill Your Website

Of course, to really have your finger on the pulse, I highly encourage you to subscribe to some popular SEO blogs to get the most updated top-of-the-line advice available; blogs like SEOmoz.

Not every entrepreneur enjoys this fact, but a big part of growing an online business has a direct connection to SEO. And although you can outsource SEO tasks completely, I don’t think you should. Essentially, SEO is your most powerful method of promotion and often the thing that defines your online being. Having at least some control over it gives you the ability to take action in case something unpredictable happens, hence, the importance of education and learning the basics of SEO at the least.

Anyway, what do you think? Do you take an active part in your online business’ SEO?


Dangerous SEO – How Not To Fall Victim | newInternetOrder.com

WordPress 3.6 Beta 2 is now available!

This is software still in development and we really don’t recommend that you run it on a production site — set up a test site just to play with the new version. To test WordPress 3.6, try the WordPress Beta Tester plugin (you’ll want “bleeding edge nightlies”). Or you can download the beta here (zip).

The longer-than-usual delay between beta 1 and beta 2 was due to poor user testing results with the Post Formats UI. Beta 2 contains a modified approach for format choosing and switching, which has done well in user testing. We’ve also made the Post Formats UI hide-able via Screen Options, and set a reasonable default based on what your theme supports.

There were a lot of bug fixes and polishing tweaks done for beta 2 as well, so definitely check it out if you had an issues with beta 1.

Plugin developers, theme developers, and WordPress hosts should be testing beta 2 extensively. The more you test the beta, the more stable our release candidates and our final release will be.

As always, if you think you’ve found a bug, you can post to the Alpha/Beta area in the support forums. Or, if you’re comfortable writing a reproducible bug report, file one on the WordPress Trac. There, you can also find a list of known bugs and everything we’ve fixed so far.

We’re looking forward to your feedback. If you find a bug, please report it, and if you’re a developer, try to help us fix it. We’ve already had more than 150 contributors to version 3.6 — it’s not too late to join in!

EssentialsHonestly, if I were to start all over again with online business, apart from the fact that I would be seriously scared due to all the things I’d have to get familiar with in a short span of time, I’d also need a clear and understandable starting point.

And when I’m talking about starting an online business journey, I don’t simply mean launching yet another business. What I actually mean is building everything from the ground up, including your knowledge, expertise, learning the essential skills, getting familiar with the tools, having the right mindset, creating a business launch blueprint and so on. In a word, lots of things to do.

You may have noticed that I’m releasing quite a bit of new resource/hub pages here as of late, and this post follows the trend announcing yet another similar page (it’s not the last one, by the way).

I’m talking about this:

Things you can find inside:

  1. Launching your first online business step by step.
  2. What the most common online business models are.
  3. Where to get some essential tools.
  4. How to build the essential knowledge and skills.
  5. How to start building your mindset (probably the most important thing).

With that being said, this hub page is the shortest one to date. This is purely intentional as I really wanted to focus only on the essential stuff and no by-the-way content, so to speak.

I guess that’s enough advertising for the page. I hope you’ll enjoy it and that it’ll help you get started with your online entrepreneurship adventure. If you have any questions, feel free to ask them here.


If You Were Interested in The Essentials of Online Business, Where Should You Go? | newInternetOrder.com