Josh Spaulding recently had a pretty good guest post on his blog covering the uses of web redirection, especially in regard to affiliate marketing. The one thing that post lacked was a good practical explanation of how to implement that functionality in a WordPress blog. I was kind of surprised since WordPress is so ubiquitous in the internet marketing world and I know Josh uses it to power his own blog. Luckily it just so happens that I know a little bit about this topic and can fill in some additional gaps.
Basic WordPress Redirection Plugins
There are several WordPress plugins that will do the job and eliminate the need to set up hand coded php redirect files. While there are commercial plugins out there that cost $50-$70 to incorporate this functionality into WordPress, rest assured that you can save your money and still get excellent results.
The simplest plugin out there is called GoCodes and it allows you to create redirect links from your blog in the form http://blog.com/go/yourlink. GoCodes works fine, but requires a modification to your .htaccess file and is not very flexible.
Link-Cloaking plugin for WordPress is similar to GoCodes, but offers a few more features and the ability to substitute a different word like “recommends”. Using recommends to preface a redirect is pretty common practice among internet marketing bloggers and yields urls like: http://blog.com/recommends/someproduct. This plugin is also dependent on Apache and a customized .htaccess file to work properly.
The Hot New Redirect Plugin
While the above two plugins make creating static redirects easy, there’s a relatively new plugin currently in development called the WP-Affiliate plugin that it is even more powerful. It requires WordPress 2.5 or later, but it allows for multiple categories of links and provides simple link tracking as well. Since I’m running this blog on an nginx server rather than apache, I was especially impressed that it worked fine with my existing configuration and didn’t depend on a custom .htaccess file (nginx doesn’t use them) to function properly.
Initially, I was confused as to where you create the new links and categories, but it turns out that the plugin incorporates the link creation functionality directly into the post writing interface. This is incredibly handy since you can quickly create URL redirects while working on a single post.
The built in link tracking statistics information was pretty thorough as well.
While there are a variety of free plugins that can make web redirection in WordPress pretty simple, if you’re running WordPress 2.5 or later, the WP-Affiliate plugin is definitely the way to go in terms of power and functionality. Furthermore as powerful as the plugin is right now, it’s still being developed and things like built in Clickbank support are being incorporated. I fully expect this plugin to make a big splash in the WordPress IM world in the coming months and become the free defacto standard.