The 401st Blow :: Thoughts On Media

Amazon Associates Links Made Simple

Posted in Distribution, Software, Television by Noah Harlan on June 26, 2010

* If you already know about and understand Amazon Associates links, jump here and get the bookmarklet to make your life easier. *

I’m working on a website today and needed to include some product links to Amazon. When including links on my sites I tend to use Amazon Associates links so, if people buy something, I get a little thank you kick-back from Amazon. It doesn’t cost the user anything and it helps puts a few extra shekels in my pocket at the end of the month.  If you don’t have an Associates account, go get one now, they’re free and easy to use.

The only problem with Associates links is that the ones that Amazon generates for you suck. They are incredibly long and, to someone who doesn’t know html, hard to understand. First, you have to login to your associates account and then you have to go through a multi-step process to generate the html for a text link. Here’s the code for a typical Amazon-generated associates link:

<a href=””>Up Over Down Under: Special Double-Length Edition (S.A.S.S.)</a><img src=”; width=”1″ height=”1″ border=”0″ alt=”” style=”border:none !important; margin:0px !important;” />

Let’s take a look at what we have there and then I’m going to show you a way to make it very, very fast and easy.

Let’s first divide this block up into a few key elements:

<a href=”“>Up Over Down Under: Special Double-Length Edition (S.A.S.S.)</a><img src=”; width=”1″ height=”1″ border=”0″ alt=”” style=”border:none !important; margin:0px !important;” />

The first thing we have is the actual link:

This has a lot of unnecessary and redundant information in it. For example, the ASIN number (the product ID – in this example: 014241056X) appears twice. Why? I haven’t a clue. You have your associates account tag (in this example “21releas-20”) but the linkCode, camp & creative codes are all irrelevant. Lastly, you have a couple prefixes – “/gp/product”. Those are a bit redundant because “gp” stands for “General Product”. So let’s get rid of everything that we don’t need here. What we are left with is actually just this:

So now we have Amazon’s URL + “dp” (detail product instead of general product) + product ID + our associates tag. And guess what? That’s all Amazon needs. They need to know what the product is and who to credit for the sale. So what’s the rest of it?

Well the green section is the actual linked words that will appear on your page. Go ahead and change that to what you need.

Finally you have this:

<img src=”; width=”1″ height=”1″ border=”0″ alt=”” style=”border:none !important; margin:0px !important;” />

What does that do? Well, for you? Absolutely nothing… It’s a hidden tracking beacon for Amazon. It calls a tiny (1px x 1px) invisible image from Amazon every time someone comes to your page. It let’s Amazon know how many times their links are viewed rather than clicked. You don’t need it on your page. Technically it makes your page heavier and a little slower to load. Get rid of it.

So, the problem is, doing all that editing is really a pain in the ass. Fortunately I found this great site which has built a bookmarklet that you can put in your browser’s menu bar and will instantly make a link from any Amazon product page. Check it out here.


3 Responses

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  1. Dan said, on October 12, 2010 at 12:32 pm

    Thanks for the link…big help! I always thought the link they gave was super bloated…

  2. Frank said, on May 28, 2011 at 1:45 pm

    Thanks a lot for that! I couldn’t believe they don’t give you a simple explanation for building a link programmatically and instead make you use all those useless generators that give you complete iframes and you are left to reverse-engineer from that. But I guess it’s all because they want you to use their tracking stuff.

  3. Anonymous said, on October 6, 2011 at 5:28 pm

    Thanks so much! Super handy to know what’s needed and what’s not.

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