For years I have always thought that the Weblinks component that came with Joomla was quite useless. Adding links, a description to a link and displaying it on a page for me was very 1997 and was someone a very old way of managing reference links, and for the 10 or so years that I have been using Joomla I had not ever used the Weblinks component until now!
More recently I've been getting more so into affiliate marketing and promoting other people and company products for a commission or fee and I've actually have now found Weblinks useful as an affiliate link manager. In fact, I think it might be one of the best affiliate link managers for an open source content management system that I've used in a long time.
Managing and Referencing Referral Links
One of the most important things in regards to affiliate marketing is managing all of those links that you have to third party products and services. They're long, unique and you're often using them on many pages of your website.
Take this example of an affiliate link.
This isn't a real affiliate link, but you can see that it is unique enough that you probably won't remember the URL each time you want to link to that particular link within the articles of your website. By having that link stored in the Weblinks component, you can easily call upon that link when ever you want to reference it.
Furthermore, if the link ever change for some reason, eg,
You don't have to do a find and replace through out the entire website and all the pages that have the link, instead, just update it in the one spot under the Weblinks component and it will update across the rest of the website. This is definitely the smarter way around things.
Displaying All of Your Links
The other benefit of having all of the links within the Weblinks component is that now you can display all of your links from one page or section of your website.
This is the original function of Weblinks and I know I said it was a little old fashion but on the Joomla Beat website in particular it is actually really useful. Often I make recommendations on the podcast and it is hard to remember all of those links. So instead, directing people to the resources page where they can navigate and discover the links for themselves is much easier for myself and the users. You can have a look at the resources page for yourself to see what I am talking about.
Search Engine Friendly URLs for your Affiliate Links
Another great benefit of using Weblinks is that all of your affiliate URLs get turned into search engine friendly URLs that are based off your own website domain. This has a few benefits.
- Users don't see that they are being directed to a third party website
- Users don't see your affiliate code links at first glance
- You don't loose Google Page Rank 'juice' as much as you are directing the third party link via a intermediate link on your website
- You get a search engine friendly URL version of your affiliate link
By default Joomla converts all of your Weblinks into search engine friendly URLs based off the aliases that have been setup within the Weblinks component.
Therefore the affiliate link "pbwebdev.com/affiliate/?id=fu2938qh" can be converted into something link, "resources/development-companies/pbwebdev".
This makes it so much easier to remember if you were to reference it verbally to someone or share to others.
Link Click Counters
One of the last things that is quite helpful in the component is the "hits" counter that is there for all the links. Again, this is a very 1990s feature but having it is a will give you a good indication of what links and resources are working and what people are interested overall on your website.
How Do You Link to Individual Weblinks?
This is something I've been asked a lot lately and I thought I'd explain it clearly in the blog post.
Joomla allows you to link to the top level component of weblinks, and to the categories. It doesn't let you link to one weblink in particular.
BUT, here is how I'm doing it.
I'm using the Joomla Content Editor (JCE), which I thought everyone used as a part of their essential and ultimate list of must have Joomla! extensions.
If you're using JCE, when you're creating a link, you will notice in the link browser that one of the options is weblinks. You can expand that weblinks option and behold! all of your weblinks are there ready to link to.
Simply browse, click and insert and you're done.
Go On! Give Weblinks a Go
Because of these reasons I think the Weblinks component in Joomla is an excellent affiliate links manager for anyone that is using Joomla to publish content.
From Joomla 3.4 onwards it won't be distributed with the CMS any more as a lot of components in the CMS are being decoupled to make the main distribution lighter, but it will always be available from the Joomla! Extension Directory for free and supported by the Joomla! project.
So what are you waiting for, go ahead and use Weblinks!