Link Rot In Commerce Content: How Fresh Are Your Affiliate Links?

How fresh are your affiliate links or product links? Discover how to overcome link rot in commerce content as a publisher.

A purple and pink gradient with intersecting lines.

Publishers: are affiliate links a key part of your affiliate marketing strategy?

You know how important it is to embed the right links into your commerce content. But what are you doing to make sure these product and affiliate links stay up-to-date?

The reality is that your team are investing hours into winning brand partnerships, developing creative campaign ideas, and producing original content. If a product is discontinued or affiliate tracking changes are made, your links will break and can no longer earn revenue.

Link rot is a major headache for both publishers and advertisers. Broken links mean a poor customer experience, for publishers they mean hours wasted on manually fixing out-of-date links, and lost revenue for all involved.

That’s why now is the time to look beyond affiliate links alone to keep your content fresher for longer and future-proof your commerce content strategy.

Website links are vulnerable to decay. One wrong character is all it takes for your readers to receive a 404 error page.

Link rot happens when a link is broken, doesn’t work properly or takes viewers to a destination they weren’t expecting.

Recent research shows just how widespread link rot is: it’s estimated to cost the affiliate marketing industry upwards of $160 million annually.

In fact, out of the 7,000+ affiliate links analyzed in this study, over 40% contained at least one kind of link rot issue.

In affiliate marketing, link rot typically happens to deep links that direct your readers to a specific product page on an advertiser’s website.

There are a number of ways links can ‘rot’ or break in affiliate marketing:

  • An advertiser’s product is out of stock or removed from their ecommerce store
  • An advertiser changes the affiliate network they’re working with, causing existing affiliate links to switch off and stop working

If you’re a content publisher working with affiliate partners, link rot is one of your biggest enemies.

Why? Because you’re building your affiliate marketing program on embedded affiliate and product links. Deep linking to specific products, flash sales or campaign landing pages means the lifespan of your links is short.

As soon as an advertiser sells out of the product, switches off that flash sale or archives that campaign landing page, your links will break.

Unfortunately, the issue of link rot only gets worse if you’re creating commerce content with affiliate partners at scale. The more affiliate links you have, the more links your team will need to remember to manually check, edit and fix.

On both sides of affiliate marketing, publishers (like you) and advertisers face stacks of challenges when it comes to link rot:

  • Short content shelf life: your team have spent hours curating and producing click-worthy commerce content, only for link rot to render your links broken within a couple of weeks.
  • Poor customer experience: if your readers take action and click an affiliate link, arriving at a 404 error page or seeing an out-of-stock product is going to detract from their experience and potentially break their trust, too.
  • Lost revenue: broken links are lost conversion opportunities, meaning you and your advertising partners are losing potential revenue from readers who are primed and ready to purchase.

So, what’s the solution to link rot? The truth is that link rot management is time-consuming, resource intensive and takes your team away from what they do best: writing and creating content.

But there are ways to keep your content (and links) refresher for longer, with less effort too.

It’s why we built Carted Elements, enabling you to build an on-site shopping experience in minutes using our all-new, low-code tools. Our interactive product cards work in the same way as embedding Pinterest pins or Instagram posts into your content (something your writers are likely already doing).

Carted Elements’ data is never more than one hour old. Plus, you can schedule automatic reports to generate at whatever frequency works for you to track out of stock products or rotten affiliate links.

That means less time checking links manually, allowing your team to update content in a targeted way and keep your content fresher for longer. No broken links means there’s no money left on the table either.