Creating unique URLs for your outbound links has many uses, such as unifying the appearance of all your links, creating easy-to-remember links, or gathering stats on how many clicks you get on each link.
In order to do this, you’ll want to use the WordPress plugin Redirection, which allows you to create 301 redirects for any URL you want. The brilliance of it is, the URL doesn’t have to actually exist for you to be able to use it, so you can make the link look like whatever you want.
For example, you could style all of your outbound links with a prefix and then a description of where the links goes. This is a tactic that I have employed on Do it With WordPress as a way of subtly indicating that any link with that the prefix /go/ is an outbound link. To get an idea of what I mean, here are some of my affiliate links, before I created redirections for them:
Instead of using the above, “ugly” links, I have created the redirections below that are much clearer about where they go:
To do it yourself, get the Redirection plugin installed and then go to the Settings page (under the Tools menu), where you’re presented with a dialogue box for creating new redirections. When you create a new redirection, you can leave off your domain name and just include what would follow the TLD (.com, .net etc.). So for example, to create the link that redirects to my HostGator affiliate link, I entered the information as follows:
If you want to get into more advanced options, you can also set rules to redirect based on referrer (where the user came from), user agent (the browser used to view the page) or login status. You can also change what happens when the URL is used, such as diverting to a random post, or displaying an error message, but for a simple redirection.
Once you’ve created all of your URLs and started using them, you’ll start to see the hit counters rising and get some basic stats, such as the date each was last used and the IP addresses which have used them.
So, do you intend to use Redirection to unify the appearance of your outbound links? Or are you going to use it for one of its other uses?