I’m pretty sure this is the first time that I’ve ever come out and advocated any sort of add-on, theme or plugin for WordPress that actually costs money. But get ready folks because here comes a game changer!
I heard about a WordPress plugin called Pretty Link Pro from Mitch over at Planet5D (the awesome Canon 5D camera site) and was intrigued enough to check it out. The plugin promised to do a few things that I could hardly believe:
- Create YOUR OWN Short Links from Long URLs
- Measure the effectiveness of Pay-Per-Click campaigns
- Track social media campaigns
After reading through the user manual, and also seeing that Blair Williams (the plugin author) offered a 30 day money back guarantee, I decided I had absolutely nothing to lose and paid for the plugin on the spot. I’ve just spent the last 12 hours installing, tweaking, testing and using the plugin and I am absolutely in love. I 100% recommend that every WordPress user get this plugin now! And I’ll tell you why…
It Will Change Your Life
Damn. That is a bold statement. But it doesn’t make it any less true. Let me tell you a few ways I’ve already thought about this thing changing my world:
- First of all, I won’t be using Bit.ly any more! When you use a URL shortener to redirect users to your blog post you are creating links to THEIR domain, not your own! This is BAD! Google gives you higher PageRank and sends you more traffic based on inbound links to your site, so having any other domain sitting in the middle merely siphons off some of your Google Juice. It also genericizes your brand.
- It’s not just my own articles that I’ll shorten now. Whatever I link to on Twitter or Facebook is going to have one of my own Pretty Links in it. That is going to allow me to actually count how many people are following my links! This is fantastic for getting feedback and improving since I currently have no idea if the things I’m sharing are interesting, suck, or whatever. Also there is a great little Bookmarklet that automates this now!
- Any time I want to put a banner ad or some sort of promotion on my site I’ll be using a custom Pretty Link. Although I can also track the outbound links on my blog with Woopra, it will be interesting to see the reports in my WordPress control panel. I can’t wait to see how these two go together (Woopra + PrettyLinks). So far in testing the links appear 100% normal in Woopra. Can’t even tell there was a Pretty Link in between.
- I’m going to let WordPress + PLP start Tweeting my blog posts rather than doing it manually. I’ve tried some other plugins in the past for this, but didn’t like them. Plus, they didn’t post my own personal short URL! :-)
- I’ll use my own short URLs for things in the offline world as well. For example if I give a lecture and need to hand out a URL, I’ll give them a PrettyLink. I mean, why not? Then I can see how many people acted on the information.
- Over on our WealthNation.FM podcast site where we have episodes, we’ll create PrettyLinks with the episode number in them for quick reference like: WealthNation.FM/8 to correspond to episode 8.
How to Use It
Installation is simple. It’s a plugin like any other for WordPress. But rather than trying to tell you how to do it, Blair has created a great little video to show you how to do it.
If that’s not enough detail, he’s got three more videos covering all of the options here.
Even though I’m in love with this plugin, it does currently have some shortcomings. Absolutely none of them are bad enough to prevent you from getting the plugin right now. But they are all things that make me look forward to future releases of the plugin that Blair is working on right now.
And by the way, Blair and I have been communicating about these issues and others. He is very responsive which makes me feel good about recommending this plugin as well.
- The initial license language you are asked to agree to is very scary. It talks about how the service could be discontinued without notice and all sorts of other stuff I would normally never agree to. But the “service” really only refers to updates. So, No matter what happens, once you’ve got the code installed you should be ok.
- When PLP adds a Twitter Badge to your post, it is counting only the links using your new PrettyLink (your own short URL). So, if there are any old links out there from Bit.ly or other places, those numbers aren’t currently reflected in the count. Blair is going to look into somehow grabbing that count and adding it. This issue is only cosmetic, and I’d remind everyone that it’s far more valuable to have incoming links to your own domain than to see a large number of counts to some other domain!
- Automatic Tweeting of your blog posts does not yet allow you to format the actual Tweet. He’s working on that too, but for now you could let it do it’s own thing, or just don’t use this feature until the customization rolls out in a future release.
- Although the automation does currently create new links for all new blog posts, it’s not working for me on my 1,500+ old posts. I might be forced to manually update them, though I think there is going to be a workaround for this. It’s not by any means a deal killer, but the difference between automating the old posts and not is substantial in terms of manpower.
- There are currently a few little issues with auto link generation and management of an extensive list of links that need to be improved. But again, not currently a deal killer, and he’s working on it.
So, when I evaluate the drawbacks of using the plugin as compared to the drawbacks of being forced to use someone else’s link shortening service, there is absolutely no question that I’d rather have this product installed and functioning TODAY… like this minute… than go another moment of giving away my valuable links.
What’s It Cost?
I’ll tell you. Hold on to your seat. It’s going to run you $97! Oh, and that is only until September 1, when the price increases by $50 to $147. So you need to seriously go and get it NOW!
But let me share a couple of things that you get for your money:
- You can use it on all your WordPress blogs. Yep. You pay once, but defray the cost over all of your blogs. Now, that doesn’t mean that if you are a developer you can use it on CLIENT blogs. You need to get them to buy their own license.
- Updates for life. Blair is offering the plugin right now with a perpetual upgrade license essentially. Who knows if he’s going to do this forever. I wouldn’t. But that is just another reason to get it NOW!
And if that’s not enough for one of the most unique site enhancements that I’ve ever seen… read on.
The Affiliate Program!
The interesting thing is that this plugin is great on it’s own, meaning that I would have shared this information for free and without any sort of remuneration. But Blair has also set up an affiliate program for all Pro subscribers and if you refer anyone he’s going to give you a kickback on the back side. Which I think is fantastic!
Developers! You getting this? You refer your clients to use the plugin, everyone wins.
So keep in mind that whatever you pay for this plugin, it’ll cost you even less if you refer a few folks. You might even make a little coin off of doing so. And when you can do that while helping to change the world, well that is just bonus! Oh, and if you go in and manually edit the “pretty-bar.php” file you can change the Powered by PrettyLink to be your own affiliate link. Have fun with that!