In the very nearly thirteen years I’ve been running this site, I’ve always included links to products on the Amazon UK site. In the very early days, when I was using Moveable Type, I used a plugin to insert things, and after moving to WordPress, I tried a few plugins, but none were really what I needed.
Amazon made it relatively easy to add links from their site, especially when they added the useful toolbar to their site when you’re logged in with an Amazon Associates account. For a while, I used their iframe thingies, but found that these were being eaten by AdBlock, so I reverted to the simpler “insert an image” version. This looked pretty good, but had the drawback of not actually drawing attention to the fact that these were, in fact, convenient links allowing visitors to buy things. They also had the drawback of needing to insert a mind-boggling mess of code into my posts. Something like this:
<a href="http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00550NYDU/ref=as_li_ss_il?ie=UTF8&camp=1634& creative=19450&creativeASIN=B00550NYDU&linkCode=as2&tag=lesbessant"> <img class="alignleft" style="border: 0px;" src="http://ws.assoc-amazon.co.uk/widgets/q?_encoding=UTF8& ASIN=B00550NYDU&Format=_SL160_&ID=AsinImage&MarketPlace=GB&ServiceVersion=20070822& WS=1&tag=lesbessant" alt="" width="105" height="160" border="0" /></a> <img style="border: none !important; margin: 0px !important;" src="http://www.assoc-amazon.co.uk/e/ir?t=lesbessant& l=as2&o=2&a=B00550NYDU" alt="" width="1" height="1" border="0" />
Another issue was that the older links were being served up as HTTP rather than HTTPS, meaning that after I secured the site, loads of pages were showing without that nice little padlock thingy.
So, I was quite happy to see Amazon’s official WordPress plugin when it was released a while ago. This adds a search box into the post editing page which lets you find the item you want to link to, then insert a shortcode, which is nicely legible, rather than a mess of HTML that had to be pasted into the Text editor.
There are a variety of links available, such as single product links, grids and a scrolling carousel style. Not only that, but you can create copies of the standard templates with your own adjustments. And to make it more friendly, you can set one of your personal templates as the default – I’ve done this so that if I don’t pick something else, my slightly tweaked version of the single product link will be used.
Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve had the fun job of going back through all the old posts with Amazon links and inserting new ones. Well, apart from those linking to products that don’t exist any more – I’ve removed those links.
There is a slight drawback – to use the plugin, you have to obtain an API key from Amazon. This is a process that is perhaps only mildly complicated for the software developers who are the usual users of such things, but a bit nasty for average users. It’s also important not to lose your secret key (though if you do, you can get another API key reasonably easily).
Good stuff, makes things easier.
 And earn me a few pennies in commission