Why Add an Affiliate Disclosure?

Adding Affiliate Disclosures to WordPress: A Complete Guide

As a webmaster with over 15 years of experience in WordPress and digital marketing, proper disclosure of affiliate relationships is a topic I feel passionately about. Transparency builds reader trust, protects your reputation, and keeps you compliant with laws like the FTC‘s endorsement guidelines.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explain why affiliate disclosures matter and share multiple foolproof methods to add them automatically in WordPress.

Affiliate marketing is a common monetization method that involves earning a commission when someone clicks on your referral link and makes a purchase. For example, you may join the Amazon Associates program and add affiliate links to products you recommend on your site. If a reader clicks and buys that item, you receive a percentage of the sale price as compensation.

This arrangement must be clearly disclosed to avoid misleading readers under FTC regulations. Their endorsement guides specifically state that connections between an endorser (you) and a seller should be "clearly and conspicuously" revealed to avoid deceptive behavior. Failing to disclose affiliate relationships violates FTC truth in advertising laws and could lead to punitive actions.

In fact, the FTC has fined companies like Machinima (for undisclosed YouTube influencer marketing) and Devumi (for selling fake Twitter followers) millions of dollars for deception around endorsements and recommendations. You don‘t want to end up in their shoes!

Aside from legal obligations, prominently disclosing affiliate links also builds reader trust and protects your reputation. Visitors appreciate transparency and knowing you aren’t pretending to give objective buying advice while secretly making money from referrals. Being upfront about financial relationships helps establish your credibility as an impartial source readers can rely on.

Conversely, if you don‘t reveal an affiliate arrangement, some readers may feel tricked or deceived when they eventually realize you benefit from purchases. They may stop visiting your site, complain publicly, or even report you to merchant affiliate programs potentially resulting in termination. Avoid problems by being completely transparent through an affiliate disclosure statement on any page containing your referral links.

Ideally, your disclosure statement should be visible on every page of your site containing affiliate links. That ensures readers see the disclosure regardless of which product review or recommendation page they land on via search engines.

Manually copying and pasting a disclosure paragraph into each post and page would be incredibly tedious. Fortunately, WordPress makes it easy to add affiliate disclaimers automatically in several ways.

Method 1: Use a Plugin Like Pretty Links

One of the simplest options is using an affiliate link management plugin like Pretty Links that can automatically insert disclosures anytime it detects you adding an affiliate link.

After installing Pretty Links, go to Pretty Links > Options > Replacements. Enable the "Link to Disclosures" option and enter the URL of your disclosure page in the field provided.

Now whenever Pretty Links adds an affiliate link to your content, it will automatically append a link to your disclosure statement at the bottom of the post. You can customize the text and position if needed.

This saves you from manually adding a disclosure every time you reference an affiliate product. Pretty Links handles it automatically in the background.

Method 2: Create a Shortcode

Rather than placing your disclosure statement in the exact same location on every post, you may want to insert it contextually after mentioning a specific affiliate product or service. This helps remind the reader of your financial connection each time you recommend something new.

In cases like this, I suggest creating a WordPress shortcode to add the disclosure text wherever you need it. Using a snippet manager plugin like WPCode, define a shortcode like [disclaimer] that outputs your full disclosure paragraph when used.

For example:

The Anker Soundcore speaker [disclaimer] is an excellent Bluetooth model with rich bass in its price range.

Wherever you place the shortcode, your disclosure statement will appear. This gives you full control over positioning it after referencing any affiliate product or service organically in your content.

Method 3: Add to Your Theme‘s Templates

If you use a modern block-based WordPress theme, you can add a disclosure block directly to post templates in the theme editor.

Just create a new paragraph block containing your disclosure text and position it where desired, like above the main post content. Save the template and the disclosure will now be inserted automatically at the start of all post pages.

While not as flexible as shortcodes, this “set it and forget it” approach requires zero editing once configured. Use it when you want the exact same generic affiliate disclaimer on every blog post and product review.

Extra Tips for Effective Affiliate Disclosures

Here are some additional tips from my experience to ensure your disclosures are conspicuous, compliant and complete:

  • Keep disclosure statements brief but unambiguous. Clearly state you earn commissions from purchases made through links without extra “fluff” diluting the message.

  • Use a slightly larger font size or different color to make the disclosure text stand out. This naturally draws reader attention.

  • Place disclosures prominently near the top of posts when possible rather than burying them at the very bottom where they’re more likely to be missed.

  • If linking to a separate in-depth disclosure page, provide an obvious call-to-action like "Read our full affiliate disclosure here" so the link text adequately describes its destination.

  • Remember to re-disclose affiliate relationships again on product reviews, comparison articles, and deal recommendation pages – not just general blog posts.

  • For image links, add a caption below the image plainly identifying it as an affiliate-linked image to avoid confusion.

As you can see, proactively disclosing affiliate marketing relationships in an obvious way is crucial for legal compliance and reader trust. While no single method is necessarily better than others, the techniques shared above make it easy to implement automated affiliate disclosures on your WordPress site. Just choose the one(s) that best fit your needs and writing style.

And remember: when in doubt, disclose! As an authority site, full transparency with your readers should always be the top priority.

Written by Jason Striegel

C/C++, Java, Python, Linux developer for 18 years, A-Tech enthusiast love to share some useful tech hacks.