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Is Windows XP Service Pack 2 (SP2) killing your affiliate sales?

Have you noticed a drop in affiliate sales since Microsoft's Windows XP Service Pack 2 (SP2) was released? I have and I didn't really know why until my wife, kids, and friends started asking me why their computer wasn't working right.

While using Internet Explorer my son said, "Dad, nothing happens when I click on this link." I scratched my head for a minute and thought, "he isn't doing anything different, the only thing I recently installed was XP SP2"; then the light went off ... one of SP2's features is the incorporation of a pop-up blocker. After installing SP2, links that normally opened in a new window now don't open at all. The immediate way around it is to hold down the control key (Ctrl) then click the link or right click the link and select "Open in New Window". To permanently turn off IE's pop-up blocker, click Tools > Pop-up Blocker > Turn Off Pop-up Blocker.

So how does all this relate to lost affiliate sales?

If you have your affiliate links set to open in a new browser window, they are considered "pop-ups" by the post-SP2 Internet Explorer and many other pop-up stopping programs. The average Internet surfer with pop-up blocking software or SP2 installed will simply go to another site because they think the link does not work. If they do not see your affiliate product/page, they will obviously not buy what you are selling. Since the pop-up blocking feature is more-or-less automatic with SP2, you potentially lose a customer when they upgrade their copy of Internet Explorer.

Why would anyone set their affiliate links to open in a new window?

I have heard both positive and negative reasons to open links in new windows. The main reason to do it is to avoid losing customers by sending them away from your page with no way to get back. That is what I used to do until today.

How can I tell which links open in a new window (generate a pop-up)?

A lesson in Html is beyond the scope of this article but, in general, if you do not have any tags after the URL in the HREF tag, you are not generating pop-ups. If you have a target="_blank" after the URL, it will open in a new window and is considered a pop-up.

What is an easy way to fix my links?

If you only have a few pages to fix, just edit them by hand. Pages with many pop-up links can be easily edited in Notepad or other software with a search and replace option. Simply replace target="_blank" with target="_top" (or target="_self", target="_parent" if you are using frames). If you have a lot of files to change, try ReplaceEm (http://www.orbit.org/replace/ ), a freeware program that replaces text strings in multiple files and directories.

The bottom line:

It may just be a coincidence but this morning I changed the majority of my links so they do not open in a new window and saw my affiliate commissions as well as overall site traffic jump within hours!

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About the Author

Mike Snyder is the owner of MrGoodbeer.com
For more information about Mike visit http://www.mrgoodbeer.com/aboutus.shtml

Mike Snyder