Link Rotators - Everything you need to know (2023)

In this article, we’ll discuss everything you need to know about link rotators, including what they are, when to use them and what their effect is on SEO.

Everything in this guide:

What is a link rotator?

A link rotator, sometimes called an url rotator or traffic rotator, is a link that automatically splits traffic to multiple destinations, based on chance.

When a user clicks on a link, it’s similar to a roulette wheel as to which destination they go to.

If they click on the link again, they might end up going to a different destination.

How do link rotators work?

Link rotators are normally a feature of url shorteners (usually not mainstream ones like Bit.ly, but ones built for marketers).

When you create a link rotator link, you add multiple destinations, and the amount of traffic you will want to send to each.

With a link rotator, you can specify multiple destinations for a single link, and visitors will be redirected at random.
With a link rotator, you can specify multiple destinations for a single link, and visitors will be redirected at random.

When a visitor visits the link, the link rotator’s server generates a random number, and allocates a destination, in the proportion you defined.

Why use a link rotator?

The main reason to use a link rotator is to test multiple offers or landing pages with the same marketing.

For example, you might show two different offers in equal proportion, and count which had the higher revenue:

Sticky link rotators

Sometimes, you might want to make a link rotator sticky.

This means that when the same user clicks twice on a link, they always go to the same destination.

This means the roulette wheel spins only once for the visitor, and then stays ‘stuck’.

Why use a sticky link rotator?

If you are showing different landing pages to different people (for example, if you are running an A/B test), once a user has been allocated a landing page, you don’t want to confuse them by sending them to a different landing page.

How do sticky link rotators work?

Sticky link rotators work by saving a cookie on the user’s browser that identifies them.

When a click comes through again with that cookie attached, the link rotation service knows which destination to send them to.

Free link rotators

There are a number of free link rotators available on the internet.

One is LinkSplit. It offers 2,500 clicks per month free, but you have to pay after that. You also have to pay to use your own domain.

There’s also TPMRotator. TPMRotator has less restrictions than Linksplit, but they show adverts between clicks unless you pay.

Here’s the shameless plug (you knew it was coming!). Linkly offers free link rotators with custom domains and no ads, and offers 2000 clicks per month for free.

Paid link rotators

Outbound link management software tends to have link rotators as a feature.

Perhaps the best known one is ClickMeter.

ClickMeter used to offer a free plan, but alas no more.

One of the features of ClickMeter is link rotation:

ClickMeter’s link rotator lets you split traffic to multiple destinations.
ClickMeter’s link rotator lets you split traffic to multiple destinations.

ClickMeter’s product is most suitable for people with content heavy websites who do a lot of affiliate marketing, or people doing marketing across social media channels.

AdsBridge is another:

AdsBridge is a sophisticated traffic management platform, with a focus on affiliates who are buying traffic from ad networks
AdsBridge is a sophisticated traffic management platform, with a focus on affiliates who are buying traffic from ad networks

Adsbridge is geared towards people buying paid advertising to market affiliate schemes.

Finally, Linktrackr is a great choice. Linktrackr is nice (it’s more modern than ClickMeter, and cheaper than AdsBridge).

Linktrackr’s link rotator is similar to Linkly’s:

Linktrackr’s link rotator is similar to Linkly’s. It offers sticky link rotators through its persistent cookies function.
Linktrackr’s link rotator is similar to Linkly’s. It offers sticky link rotators through its persistent cookies function.

We used Clickmeter and Linktrackr in our previous business and thought they were both fine tools.

Link Rotators and Conversion Tracking

If you’re showing different offers to different people, you’ll often want conversion tracking too.

Conversion tracking is the process of recording not just which URL a visitor went to, but what they purchased.

You can do conversion tracking just fine with Google Analytics (and I recommend you do that):

Google Analytics conversion tracking. Thanks to AdStage for the screenshot.

You might want to track it in the link rotator software too.

Conversion tracking is generally a feature only of paid products. All of the paid options listed offer conversion tracking. 

Linkly offers conversion tracking on its free plan as well, but is limited to 2000 clicks per month.

Link Rotators for A/B Testing

Combined with conversion tracking, the main purpose of link rotators is for A/B testing

While most link rotators allow you to split traffic between any number of destinations, normally you’ll just want to compare two destinations.

Link Rotators and SEO

GoogleBot is generally treated as a normal human visitor when it visits a link rotator.

This means Google will get redirected to one of the two destinations.

Most link rotators use a 301 type redirect, which is normal on the internet, and Google knows how to handle this.

Linkly has a feature to block search bots like GoogleBot:

With Linkly, you can block search bots from following your link rotators

There isn’t, however, a compelling SEO reason to do this.

If you are split testing different versions of a landing page, you may want to use a canonical tag, so Google knows which one to save in its index.

You can also exclude a page

When not to use a link rotator

Some split testing software, such as Visual Website Optimizer, can automatically show variants on the same URL.

A/B test tools like Visual Website Optimizer don’t need link rotators, as they edit the page in place.
A/B test tools like Visual Website Optimizer don’t need link rotators, as they edit the page in place.

In cases like these, you don’t need a link rotator.

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