How To Setup a Killer Amazon Associates Site

Step by step guide + free one click wordpress deploy

Lewis Parrott - January 31st 2018

I probably don’t need to tell you that building a thriving online business is not for the faint-hearted.

It takes ridiculous planning, an obscene amount of patience and an uncanny ability to break through barrier after barrier of constant self-doubt.

But if there’s one thing that’ll slow you down faster than an asthmatic snail in a relay race, it’s getting that “perfect” website setup before you can start working on actually growing your business.

Whether it’s spending hours deciding on a theme…

Countless days tweaking the design until it’s just right…

Or weeks figuring out the nuances of all the “must-have” tech….

...it’s often a process that sucks the life out of you before you even get off the starting line. Not to mention the financial cost of delayed growth.

The solution is simple.

More...

Leverage the site setup of someone who’s already fought and agonized over every microscopic detail of building that specific type of website.

I’m talkin’ about a complete framework that allows you to focus on the core drivers of your business from day 1, and bypass the time-suck that so many budding authority site builders get caught up in.

While there are a number of business models you could base this kind of site build around, today, we’re going to take a deep dive into the Amazon affiliate site model.

And, as the title of this post suggests, I’m not only going to show you how to assemble this framework yourself...

...I’m also gonna straight up GIVE it to you.

Just to be clear, this post is only going to be covering the technical aspect of site building and not include things like keyword research, niche selection, content creation, link building and other aspects that are necessary to make a site successful.

If you are looking for the complete blueprint, check out The Authority Site System where Perrin & Gael cover it all.

But if you are looking for a quick site building fix, let's get rocking!

What Makes The “Perfect” Amazon Affiliate Site?

Before we get to all that, I quickly want to go over the fundamentals of the build, and what my thinking is behind it.

As we progress through this, realize that every decision made has been done so with the specific objectives of a profit-driving affiliate site in mind.

(That’s everything from hosting, design, and even the individual functions. It’s all accounted for.)

In order to understand the build — and it’s recommend that you do — you’ll first need to understand the key principles of a highly-optimized, well-oiled Amazon affiliate website.

So, let’s break it down. This site should...

1​​​​

Hosting

Be built on a stable and secure server that can allows for at least 3,000 visits per month with possibility of a seamless upgrade in the future. (go to implementation)

2

Content management

Offer a secure and versatile environment to house the site, as well the ability to easily create and manage large amounts of content. (go to implementation)

3

Theme

Provide a secure framework that’s compatible with the rest of the site build, including all functionality and design aspects. Support is also a strong factor. (go to implementation)

4

Analytics

Have access to advanced data and tracking regarding website traffic and page/post performance across the entire site. (go to implementation)

5

Security

Be able to detect and block attacks as well as identify any potential vulnerabilities. Site recovery is also an additional but important thing to consider here. (go to implementation)

6

SEO

Be fully search engine optimized in order to rank both informational and commercial content, establishing a steady flow of organic traffic. (go to implementation)

7

Page Builder

Be quick and easy to customize the layout and design of your core pages and blog content. (go to implementation)

8

Link management

Be capable of organizing all your affiliate links under one, easy to use roof, as well being able to effectively swap out old affiliate links from one location. (go to implementation)

9

Product display

Be able to display linkable product boxes and comparison tables throughout your content, that also comply with Amazon’s ToS. (go to implementation)

10

Link localization

Redirect visitors to the correct affiliate offers based on geographic location in order to capitalize on the majority of your traffic. (go to implementation)

11

Auto linking (optional)

Automatically add affiliate links within your content, based on predefined keywords, phrases and rules... (go to implementation)

Previewing The Build

This build meets all the requirements I’ve outlined above, and is what I would consider the leanest, most optimized and efficient setup for an affiliate site you could possibly start with.

The process can be broken up into 3 distinct phases, which are:

And here’s how that looks on a larger scale…

Affiliate Site Framework Graph

So that’s the big picture view of what we’ll be covering, now it’s time to get down in the trenches and start building this thing.

Ready?

Let’s do it…

PHASE #1: The Foundation

Affiliate Site Framework 1 The Foundation

This phase is all about laying the foundation for the rest of the site, and it incorporates only the fundamental elements of the build.

While these decisions have been made with the affiliate-site model in mind, the principles outlined here are almost always true, regardless of what type of site you’re building.

Hosting (And Domain)

Hosting is the first step of any site build, and since it’s also a single point of failure for your entire business, it’s easily one of the most important decisions you can make at this early stage.

What makes a good hosting company for affiliate sites?

1​​​​

Servers

If the server your website lives on experiences frequent and extended periods of downtime, or if server performance is subpar, that will directly impact both user experience and SEO, resulting in lower traffic and conversions.

2

Backups

Any good hosting provider will keep regular backups of your site, usually between 7-30 days, and sometimes monthly backups that are kept for much longer periods of time.

3

Interface

With your hosting account being the hub of your website, domain, emails, backups and all your site files, it’s important to have a backend interface that allows you control over those aspects of your business.

4

Support

When things go wrong -- and things do go wrong -- the time it takes to rectify those issues will depend almost entirely on the quality of your hosting provider’s support. Trust me, this is a BIG deal.

We Chose: SiteGround

SiteGround Web Hosting

SiteGround is undoubtedly one of the most respected hosting companies out there at the moment, and it’s almost always our go-to provider for any new sites we build these days.

We went with SiteGround because:

  • 99.99% server uptime and very reasonable speeds on even the lowest priced plan
  • Backups are automatically created and stored every day for the last 30 days (for shared and cloud hosting)
  • Live chat support with little to no waiting time to speak to an experienced chat agent
  • hashtag
    1-click CMS installation via Control Panel (this will be important for the next part)

As you register your hosting account with SiteGround, I recommend registering your domain through them as well ($14.95/year). It just makes the setup process a lot smoother and they’re only marginally more expensive than other registrars.

How To Set It Up

play
  • Suitable for: A single site, up to 10GB space and 10,000 monthly visits
  • Cost: $62.35 per year (inc VAT)
  • Link: SiteGround

A Quick Note On CDN's

A CDN, or content delivery network, allows you to store a cached version of your sites content in multiple geographical server locations, meaning your content can be served to your website visitors from the most optimal location.

Not only that, but it allows you exceed the bandwidth limitations of your hosting provider, since the data isn't necessarily being served from their servers.

I won't get into the technical side of it here since it's outside the scope of this article, but this is an awesome guide if you're interested in learning about that.

Why am I telling you about CDN's?

Well, you can enable a well-known CDN called Cloudflare from the SiteGround dashboard, and the free version is plenty good enough to get you started.

This is another reason we love and recommend SiteGround. :)


WPX Hosting and WP Engine are also good choices, but they just didn’t tick as many boxes as SiteGround for this particular build.

Content Management System (CMS)

The CMS is essentially the “skeleton” of your site, allowing you to organize and manage virtually everything from users, pages, posts and even media. It also offers a myriad of ways to extend your sites functionality with both free and premium plugins.

What makes a good CMS for affiliate sites?

1​​​​

User Experience

Since you’ll be spending a lot of time in the backend of your site, it’s important to be able to use it comfortably and effectively

2

Code

A well-coded CMS will result in better overall performance, speed and, most importantly, security.

3

Updates

Regular and timely updates help fight against new and emerging threats, and also often improve your sites functionality.

4

Extendab​​​​ility

The potential to install addons to change or extend the functionality of certain areas of a site, including the size and quality of the addon library.

5

Longevity

Building your site on a soon-to-be abandoned and outdated CMS is a recipe for disaster, particularly for the reasons mentioned above.

We Chose: WordPress

WordPress Dashboard

WordPress is a free and open-source content management system that is estimated to power roughly 26% of all websites on the internet. It’s no surprise considering it’s by far the most supported and versatile CMS.

We went with WordPress because:

  • Very user friendly and intuitive interface
  • ​While there is debate on whether it’s “well coded”, it undoubtedly performs well in terms of speed and security
  • Constantly being updated to maintain a high-level of security
  • hashtag
    Allows for additional layers of security (more on that later)
  • hashtag
    Has the largest, most comprehensive plugin library of any CMS

How To Install & Set It Up

play
  • Suitable for: Any type of affiliate sites (and pretty much any type of site, for that matter)
  • Cost: Free
  • Link: WordPress

I really couldn’t recommend anything else other than WordPress, and there’s no reason to. This CMS already has everything you’ll ever need to build a highly-profitable affiliate site. No need to complicate things.

Theme

In 99.9% of cases, you can't build a WordPress site without first activating a theme. Your theme essentially sits on top of your CMS (in this case, WordPress) and is responsible for the overall look and functionality of your site.

What makes a good WordPress theme for affiliate sites?

(Hint: this follows the same basic principles as your CMS, just with a lot more emphasis on the compatibility and design aspects.)

1

Code

A well-coded theme will result in better overall performance, speed and, most importantly, security.

2

Updates

Regular and timely updates help fight against new and emerging threats, and also often improves site functionality.

3

Compatibility:

Plugins are a crucial component of any WordPress build in order to extend and fine-tune it’s functionality, so it’s important that the theme plays nice with these third-party addons.

4

Design

The freedom to make changes to the layout and design without having to dive into the core code and risk breaking components of the theme itself.

5

S​​​​upport

Your theme is easily one of the core ingredients of a site build, and it’s also where most “issues” tend to arise. For that reason, having a reliable support channel is essential.

6

Longevity

Building your site on a soon-to-be abandoned and outdated theme could lead to eventual vulnerabilities, and will likely leave you open to an attack further down the line.

We Chose: GeneratePress

GeneratePress Dashboard

GeneratePress is one of the newer themes on the market but it has already made quite a name for itself for being, as it says on the tin, simple, lightweight and free — though we will be paying $40 for Premium to get more customization options.

We went with GeneratePress because:

  • The code is super lean and highly-optimized for speed and performance
  • Well maintained to account for potential security fixes as well as being regularly updated with new and useful features
  • Minimal conflicts with plugins and other addons
  • hashtag
    Allows for plenty of design and layout customization through the theme settings
  • hashtag
    Support offered via GeneratePress premium member forum is outstanding (and publically searchable
  • hashtag
    The developer has openly stated that he’s in it for the long haul (read here)

How To Install & Set It Up

play
  • Suitable for: Any type of affiliate site (and pretty much any type of site, for that matter)
  • Cost: It’s a free theme, but for this build you’ll need the ‘GP Premium’ add-on to get access to extended customizability
  • Link: GeneratePress Premium

OceanWP, Astra and the Genesis Framework are other alternatives you may want to consider. They are frequently recommended by others though I haven’t personally tested either of these myself.

You could also opt for something more niche-specific on a marketplace like ThemeForest, but you do often risk buying a bloated, poorly supported theme that way.

PHASE #2: The Bolt-Ons

Affiliate Site Framework 2 The Bolt-Ons

At this stage, we’ve set up a hosting account, installed a content management system, and even settled on a theme.

For most people, this is where a website build typically ends.

Of course, what we’re building here isn’t just an ordinary setup. We’re creating something that incorporates the core design and functionality principles of this website archetype.

In other words, something that can be defined as the necessary framework for a successful affiliate site.

So, on that basis, even though this is often enough to get going, we’re now going to take this beyond the basic setup and start bolting on some extra functionality.

This will include:

  • ​Some general additions that I recommend adding to any new site build
  • ​And, of course, some additions that are very specific to affiliate site builds in particular

As you’ve no doubt guessed, the way to achieve all this is through the use of WordPress plugins and third-party services, so let’s hop to it.

Web Analytics

Website analytics are the only way to truly measure and track the growth of your affiliate site, and doing so is crucial if you want to identify what’s really moving the needle in your business.

What makes a good web analytics service for affiliate sites?

1​​​​

Traffic

Analyze and dissect your website traffic based on various different filters

2

Pages

Get a detailed breakdown of the performance of all the posts and pages on your site

3

Real-time

View and analyze website traffic data and page performance data in real-time

4​​​​

Tracking

Ability to set and track goals based on any number of variables

Google Analytics Dashboard

Google Analytics is the Don of the web analytics world, and the free software does just about anything you could come to expect from an analytics service.

We went with Google Analytics because:

  • ​It offers detailed traffic reporting based on anything from the user’s location, demographic, and even behaviour
  • ​It allows you to view your best (and worst) performing content based on metrics like pageviews, time on page, and page value
  • hashtag
    It provides real-time reporting that includes data on traffic source, search keyword, user location, and more...
  • hashtag
    You can set up goal tracking around metrics like URL destination, visit duration, and even custom ‘events’

How To Install & Set It Up

play
  • Suitable for: Any type of site, especially if you intend it to make money
  • Cost: Free
  • Link: Google Analytics

As I said in the video, if you want to get down and dirty with Google Analytics, check out MeasureSchool on Youtube. Tons of free, very detailed videos that many people would gladly pay for.

If for some reason you’re not a fan of Google Analytics, Clicky is a popular (freemium) alternative. Based on this comparison, it appears to hold it’s own against GA.

Additional Security

Even with a solid CMS (like WordPress) and a well-coded theme (like GeneratePress), savvy hackers can still penetrate your site. You can significantly reduce the chances of this happening by adding an extra layer of security.

What makes a good security plugin for affiliate sites?

1

2FA

Or ‘Two Factor Authentication’ just means that a second form of verification is required in order to log in. That way, even if someone figures out your password, they still won’t be able to log in.

2

Firewall

This is used to automatically block potentially malicious traffic/activity from being able to access your site, usually via IP ban. Requires a thorough and constantly updated “threat database”.

3

Live scanner

The ability to run (and schedule a recurring) live scan of your entire site and all of it’s files is essential if you think your site has been compromised.

We Chose: WordFence

Wordfence

Wordfence is up there with the best in terms of website security. It plugs straight into your WordPress installation and gets to work right away protecting your site using it’s comprehensive threat defense feed.

We went with WordFence because:

  • It allows you to set up 2FA using something you know (i.e. your password) and something you have (i.e. your phone).
  • It offers strong and regularly updated firewall protection to significantly lower the likelihood of being hacked
  • hashtag
    Allows for live site scanning of core files, themes and plugins for malware, code injections and backdoors
  • hashtag
    ​Compares your site files with original, WordPress repository versions to identify and repair compromised areas of your site

How To Install & Set It Up

play
  • Suitable for: Any type of affiliate sites (and pretty much any type of site, for that matter)
  • Cost: The freemium version offers a generous feature-set, though upgrading (from $99/year) will always provide the best protection
  • Link: ​WordFence

Another popular alternative is Sucuri, though the free version doesn’t stand up to the free version of WordFence. If you plan to upgrade, however, Sucuri is definitely worth looking into.

Search Engine Optimization

Every site should be taking advantage of organic search traffic from search engines like Google, and affiliate sites are no exception. Tools that aid in on-page optimization offer quick wins in that department, and often lead to significant increase in visitors to your site.

What makes a good on-page SEO plugin?

1​​​​

Page analysis

Automatic scanning of your posts and pages to ensure on-page SEO standards have been met

2

Snippet preview

The ability to preview search snippets to see how they appear on the front-end and ensure they fit within the pixel limitations.

3​​​​

Technical SEO

Extended control over technical SEO aspects. For example, the ability to easily prevent crawling from search engines on a page-by-page basis

4​​​​

Guidance

With potentially dozens of on-page factors to consider, having a tool look at your site as a whole and suggest on-page improvements is always handy

We Chose: Yoast SEO

Yoast SEO

Though WordPress is generally well-optimized for SEO purposes, Yoast SEO gives you some extra settings that would otherwise require custom coding or dedicated plugins. (It’s also by the far most popular on-page plugin in the WordPress repository.)

We went with Yoast SEO because:

  • ​It offers real time post and page analysis, including support for page builder's (important for the next section)
  • ​You get live snippet previews your meta title and description, which are also fully editable
  • hashtag
    ​It handles all the background technical stuff (robots.txt, .htaccess, sitemaps, etc.)
  • hashtag
    ​It provides general site-level guidance, like for example, reminding you to enable pretty permalinks
  • hashtag
    It also offers a built-in readability checks of your content -- though I don’t find it very accurate, personally

How To Install & Set It Up

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  • Suitable for: Any site that is looking to improve their on-page SEO optimization
  • Cost: I think the freemium version is good enough on it’s own, but you can upgrade to Premium for $69 per year.
  • Link: Yoast SEO  

There is a popular alternative to Yoast, and it’s called All In One SEO Pack. They both perform very similar functions and I believe it’s really just a matter of personal preference.

Page Design

Normally, your WordPress theme takes care of customization in terms of design, but, as customizable as GeneratePress is, there are certain tools available that make the design process even easier for different areas of your website.

Page builder's work well because they override the standard WordPress editor, which is notoriously bad for anything outside of basic content production.

What makes a good page builder for affiliate sites?

1

Ease of use

The UI/UX is probably on the biggest aspects of any page builder because it directly influences productivity output

2

Elements

(or modules) are the building blocks that are used to design your page. Generally, the more building block variations you have, the more you can achieve in terms of design.

3

Flexibility

Not only being able to customize elements to your liking, but also control certain aspects of the page, including things like responsiveness, for example.

4

Templa​​​​tes

The ability to import pre-made templates and save your own for reuse later is a huge time saver. (And something that will be particularly useful for stealing this build’s design ;))

5

Support

This is a factor with most things you purchase these days, but page builders have so many moving parts that you likely will run into issues at some point.

Thrive Architect Website

Thrive Architect is a marketing-oriented, visual page builder for WordPress and easily one of the better options available for affiliate marketers. It’s particularly good for creating things like tables star ratings, as well support for inline editing.

We went with Thrive Architect because:

  • It’s easy to use, especially in comparison to most other page builders on the market
  • ​It has a strong selection of elements, and particularly elements that are more marketing-oriented
  • hashtag
    ​The inline editing makes creating long-form content a breeze
  • hashtag
    It has a comprehensive template library, and allows you to save and reuse individual sections of your content
  • hashtag
    ​Support is manageable (admittedly, there is room for improvement here)

How To Install & Set It Up

play
  • Suitable for: Marketing oriented websites, including affiliate sites
  • Cost: $67 one-off
  • Link: Thrive Architect  

Why didn’t we chose Elementor?

Both are great page builders, but I feel Thrive has the edge here because it's more marketer-oriented. For example, unlike Elementor, it supports tables (natively) which will be important for the type of review content you'll be creating.

1

Custom URL structure

Having control over the URL structure, and being able to use a custom structure is always welcome (not relevant to Amazon affiliate sites, however.)

2

Quick add links

Being able to add new affiliate links on the fly is a massive time saver

3

Nofollow option

The ability to nofollow affiliate links is crucial in order to meet Google’s quality guidelines

4

Link click reporting

Seeing what links are generating the most clicks will allow you to identify what offers and positions are working on the page

Thirsty Affiliate Dashboard

Thirsty Affiliates is a WordPress plugin offering a suite of tools to help affiliate marketers monetize their blog quickly and efficiently. At its most basic level, it’s also a pretty damn good link management plugin for affiliates.

We went with Thirsty Affiliates because:

  • ​You can easily add new links from the dashboard (or in the post/page editor)
  • ​You can nofollow affiliate links with the click of a button
  • hashtag
    ​It has basic link click reporting to see how many people are clicking on your affiliate links
  • hashtag
    ​It’s now Amazon compliant (see below)

How To Install & Set It Up

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  • Suitable for: Affiliate sites
  • Cost: ​​​The base plugin is free, but you can upgrade to the Pro version for $59/year
  • Link: Thirsty Affiliates

Thirsty Affiliates recently released a major update to their plugin that allowed the uncloaking of Amazon affiliate links. (Yeah, Amazon doesn’t like cloaked links.)

Product Boxes & Tables

Using product boxes and tables to present your product recommendations has been a long-standing tradition for Amazon affiliate sites. The good news is, there are plugins available that make it super easy to implement them with zero coding required.

What makes a good product tables plugin?

1

Design

Pre-set styles for both product boxes and tables, as well as customization options to align them with your branding

2

Ease of use

No complicated setup or coding required. Needs a clean, intuitive user interface for creating these elements

3

Nofollow option

The ability to nofollow affiliate links is crucial in order to meet Google’s quality guidelines

4

Compliancy

Must meet Amazon’s strict terms regarding images, pricing, ratings and buttons.

Amazon Associates for WordPress

Amazon Affiliate for WordPress (AAWP) is a perfect addition to this build because it allows you to quickly and easily pull in product information in the form of tables and product boxes. Best of all, it does it all through Amazon’s API so it’s 100% compliant with Amazon’s ToS.

We went with AAWP because:

  • ​It’s Amazon-compliant (you won’t get banned)
  • ​Easily create product boxes and embed shortcodes throughout your content
  • hashtag
    ​Easily create product tables with comparisons and labels to give readers a quick overview
  • hashtag
    ​Automatically applies your Amazon affiliate link to every product box and table
  • hashtag
    Comes with a number of templates and pre-designed layouts

How To Install & Set It Up

play

​If you’ve been following us, you may have heard the recent Amazon Podcast we recorded, highlighting why it’s so crucial to stay on the right side of the (Amazon) law. If you haven’t listened to it yet, I suggest you do so now.

1

Easy setup

With the scale of affiliate links you’re likely to be implementing on your site, it should take minimal time and effort to insert localized links

2

Compatibility

Should work with Amazon stores of all major countries/stores.

3

Speed

Minimal link redirect delay to maintain user experience (and avoid conversion drop)

4

Compliancy​​​​

Again, this should be compliant with Amazon’s terms, which includes non-cloaking of links

We Chose: Amazon OneLink

Amazon OneLink

OneLink is still fairly new, and it currently only supports a handful of countries. Regardless, this is a very welcome replacement for something like GeniusLinks, which is a popular third-party alternative that does carry some risk in terms of Amazon compliancy.

We went with Amazon OneLink because:

  • ​Very easy setup. (Set it and forget it.)
  • ​Works with Amazon stores in US, Canada, UK, Italy, France, Spain, Germany and Japan
  • hashtag
    ​Link redirection is fast, and barely even noticeable on the front end
  • hashtag
    OneLink is from Amazon, so it’s inherently compliant with their ToS
  • hashtag
    ​Unlike riskier alternatives, this is also free to use

How To Install & Set It Up

play
  • Suitable for: Amazon affiliate sites
  • Cost: ​Free
  • Link:   Amazon OneLink

Auto Linking (Optional)

Auto linking allows you to define words or phrases to be automatically hyperlinked based on predefined settings. It’s great for affiliate sites since it not only saves time, but also prevents you from missing link opportunities within your content.

This one was sort of thrown in for good measure, and it’s by no means an essential plugin, but it’s still something I wanted to mention as I know some people will appreciate the convenience.

What makes a good auto linking plugin?

1

Keyword​​​​s

The ability to define multiple keywords and phrases for a single link

2

Cap

The ability to set an auto link cap per page/post in order to prevent excessive linking

3

Flexibility

Should easily be able to control which pages auto linking applies

4

Compatibility

Must work with modern page builders (and particularly those used in this build)

ThirstyAffiliates Pro

The ‘Autolinker’ tool in Thirsty Affiliates Pro is the most comprehensive, easy-to-use auto linker I’ve seen yet, and since we’ve already included this plugin in our build, it fits in seamlessly with the link management side of things.

We went with Thirsty Affiliates Pro (Autolinker) because:

  • ​Easily set multiple keywords for each affiliate link you add
  • ​Set rules for the links, specifying which pages to include
  • hashtag
    ​Control over link frequency to limit how many times a given keyword is triggered on a page
  • hashtag
    ​It works with Thrive Architect — our chosen page builder for this particular build

How To Install & Set It Up

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  • Suitable for: Any type of affiliate site (but can also be useful for any site to help with internal linking)
  • Cost: $59 annually
  • Link: Thirsty Affiliates Pro

Aside from the autolinker, there are a number of other benefits to using Thirsty Affiliates Pro, and although I wouldn’t classify them as necessary for this build, they are nice to have if you want the auto linker anyway.

Linkify Text is a very rudimentary free alternative. The UI isn’t going to win any awards, and it currently doesn’t work with Thrive Architect, so you’ll be forced to the use the default WordPress editor (or Elementor) if you decide to go with this option.

Contact Form (Optional)

No contact page is complete without a contact form, and while it’s not entirely necessary to have a contact page on your site, it does help to enforce your site a credible source of information.

What makes a good contact form plugin??

1

Easy setup

Minimal setup time required, especially for basic forms. (This is often helped by having templates available)

2

Configuration

Being able to change the core settings of your contact form is essential, including things like ‘to’, ‘from’ and ‘subject’ fields

3

Styling

Some level of styling should be available, just to maintain branding/design consistency

4

Co​​​​st

For the basic level of contact form we’re looking to implement, a free alternative should be more than enough

We Chose: Contact Form 7

Contact Form 7 Dashboard

Contact Form 7 has established itself as one of the go-to contact form plugins in the WordPress repository, and while it’s not the most advanced form builder around, it is very “plug and play” which makes it ideal for this build.

We went with Contact Form 7 because:

  • Very easy setup. In fact, the form was already pre-populated with all the usual fields.
  • ​Configuration was straightforward, and can be done from within the same form builder interface
  • hashtag
    While styling is unfortunately pretty limited, it’s not too bad because it doesn’t override your theme styling (unlike many other form plugins)
  • hashtag
    It’s freeeee baby!

How To Install & Set It Up

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  • Suitable for: Any website
  • Cost: Free (fuelled by donations)
  • Link:  Contact Form 7

PHASE #3: The Design

Affiliate Site Framework 3 The Design

Let me start off by saying that I’m faaaar from a professional designer, so this site design isn’t going to revolutionize the industry by any means.

What I am offering, though, is something that doesn’t look like the typical affiliate sites you see tend to see everywhere nowadays... *cough* Focus Blog.

Even though there’s no “correct” way to design an affiliate site, there are some fundamental rules that should be followed. (Both in a general sense, and for affiliate sites specifically.)

Now, I won’t go into the fundamentals of good website design here, simply because that could be an entire post by itself. (Besides, it’s covered here, here and here.)

In a nutshell, I took the core lessons from those articles, sprinkled in a little inspiration from various other affiliate sites, and eventually came up with something that I believe ticks all the right boxes.

Is it perfect? No.

Is it enough to build a highly-profitable affiliate business? Abso-friggin-lutely.

The Site Layout & Design

Before I walk you through the steps to implement this design yourself, I should probably give you a preview of what it actually looks like, if you haven’t seen it already.

Here’s the link to the site.

And here’s a video explaining some of my design choices:

How To Steal This Build

Monkey Stealing GIF

At first, I thought about turning this into a follow-me-as-I-build-it tutorial.

But the thing is, if you want to build your affiliate site from scratch, you can find those types of video tutorials inside The Authority Site System.

So, instead of (poorly) cannibalizing some of our premium training, I’m just going to GIVE you what I’ve built, and show you how to modify it from there.

So here’s the deal…

I’ve put together a download for this entire build which allows you to import the setup exactly the way I’ve outlined in this post.

This includes every free/freemium plugin I recommended in the last section, as well as the site design shown in the preview video above.

(So, yeah, there will be some stuff you have to do manually, but there’s just no way around that without breaking the law.)

Follow the steps below.

How To Import This Build

play

Video summary:

  • Step 1: Before you can import this build, you will need to have purchased hosting and installed a fresh copy of WordPress. (No need to install a theme.)
  • Step 2: Search for, install and activate the free plugin, ‘All-in-one WordPress Migration’, which will allow you to quickly and easily import my build.
  • Step 3: Download the import file using the link above, and upload to migrator plugin to begin the import process.
  • Step 4: Once import is complete, click to update the permalink structure (you'll need to log in again before you can do that)
  • Step 5: Login this time with the username: lewis, and password: password
  • Step 6: Go to ‘Users > Add New’ and create a new username and password for yourself with an ‘administrator’ role. Log into your new user and delete the user ‘lewis’ (very important)
  • Step 7: Purchase and install the premium plugins following the setup videos in phase #1 and #2. (These will be GeneratePress Premium, Thrive Architect, Thirsty Affiliates Pro, and AAWP.)
  • Step 8: Head over to the plugins tab and update any plugins that are currently outdated

How To Make Core Changes

Here’s a quick video showing you how to make core changes to your site:

play

Video summary:

  • Step 1: Change your site logo under Customizer > Site Identity. You can adjust site width under ‘Additional CSS’, as shown in the video above.
  • Step 2: Change the global styling of your paragraph and heading text under Customizer > Typography
  • Step 3: Change the global styling of your site colors under Customizer > Colors
  • Step 4: Change the copyright text to include your website, under Customizer > Copyright
  • Step 5: Change the disclaimer text in the footer, under Appearance > Widgets > Footer Widget 1
  • Step 6: ​Change your menu links under Appearance > Menus
  • Step 7: Add/remove categories under Posts > Categories

How To Edit Your Home Page

Here’s a quick video showing you how to edit your home page:

play

Video summary:

  • Step 1: Go to pages, and click to edit the ‘Home’ page using Thrive Architect. This will fire up the page builder.
  • Step 2: Click the banner image, and in the sidebar, navigate to the image background layer. Remove this layer and add a new image layer with your chosen image.
  • Step 3: Click to edit the “Why we created this site” preview text with your own mission statement. The ‘Read More’ link should lead to your about page with more information.
  • Step 4: Click to edit the ‘About Author’ box with your (or your personas) image and text.
  • Step 5: The latest post widget auto updates, so there is no need to change anything there.

How To Edit Your Blog Posts

Here’s a quick video showing you how to edit your blog posts:

play

Video summary:

  • Step 1: Go to Posts, and either add a new post, or click to open an existing post with Thrive Architect.
  • Step 2: Use the inline editor to format text into headings, and apply other formatting styles such as bold and italic.
  • Step 3: Insert shortcodes into paragraph elements, such as the table and product box shortcodes generated by AAWP (shown in the video above).
  • Step 4: Create styled elements to compliment your articles, such as pros/cons boxes for your review posts. Remember to save in Architect.
  • Step 5: Check the post URL (permalink) to make sure it’s user and SEO-friendly.
  • Step 6: Check the Yoast SEO meta box to ensure you’re on-page SEO is up to scratch.
  • Step 7: Click Publish/Update

How To Edit Your About Page

Here’s a quick video showing you how to edit your about page:

play

Video summary:

  • Step 1: Go to Pages, and click to edit the ‘About’ page using Thrive Architect.
  • Step 2: Copy your mission statement text from the home page, and expand on from there.
  • Step 3: Add media, such as video or images where necessary.
  • Step 4: Click save in Thrive Architect.

Did I Miss Anything?

I’ve tried my best to cover every scenario I can think of when it comes to modifying the site design to your needs, but there’s bound to be some minor things that I’ve missed.

If that’s the case, and you need help making other changes to this build, just leave a comment below and I’ll do what I can to assist you.

Keyboard GIF

Conclusion

So there you have it, a complete website build that incorporates the fundamental principles and functions of a successful affiliate site.

A framework that allows you to skip the usual BS and get straight to what really moves the needle.

Producing content and building links.


One more thing….

This is somewhat of an experimental post, and depending on the reception it gets we may decide to release more website builds like this based on different site models.

Let me know in the comments if that’s something you’re interested in, and if there’s anything I can do to improve this format.

Lewis Parrott
 

I’m Lewis, a full-time writer at Authority Hacker and a find-time writer at my own blog, The Freelance Effect. I'm also a digital nomad currently based in SE Asia. I have an unhealthy addiction to internet marketing, documentaries and chocolate. Mmmm… chocolate.

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 99 comments
Faizul Kabir - January 31, 2018

Wow Wow Wow!!! Largest & most helpful article on Amazon affiliate i’ve ever read. Thanks a lot Lewis Parrott for sharing such a cool guide.

Reply
    Lewis Parrott - February 5, 2018

    Three wows? Wow.

    Haha, thanks Faizul!

    Reply
Afzal - January 31, 2018

Most helpful resource for beginner. I already bookmark this page :D :D

Reply
    Lewis Parrott - February 5, 2018

    Afzal, your support means a lot. Thank you!

    Reply
Samsul Arefin - January 31, 2018

Hey Lewis,
Great article.
You rock brother!

Reply
Mohamed - January 31, 2018

You nailed it!
This post is GREAT AF!

Reply
    Lewis Parrott - February 5, 2018

    *Does a little dance*

    Thanks, Mohamed!

    Reply
Tim Fox - February 1, 2018

Wooow that’s the longest, best article and most comprehensive guide to built amazon site
the go-to page for all you need to do to built amazon affiliate site

Reply
Mel - February 1, 2018

I’m a fan of AH copywriting style from the beginning. One of the most useful + enjoyable blogs to read.

I’ve been following Perrin since his debut works on NP.com, he quickly became a solid contributor IMO. His guides are very well structured and detailed.

Now, the AH team is even stronger, as Lewis work is top notch too!

Good sir, hats off.

Reply
    Mark Webster - February 2, 2018

    Thanks Mel, what other content would you like to see from us?

    Reply
    Lewis Parrott - February 5, 2018

    Mel, appreciate the kind words.

    I also followed Perrin for a while and it’s awesome to be praised alongside him. :) #lifegoals

    Reply
Nikki - February 2, 2018

This was the most helpful article I have read about affiliate marketing1 Everything is laid out perfectly. Thank you, thank you, thank you for this!

Reply
VS Chaitanya - February 2, 2018

I Own 3 Amazon Niche Sites and I am using Genesis Framework + Aspire Pro Child Theme and Shortcodes Ultimates to design the Posts. Recently, some of the Pro Bloggers are recommending the Generate Press theme for Amazon niche sites. is Generate Press really better than the Genesis framework? Actually, I am looking for a Page Builder to design the Homepage for my sites.

The Newspaper theme offers Blocks where we can show latest Posts from multiple categories on the Homepage. But, the theme is clustered with that Visual Builder and Stuff. I am Looking for a Page Builder that can create a Homepage similar to the Newspaper them.

Reply
    Mark Webster - February 9, 2018

    If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

    I wouldn’t recommend switching themes just because some bloggers say so. If you just need your homepage designed, you could try Thrive Architect or Elementor

    Reply
SLIMANE BOUJAMAAI - February 2, 2018

where is niche research?

Reply
    Mark Webster - February 9, 2018

    It’s the process of researching whether or not a specific niche is profitable. You would look at thing such at competition, keywords, product mix etc.

    Reply
Josh Eberly - February 2, 2018

Once again Authority Hacker delivering content that is flat out amazing! Love that this site practices what they preach, unlike many other “experts” in the digital marketing field.

Reply
    Lewis Parrott - February 5, 2018

    We didn’t even break a sweat. ;)

    I’m kidding. Blood, sweat and (lots of) tears went into this post.

    Reply
Avi - February 2, 2018

Hi great amazing post. My question is you didn’t mention or say where to get content how to make content and different backlinks and getting traffic?

Thank you

Reply
sunil gill - February 2, 2018

Thanks. It is very helpful. You guys are great.
I was just wondering What if someone has a website which is already set up and wants to use your site built template and structure. It would be great he could also just upload it.

Reply
    Mark Webster - February 4, 2018

    I don’t understand your question. What do you want us to upload?

    Reply
    Lewis Parrott - February 5, 2018

    Hey Sunil, if you already have a site set up I wouldn’t recommend trying to import my build. I’m not sure what the consequences of that would be and it hasn’t been tested.

    I’d suggest looking at different areas of the build that you want to implement and watch the corresponding videos. It shouldn’t take too long that way.

    Reply
Frank - February 2, 2018

Lewis, Gael, Mark,

Thanks for this super amazing post! This is easily one of the best blog posts I’ve ever seen in my life. I like how super detailed everything is, and it’s good that you guys let us download the Amazon site build. I think the build would allow a lot of newbies to significantly reduce their site development time ;)

Other contents I’d love to see:

– What about profitable Amazon niches (for review sites)? 5 – 10 would be awesome. Not just generic niches, but niches that are genuinely researched using the AH methods. I think a lot of your readers would appreciate this.

– I know you guys recommend TextBroker, but wondering if there are equally good alternatives that are more economical? It’s just that TextBroker is more on the expensive side and is probably a hindrance to newbies (especially those who can’t write well) without a lot of capital.

– What about showing us a 1-month marketing AND content calendar that you guys actually use for your authority / affiliate sites?

– For those who have more capital but no time: an “operations guide” that shows how to outsource the whole affiliate / authority site business, convering things such as:

a. Finding/training a project manager
b. Finding a traffic specialist
c. Finding a website builder
d. Finding a writer
e. Project management + its tools

– Training materials to show VAs / outsourcers, in particular covering:

a. Site building
b. Traffic generation
c. Review + informational content layout

Cheers!

Reply
    Mark Webster - February 9, 2018

    We actually have content planned around a lot of that stuff. We’re also looking at releasing some training materials to give to VAs. But that will be for AH Pro Platinum members only.

    Reply
Guy - February 2, 2018

This is one of the most comprehensive, useful, and well thought out articles I’ve seen for helping a total neophyte (like me) who knows very little about setting up a Website for the purpose of selling a product.

I’ve been reading about “Funnels” which, if I understand them correctly, are basically supposed to take care of selling a product beginning with setting up a Website to collecting e-mails.

Are “Funnels” a good idea? Do you have any articles or videos regarding how “Funnels” are compatible with the type of site you’re recommending? There’s so much information out here I’d like to get down to the nitty gritty, get rid of all the “white noise” that’s been coming to my mailbox, and start using the most helpful & relevant advice so I can build my own little successful business.

Reply
    Mark Webster - February 9, 2018

    Funnels are great. You basically need:
    1) A site
    2) A way to collect emails – popus with a leadmagnet or content upgrades
    3) People to visit your site – SEO / PPC etc
    4) An email marketing system like Active Campaign (https://www.authorityhacker.com/activecampaign-review/)
    5) A series of emails to send to people to encourage them to buy a product
    6) A bank account to collect your millions.

    Obviously that is a massively oversimplified version. They get incredible complex very quickly so don’t underestimate the amount of work required to do all these parts.

    My advice is to walk before you can run. Set up a site with the ability to collect emails and get traffic to it. If you can’t do that, then it’s not worth wasting time on the advanced funnels if nobody is there to go through them.

    Reply
Cornelis Huijgens - February 2, 2018

How to get traffic to such a site? Similar aricle expalinng it, would be great.

Reply
Bruce - February 2, 2018

What an amazing gift.
Completely in line with your ethos and what I would have expected from you, having bought your products in the past and having been a subscriber for years.
Many, many thanks.

Reply
Daniel Hicks - February 2, 2018

Great and very helpful article — It does leave me with one question though. I know there is a free and 2 premium SSL options available with Siteground. I was wondering if the free one is sufficient? Would a Cloudflare implementation effect the SSL Choice?

Thanks so Much!

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Steve B. - February 2, 2018

Superb article. This is about as comprehensive as you can get with the nuts and bolts of setting up a typical affiliate site. For anyone just starting out, it can be intimidating as hell, sooo many moving parts and options – but it’s totally doable.

Start with an approach to systematizing, keep copious notes, and be accountable to yourself. Then just eat the elephant – one – bite – at a – time.

Cheers!

Reply
Gabby - February 2, 2018

Super awesome and helpful post! Is ThriveThemes no longer recommended?

Reply
    Mark Webster - February 9, 2018

    It still ok to use. We’re trying our next project without it but its way too early to let you know how that went yet.

    Reply
Mohamed - February 3, 2018

Hi Lewis ,
a masterpiece article really awesome .
I am now starting an affiliate website with clickbank because it’s an affiliate newbie friendly
Later I will expand to Amazon .Could you make another one to be compatible with clickbank because I don’t find any resources for building authority clickbank website ,and there are a lot of spammy plugins out there like cbproads and so on ..

Regarding plugins mentioned in the article , I little missed because i read about other similar plugins
so which one is better
Thirsty Affiliates vs pretty links
Amazon Associates for WordPress is it alternative to woozone ?
Amazon OneLink is alternative to geni.us “I read from a past article here that you get alerted from Amazon regarding link and img issues ”

I hope that you could review in another article those Clickbank AND Amazon Store builder plugins like
Cbengine.Cbproads
Fresh Store Builder
EasyAzon
WordPress Affiliate Store
Amazillionaire
Prosociate
Associate-O-Matic
Datafeedr

Thanks a lot for your valuable blog and sharing your knowledge with us
Mohamed

Reply
Steve - February 3, 2018

Wow – thank you! A brilliant post with a lot of useful info. I have a lot of changes to make to my site!

Reply
Dean - February 3, 2018

Brilliant tutorial. Is this the same training you get in the Authority Site System?

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    Mark Webster - February 4, 2018

    Yes, though TASS also covers niche/kw research, content creation and link building as well.

    Reply
    Lewis Parrott - February 5, 2018

    Thank you. It’s similar, but The Authority Site System goes way deeper and also covers niche selection, content creation, link building, etc.

    Reply
Jorge - February 3, 2018

Great Guide and It was an awesome idea to give the export.

If you could do this to any linkbuilding strategy would be so much useful.

Maybe a Case Study of any of your sites or a new Outreach Campaign for an affiliate site of any niche.

Thanks!

Reply
    Lewis Parrott - February 5, 2018

    Hey Jorge, while we do cover some link building stuff on the blog, we definitely cover more of that in our paid training.

    Reply
Mike Sireci - February 3, 2018

Really impressive post. I learned quite a few things that I’ll start to use on my sites. I’m familiar with Thrive Themes and I found it great that you guys love them too. Which makes me curious. Why do you promote their Thrive Architect plugin so heavily here and yet you don’t actually use one of their themes? GeneratePress looks good, but wouldn’t a theme from Thrive Themes be the more compatible choice? Appreciate all the work on this post and i’ll definitely check out some of the other videos you’ve done showing how to use Architect more.

Reply
    Mark Webster - February 5, 2018

    Hi Mike,

    The current AuthorityHacker is built using Thrive Themes/Thrive Architect. We do like to play around with tools and see which works best. That’s why our recommendations and and do change over time.

    Reply
    Lewis Parrott - February 5, 2018

    Thank you, Mike! So Thrive Themes aren’t very good compared to the rest of their plugins, and I think even Thrive would agree with that. GeneratePress is one of the few themes I’ve found that is not only lean, but also highly customizable. You can use Thrive plugins without having to use their themes, I have done my entire WordPress life and never had an issue.

    Reply
      Mike Sireci - February 5, 2018

      Thanks guys, appreciate the replies. I think I’d have to agree with you on the quality of the themes at Thrive themes. I always felt compelled to stick with them for compatibility reasons with their plugins. I’m encouraged that its not an issue. So, I’ll give your theme recommendation a try and see how it goes. Keep up the awesome content, Mike

      Reply
Larry - February 4, 2018

Hi guys,

I can’t seem to play any of the videos. They all say “The video is unavailable”.

Maybe it’s a problem on my end. I live outside the US, so sometimes some channels won’t allow access.

Reply
Harrison - February 4, 2018

Thanks for this very unique post. You nailed it big time!

Reply
Renata - February 4, 2018

Emebded youtube videos are not working

Reply
Scott Wood - February 4, 2018

Hi Mark –

Great tutorial! One question/issue I was having is after I installed a fresh install on Siteground and imported the site, I was not able to authenticate Thrive Architect.

The plugin was installed etc. When I went to edit a post and stared Architect, the screen to register the license came up. I entered my email and licence…….I bought the 5 install plan……..and hit submit. It says the Architect was registered, but when I went to go edit the same screen came up. I did it again and had the same issue.

I went to my Thrive dashboard and noticed that both instances of me trying to authenticate my licence had been counted.

I contacted support on Thrive forum and the person said he was able to replicate my issue, but couldn’t get it to work either. He said it looked to be a host issue and I’d need contact them for a fix.

Have you or anyone had a similar experience thus far with the site migration? Meanwhile I’ve contacted the host to see if there is something on their end.

Thanks

Reply
    Lewis Parrott - February 5, 2018

    Scott, sorry to hear about the issue you’re having. We tested the import before going live with this post, and everything seemed to work fine. Please post an update on this when you find the problem. If there’s something wrong with the build file, that’s something we definitely need to look into. Thanks.

    Reply
Rich - February 5, 2018

HI,

Thank you so much! I love how you guys share so much of your hard-earned knowledge. Much appreciated.

I wanted to double-check with you that using a plugin/service such as ThirstyAffiliates (Pro) is still recommended by you after the Amazon slap-down you got (and podcasted about). I thought you concluded that you would just use naked Amazon links from now on. I’m still pretty new at all this, so I realize I may be confused about that.

Thank you again for the great information!

Rich

Reply
    Mark Webster - February 9, 2018

    Hi Rich,

    We’re using AAWP. This is also included in this post and the template. Thirsty is for non-amazon affiliate links only.

    Cheers,
    Mark

    Reply
Josh Kohlbach - February 5, 2018

Amazing post Lewis, great work, this must have taken you a long time to put together!

Really appreciate the mention of ThirstyAffiliates :) We are very grateful!

Reply
    Lewis Parrott - February 5, 2018

    Thanks Josh, I will accept cookies as a reward. :)

    In all seriousness, Thirsty Affiliates is a solid tool and deserves to be part of any affiliate site build.

    Reply
Alison - February 5, 2018

You guys have nailed it – never seen such an awesome article like this before. Yeah – bring on more!!

Reply
Kenneth Byrd - February 5, 2018

Really comprehensive article. Thanks. I purchased the recommended Amazon plugin (AAWP). I’ve been using TablePress to build these very time-consuming comparison tables and this plugin makes the process substantially faster for affiliates.

Kenneth

Reply
Lasse - February 6, 2018

Great article, and really helpful checklist even if you have a site already built (I should take a look at AAWP since my tables are still at stage 1 ;)

And the idea of giving a ready site build is just awesome.

Reply
Masud Parvage - February 6, 2018

Really an exclusive guide to the Amazon affiliate program! almost all the necessary topic has been included. Thanks for the share…!

Masud Parvage
Founder
MicroDollarz.Com

Reply
Renato - February 9, 2018

Great article! How come you decided to go with GeneratePress and not some theme from Thrive themes. Wouldn’t their page builder work best with their theme?

Best wishes from Croatia :)

Reply
    Mark Webster - February 9, 2018

    GeneratePress is a better theme. The fact it is so widely used means that it’s very well supported and it works great on mobile. TA works fine with just about any theme so it doesn’t make much difference which you use it with.

    Reply
Ray Williams - February 13, 2018

Jeez … one hell of a lengthy and hugely nutritious info guys, thanks a lot. Awesome!!

Reply
Yannick - February 13, 2018

This is one of the most actionable articles I’ve ever read on the Internet. The structure is ingenious! Thanks for your hard work!

Also, one question: I’ve just tried using OneLink in conjunction with ThirstyAffiliates (I add the US link as New Thirsty Affiliate Link), but am NOT redirected. How do you make this work?

Best regards!

Reply
    Mark Webster - February 13, 2018

    We don’t use OneLink in conjunction with Thirsty. In fact, we don’t use Thirsty at all for Amazon links. We use AAWP instead.

    Reply
Tony Jones - February 20, 2018

Really good insight to the options available, very impressed keep up the good work..

Tony.. (Y)

Reply
Igor - February 25, 2018

Hi guys, thanks for the awesome guide!

Do you use Thirsty Affiliates for Amazon aff links? Seems that the article and info in the comments is conflicting.

Reply
Juanita - February 26, 2018

Hi there, I have a couple question that really wants to know about :

1. I am really want to know, should i use image + text from directly from Amazon or download and edit that images?

2. also, it’s enough or decreases banned opportunity with this text, which you prefer :

A. is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

*Amazon and the Amazon logo are trademarks of Amazon.com, Inc., or its affiliates.

Additionally, HerePup.com participates in various other affiliate programs, and we sometimes get a commission through purchases made through our links.

B. is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, and we get a commission on purchases made through our links.

3. Is using Adsense while running amazon associate, safe from banned?

Thank you.

Reply
    Mark Webster - March 2, 2018

    1. Absolutely not. Use the sitestripe to generate the image link or use the API. Do not download amazon images and re-upload them to your site. You can get into trouble for this.
    2. Yes, but check Amazon’s requirements as sometimes they change the specified text slightly.
    3. Yes that’s fine

    Reply
Monique - February 28, 2018

Great resource for affiliate sites, but the video links aren’t working.

Reply
    Mark Webster - March 2, 2018

    Hi Monique,

    The videos should be working now. Which videos can’t you see and what error message are you getting?

    Reply
Thomas Sellers - February 28, 2018

Excellent post.

Reply
Bernie - March 10, 2018

When using aawp to create product descriptions, should we be concerned about Google ranking the page lower due to the duplicate content from Amazon?

Reply
    Mark Webster - March 10, 2018

    Presuming it’s in the context of a regular article, then no. Note that you can also write your own product descriptions.

    Reply

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