Search Bar with your Amazon.com Associates ID

The problem: You (or your organization) has joined Amazon’s associate program. You’ve put a link on your website. You’ve kindly asked everyone you know to click on it so that you can receive a commission. Yet, many people don’t use your link, not because they don’t like you, but because they forget to visit your web site first or just think that’s too complicated.

The solution: Expand the search bar (already available on all modern browsers) to include an Amazon.com search which automatically transmits your associate tag (also called Associates ID).

Too complicated, you say? Not at all. You can easily set up your customized search add-on in a few minutes.

This method works with Firefox 2.0 and Internet Explorer 7 as well as with any other browser compatible with the OpenSearch format, the screenshots were done using Firefox.

  1. Log in to Amazon Associates Central
  2. Go to Build Links, then Text Links.
  3. In the Link to Search Results form, enter a random keyword and name and click on Get HTML:
    Link to search results
  4. In the HTML field, copy the first URL (starts with http://www.amazon.com/gp and ends with something like creative=9325):
    Copy the first URL
  5. Log out and go to Ready2Search, a website which will help you generate the search plugin:
    Ready2Search generates the OpenSearch XML file for you!
  6. Enter a meaningful search name (ShortName).
  7. Paste the URL to the front of the search term field.
  8. Still in this field, locate the keyword you entered in Amazon’s link generator and delete it (you’ll want the search keywords to be inserted there).
  9. Now cut everything from your current cursor position to the end of the field (Ctrl-X) and paste it to the next field (the back of the search term).
  10. Optional: Enter a description in the next field.
  11. Make sure the input encoding is set to UTF-8.
  12. Optional: On the lower right side, browse for an image and click on original color.
  13. Now click on Make search plug-in.
  14. If you only want to add the plug-in to your browser, simply click on OpenSearch plugin and you’re done:
    OpenSearch plug-in
  15. If you want to make the plug-in available to others, scroll down, click on Download… and save the XML file:
    Download
  16. Upload this file to your web space (mine is here).
  17. Unfortunately, you can’t just give a link to your file to other persons, you have to use one of the following methods to enable them to install the plugin: Autodiscovery of search plugins or Javascript (please click on the links for details).
  18. With autodiscovery, your search plugin will appear in the browser’s search box so that the user can add it:
    Add new search engine
    For this to work, your web page has to contain the following header:

    
    

    The title should match your plugins ShortName and of course you have to replace http://www.yoursite.com/associate.xml with the URL of the xml file you just uploaded in step 16.

  19. With Javascript, you can make a “click here to add my search plugin”-link. The following code is a quick and ugly way to do it (adapted from the mozilla developer center’s example):
    
    Add my Amazon.com associate search

    Here, you only have to replace http://www.yoursite.com/associate.xml.

  20. Click here to see a simple page which uses both options. Go ahead, install my plugin and use it frequently. 😉
    Search plugin - ready to use
    Just kidding, but if you want to be generous you could set up another search plugin for your favourite charity (if they have an Amazon associate ID) and use it from time to time.

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