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What is Affiliate Link Cloaking and How Does it Work?

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Did you know that there are simple things you can do to your affiliate links to make them more effective?

If so, then you may have heard of affiliate link cloaking.

Cloaking is a technique that can help you protect your affiliate links and keep your commissions safe.

When you work in affiliate marketing, you understand how relevant your gains are to your overall business.

In this blog post, we will take a look at affiliate link cloaking and how it works.

We will also discuss some of the benefits of using this technique.

As well, you will learn about plugins that make the process easier to do.

What Is Affiliate Link Cloaking?

Affiliate link cloaking is the process of hiding your affiliate links from your readers.

There are a few reasons why you would want to do this.

  • Make your links look more attractive
  • Increase sales conversions
  • Prevent affiliate link hijacking

How Does Affiliate Link Cloaking Work?

Affiliate link cloaking works by keeping website visitors from seeing the affiliate links provided by the vendor you sell for.

When a reader clicks on your affiliate link, they get redirected to your affiliate’s website through a process called “link rewriting.”

Because of that, your visitors will increase your commissions without your having to constantly and consistently push them to do so.

Example of Affiliate Link Cloaking

Here is an example of how affiliate link cloaking works.

  • Original affiliate link: myaffiliatelink.com/?affid=12345&offerid=98765
  • Cloaked affiliate link: mydomain.com/go/weight-loss-diet

As you can see, the true affiliate link remains hidden from the reader.

When your visitors click on mydomain.com/go/weight-loss-diet, they ultimately arrive at myaffiliatelink.com/?affid=12345&offerid=98765.

However, the latter is a lot “uglier” of a link and less enticing to click on than the former.

How Do You Mask an Affiliate Link?

You can use various ways to hide your affiliate links and keep others from understanding the ultimate URL destination.

The easiest way to do it is to use a shortener, a script, or a cloaking plugin.

1. Use a Link Shortener

Link shorteners are online tools that allow you to shorten your affiliate links.

Bitly is one of the best link shorteners.

To use a link shortener, enter your affiliate URL into the tool and it will generate a new, shorter link for you to use.

2. Use an Affiliate Link Cloaking Plugin (Our Recommendation)

There are affiliate link cloaking plugins available for WordPress websites.

A plugin represents one of the best tools to make cloaking links easier.

Using a plugin, you take the affiliate link provided by your chosen affiliate program, enter it into the plugin’s interface, and then tell the plugin what to add to the URL string.

The plugin will then add that URL string to your website domain.

There is a big advantage to using a plugin over a link shortener.

With a link shortener like Bitly, you will share the Bitly URL.

Using a plugin means you can keep your URLs consistent with your business domain name.

3. Use a Script

If you are comfortable with coding, you could use a script to cloak your affiliate links.

To use a script, you would host the script on your server.

Once hosted, edit the affiliate links on your website to point to the script.

When a visitor clicks on the affiliate link, the script will run and rewrite the link to your affiliate URL.

Should You Cloak Affiliate Links?

Yes, you should cloak your affiliate links.

You can only make money if you get your audience to arrive on the affiliate sales page.

By cloaking your affiliate links, you make them more attractive and easier to remember.

It increases the chance that people will click on your links.

Why Should You Be Careful With Cloaking Your Referral Links?

While it is beneficial to cloak affiliate links, you should be careful when doing so.

Some affiliate programs don’t allow cloaking.

Pay attention to these rules so you don’t accidentally lose your ability to promote a product.

What Are the Benefits of Cloaking Your Affiliate Link?

Affiliate link cloaking can offer several benefits to affiliate marketers.

When it comes to affiliate marketing, your most important goal is to establish trust, track your gains, and keep consistent.

Increased Trust From Your Readers

Most affiliate links are ugly long strings of numbers, letters, and symbols.

Many people feel hesitant to click when they see these strange-looking links.

By cloaking your affiliate links, you can make them look more approachable, trustworthy, and professional.

Ability to Track Clicks and Conversions

You might invest a lot of time in finding high-paying programs for affiliates.

Don’t forget to track effectively to earn more money.

Using a plugin, you can track how many people click on the link.

Most affiliate programs allow you to use tracking your affiliate links for specific promotions.

You might create one link to track paid ads and another link to track clicks from a blog post.

In your plugin, hide these long URL strings while creating unique links for each situation.

In your affiliate dashboard, you will see which ad or content leads to sales.

Consistent URLs With Your Website Domain Name

As we mentioned earlier, using a link shortener like Bitly means you will share the Bitly URL.

If people see the Bitly URL, they may not trust it as much as they would trust consistent link practices using your domain.

Improves SEO and Your CTRs

Affiliate link cloaking can also improve your affiliate marketing efforts in two ways, SEO and CTRs.

SEO stands for search engine optimization.

It is the practice of optimizing your website to rank higher in Google search results.

URLs are important in SEO.

An ugly affiliate URL can decrease user experience.

A cloaked affiliate link attached to your domain will increase user experience.

Google notices these differences and uses them as minor ranking factors.

Additionally, you should see an improvement in click-through rates when cloaking affiliate links with your domain in the URL string.

Easier To Share and Promote

If someone wants to share your affiliate link with their audience, they have to remember a long URL string.

By cloaking affiliate links, you make it easy for people to share.

You might use an easy-to-remember URL like www.yourwebsite.com/flower-pot.

7 Recommended Affiliate Link Cloaking Plugins That You Can Use

There are several link cloaking plugins to choose from.

Here are a few to consider for your affiliate marketing business.

1. ThirstyAffiliates

screenshot of the thristyaffiliates homepage

ThirstyAffiliates is one of the most popular link cloaking plugins.

The plugin allows you to cloak, manage, and organize all your affiliate links in one place.

You can also import and export affiliate links, add affiliate links to posts and pages, and automatically affiliate keyword phrases.

It gives you a simple and intuitive dashboard to work from.

Inside your account, click on the “Add New” button to get things started.

One of its biggest advantages is the feature to search your affiliate links.

The plugin is free to download and use.

If you need to, you can upgrade to its premium plan for extra functionality.

2. Simple URLs

screenshot of the simple urls homepage

Another free plugin, Simple URLs, allows you to generate, manage, and track affiliate links.

Use it to create masked links to make them more shareable.

It works well to shorten any type of URL.

Even though this tool does its job well, you won’t get any updates about it.

It’s a deprecated tool.

If you need any help after running into problems during installation, for instance, you can’t turn to a customer support staff.

3. URL Shortener

screenshot of the url shortener homepage

The URL Shortener plugin is available on the WordPress plugin repository.

It is compatible with all versions of WordPress.

It lets you create affiliate links and track them using Google Analytics.

The affiliate link feature gives you options like affiliate link cloaking, the ability to add affiliate links to posts and pages and to automatically use keyword phrases.

4. Pretty Links

screenshot of the pretty links homepage

Pretty Links is one of the most popular affiliate link cloaking plugins.

It allows you to create, manage, and track affiliate links.

It also comes with a link editor so that you can edit your affiliate links on the go.

Installing Pretty Links is a breeze. It sits inside your WordPress dashboard.

he dashboard tracks the number of times visitors click each link.

Use this tracking feature to learn which areas of your website receive the best click-through rates.

Pretty Links is available in both a free and premium version.

The free version gives you features like the ability to create 301 redirects.

The premium version ensures that your link remains cloaked even after resolving to the affiliate merchant’s sales page.

5. Easy Affiliate Links

screenshot of the easy affiliate links homepagea

Easy Affiliate Links is a free affiliate link cloaking plugin for WordPress.

One of its standout features is the affiliate link generator.

The affiliate link generator creates affiliate links for you automatically.

Use it to create cloaked affiliate links in seconds.

You can also use Easy Affiliate Links to generate short links, text disclaimers, and link categories.

6. EasyAzon

screenshot of the easyazon homepage

EasyAzon is an affiliate link cloaking option for Amazon Associates.

You can also use the plugin to cloak affiliate links, add affiliate disclosure statements, and create global affiliate links.

The plugin even offers affiliate training.

The training area focuses on performing keyword research, building your Amazon website, and increasing commissions.

7. Auto Amazon Links

screenshot of the auto amazon links homepage

You can use Auto Amazon Links to generate affiliate links for Amazon products automatically.

The plugin displays product images, descriptions, and prices in a grid layout.

It will help you remain in compliance with Amazon’s affiliate guidelines.

Who Offers the Best Link Cloaking Plugin?

From our list outlined above, we suggest going with ThirstyAffiliates as your first option.

The plugin’s owners built the tool specifically with the affiliate marketer in mind.

ThirstyAffiliates wins out for the way it helps you quickly add your affiliate links via the “Quick Add” button.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do you still have questions about affiliate cloaking?

Here are the answers to three common questions.

Can I shorten Amazon affiliate links?

Amazon’s terms of service state that you must include the affiliate ID in any links that you post.

If you’re going to shorten your affiliate link, use a plugin built for Amazon.

The aforementioned EasyAzon is a quality option.

Do you have to disclose if you are an affiliate?

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) puts out guidelines in this area.

Under those guidelines, all affiliate marketers must disclose their relationship with the company whose products they promote.

Is there a free version of Pretty Links?

Pretty Links offers a free version.

Most affiliates should find that the free version is all they need.

Wrapping Up

There is plenty to learn as an affiliate marketer.

One area you should navigate well is cloaking your affiliate links.

You can avoid stolen commissions, increase click-through rates, and improve sales by using affiliate link cloaking.

Moreover, you will easily grow your affiliate business once you build an audience that trusts your content and your cloaked affiliate links.

If you have any questions about cloaking affiliate links, leave them in the comments below.

Or, start using an affiliate cloaking plugin today.

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