Link Cloaking – What Is It And Why Should You Consider It?

Affiliate marketing has become a bigger and bigger subset of the Internet marketing niche over the years… and for good reason. It is a great way to start making money online and, even as a product creator, affiliate marketing is a fantastic method to add significantly to your income. One of the main tools that affiliate marketers will use is link cloaking.

A quick definition is in order here if you don’t know what link cloaking is. Put simply link cloaking is when you hid your affiliate link behind another link that is possibly shorter but certainly looks a lot better. Let me illustrate… here is my affiliate link for a product called Like Page Builder (it builds Face =book Like Pages for you)

The second link is the exact same link only this time it has been cloaked. So why would I want to cloak my affiliate link? Well, there are a couple of good reasons I can think of. The first is that the link ‘”looks” better. It has been branded to suggest that this is a product that I especially recommend (which I do) but it also is easier to remember. It not only looks better but also far more professional.

The second reason is that you cannot “steal’ my commissions by substituting your own affiliate ID into the URL and deny me the commissions for a sale that I might otherwise have made. As a small aside here it is important to note that not all sites will allow the use of cloaked affiliate links so you do need to check first.

There is another benefit to using a cloaked link as opposed to a raw affiliate link and that is analytics. In fact the collection of analytics (or analysing where the traffic to the link came from) is the very reason why some sites don’t like the use of link cloaking… it interrupts their own analysis of traffic and conversions.

So how do you actually ‘cloak’ a raw affiliate link. The answer is simple… you use software to do the job for you. The first and easiest way to set up link cloaking is to use good old WordPress and one of the thousands of plugins that are on offer. Perhaps the most popular WordPress plugin used for link cloaking is on called Pretty Link Lite and it’s not bad at all.

But what do you do if you don’t use WordPress? You do what I prefer and use independent third party software. There are many options out in the marketplace, including some very questionable ‘free’ options. I use a product called Link Supercharger which does everything I want (and a whole lot more). Link Supercharger is easy to use but also allows me to set up a link to be cloaked or not so I can comply with the requirements of every product owner for whom I promote.

Of course you can keep things really simple and use link shorteners such as Bitly or TinyURL but in reality the only reason you would want to use these is if you are promoting on Twitter and need to watch the number of characters that you use. The issue I have with link shorteners is that they look just as cryptic as the original affiliate link and offer no branding. I do use them (only on Twitter) but I shorten my cloaked link anyway so that when the sales or squeeze page loads the title still shows my branding.

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