One of the best ways to earn passively online is from affiliate marketing. All you need do is to recommend other people’s products and you get a commission for every sale made via your recommendation link. But even affiliate marketing has its snags.
If you are already at it, chances are you have wondered if it is possible to disguise your affiliate link from the ‘ugly’ default one that contains the affiliate code, to a more attractive one.
Alas, there is link cloaking.
Affiliate Link Cloaking 101
As nefarious as it might sound, link cloaking is not at all illegal. In fact, you could think of it as merely a makeover which is necessary because of the high competitiveness in the affiliate marketing industry that has exposed it to a lot of scammers.
Too many dishonest companies now set up malware to affect the web browsers of internet users with the aim of replacing the marketers’ affiliate links with their own link to siphon the marketers’ commissions.
Thankfully there’s has a silver bullet to this problem in the name of link cloaking.
What Is Link Cloaking
Link cloaking simply means customizing a URL from its default format to a new one that would not show any trait of being an affiliate link.
An uncloaked affiliate link is usually very long and always looks like this:
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But after cloaking, it changes to something of this form:
Importance Of Cloaking Your Affiliate Links
There might be a thousand and one reasons why using a link cloaker is important in affiliate marketing, but here are 3 of the most important WHYs:
1. Commissions Protection
If you are not being too modest, the reason you are in the affiliate business at all is to make profits. These profits are unsafe when your links are susceptible to malware designed to replace your affiliate links with others in an attempt to steal your commissions.
If not that, you can also lose commissions when a customer knows that he is about to click on an affiliate link on your page and bypasses it by chopping off the affiliate part of the link and goes directly to the main site, say Amazon, to make the purchase.
The way to avoid these is to cloak your links. That way link predators and by-passers would never know they are affiliate links.
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2. More Attractive Links
Using a link cloaker means having full control of your affiliate URL so you can pretty much make it as attractive and sellable as possible, which Google wants for your ranking rather that the
ugly default affiliate permalink.
In affiliate marketing, it helps to know which amongst your affiliate links is gaining more traction than the others so that you can leverage on it for marketing.
If you discover that your audiences are barely clicking on your fashion product links but you have lots of clicks on health product links, then it would pay more to create more content around health products and promote them.
Using a link cloaker gives you the ability to track your links and get these valuable insights.
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10 Best Affiliate Link Cloakers
LinkTrackr is an ideal tool for preventing commission theft from your affiliate links especially if you have no prior technical or programming knowledge.
By simply creating a tracking link which redirects to the affiliate page, you successfully secure your affiliate link.
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Thirsty Affiliate is easily one of the most popular affiliate cloakers on the market in terms of management.
The WordPress plugin provides a simple setup interface and management of your affiliate links and also gives the option to set your links as either as dofollow and nofollow.
Some of the pro features include automatic keyword linking, geo-location, and CSV import and export.
3. Pretty Links
In addition to letting you easily customize your affiliate links, Pretty Link is a free WordPress link cloaker that keeps a tab on the number of hits you get per URL including additional information like the location of the URL visitors and type of devices.
Pretty Link is an apt choice if you want a link cloaker that would organize your links into groups and create Google’s recommended nofollow links.
You can cloak and manage your entire affiliate link right from your website by installing Easy Affiliate as a plugin from your WordPress dashboard. This way you can manage your contents and links from the visual or HTML editor on one dashboard.
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Easy affiliate also let you import your links as XML and export it to XML.
5. Genius Link
Genius Link offers a 14-day free trial period and a $2/1000 clicks after the trial.
Its automated feature ensures that it syncs your affiliate account with your iTunes, Microsoft, and Amazon links. Another high point is its geo-location based redirection feature that informs you of your shoppers’ countries and allows you to create custom destinations for other affiliate programs.
You can seamlessly manage all of your links from one location after a simple copy and paste action.
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Simple link cloaker is an open source plugin which is fast, simple and prevents page rank leakage. It permits you to choose between select 301 permanent redirection and select 302 temporary redirection types.
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WP Wizard Cloak makes link cloaking easy to create and manage even for beginning marketers.
You can also track your visitors’ IP addresses, browser types, referral addresses, and export this report all from your WordPress admin panel.
8. Simple URLs
Unlike the Simple Link Cloaker, Simple URLs permits only redirect 301 permanent redirection types to manage and track links. Links customization is directly from the text editor, and it keeps a record of click counts too.
Hidden Affiliate Links let you disguise and manage your affiliate links in a matter of minutes. It is famous for its ability to automatically replace keywords with a link.
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You know the WooCommerce plugin if you are familiar with e-Commerce and WordPress, but this plugin would also help to disguise all your affiliate links in your e-Commerce store.
WooCommerce also gives you the option to block search engine bots from following your external links.
There is nothing sinister about link cloaking. In fact, some might argue that customizing (defining) your links is a more honest approach to affiliate marketing than leaving it naked.
If you want to protect your affiliate commissions then you should keep abreast with the best link cloakers and practices in the industry.
Disguising your links to more attractive ones is bound to get you more clicks and affiliate revenue.