Link Cloaking has various miss-conception associated with it. The word cloaking seems to be an intriguing one, but when you talk about Link Cloaking, well, it involves a comprehensive set of useful practices in the online marketing industry.
Link Cloaking is basically making those long-form URLs short and making them more user-friendly. With it, you can protect your valuable affiliate commissions from various unethical practices like Hijacking and others.
Most people also term it Affiliate Redirects; technique marketers use to direct visitors to an external site. These links help monitor the traffic which is going from their own site to the Affiliate site and also help them understand how their targeted audience is reacting to their website.
In this article, we shall discuss the various aspects of Link Cloaking and also learn why and how to cloak Affiliate links.
What is Affiliate Link Cloaking?
This practice is beneficial for beginners as they can locate their Affiliate id easily. As said earlier, it shortens the complex URL to small and easy-to-understand forms which are user-friendly. It also helps in re-branding the URLs and makes it easier to track and appear more trustworthy to the users who click on them.
Why is Cloaking Affiliate Links Important?
Now we shall discuss a few solid reasons why Link Cloaking is essential.
Helps Build the Trust of visitors to your website
With link cloaking, you can tell where the link will take you, creating a sense of trust. You can create links that appear safe to users instead of strange URLs that contain a series of numbers and letters. You can easily create links that contain your domain name at the end of the slug, which makes it look professional as well.
Improves SEO and Click-through rate
By cloaking links, you can keep an optimum balance of external and internal links, which can boost your website’s SEO. If your site contains too many external and internal links, then search engines are going to rank your website much lower than you expect.
Plus, it will also improve the Click-through rate as your link will appear more trustworthy, and users know where it is taking them, so they will trustfully click on it, which can even increase sales.
Easy to share
As Link Cloaking shortens the URL, you can easily share it on any platform. Especially for the Affiliate Marketers, this is really beneficial as they have to put in their Affiliate IDs more often. And when links are small, they are easy to manage, which makes them more shareable.
Easier to Track Outgoing Traffic
With the Link Cloaking plugin, you can check out who actually clicked on your links and if your Affiliate redirects are working. You can gather this information to curate your marketing strategy. If you happen to find out a consumer who likes your products more, you can use link cloaking and track the product which receives the most traffic.
Easy Affiliate Link Management
At times, it can be tough to organize and track all your Affiliate links. So with Link cloaking, your URLs become short, which makes them easy to manage. This technique will allow you to segregate them even better, and you can manage them from a single user interface.
When you have many Affiliate links, short links will make them manageable, and you can know where the links are and how and where you need to place them, which improves your effectiveness and increases productivity as well.
Target a larger Audience
As link cloaking gives you a clean URL which will be more appealing as it will contain your brand name or product. So this can convince the visitors to share it on any platform, which in turn will help you to reach out to a much wider audience.
Best Plugins to Cloak Affiliate Links
We have shared among the top Affiliate link-cloaking plugins which you can use to cloak your Affiliate links.
#1 Pretty Links
Pretty link is a robust plugin for link cloaking that comes with both free and premium plans. As you activate the plugin, a new tab will show up in your WordPress dashboard. This tool is helpful for tracking the number of clicks per link along with the number of unique clicks per link through which you can know how many times a link was clicked and also know how many people clicked on it.
It also allows you to set up various types of redirects where you can make redirects permanent with a 301 redirect or even make them temporary with a 302 or a 307 redirect. You don’t get the cloaked redirect feature in the free version. For more updates, you will have to subscribe to the plugin’s premium plans for its native cloaking feature and to get the most out of it.
#2 WooCommerce Cloak Affiliate Links
This plugin will help you to cloak affiliate links easily. It is easy to use and free to install. It allows you to set up three types of URL redirects, including 307, 302, and 301. It also offers a unique feature, the “Disallow” command, which you can add to your robots.txt file. This will prevent bots like Google from following the external links on your site. This is crucial for SEO. But it does not have any tracking feature, which can disappoint many. In that case, if you are looking for a premium plugin with advanced tracking capabilities, you will have to consider other ones on our list.
Next, we have this widely used WordPress link Cloaking Plugin – ThirstyAffiliates. It allows you to your add, manage and tracks affiliate links from your admin dashboard. It offers several features which are tailored made to create unique and professional Affiliate links for products.
The reason why this plugin is widely used is that with works seamlessly with a visual editor and allows you to insert Affiliate links into your blog posts more easily. The plugin has a massive download of over 443,521+ times by WordPress Sites Worldwide!
The plugin comes with powerful features like Autolink Keywords, Smart Uncloaking, Proactive Link Fixer, Geolocation Links and more which can help your Affiliate Marketing Efforts succeed. Its pricing starts from $79.50/year, which also comes with a 14-Day Money-back guarantee.
#4 Easy Affiliate Links
Easy Affiliate Links is another easy-to-use plugin that can help you manage your Affiliate links on your website. It allows you to use regular links or affiliate HTML code as well. This WordPress plugin is also compatible with the classic editor, Elementor, and Gutenberg Block editor as well.
A few of the key features this plugin offers are A/B testing, Shorten link service, UGC and sponsored attribute support and many more, which make this plugin a must. Speaking about its pricing, well, to avail of its premium services, you will have to go for its premium plan, which costs $29/year. But its Free version also comes with enough features to help you cloak Affiliate links.
#5 URL Shortener by MyThemeShop
This is a Free WordPress Link Cloaking Plugin that is widely used. Using this plugin, you can create custom URLs without even altering anything else on your website. Through it, you can easily create a short version of your URL and share it on social media and other platforms.
URL Shortner is an easy-to-use plugin that requires no custom configuration, and you can install it with just a few clicks. No coding nothing is required to use a URL shortener. The unique feature of this plugin helps you to hide Affiliate links. You can simply use URL Shortner and hide Affiliate URLs or referrer data with the URL Shortner Plugin. This guarantees that your visitors will not skip your Affiliate URL and also make purchases that will boost your commission.
Is it Possible to Cloak Affiliate Links without using Link-Cloaking Plugins?
Yes. You can hide your Affiliate links without WordPress Plugins. But for that, you require an FTP Account. This method is only handy when you have a few Affiliate links to manage and hide.
You can follow the below-mentioned steps to cloak affiliate links manually:
- Step 1: You first have to connect your site via an FTP client and then create a new folder for your website’s root directory. This folder will be your URL slug which can be /go/./recommend/and /out/.
- Step 2: Then, inside the same folder, you have to create a new file named index.php and then add the code from Yoast’s GitHub repository.
- Step 3: After you add the code, you have to create a redirects.txt file for your Affiliate link cloaking. Here you can add the destination URL and also the slug in the format – Website-slug, https://example.com/affiliateid=123.
- Step 4: Make sure you prevent search engines from indexing your cloaked Affiliate link by adding the Disallow: /folder-name/in your robots.txt file.
Top FAQs on How to Cloak Affiliate Links 2023?
Can Link Cloaking affect the site’s SEO?
No. Link Cloaking has no direct impact on SEO. Though the general impression it gives as it is a scam, but instead it is helpful to drive traffic to your website. However, Link Cloaking is not something that is going to get indexed by search engines; therefore, it is also not going to have an impact on the page rank.
Is it possible to Cloak links without a website?
Yes. For that, you can use link-shortening tools like Bitly. But there, you only get a link shortener with various limitations like uncustomized links, unchangeable URL destinations, and more. Also, if you have to add links to your content, you have to visit the service and check out the one you want to be copied.
Is it possible to cloak Amazon Affiliate links?
You cannot cloak Amazon Affiliate Links as it is against the Amazon operating agreement. That’s because it can make it even more challenging to track the customers about where they come from. You have to use a direct link from Amazon, or else you might get banned from the platform.
Can Affiliate links have an impact on SEO?
Affiliate links have no direct impact on SEO. These are links from major Affiliate Networks which have no adverse effect on SEO because search engines do not index them.
Final Verdict – Should you Cloak Affiliate Links?
As explained in our review, cloaking your URL is going to protect you from any hijacking or suspicious activity, which is critical for the success of your Affiliate program. And to help you with that, you have plenty of cloaking link tools that can help you to cloak Affiliate links. Using these plugins, you can streamline your Affiliate links and make them look genuine and trustworthy.
We hope that you understand all the aspects of Affiliate Link Cloaking and hope you choose the best method for it.