Outside of the fact that most affiliate links are simply ugly, there are many reasons why it’s important to cloak your affiliate links.
By setting up your links correctly, you’ll have a much easier time placing links, getting more clicks, and you’ll also be able to track and manage links much easier.
Let’s dig into this more.
*Disclosure: Any affiliate links earn me a commission (at no extra cost to you) if you choose to buy after clicking.
What is Link Cloaking?
Link cloaking is the process of making your affiliate link shorter and visually appealing to visitors.
Here’s an example of an affiliate link without cloaking it:
Here’s an example of a cloaked affiliate link:
Why should I cloak my affiliate links?
1. Makes Placement Easier
Have you ever been writing a blog post, social media post, or email message that you want to include a specific link, but you know that it’s a pain to sign into your affiliate account each time to grab the link? When you use a redirect system that has link URLs that make sense, it’s so much easier to remember it as well as share it with others.
2. Get More Clicks
Since the link doesn’t look scary and weird, people are just more likely to click it. I mean, face it, a link that looks like www.yourdomain.com/speakmore is going to get much more interest than a link that doesn’t even have your domain in it and looks weird with symbols, letters, and numbers.
Plus, again, if you can remember it, you’ll share it more.
3. Avoid Search Engine Penalties
When you post affiliate links, it does lower your ranking. There is some confusion about this, but too many strange looking affiliate links that do not have the “no-follow” designation will make it so that you don’t rank higher on search.
When you use attractive redirects, you should still include the no follow designation, but usually, bloggers use WordPress plugins like ThirstyAffiliates to do it which makes adding no-follow simple.
4. Stop Link Theft
Sadly, there are people who don’t care how hard others work – they’re going to steal. One way to do it today is with link theft. It’s a complicated thing, but if you use link cloaking, you’re less likely to have your links replaced by unscrupulous people out to take your commission from you.
5. Stop Ad Blockers
Many people use ad blockers today because they don’t want to get any ads. The problem with that idea is that if no one looked at or responded to ads, everyone would have to pay more for services such as email, search, and social media.
We may even have to pay much more for websites and technology because online ads would disappear. Using attractive links helps prevent that since it appears more natural and as part of the content.
6. Track & Manage Links Easier
Finally, and this is probably some of the most important parts of link cloaking, is the ability to track and manage links easier.
This is especially true if you use plugins like ThirstyAffiliates to manage your affiliate links. You’ll be able to get reports and so much information from setting this up that you’re going to be able to improve your sales exponentially.
How to cloak affiliate links?
You can cloak your links in a variety of ways. ThirstyAffiliate was mentioned as one way to do it, but you can also redirect using PHP Script, cPanel directs, and also link shortening services like bitly.com & clickmagick.com which also has some reporting options.
While everything mentioned is an important reason to cloak affiliate links, the most important one for you is the ability to track and manage your links easier.
When you can do that, you’ll be able to research your data to determine which solutions to market to your audience. Plus, you’ll know which links (and products) are really producing your income and which are not. This information will help you make good choices going forward.