Last Updated on May 28, 2021 by Tracy Jackson
Link Cloaking – What Are The Benefits Of Link Cloaking For Affiliate Marketers?
As an affiliate marketer, you may have heard about how important it is to cloak affiliate links.
But what does affiliate link cloaking mean?
You may have some questions in your mind like –
Why should I cloak affiliate links?
What benefits do you gain by cloaking affiliate links?
Does a cloaked link affect your website’s SEO?
Which is the best WordPress plugin you can use for link cloaking?
If you want these questions answered, I suggest you keep reading this blog post. 🙂
Disclaimer: If you buy something using the links in this article, I may receive a commission at no extra cost to you. Know that I only promote stuff that I use and trust for the sake of my readers and the reputation of this site.
But before we get into the post, I’d like to take a minute to talk about one of the best WordPress plugins for link cloaking: Thirsty Affiliates.
Thirsty Affiliates is a WordPress plugin for affiliate link management. With the plugin, you can add affiliate links to your post, manage them easily, and effortlessly insert your affiliate links into your site pages and blog posts.
I’ll be talking more about Thirsty Affiliates and its features later in this post, so stick around till the end.
Let’s talk about link cloaking for your affiliate links.
What is Link Cloaking?
Link cloaking is when you disguise your affiliate URLs that are provided by affiliate programs or affiliate networks so that your affiliate link is shorter and your affiliate ID is unrecognizable.
There are many reasons why you may want to cloak affiliate links:
- Link cloaking makes your links shorter and more visually appealing
- Link cloaking makes your affiliate links easier to share
- Link cloaking also helps you in managing, tracking, and reporting your affiliate links
Another reason why some people choose to cloak affiliate links is commission theft.
Link cloaking helps you avoid commission theft whereby your affiliate commissions are “stolen” and awarded to another affiliate marketer who “steals” them.
Here’s how commission theft happens. When people unknowingly download malware on their computers, the malware detects the websites that they visit. It then looks for affiliate links on those web pages and replaces the affiliate ID with its own affiliate ID.
From then on, whatever commissions are made through that link get stolen from the original affiliate marketer.
Cloaked links help you avoid commission theft by disguising and defending your affiliate links.
How does Link Cloaking work?
Link cloaking is pretty simple, and there are many WordPress plugins that will help you cloak links on your website.
You can use a WordPress plugin like Thirsty Affiliates to cloak links.
When you insert affiliate links in your web page or blog post, affiliate link cloaking helps you disguise the links making them undetectable by malware and visually appealing to your readers.
The cloaked affiliate link can redirect your visitors to a destination URL where they can make a purchase. This purchase is added to your affiliate account, and you make a commission from it.
Shorter And Clean Affiliate Links
When it comes to affiliate marketing, trust is everything.
You do not want to plant doubt about the safety and credibility of your site and links in your readers’ minds.
That is why most affiliate marketers choose to hide affiliate links. Cloaked affiliate links look a lot cleaner and simpler. Without link cloaking, affiliate links are usually long, messy, and look like they make no sense.
You wouldn’t want your readers to avoid clicking on your affiliate links just because they look spammy or suspicious.
If you cloak your affiliate links in a way that is easy to understand and clean, readers are more likely to trust them and click on them to buy the products you recommend.
By link cloaking, you are not deceiving your readers in any way. It just “dresses up” the cloak to be more understandable so that users have an idea of the destination URL they will land on if they click the cloaked link.
Cloaked Links Are Easier to Share
If you use a link cloaking plugin, most of your cloaked affiliate links would look similar. This makes it easier to share with people instead of looking for a long piece of code or a very long link, copying and pasting it, and then sending it to people.
When people click on the link on your website page it will redirect them to your destination URL to make a purchase. This works even if you send them an individual affiliate link on social media or by email.
Most link cloaking WordPress plugins trim your affiliate links to your website name and the product you are recommending instead of attaching your affiliate ID and other irrelevant details to your affiliate link.
Although a link cloaking plugin is not free, they help you save a lot of time and money down the line, so it is well worth the investment.
What Are The Benefits of Link Cloaking?
There are many benefits of cloaking affiliate links, some of which I have already mentioned at the beginning of this post.
Here are the benefits of link cloaking:
Affiliate Link Management
It can be difficult to manage your affiliate links. You can insert affiliate links in your website pages and blog posts, as well as your social media posts and emails.
It can be tedious to manage a specific link across various platforms. With every new affiliate program you join, you will be assigned a new link. Having a single platform to manage all of your affiliate links can save you a lot of trouble.
Tracking and Reporting of a Cloaked Link
That makes it difficult to track every new link you use. If you use a direct link, it can make your links tough to manage. You will not be able to figure out which are your best-performing links.
Having a common tracking link helps you to easily track and gather reports of the performance of your cloaked links.
Cloaking links, on the other hand, allows you to easily manage and track your affiliate earnings in one place instead of having to depend on every affiliate network you join.
Each affiliate program has its own way of assigning affiliates a unique affiliate link. This will depend on many factors such as the product you want to recommend or the link category.
Link cloaking works by making your affiliate links look uniform and easy to understand, thereby building trust with your readers. Your readers will be able to judge where they will be led if they click your cloaked URL.
How Do You Track Affiliate Link Conversions?
There are two ways you can track link conversions – Postbacks and tracking pixels.
Let’s look at them one by one:
Postbacks may go by different names such as “webhooks” or “trackbacks”, but they mean the same. They are one of the most reliable methods of affiliate link tracking and are widely used by affiliate marketers to track the success of their affiliate marketing.
When a visitor clicks on an affiliate URL, the affiliate software records the click. The affiliate software then sends a unique key to the merchant landing page.
Once the order is completed, the merchant site sends back the same unique key to the affiliate software (postback), and the software records it as a conversion for the affiliate marketer.
A tracking pixel is a small 1×1 dot placed on a webpage. The tracking pixel “fires” each time the web page is loaded, alerting the owner of the pixel.
You can place a tracking pixel on any page during the online shopping process, but typically it is placed on the “Order Complete” page to track the completion of an order.
Tracking pixels are unreliable since they are web-based, and cannot be used on a smartphone or any other device.
What to do if the merchant doesn’t support conversion tracking
Merchant software may not always have the ability to alert you of every individual purchase that is made using your affiliate links.
When this is the case. you could supply the merchant with a tracking pixel to track your conversions.
ClickMeter is one way to do this. Using ClickMeter, you can give your merchant a tracking pixel to help you track conversions.
However, not every merchant will be open to the idea of installing a pixel on their site, especially if they work with multiple affiliates. In this case, you could either work with an affiliate network or use a service like TUNE.
These methods allow you to use the postback tracking method.
Best Affiliate Programs For Beginners: 35+ Highest Converting Affiliate Programs
How Do You Cloak Links?
There are many services and plugins that help you in cloaking your affiliate links. Most affiliate link tracking tools also offer URL masking features. But most of these tools do not offer conversion tracking.
Here are some of the popular tools you can use to cloak links:
Out of these options, I recommend Thirsty Affiliates. I use Thirsty Affiliates for link cloaking and to manage my affiliate links and the tool works great for WordPress.
Here is a blog post listing out the different affiliate software available these days and how you can use them. Check it out if you are interested:
What is Thirsty Affiliates?
The Thirsty Affiliates plugin helps you in cloaking your affiliate links, categorizing your links, and choosing your redirect tool.
It also has an affiliate link picker tool that allows you to easily insert affiliate links into your web pages and blog posts. Thirsty Affiliates has a SMart Uncloaking option for compatibility with Amazon Associates.
Thirsty Affiliates provides no-follow and open new tab options for your affiliate links. It provides basic statistics reports and allows you to see which pages or posts have affiliate links inserted.
Some other feature of Thirsty Affiliates is automatic keyword linking and advanced statistics reports for the user.
Although Thirsty Affiliates does not have a free version, its premium version is quite affordable with various pricing options.
How to use Thirsty Affiliates to cloak affiliate links
To cloak your links with Thirsty Affiliates, you will need to first install the free ThirstyAffiliates plugin on the backend of your WordPress website.
You can do this by going to Plugins> Add New and searching for “ThirstyAffiliates”.
How to add your first affiliate link
Once you have installed the Thirsty Affiliates plugin, you will need to follow these steps:
- In your WordPress dashboard, go to ThirstyAffiliates> Add New
- Enter a name for your affiliate link
- Enter the destination URL (your affiliate link)
- Save (You could also choose to create link categories and add your links in a specific category)
How to insert a link into a post
To insert your affiliate link into one of your blog posts on WordPress, here’s what you should do:
- Select the text you want to link
- Click on the TA button in the visual editor of WordPress
- Search for the link using the name that you saved it with
The best part about using ThirstyAffiliates is that when you want to change the affiliate link on all the posts you linked it to, all you need to do is change it in ThirstyAffiliates!
Should you ‘no follow’ affiliate links?
John Mueller from Google says that it is best to use the rel=sponsored link attribute on your affiliate links. Although affiliate links are not considered bad links by Google, using rel=sponsored makes things clearer for Google.
What is Pretty Links?
Pretty Links is an affiliate link management plugin for WordPress. You can use Pretty Links to cloak your affiliate links and manage them in one place.
Is Link Cloaking bad for SEO?
Not at all!
Just keep in mind that if you are using link cloaking for your affiliate links, it’s best to use the rel=”sponsored nofollow” HTML attribute. Not doing so could affect your SEO badly.
We’re at the end of this blog post!
By now, you must be having a clearer picture of what link cloaking is and how you can benefit by cloaking affiliate links on your site.
You may also have a pretty decent idea of how to use Thirsty Affiliates to cloak and manage your affiliate links in one place.
Feel free to leave a comment below if you have any more questions about link cloaking and I’ll add them to the post! 🙂
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