Link Cloaking

Veranika Minina 02 May 2024

A link cloaking is a way to mask an affiliate link. To understand what is link cloaking, let’s delve deeper into the essence of the term and how it works in affiliate marketing.

Link Cloaking Meaning

Link cloaking is a process of hiding a URL by masking it with another URL. In other words, this tactic hides the real web address and shows another one. This way, when you click on the link, you end up at the desired destination without seeing the real URL.

With a disguised link, you can take the long, unwieldy URL you receive from an affiliate program and tidy it up to make it not only shorter, but also hide your affiliate ID.

By using a disguised link, you not only protect your commissions from digital fraudsters. You’re also providing a link that visitors won’t hesitate to click on because its appearance is unmistakable. It’s a win-win: safety for you and simplicity for them.

For example, this link is long and controversial:

www.affiliate.com/products/?product_service_id=B764giHfjeu8jshdf5euhr.

Using link cloaking, we can change into the following one:

www.affiliate.com/product-name.

Advantages of Link Cloaking

Link cloaking in affiliate marketing offers several advantages, including:

  • Trustworthy links: Different affiliate networks and programs may have varying permalink structures, resulting in links that may contain gibberish or appear cluttered. By using link cloaking technique, you can create a consistent and clean URL structure for all your affiliate links. This enhances user experience by providing clear and concise information about the destination of the link;

  • Commission protection: If your affiliate links are at risk of malware that replaces them to steal your commissions, it puts your profits in danger. Additionally, you may lose commissions when customers intentionally remove the affiliate portion of the link and bypass it to make direct purchases. To prevent these issues, link cloaking is a beneficial strategy. By cloaking your links, you ensure that link predators and bypassers remain unaware that they are affiliate links;

  • Ease of management: The tools through which you implement link cloaking also help you to facilitate management. Managing and keeping track of numerous affiliate links can be a daunting task. So, these tools enable you to efficiently organize all your links by categorizing them in a centralized dashboard. For instance, you can categorize them based on the affiliate network or campaign they belong to. By employing link cloaking, you gain access to valuable data such as click tracking and conversion tracking. This enhances your ability to manage links effectively and improves your overall workflow;

How to Use Link Cloaking?

There are two ways of link cloaking usage: with plugins and without them. Let’s consider the advantages of both types.

With Plugins

Link cloaking plugins are tools or software that provide functionality for cloaking or disguising affiliate links on a website. These plugins typically offer features such as URL redirection, customizable link structures, and tracking capabilities. These plugins can be installed on content management systems like WordPress to simplify the process of managing and cloaking affiliate links on a website.

There are 3 link cloaking plugins that you can use:

  • Pretty Links: To use this tool, you need to install and activate the plugin on your WordPress website. Then, select the “Add New” option, choose a redirection type, provide the target URL and the desired title for the link. If you’d like to access premium features, you will be required to enter a license key obtained from your Pretty Links account;

  • ThirstyAffiliates: This plugin assists in the addition, management, and tracking of affiliate links directly from your admin dashboard. Its range of features allows you to generate personalized affiliate links for your products. Also, it seamlessly integrates with the visual editor, appearing as a TA button in the toolbar. This convenient integration facilitates the effortless insertion of affiliate links into your blog posts. Furthermore, Thirsty Affiliates offers the capability to create cloaked affiliate links using the Quick Add button;

  • Lasso: Lasso is a versatile plugin that offers a wide range of features aimed at enhancing affiliate revenue and conversions. It encompasses functionalities such as link cloaking, product displays, link tracking, and opportunity spotting. Additionally, Lasso seamlessly integrates with Amazon, providing assurance that your links are always valid and functional. With Lasso, you can easily extract product information from Amazon by simply copying the URL, without the need for API keys.

Without Plugins

You can cloak affiliate links editing the HTML code on your website. What you need to know:

  • Cloaking affiliate links without a plugin requires manually updating the HTML code on your website;
  • Use an HTML anchor tag with a customized “href” attribute to hide the original affiliate link URL;
  • By cloaking the link, you can present a more user-friendly URL to your audience while still redirecting them to the intended destination.

The key advantage of this approach is that it gives you full control over the link cloaking process without relying on a third-party plugin. This can be particularly useful if you have specific requirements or want to integrate the cloaking mechanism seamlessly with your website’s design and functionality.

What is the Difference Between Link Cloaking & Link Shortening?

The distinction between link cloaking and link shortening lies in their primary objectives. Link shortening focuses on creating shorter and more user-friendly URLs, whereas link cloaking is employed to conceal the true destination of a URL. These techniques serve different purposes and involve manipulating or modifying URLs in distinct ways.

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