Link cloaking is a synergy that shortens long affiliate links into short and clean links. Usually, the first part of the url is the address of a website and the second is a shorter url that represents the brand you are affiliated to. Affiliate link cloaking is definitely one of the must-dos of Affiliate Marketing. It’s a good practice to hide your real affiliate link urls from your visitors / readers but rather display a much cleaner and smart urls that refers visitors to your respective affiliate sites. This way, a lot of benefits come into place; right from increasing your affiliate conversion to an increase in sales plus a lot more that i am going to discuss in this post.
Before we go ahead with the benefits, How does a cloaked affiliate link look like? At Tutorial FAQ, the first potion of the link represents the website url, the second is recommends and the final is a short url of the site i am affiliated to. This way i am able to have a url like:
http://tutorialfaq.com/recommends/bluehost to represent: https://www.bluehost.com/track/kawlaw/
Usually what happens is, when a visitor clicks on a cloaked affiliate link; a 301 redirect is initiated to refer the first link to the original url and that way, the visitor will visit the website you are referring him to through the original affiliate link you were given after signing up on your affiliate site.
So what are the Benefits of Cloaking Affiliate Links?
Like said previously, Affiliate link cloaking has a number of benefits. Below are just some of those many benefits you will definitely enjoy once your affiliate links are cloaked.
1. Increases affiliate conversion: Not everyone is willing to purchase through your affiliate link. Some people will read your post and rather visit affiliate sites directly and not through your referral link. Cloaked affiliate links will increase the conversion of clicks on your affiliate links since it’s hard to tell whether you are referring a plain link or an affiliate link. This way, you will make more revenue.
2. Smarter and clean URLs: Truth is long and ugly URLs are irritating and so could it be to a certain portion of your readers. Even the most ugliest and longest URLs can be made smartest through affiliate link cloaking.
3. Easy Tracking: Cloaked affiliate links are very easy to track because most plugins have counters that record every single click a link generates. And besides, so many businesses out there have affiliate programs and you can guarantee that all of them have interfaces that accurately records clicks. It’s way easier to confirm the number of generated clicks by comparing the links on your plugin’s counter to the ones of the merchant’s interface.
4. Increase in commission: Cloaked affiliate links are secure implicating your commissions are protected. Uncloaked links might cause you commission loss especially in cases when malware replaces an original affiliate link with another to steal commissions. This kind of malware does exist and several merchants do warn their affiliates about it.
So how are commissions stolen? What you should know is most commission URLs are standard and have slight alternations at some point to represent the account of a user. A URL like: https://www.bluehost.com/track/kawlaw/ looks standard up to the slash before kawlaw, which represents my user account. Malware can easily replace ‘kawlaw’ with another account’s name to steal commissions.
5. Increased CTR (Click Through Rate): Not so many people will click on ugly urls. In fact, some of them will question them and mistake them for bad links. High click-through rates increases your chances of making more sales implicating you ought to generate so many clicks on your blog. With clean urls, visitors are likely to click on the link easily. This will definitely shoot the click-through rate on your affiliate links which in turn boosts your revenue.
6. Easy to Manage: It’s easy to manage cloaked links especially in scenarios of adding attributes to all links at once. Below are some of the ways you can manage your links:
- Add Nofollow attributes
- Open links in new tabs
- Edit / Change Urls
- Categorize links
- Import / Export links
There are just so many ways you could want to manage your links which you need to do once and not over and over again. Imagine you had uncloaked affiliate links in over 300 web pages and you needed to make adjustments on the links. This would mean editing the 300 or so web pages one by one and over again in case of any future changes which is quite a hell of a routine. This isn’t the case with cloaked affiliate links because one change on your plugin’s dashboard can affect all the links at once which in turn saves you time.
7. Avoids SEO Penalty from Google: Google is so strict about affiliate links and discourages webmasters to add so many links on a single page. Besides, web pages with so many dofollow affiliate links usually find a hard time ranking on search engine yet you might need to add a good number of links in a blog post in some cases. Even though Google looks at affiliate links without any issue, some scenarios can push you to a penalty. You could opt to add nofollow tags on each link you add in your blog posts but you could end up leaving some dofollowed unknowingly which all adds up to the total number of dofollow outbound links on your blog. Cloaking links will let you all your affiliate links at once.
8. Good Email delivery rates: If you add affiliate links in email newsletters then you definitely have to cloak your links if you are to see a good / high delivery rate. Uncloaked links are likely to fail your mails from bypassing spam filters which could push your mails to spam folders. Very few look at this folder and even if they did, most of them would delete the emails straight away without reading them. Cloaked links will increase the delivery rate of your mails.
Are you cloaking affiliate links on your blog? What’s the main benefit you get out of it? I do consider all the points i laid above but i believe more in having smarter and clean links, of course not forgetting the ease of tweaking the links.