Disclosure (full version here): Some of the links you’ll encounter are affiliate links. If you click and buy something, I may get a commission. Thank you!
Cloaking affiliate links.
What it is?
Why you need to be doing it?
How to cloak affiliate links in WordPress and with plugins?
This and much more in this quick tutorial.
Table of Contents
What is Affiliate Link Cloaking Exactly?
Affiliate link cloaking; sounds confusing I know, but it’s just you taking your raw affiliate links and replacing them with prettier, cloaked versions while keeping your precious affiliate id code intact.
By cloaking affiliate links, you get to hide their gruesome appearance; but keep their destination. So the previous link, which honesty looks spammy and simply repels you to click is turned into this beauty that invites you to click it, and that’s nearly impossible to say no to.
As you will soon see below, you cloak affiliate links with WordPress plugins. The benefit to this method is that all links will be accessible from within the plugin’s dashboard, meaning in one place and easy for you to manage.
So if a merchant changes their affiliate codes, you go in and change one link on your end, and that change automatically updates all links across your site.
Some networks even help you with organization. For example, Fiverr’s affiliate program offer their own link cloaking service for you to use.
It’s mandatory to use it and in this case, you wouldn’t want to cloak your links with a plugin, because that might break them.
#3- Easy No-Following
Google considers affiliate links to be paid links; and as such you must put a no-follow tag on it or risk getting either an algorithmic search engine penalty (Penguin), or a manual penalty.
#4- Avoid Ad Blockers
Ad blockers (the most famous of which is Ad Bloc Plus) block out all banner ads from popular merchants.
And even if you’re using custom-made banners with affiliate links embedded you run the risk of your banners being noticed and blocked.
The solution is to cloak your affiliate links before you embed them becuse this will hide your affiliate code id and ad-blockers will be fooled.
#5- Potential Affiliate Commission Theft
By not cloaking your links you’re leaving them exposed to attacks. What I mean is there is malware out there that can go in and switch your affiliate id with the attackers and you would never know it happend.
The only way to notice this is by seeing a large drop in commissions and then investigating the cause. But by that point your well-earned affiliate earnings would be lost.
Raw affiliate links in emails often trigger spam filters (especially if they use CleanTalk) and thus emails get filtered.
And if this happens too often, not only will you lose on potential sales, but your mail could become blacklisted. This means that none of your emails, affiliate links or not, will ever reach their intended recipients.
And that’s a scary thought indeed.
#7- Saves Precious Time
Cloaking affiliate links takes some time. Typically a few minutes.
But, when you do it once, that’s it!
You can re-use the same link over and over without ever giving this matter a second thought.
Do it once. Do it right; and you’re set!
And here’s how to do it!
How to Cloak Affiliate Links in Your WordPress Blogs- Use Plugins of Course!
Now that you know why cloaking your affiliate links is super important, it’s time to show you how to do it.
Since we’re all using WordPress (I hope) the easiest way to cloak links is with plugins, and my picks are:
Let’s cover both, shall we?
How to Cloak Affiliate Links with Thirsty Affiliate Plugin
First, go and add Thirsty Affiliates to your WordPress dashboard.
So now that you’ve added it to your WordPress site, it will show up in your dashboard’s left sidebar
Hover over the “Thirsty Affiliates” tab and click “Settings“
Once you’re in you’ll see there’s a tonne of settings to tinker with. However almost all of it can be left as it is, on default mode.
But here’s what you need to change.
Click on the “Link Appearance” tab and modify the settings to be like this:
Link prefix– recommends
Link redirect type– 307 temporary redirect
Use nofollow on links– yes
Open link in a new window– yes (good for SEO as you keep them on your site and boost dwell time)
And that is it.
Now hover again on the Thirsty Affiliates tab and click “Add New Link”
Now just add in your affiliate links:
Title– the name of your link- this will be your link anchor
Affiliate Link– paste here your raw affiliate link that you got from your merchant
And then just save your links and you’re done.
Now when you go to any WordPress post you can fetch that link right from the dashboard
Now to create a new link, simply hover over the Pretty Links tab and go “Add New”
Title– name it so you know what the link is
Target URL-Your affiliate link
Pretty Link- Your new link
Save and you’re done..
What I don’t like about Pretty Links is that when you want to add an affiliate link, you have to load up the plugin outside of the post you’re working on and then copy the link and paste it to your post.
It’s such an inefficient method and if you have lot of affiliate links to add, then you lose a lot of time on it.
That is why I recently switched from Pretty Links to Thirsty Affiliates.
If you’ve read the post then you know there are at least 7 benefits to managing your links properly. And each benefit becomes a loss if you don’t cloak affiliate links.
b) How Do I Cloak Affiliate Links in WordPress?
Use a link cloaking plugin.
Note: I recommend Thirsty Affiliates or Pretty Links
c) Can I Cloak Amazon Affiliate Links?
Yes you can; and it is crucial that you do.
It’s because Amazon has different stores for different countries. And affiliate links for one country work for folks from that country only, but not for the rest of the world (hint: you’ll be losing commissions left and right).
United States: Amazon.com
United Kingdom: Amazon.co.uk
And fore each country you have to generate unique affiliate code for each product you promote and it’s just a total mess.
I recommend you use Geni.us, a paid (but cheap) service that will help you create a universal Amazon affiliate link that will work for you at all times and in all corners of the world.
So no matter if your visitor is from Tel Aviv, Adis Abeba, Los Angeles or Tokyo, they will be able to purchase from your affiliate link, and you won’t be losing your hard-won affiliate commissions.
d) Is Hiding/Cloaking Affiliate Links Bad for SEO?
In fact, NOT cloaking your affiliate links can be disastrous for your SEO if Google suspects you’re selling Page Rank.
Conclusion-Now You Know How to Cloak Affiliate Links in WordPress, And Why You Should Do it
Affiliate link cloaking, not so confusing now, is it?
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