Do you click on a link which look like this?
You’ll NEVER know where you’ll end up once you click on that link. But what if you could make that link look like example.com/go/iphone8
That’s so easy to recognise that you’ll be visiting a particular product page, right? Are you curious to know how to turn ugly looking links into short and prettier links?
We all know that affiliate marketing is the process of selling others products to your blog audience and making commission whenever you make a successful sale.
Whether you know it or not, successful affiliate marketing involves A LOT of complex factors such as SEO, link building, proper content strategy, high quality email list and so on. One among them is affiliate link cloaking. In this detailed article, we are going to discuss just about that.
Table of Contents
- What is Affiliate Link Cloaking?
- Top 10 Affiliate Link Cloaking WordPress Plugins
- 1. Auto Affiliate Links
- 2. Affiliate Links Plugin from Envato Market
- 3. ClickerVolt
- 4. Coupon Plugin
- 5. Easy Affiliate Links
- 6. EasyAzon – Amazon Associates Affiliate Plugin
- 7. Shortlinks by Pretty Links
- 8. ThirstyAffiliates Affiliate Link Manager
- 9. URL Shortener Pro
- 10. WooCommerce Cloak Affiliate Links
- 5 Things to Remember While Cloaking Your Affiliate Links
- FAQs About Link Cloaking
- Final Thoughts
What is Affiliate Link Cloaking?
Affiliate link cloaking is the practice of turning longer and vague URLs into shorter and better optimized URLs. It helps search crawlers and your website users to better understand what your links are all about.
Let’s define it in simple terms by separating the phrase “affiliate link cloaking” into two words “affiliate links” + “cloaking”.
- “Affiliate links” usually contain long and ugly URLs such as www.example.com/cgi-bin/affiliates/signup.pl?affiliate_id=asdjl;ksagqljehaha
- “Cloaking” is where you turn long affiliate links into short and sweet links such as www.example.com/bluehost (now, that’s easy to read and understand, right?)
For instance, here’s how our Bluehost affiliate link looks like in live.
https://bloggerspassion.com/recommended/bluehost (when you click on it, it will redirect you to the product page without affecting my affiliate commission).
See that? Affiliate link cloaking simply means making your affiliate links short, sweet and prettier so they don’t look ugly and long.
What are the benefits of link cloaking?
So what are the benefits of affiliate link cloaking? Here are some of the biggest reasons to cloak your affiliate links.
Can be easily used anywhere: Short and sweet links can be used anywhere including your blog posts, landing pages, social media posts, email newsletters and the list goes on. It’s so much easier to manage your affiliate links by cloaking.
Improve CTR: Whether you know it or not, long and ugly looking URLs don’t convert as they can even hurt your click through rates. As an affiliate marketer, you don’t want that. You can easily get higher CTR on your links by cloaking with simple and pretty optimized URLs.
Better conversions: Short affiliate links don’t look like spam. People don’t like to buy from links they don’t understand. Here’s where cloaking helps as it’s so much easier to add product names while cloaking for higher conversions.
SEO benefits: Search crawlers can easily fetch your affiliate links because they are not only short but they are also well optimized. Not just that, you can also prevent passing your site’s link juice to affiliate products you promote by adding nofollow links.
Tracking: By cloaking your affiliate links, you can track everything from how many people clicked on them to how many successful sales you have actually made. That’s a great way to increase your overall affiliate sales.
So how can you cloak your affiliate links?
There are so many ways to cloak your affiliate links. You can either do it manually by going to any link shortener sites such as Bit.ly, goo.gl, Ow.ly etc. Or you can use WordPress plugins.
You’re fortunate if you’re using WordPress as there are a ton of plugins which can help you easily cloak your links. In this article, let’s cover some of the best affiliate link cloaking plugins for WordPress sites.
Top 10 Affiliate Link Cloaking WordPress Plugins
Quick note: Before jumping into the post, we want you to know that the following list of plugins for link cloaking is in no particular order. So don’t make a judgement of the importance of a plugin by the list from top to down. Have a look at their features and give a try to any one of them.
Want to automatically add affiliate links into your blog posts? Then, you can give a try to this affiliate link cloaking plugin where you can add links automatically. If you want, you can also manually set affiliate links according to your keywords.
That means, whenever you use particular keywords within your content, this plugin automatically adds affiliate links.
- You can make your affiliate links nofollow or dofollow
- You can open links in new page or the same page while cloaking links
- The ability to add automatic links according to your keywords
- You can also automatically extract and display links from top marketing platforms like Amazon, Clickbank, Shareasale, Ebay, Commission Junction, Envato Market and so on
- You can add multiple keywords if you want to automatically cloak your links, separated by a comma. For instance: “iphone, apple smartphone, iphone discount”. If you add the same link 3 times with different keywords, the same link will appear for all the keywords you add
This is a paid cloaking plugin from Envato Market which helps you boost your SEO by hiding affiliate links from search engines like Google. It can also protect your affiliate earnings by masking your affiliate referral links (how cool is that?).
This premium WordPress plugin helps you easily mask any URL in order to create and shorten any links (including internal or external links).
- You can find and easily analyse your link traffic along with stats
- You can easily hide your affiliate links from search engines
- The ability to mask referral links
- You can track each and every link click on your website as an event in Google Analytics
If you want to A/B test URLs to find the best performing links along with cloaking your links, ClickerVolt is a great cloaking and tracking plugin for you.
You can track the CTR (click-through-rate) of your links from your landing pages, easily perform split testing, trigger your retargeting pixels whenever someone clicks on your links and so on with this plugin.
The best thing about using this plugin is all the features are available even in its free version. You should go for their paid version if you want their support assistance (features are same).
- This plugin integrates easily with Google Ads, Bing Ads, Facebook Ads and so on
- It is one of the fastest link trackers as redirects take less than 1 ms of click-processing time
- You can build unlimited depth funnels using this plugin
- You can easily add redirect rules, add funnel links, change basic settings easily from the dashboard of the plugin
There are a ton of bloggers who run coupon-based websites to promote their affiliate products. If you’re also one among them and looking for an all in one coupon plugin that comes with integrated affiliate link system to cloak your links, Coupon plugin is just for you.
It can provide you 100% full coupon functionality for all kinds of WordPress sites without affecting your website’s SEO.
- 100% responsive and attractive design
- You can easily hide coupon functionality
- It has the ability to store image functionality
- Also offers you an option to list a coupon with a shortcode
- You can add coupon expiry date with time (for better conversion rates)
- It comes equipped with inbuilt affiliate link system to easily manage your affiliate links
As the name suggests, Easy Affiliate Links plugin helps you easily cloak your affiliate links. You can also track all your links so you can easily figure out what links (with call to actions) are performing well on your website.
You can create short and pretty links to optionally cloak your affiliate links and it provides you the ability to export your affiliate or external links to XML for later easy access. This is also the same plugin that we’ve been using at Bloggers Passion for a long time now.
- It works well with both the editor (the older Classic Editor and new Gutenberg Block Editor)
- The ability to leave specific links uncloaked for Amazon compatibility (in case if you’re promoting Amazon affiliate program related products within your site)
- You can assign categories to your links if you want unique stuff
- You can track monthly and lifetime clicks (that way you can know the overall affiliate link clicks to see their conversion rates)
- You can import affiliate links from XML and CSV
Are you using Amazon affiliate program to monetize your sites? Then, EasyAzon plugin is a great fit for you.
It is a premium WordPress plugin which helps you create affiliate links or enable link localization for any country where Amazon has an affiliate program. This plugin makes it so much easier to manage your Amazon affiliate links.
The best part about using this amazing cloaking plugin is that you can create text affiliate links direct to any product available for sale on Amazon.com. That means, you can save a ton of time with this feature alone as you don’t have to go through a lot of fuss to manually create links from within the Amazon.
Quick note: We’ve written a detailed EasyAzon review where you can find all the other details including their features and pricing.
- Add text affiliate links direct to any product available on Amazon
- The ability to open your affiliate links in new tabs (including the ability to add nofollow links)
- Add to cart option with the 90 days cookies
- Link Localization (with this feature, for instance, UK visitors will be redirected to Amazon.UK instead of Amazon.com)
- Prompt a user to add an item to their shopping cart
Shortlinks by Pretty Links is another popular cloaking and link tracking plugin which shortens links using your own domain name. It also helps you track each and every click on your URL so you can easily discover where your clicks came from.
- Redirect to any other URL (allows for 301, 302, and 307 redirects)
- Tracks the total clicks per link
- Tracks the total unique clicks per link
- Also provides a report interface where you can discover all your links stats
- Cookie based system for tracking visitor activity across clicks
- You can create nofollow or noindex links
This is one of the widely used affiliate link cloaking plugins in the WordPress community. Using this plugin, you can NOT only cloak your links but you can also choose from 301 , 302 or 307 redirects.
These redirects often protect your affiliate links from being plagiarised and replaced by malware on your website visitor’s browser.
- It comes equipped with inbuilt affiliate link shortening/link cloaking which looks something like (www.yourwebsite.com/recommends/your-affiliate-link)
- It has commission protecting affiliate link 301 redirection (default)
- Customizable link URL prefixes – loads to choose from or use your own custom prefix
- Hierarchical link categorization to easily segment links
- Handy affiliate link picker tool (with full instant search capabilities) makes it easy to insert affiliate links in posts, pages and comments!
- This plugin also has dofollow and/or nofollow options (global or per link)
- You can open your affiliate links in new window
Do you want to create short and easy to remember links so you can include them within your posts, landing pages, social media sites and so on? Then, give a try to URL Shortener Pro plugin.
This is a premium cloaking plugin from MyThemeShop which costs you $29 (you can use it on up to 3 sites) and it’s worth every single penny you pay for. With this plugin, you can also set up redirects including cloaked redirects, HTML meta redirects apart from adding redirects using 301, 302, 307 redirects.
- You can hide your affiliate links (mask them easily)
- Extremely easy to use (just with a click of a button)
- You can organise short links in categories
- Open links in new tabs, add nofollow tags to your links easily
This cloaking plugin is exclusively useful for those who are running WooCommerce stores and it allows you to quickly mask all of your external links (including affiliate links) in your WooCommerce store.
For example, you can easily mask your links from this one (examplemerchant.com/index.php?aff_id=123&product_id=116) into this:
Not just that, this plugin also adds a “disallow” to your robots.txt file which will ultimately prevent search engine bots from following your website affiliate links or external links.
- The ability to add redirect path to your robots.txt file to prevent search bots to view or index your affiliate links
- Extremely helpful for WooCommerce stores to cloak their links
- You can also configure the status code for the redirect to either 301, 302 or 307
5 Things to Remember While Cloaking Your Affiliate Links
Cloaking your links is so much easier when you’ve access to the plugins mentioned above. But you should also remember a few most important things while cloaking links if you want to achieve the best results from affiliate marketing and here are some of them.
1. Add nofollow to your affiliate links
There’s no need to “pass your website’s link juice” to affiliate product websites. By adding nofollow tags to your affiliate links, you’re not leaking any link juice which can be helpful for your overall site’s SEO in the long run.
You can easily make your affiliate links nofollow using many of the plugins that are listed above. You should definitely consider adding nofollow links because there’s no point in passing your website’s link juice to unwanted product pages.
2. Use an affiliate disclosure when using affiliate links
Don’t manipulate your website users. The best way to build trust while promoting affiliate products is to add an affiliate disclosure. By telling your website audience that you’re using affiliate links to make money, you can easily gain their trust.
3. Be strategic while adding anchor text
Don’t use vague and boring anchor texts in your affiliate links (such as “click here”, “buy now”, “read more” etc) as they are NOT going to help you in anyway. Think smart and add relevant anchor texts (don’t use the same anchor texts again and again) while adding affiliate links so you can boost your overall SEO even for your affiliate links.
4. Perform A/B testing regularly
The key to increase your affiliate sales is to split test (A/B test) everything. You should be able to discover ads, affiliate links, landing pages, call to actions and so on that are providing you the best results.
You should also have a blog sales funnel in place. That way, you can easily find out the conversion funnel that your website users are following before they purchase something from your site (or using your affiliate referral links).
5. Track your affiliate links
Link cloaking plugins and tools usually help you easily track your affiliate links so you can find out their performance (what links are performing well and what are not performing at all). Tracking your links can give you a ton of useful insights so you can do more of what’s working well for your website.
You should track all your promotions and affiliate links in one place and if possible try to mask your affiliate codes. That way, you can easily prevent someone else from changing your affiliate referral or promo code with another in the redirect process.
FAQs About Link Cloaking
Curious to know more about link cloaking? Here are some of the widely asked questions around it so you can know more details.
Can affiliate links affect my website’s SEO?
It depends. As long as you don’t negatively impact user experience and don’t violate Google’s rules, then affiliate links are fine. Just don’t clutter your pages by adding too many affiliate links within a page. Also make sure to use nofollow tags while linking to your affiliate product pages so you can prevent leaking your site’s link authority.
Is it possible to track affiliate links in Google Analytics?
Yes, you can track your external links (including affiliate links) from your Google Analytics account to analyse your website’s user behaviour. We recommend you to install Google Analytics by MonsterInsights as it offers you affiliate link tracking where you can track your affiliate links and get all your clicks data and stats.
You need to enable “Track outbound clicks and downloads” from this plugin settings page and set the slug you’re using for your affiliate links (which can be found in the advanced “Set path for internal links to track as outbound links”).
Can you cloak Amazon affiliate links?
No, you shouldn’t cloak your Amazon affiliate links. Amazon clearly mentioned in its terms that you can’t use a redirection of any sort while promoting Amazon product links. You’ll get banned if you cloak your affiliate links to Amazon affiliate products.
Do you have to disclose affiliate links?
Yes, disclosing affiliate links is a better practice as it helps you in 2 ways.
- These disclosures are an FTC-mandated practice
- If you disclose whenever an affiliate link is used on your website that results in a commission, you’re gaining instant trust with your website users
More Affiliate Marketing related resources:
- How to do SEO for an affiliate website
- 100 plus best affiliate programs for bloggers to Join in 2020
- Top affiliate marketing tools for 2020
As discussed in the article, there are so many SEO benefits of affiliate link cloaking. If you are promoting affiliate products or trying to jump into affiliate marketing, you should definitely give it a try. Not only you can prevent your overall website’s link juice to affiliate sites by using link cloaker plugins but you can also easily manage your affiliate links by shortening them.
Almost every affiliate marketer uses link cloaking to easily manage their links and avail best SEO benefits by using short links. So there’s nothing wrong in giving it a try if you are not cloaking your affiliate links yet.
Do you cloak your affiliate links or want to give a try to it by using the plugins mentioned here? Share your thoughts in the comments below.