Affiliate link cloaking is a technique used by online marketers to generally make their websites and adverts appear more professional to the public.
Here is a more detailed description of what affiliate link cloaking means. In the business of affiliate marketing, online marketers are usually not selling products of their own. Instead, they are trying to promote and sell products created by other marketers. For each sale, a commission or a percentage of the sale is paid to the affiliate for his or her efforts in attracting the customer.
If you are an affiliate marketer, selling products and services on the Internet, then chances are you have heard about link cloaking. One of the questions that seem to come up all the time is; what is the difference between link cloaking and link shortening or redirects.
Link cloaking disguises the URL so that the affiliate link can not be detected by the person clicking on the link. Furthermore, even after the person who clicked on the link lands on the affiliate site, they are still not able to see your affiliate ID. The cloaked link is the only link that the person will see when they land on the site.
For those savvy Internet browsers who grew up on computers, they will even go as far as to look at the page source code to view the links source. The best option to avoid this from happening is to use software that will encrypt the link so that it is not readable by these savvy Internet users.
Link shorteners like tinyurl.com or bit.ly do not cloak your affiliate links. These services are great for shortening up those big ugly long links, but when the user lands on the destination page, the big ugly link becomes visible again. Therefore, this is not a good method for cloaking your affiliate links.
If you are wondering about redirects, here is how they work. First, you must create a short script file and place it on your websites server. Once you have the script in place, you can place the shortened up version of your affiliate link and tell the script that any time a user clicks on this link to redirect them to the affiliate link.
The problem with this method is that those savvy Internet users can still detect your affiliate ID in the source code.
The reason you need to use a link cloaking software is that there are people out there that will still your affiliate commissions right out from under you. It would be like leaving a thief in your store with no one behind the counter to check him out. Of course he won’t be able to resist reaching into the register and taking out some money if he can.
Even other affiliate marketers can not resist themselves. They will remove your affiliate ID and replace it with their own, taking the commission for themselves.
There are other reasons why you should cloak your links as well. Some people will remove your affiliate link right before they make the purchase so that you do not receive the affiliate commissions. They will bypass you completely, even though you did all the work to get them there. Why people would do this, nobody knows, but it happens all the time.
Most of the affiliate marketing gurus use link cloaking software, and so should you. They are aware of the value it provides.