Link Cloaking: How to Hide Affiliate Links from Visitors

Link cloaking is not only important to hide the ugly look of most affiliate links. Several strong reasons imply that you cloak your affiliate URLs.

This article will introduce you to the term "Link Cloaking" and let you know about the importance of cloaking your links. We'll also describe the commonly used method of how to cloak affiliate links to track and manage your links more easily. You will also learn about the Link cloaking software and how to shorten affiliate links using them.

What is Link Cloaking?

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Link Cloaking

"Link Cloaking" is a popular term in the world of digital marketing, although there are a lot of misconceptions about it! The term "cloaking" means "covering" or "hiding", but "link cloaking" is actually for saving or protecting your links. In fact, it's a useful and standard way to make long and complex URLs more user-friendly.

Affiliate marketers frequently use link cloaking to protect their valuable affiliate commissions. The link to cloaking technique helps you to hide your affiliate IDs, brand name, and other valuable URLs from the hacking scripts. Therefore, link cloaking is not only about branding your URLs but also an essential linking strategy.

In this article, we will focus on the importance of link cloaking and how you can apply it to your URLs. We will highlight the important terms and show you how to get started with link cloaking.

Example of Link Cloaking

Take a look at this link:

https://shareasale.com/r.cfm?b=974656&u=268480&m=5108&urllink=&afftrack=

Doesn’t it quite scary? Now think about the visitors, especially non-technical users! What will be their reaction after seeing this link? They will be confused about what this link points to as it doesn’t give any information. So, most of them will hesitate to click on it and prefer to avoid such links. They would even think that it contains some virus or malware!

On the other hand, if the visitors see this link:

https://www.WebsiteName.com/product-list-t-shirtthey will get a crystal clear idea that it’s pointing to a specific company’s t-shirt product list. This link will attract more qualified visitors to your website who have an idea about where you want to send them.

Why Should You Cloak Your Affiliate Links?

Image Source: Freepik

Link cloaking not only hides your actual affiliate links, but many other benefits are the results of it. For example:

Easier Placement

Suppose you are writing an article, blog post, website content, social media post or email. You have to insert a specific link in your content, but it's excruciating to sign in to your affiliate account again and again to grab the link every time. But, don’t worry, you can give your URLs a better form with a redirect system that will make sense and become easier to remember. You can also share these URLs with others more easily and quickly.

More Clicks on The Affiliate Links

People don't like to click on weird and scary links. The better-looking links would likely get more clicks. For example, people would like to avoid a link with random letters, symbols or numbers and doesn't even include your domain name.

On the other hand, if the link looks like this: www.yourdomain.com/something, it will attract more traffic. And look at this standard form of your URL! It's so easy to remember and share everywhere!

Save Link from Search Engine Penalties

Directly posting the affiliate links can lower the ranking of your site. It's not proven, but there is a high chance that the weird-looking affiliate links won't let you rank higher on Google search (especially if they have no "no-follow" designation).

If you convert them to attractive redirect links, even then, we will suggest using the no-follow designation. Some popular WordPress plugins can help you to do this job of simply adding no-follow.

Achieving Link Trust

Now people are smart enough to click on any link only after judging it. They are more likely to click on an affiliate link when representing the same website they are on. As such, cloaking the affiliate links can increase the CTR (Click-Through Rate) in most o cases. When your link itself points some specific things on your website, that link can perceive more trust of the audience.

Prevent Link Theft

Thieves are everywhere – whether it's real-world or virtual! Some people work so hard to establish a website. But some mean people wait for the chance to steal their valuable affiliate links. One of the most common ways is link theft, which is a complicated term to explain. But cloaking your affiliate links can save your links from being replaced. These unscrupulous persons can't take out your affiliate commissions so easily.

Avoid Ad Blockers

People usually don't like ads, and many people even use ad blockers to prevent seeing ads. If there is no one to see or respond to ads, the companies have to spend much money on other services like search, emails or social media. If online ads disappear, the promotion cost of our websites or products will highly increase. We can improve the situation by using attractive cloaked links with a natural appearance in our content.

Easier Tracking and Link Management

The most important and useful feature that link cloaking offers you is the capability of managing and tracking your links more efficiently. This especially happens when you take the help of an effective tool or plugin for managing the affiliate links. In that case, you are going to have all the important information as a report. You can use this report to promote your business and increase sales.

How to Cloak Your Affiliate Link?

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Image Source: Freepik

In simple words, Link Cloaking uses URL redirection to send quality visitors. The internal process of cloaking links is technical. But you don't need to be a tech expert in using this method for your business. Even you don't need to understand the ins and outs of it. We are trying to explain the whole process in simple terms.
A dummy URL that takes the browser of the user to some specific page is known as a URL Redirect. This specific page is not actually a part of the website; it's actually a placeholder.

A cloaked link will pass the visitor's browser through the following procedure:

  1. When the visitor clicks on your cloaked link, the browser of his device asks the link Cloaking site for the content of a specific page.
  2. The software will respond to the page that doesn't exist. Then it will suggest the browser to visit another destination page for getting the content.
  3. Finally, the visitor's browser reads this instruction and shifts to the new URL without his or her interference.

This is the common method of affiliate link disclosure that most of the link cloaking sites follow. But there are several types of this URL redirection. If you are interested to know more details, you can study these types of URL redirection.

Ensure Whether Your Affiliate Program Supports Link Cloaking

Link Cloaking is, in general, a good practice for affiliate business. However, some affiliate programs don't permit to cloak or hide their links.

The Affiliate program of Amazon Associates is a highly remarkable instance of this. This program has a specific statement – “You will not use a link shortening service, button, hyperlink or other ad placement in a manner that makes it unclear that you are linking to an Amazon Site.”

Most of the popular or non-popular affiliate programs support link cloaking. But it's always better to be on the safer side and double-check to clear doubt.

Important Facts about Link Cloaking

  1. In most cases, Cloaking opens the page for work in an iFrame.
  2. It gives the best results while works combinedly with a custom domain for creating vanity links.
  3. You can't open all types of websites in iFrame. Especially when the destination website blocks iFrame loading, you can't proceed further. For example, Apple's Website blocks iFrame loading.
  4. You can also combine cloaking with retargeting pixels.

How to Cloak Affiliate Link using RetargetKit?

RetargetKit is renowned retargeting software that offers multiple services like shortener, lead generation, micro landing page, sub ID, and revenue tracking.

This a powerful link all-in-one digital marketing tool that not only hides your affiliate links but also provides you with the opportunity to change the meta description.

We will describe the process of cloaking or hiding your original affiliate link and creating an attractive retargeting link with this software. We will provide proper examples and screenshots to make it clearer to you, have a look!

Let's take an example link from the “Slack” website – https://slack.com/intl/en-bd/features. If we directly share this link on Facebook or any other social media, it looks like this:

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Slack Features Page When Sharing On Facebook

But in the case of affiliate links, the click rate decreases if many people share the same link with the same metadata. In contrast, the target of each affiliate link is to get more clicks. So the affiliate marketers use the link cloaking method to change their valuable links.

However, RetargetKit is allowing you to not only cloak your links easily but also customize the link metadata as per your requirement. As such, your link metadata will be different from other sharers. And this will increase your click rate.

Step 1: Create Free Account

Click here to create your RetargetKit free account. Once you click on the sign up button, you will be redirected to the campaign page. Start a new Shortener campaign. Now click on “New Retarget Link”, and you will get a new window just like the next step.

Step 2: Create Cloaked Link

Paste your affiliate link on the Destination URL option. You can also add your custom slug with a short URL to represent your destination page well.

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Creating Cloaked Link

In the Meta Information section, you can add an eye-catchy title to attract your visitors and make them click. For example, you can mention your special offers or killing features in the title. In the Description box, you have to describe the title in attractive language.

Now, you can add a perfect image describing your product, service or special offers. You can directly add the image link here; the image will be uploaded automatically.

We have taken here a sample link: https://slack.com/intl/en-bd/features. In this sample test, we provided the slug – slack offers and given a sample title and a description. We also have added a sample image.

Step 3: Copying Cloaked Link

After saving the new retarget link, you will get the result as below:

Copy Cloak Link

Step 4: Share On Social Media

We have got our cloaked link: https://rgkit.co/slack-offers. If we share this link on Facebook, it will be shown like:

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Cloaked Slack Features Page When Sharing On Facebook

You can see that our provided title, description, and image are displayed in the Facebook post. And the original link is also hidden from the visitors.

Step 5: Cloaked Link Analytics

The links provided by RetargetKit are shorter, clearer, and more attractive. You can share these links more easily and managing them is also automated by the software. The tool will track the clicks, unique clicks, conversions, ads spent & revenue generated from your links. You will be able to know all your important visitors’ information from this perfect tool. You don’t need to track your links manually anymore.

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Cloaked Link Analytics

How to cloak ClickBank Affiliate Links?

Clickbank is one of the most popular e-commerce platform where more than 6 million content makers and affiliate marketers connect together. Then they become consumers in the same platform. The giant affiliate network of ClickBank easily increase the visibility of its registered users. This help to promote their products (like online courses, videos, ebooks etc.) or services to more consumers.

Is it possible to Cloak Affiliate Link without a Website?

If you don't want to use any website to cloak your links, it's still possible. You can shorten your links using bit.ly. But there are some limitations in that process.

For example, the cloaked URL is not customizable. Hence, it would be a combination of random letters, no eye-catchy images and numbers with no meaning.

You can't change the link destination and manage these cloaked links easily. Moreover, you can't easily insert these links into the contents while writing them. However, you have to leave writing, go to the service page, eyeball the shortened links and then find the specific one you need to copy. But you will lose the history if you log out anyhow!

Final words

If the visitors trust your link to be safe, they are more likely to click on it. As such, there is enough chance of earning a commission!

We hope that you have already learned how to shorten Clickbank affiliate links. You can apply this smart way to get more clicks as well as for link management and safety.

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