What is Link Cloaking and Why Should I Clock Links?
Are you exploring to know what is link clocking and why should I clock links? Have you heard of link cloaking but you’re uncertain what it’s all about? It sounds like something sinister — but it isn’t! This article is going to dispel that myth and talk concerning the actual real-world use-case for cloaking your affiliate links. First, the affiliate marketing world is a very competitive place to set up the business. It’s so cut-throat that people are always looking for the next edge and the next bit of technology that will help drive more sales and more commissions.
It’s probably not surprising then that unsavory tactics are sometimes used to steal other’s affiliate commissions. This is a real problem in the affiliate marketing industry. Commission theft commonly happens via malware loaded unsuspectingly on people’s systems. This malware monitors the pages those people visit, finds affiliate links on those pages, replaces an affiliate’s unique affiliate ID code with their affiliate ID code, and thereby steals that affiliate’s commissions.
What Is Link Cloaking?
Link cloaking is the method of disguising the affiliate link URL provided by an affiliate program to obfuscate the affiliate ID and make the link shorter. This protects your affiliate commissions by making the affiliate ID less visible. At the same time, it makes the connection more visually appealing to visitors.
You can see how ugly and untidy the link above is. Link cloaking helps reduce this ugly link and convert it into a branded URL:
Why Should I Cloak my Affiliate Links?
A fast online search will result in tons of reasons as to why you should redirect your affiliate links. The “historical” reason for this is disappearing from search engines that you’re an affiliate. It would be naive to think that search engines don’t understand what’s happening, but this seems like a valid reason.
There are also a few more uses to cloaking your affiliate links, such as:
- Ease of management
- Sometimes you might need to change your affiliate links. If said links are dispersed out across your blog, this could become a quiet time-intensive task. By centralizing the affiliate links, you have one location to manage all of them.
- Prevents leaking PageRank to advertisers
- Affiliate links are ads and should be no-followed or otherwise altered to prevent leaking PageRank to the advertiser. Rather than having to do this manually for every individual affiliate link, you can do this is a single location without much hassle. This also prevents the possibility of forgetting to add no-follow to one of the links.
- “Clean” links
- Many affiliate programs tend to use different permalink structures. Some might have relatively clean links, whereas others point to add a lot of gibberish. Managing the redirect script can help you deal with this issue because the cloaked URL will always follow the same structure. This makes it a lot clearer for the user where the link is taking them to!
How to use Link Cloaking in Linkly
- Login to Linkly and Press Create a New Link.
- Fill in the Nickname & Destination fields.
- Under Cloaking, flip the cloaking switch.
What about Plugins?
In the past, we’ve taken questions about using WordPress plugins to tackle this cloaking issue. Despite there being a lot of valid options, they have one small caveat: speed. Because these plugins depend on WordPress’ core code, they require to wait for it to be fully booted before being able to execute themselves.
This can easily add a second or two to the total loading and redirecting time if you’re on a slow server. Our non-plugin solution is more active because it doesn’t depend on WordPress to run. Ultimately, the best option depends on your needs. If you want to gather statistics on your affiliate links, you might be better off with a plugin. Otherwise, use our script to keep things fast.
If you are someone who works affiliate links in your blogs to make money, then you should cloak links. Many site owners cloak links to manage their affiliate links properly. Link cloaking enables you to create easy to understand URLs for your outgoing affiliate links.
Cloaking regards to the practice of presenting different content or URLs to human users and search engines. Some examples of cloaking involve: Serving a page of HTML text to search engines while showing a page of images or Flash to users.
To mask a destination URL, follow these steps: 1. Go to CREATE NEW -> TRACKING LINK. 2. Give the destination URL and other information. 3. Click on the Mask URL option button.
Link masking implies hiding the actual domain name of the site from the browser address bar, instead of for the exact address, the masked URL is displayed. It does not affect the conversion or content of the target website. This function is used for confidentiality and data security.
The necessary process of cloaking affiliate links is simple: 1. Build a folder from where you'll serve your redirects. At Yoast, we use /out/. 2. Block the /out/ folder in your robots.txt file by uniting: Disallow: /out/ 3. Manage a script in your redirect folder to redirect to your affiliate URLs.
There’s a reason link cloaking is a regular practice among internet affiliates – it works. With the right cloaking tools, you can build pretty links that give users the information they need. Moreover, you can hide your affiliate IDs from scripts that seek to hijack your sales. If you’re working the Pretty Links plugin, getting started with link cloaking is simple.
All you have to do is add a new link and customize the URL you want to use, then choose which type of redirection to apply. Do you have any questions regarding link cloaking in general or Pretty Links in particular? Let’s go over them in the comments section below!