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October 25, 2010

Link Cloaking

There’s a lot of confusion about link cloaking. The term itself sounds suspicious, like it’s a black hat method of marketing or a way to disguise your identity. The fact of the matter is, it is nothing like that. What it is is something that any internet marketer should be aware of and use, for a variety of reasons.

When you have an affiliate relationship, you install widgets or code to your affiliate ads. That way, when people click on the link, they are directed to the affiliate site. Your details are embedded in the link, so, in theory at least, you should always get the commission on the sale. If your link is not cloaked, however, many things can go wrong.

The very customers who should be grateful for your information about a product or service occasionally think they are being clever by removing your affiliate ID from the link. They falsely think they will get a better deal that way. They won’t. All they will be doing is denying you your well-earned commission.

Secondly, sophisticated hackers can use the information on your link to steal your commissions. The commission gets paid, but not to you. While hackers are usually trolling for high traffic affiliate sites and usually are savvy enough to steal only a portion of sales, even small enterprises are at risk.

Link cloaking substitutes a unique URL in place of the one you have been given and then redirects back to your affiliate link without revealing it to the user. By cloaking the link, you have accomplished a number of things.

The first thing that happens is that there is no longer an affiliate ID for your unscrupulous customer to remove. In fact, that rarely happens, but why risk it? Besides, a lot of potential customers get suspicious when they see those strange looking links. They can make you look bad in their eyes. Your cloaked link gives you authority and legitimacy in their eyes. You deserve your good reputation, so why not do everything in your power to preserve it?

Most importantly, your link is now invulnerable to hackers. They have been denied a vital part of your personal information if your link is cloaked.

As you can see, link cloaking has nothing to do with shady black hat marketing techniques. On the contrary, it is a legitimate tool you can use to protect yourself and enhance your online credibility. If you do not cloak your links, in fact, it makes you appear amateurish in the eyes of both your customers and the companies you are affiliated with.

Many internet marketers take it one step further and create an iframe page on their website. This is a page that looks exactly like the page that the customer will be directed to when they click on the link. In the eyes of the customer, this assures them that you have a direct and legitimate connection with the company.

If there is any doubt left in your mind, simply ask the company with which you are affiliated. They will always appreciate the fact that you respect their policies, even if they say they do not allow it. Usually, though, they will encourage you to do so.

It is easy to learn more about how you can increase visits to your website and click-through traffic using link cloaking. When you use a conversion tracking system, you will be able to improve your marketing and advertising efforts and increase your thriving business. Visit us at