Why should you bother cloaking your affiliate links? It is well known in the world of internet marketing that naked affiliate links convert far less often than cloaked ones. Why is this? Sometimes people don’t want to support your online business. They will figure out the domain name on their own, and purchase the product that way. Most people can spot an affiliate link when they see one, especially if you are marketing to other marketers. If your visitors are savvy enough, they will replace your affiliate link with their own and take a nice little discount off of the purchase price of the product. It only makes sense. If you could save up to 75% on a specific product, wouldn’t you do it? Luckily, there are several different ways to cloak, or mask, your affiliate links.
There are many sites on the internet that specialize in creating shorter URLs to redirect to longer URLs. This is a good way to post links on sites that have a character limit such as Twitter. You can also use these sites to hide the destination of your URL until the potential customer has visited the site. This is not a fool proof way to cloak your affiliate links. Smart marketers will still be able to figure out a way around your cloaking efforts. While it may not offer complete protection against sales theft, most affiliate marketers can get away using this method.
A redirect occurs when you send a visitor to a page on your site and then they are automatically sent to another website. By setting your website or blog up with specialized redirect pages for each of your affiliate links it will seem to your visitors that you are just sending them to another page on your site. Most of the time people won’t know that they have been redirected, and your sales will reflect that. There are several ways to set up a redirect. You can use an HTML redirect or PHP. Either of these techniques will work fine for your purposes.
If you don’t want to use any of the other methods, you can buy a program that will cloak your affiliate links for you. These programs can take away the hassle of cloaking the links yourself, and they will present your visitors with a nice looking URL to click on. Using a cloaking program is one of the more professional ways to cloak your affiliate links. I use Thirsty Affiliates since a few months for managing my affiliate links (it does a lot more than just cloaking), feel free to check it out too it you want.
There is nothing unethical or illegal about cloaking your affiliate links. Think of affiliate link cloaking as you would a security system for your home. This security system prevents others from stealing your hard earned commissions. There is nothing wrong with protecting your assets.