What is Cloaking?
Cloaking is essentially hiding the target URL from the person clicking on the link (redirection of a long URL). When someone hovers over a link, the URL is usually shown in the bottom left hand side of the screen. Sometimes these affiliate links can be quiet long especially if there are tracking id’s attached. In order to clean up the look of these links, many affiliate marketers use programs or plugins to cloak the links.
In other words, by shortening links users can make links more shareable, manage and track links, and cloak affiliate links. This provides a much better experience for their visitors.
Reasons To Hide/Cloak Links?
There are several reasons to cloak links that are either on your own website or are placed on other sites like Pinterest or Twitter. I’ve listed a few reasons below:
- To disguise links because some sites block affiliate links, like Pinterest.
- In order to make links appear cleaner and shorter
- To prevent commission hacking or affiliate theft
- To help with tracking
- So the links don’t appear like affiliate links to visitors, search engines and other website
Programs Used to Cloak or Shorten Links
Below is a very short list of the different programs you could use to cloak links. There are many, many more out there. But I tend to like these as they are relatively easy to use and best of all – FREE!
- Bitly – Bitly.com is a great URL shortener and Link Management Platform, because it is web-based and you can easily see all of your shortened links in one place. They provide statistics for each shortened link as well which is a very helpful tool. Also, you can add your own slug to the end of the link that will not only look better but also allow you to keep track of it easier.
- Google URL Shortener – https://goo.gl/ Google has it’s own URL shortener that is pretty much the same as Bitly. However, you cannot add your own slug to the end of it. Google assigns the shortened link at random.
- Pretty Link – Pretty Link is a WordPress Plugin that allows you to add a slug to the end of your website link. For instance: www.mywebsitename.com/click. In this example, “click” would be the slug that you can customize to whatever you want that will help you organize your links.
- Tiny URL – Just like the name implies, it takes a long URL and makes it Tiny. This platform has link editing, click statistics, QR codes, and Custom Domains.
Examples of Cloaked Links
A link shortening service would take an ugly, long link like:
It would then shorten it to something much more pleasant, such as:
If you have a need to either shorten links or to actually cloak affiliate links, knowing how to do so will definitely help. I personally use a variety of these shortening and cloaking tools to streamline my business and keep things nice and pretty. The last thing I want is to have someone steal my affiliate link, so taking these simple precautions gives me that added sense of security.
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