If you are totally new to the concept of affiliate marketing chances are you probably have not heard of link cloaking. This article is written in order to explain what link cloaking is and why you should use it if you want to make money with affiliate marketing.
Basically, link cloaking is nothing more than hiding your affiliate links from your readers to try and ensure that your affiliate link will stay intact and that each visitor that has gone to a sales pages because of your link will be registered and will thus bring you an affiliate commission if that person decides to buy in a certain amount of time after first visiting the sales page.
Of course there are ways to break these affiliate links, mainly when people clear their cache on their computer, thus removing the cookie that was placed when visiting the salespage through your affiliate link, but at least it will protect your affiliate earnings to some point.
A lot of Internet users are becoming more savvy and feel uncomfortable clicking on large, weird looking links eventhough they donÂ´t realise that they are affiliate links to begin with. This is why link cloaking could be the answer if you want to improve on the clickthrough rate of your affiliate links. A cloaked link will look short and clean and depending on the way you do the link cloaking, you can even make it look as if they are not going to leave your site.
Different Ways of Link Cloaking
There are a few ways of cloaking your affiliate link and probably one of the most popular and cheapest is the use of online link cloakers like for example tinyurl. Online link cloaking is easy and makes for very short links, however they are not the prettiest links you can get, although tinyurl does offer the ability to choose your own extension of the link, if still available in order to for you add recognizable words to your cloaked link.
The advantages of online link cloakers are obvious, they are fast, easy and cheap to use, making it a very popular way of cloaking links by starting affiliate marketers. After all, you donÂ´t need to invest anything.
However there are a few downsides to using online link cloakers and if you are serious about making affiliate marketing your business, you should really consider using other ways. If you donÂ´t keep track from the beginning of all affiliate links you are placing everywhere, chances are that over time you will be losing money for not remembering. Another huge risk is that the online link cloaker goes out of business, meaning you lose all the affiliate links you have once cloaked.
This is probably the biggest reason not to use an online cloaker, imagine you lose all your income all of a sudden, with virtually no way to track where it was all coming from.
Another way of cloaking your links is by adding a script to your website files in which you place your affiliate links and the way they should look. This could be a really good solution if you know how to work with these type of scripts, however if you are a little computer challenged you probably donÂ´t dare to go in this direction. Not only will you have to manually input these scripts, you probably donÂ´t have a good tracking system either, meaning you canÂ´t really keep track of all your affiliate links in one place, especially if you are using different affiliate networks.
The Ideal Way of Link Cloaking
I am a big fan of Wordpress because of the ease of using Wordpres Plugins and have been using for a long time a free Wordpress cloaking plugin called Pretty Linker. It really worked like a charm because apart from cloaking your affiliate link into something more beautiful and recognizable, it also looked to the visitor was not going to leave your site when clicking on the link. And if that wasnÂ´t enough yet, you could also keep track of how many times which links were clicked so that you could start playing around with the placement of these links in order to improve and up the click through rate of your particular affiliate links.
As you can imagine, this would likely make you earn more affiliate commissions and the only way to lose control over these links was if you would decide yourself to close your own website. Total control, total tracking and making your affiliate links look like internal links, a recipe for affiliate success.
A word of notice though, Wordpress has recently decided to change their policies and part of the change they have made is that they are not allowing cloaking plugins in their own directory anymore, meaning that all of the free plugins either had to remove the cloaker possiblities in order to stay listed or be taken off the directories.
The developer of the Pretty Link cloaker I mentioned just now decided to take out cloaking and came out with a lite version of his original plugin to make sure it would stay listed and is now offering a Pro version of this fantastic wordpress cloaker plugin that not only keeps making cloaking easy, it also adds a feature that can instantly turn any content into a money maker.
The way it works is that you can change any word or string of words into a hyperlink with your affiliate link neatly placed automatically throughout your whole blog. Imagine for example you have been running a wordpress blog for a year or so and it contains over 100 posts. That is a lot of posts to go through manually and add affiliate links. With the Pretty Link pro version though you can choose a word that is already appearing in your posts and turn that word into an affiliate link instantly.
Imagine the effect that will have on your affiliate income and the huge time saver it will turn out to be for not having to go back manually and change all links. With this plugin you will have control over all your affiliate links in your blog, meaning that if an affiliate product is changing and or not converting, you can easily change around all links to that affiliate product and change them to another affiliate link.
Now one last way to use these wordpress cloaker plugins is that you could place your affiliate links everywhere else, as long as you have it installed on one blog. This is a good solution if you place affiliate links on sites that are not your own, for instance revenue sharing sites like this one, because now you have remote control over your affiliate link even when it is placed somewhere else. You can still change where your visitor will be sent in the end through your own blog administration panel!
Do make sure though that you obide by the TOS of the sites you place your links on, in order not to get your account closed, but other then that, it is a great way to improve your sales, especially now that wordpress cloaker plugins have gone pro.