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How to Cloak Affiliate Links.

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Posted 19th June 2017 at 03:23 AM by fersinc12

I always run my affiliate links through redirects – also referred to as cloaking affiliate links – for several reasons: Running them through my redirects means I have a click count to match up to the one the merchant is reporting. Affiliate links are usually ugly and impossible to remember without doing a copy/paste. Redirects allow you to create short, memorable URLS for them and allow you to access commonly used affiliate links from memory.
If you're in an industry where you market to other affiliates, it can help prevent folks from switching out your affiliate ID with theirs. If the merchant decides to change networks or linking methods, you can edit a single redirect instead of needing to edit every instance in which you linked to them throughout your entire site. If you decide to change which merchant you're using to promote a product, you can edit one redirect instead of needing to edit every instance in which you linked to them throughout your entire site.
If a handful of the merchants I mention on a regular basis don't have affiliate programs, I'll often still cloak the link to their main website. This way, if they ever do launch an affiliate program, I can affiliate all my previous links to them by updating the one cloaked link. If you're running an affiliate data feed site, anything you can do to make your site more technically unique than the other 4000 affiliates using the same data feed is a bonus in regards to affiliate data feed SEO.
What does it mean to cloak affiliate links?

Cloaking an affiliate link just means that you are creating URLs on your website that redirect to an affiliate link. For example:

You don't have to use a plugin to create cloaked affiliate links. You can do so with this method detailed out by Yoast or by using your .htaccess file. However, you should never touch your .htaccess file unless you're well versed in using it because making an error within it could take down your whole site. Using .htaccess or the Yoast method for manually cloaking affiliate links means that you lose out on the additional features a link cloaking plugin can provide.

There are several affiliate link cloaking plugins on the market, but I use the Pretty Link Pro WordPress plugin to cloak my affiliate links. (Disclosure: I came across Pretty Link Pro years ago and paid for the plugin out of my own pocket. Pretty Link Pro has an affiliate program that I signed up for once I already owned and began using the plugin. I link to the plugin using affiliate links. This means that at no extra cost to you, I may receive a commission if you purchase the plugin.)

There is also a free version of the plugin called Pretty Link Lite, but the Pro version has features I won't do without – like being able to change the base slug in the cloaked links. Installing Pretty Link Pro Once you have purchased and downloaded the plugin you'll need to install it.

In your WordPress dashboard, head to Plugins > Add New
At the top of the next screen, click on the Upload a Plugin button
Choose the PLP plugin file from your computer and click Install Now
On the next screen, click Activate Plugin
The plugin is now installed and ready for setup.

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