Cloaking affiliate links. Does it make a difference?

27 replies
I trying to increase my affiliate sales and one thing that I am wondering if my sales are being stolen somehow. I signed up for ClickMagick and I am wondering if others have tried this service or something similar. The cost is reasonable at $17 / mo. Has there been a big difference in sales per hops by using cloaking.
#affiliate #cloaking #difference #links #make
  • Profile picture of the author Najat Engineer
    Affiliate cloaking is a must.. Never heard of ClickMagick but I think thats a lot for just affiliate cloaking, if that what it does..

    You can cloak your links with a simple php code like this one

    ----------
    <?php
    header( 'Location: your-affiliate-link' ) ;
    ?>
    ----------
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  • Profile picture of the author Sarevok
    ClickMagick is the bomb.

    I honestly don't think tracking will increase affiliate links sales as a DIRECT result... But it still has a boatload of indirect benefits. It lets you CHANGE your link if you get banned from a particular affiliate link, or otherwise want to promote something different.

    Say you publish a book, and 10,000 people have it. Pretend for a moment that book has a bunch of affiliate links. Then you get banned (or decide to switch affiliate programs) or links... WITHOUT a redirect... You'd be hosed.

    But if you have a redirect? It's no problem because you can change where it points to.

    Also, it's great for tracking, and it just looks better to your end users.



    Hope this helps you brainstorm...

    Stay cool
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  • Profile picture of the author iAmNameLess
    Is there a reason why anyone would use a service like that when they can do that on their own through their own hosting?
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    • Profile picture of the author Matt Lee
      Originally Posted by iAmNameLess View Post

      Is there a reason why anyone would use a service like that when they can do that on their own through their own hosting?
      It probably comes down to convenience for most. There's people that like you suggested, would want to set it up themselves, but I'm guessing most people like the convenience.
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    • Originally Posted by iAmNameLess View Post

      Is there a reason why anyone would use a service like that when they can do that on their own through their own hosting?
      Thought the same thing, but realized that these services/plugins also have a lot of features that if you tried to replicate (link tracking, link rotating, auto submit links to social media, etc.), the non-techie person would probably want to smack himself 1000 times
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  • Profile picture of the author rendesr
    I use pretty link pro, it's always been a solid plugin.
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  • Profile picture of the author vishwa
    If you are using WordPress than you can use "Pretty Links" Plugin to cloak your affiliate links.
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    • Profile picture of the author Matt Lee
      Originally Posted by vishwa View Post

      If you are using WordPress than you can use "Pretty Links" Plugin to cloak your affiliate links.
      I'm going to have to check that out. Thanks for the tip.
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  • Profile picture of the author Adie
    I am using pretty link lite plugin and it is working just fine, and it's free.
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  • Profile picture of the author convictie
    I am using the redirection plugin for wordpress. Great plugin to cloak your affiliate links and you can also do a redirect 302 with this plugin.
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  • Profile picture of the author elcidofaguy
    Yep I agree - cloaking links is an absolute must! There are so many reasons why you should do it... For wordpress there are loads of free plugins, alternatively you can do it by amending your .htaccess file or in some cases just use tiny url which has the added benefit of great tracking and stats etc...

    One other method and this is a little on the advanced side is to double cloaking which many of the super affiliates use... So in that case your cloaked url goes to another site then it moves it on to the affiliate site.. Reason being you might not want to expose your money sites due to your strategy to vendors/aff market place as it may compromise it - now that's another story ;-) ...
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    • Profile picture of the author 07knev
      All My wordpress sites have Pretty link plugins for cloaking affiliate links.
      It works well and also helps to hide from google
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  • Profile picture of the author talfighel
    I use the PHP version and have done so for years.

    It is free and it works really well.
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  • Profile picture of the author gmarklin
    I have never heard of clickmagic, but you don't need to spend $17 per month to cloak your links. You should be able to cloak your links with your hosting account
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  • Profile picture of the author ezexclusive
    You should always cloak your affiliate link. It is great to have a service that help you keep track of your links to see whats working and where your traffic is being generated, but I don't think I would spend $17/month for it. You can do it free using bit.ly
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  • Profile picture of the author smaddoxjr
    absolutely.... tiny bit url is free, why spend for a service when you can get it free and put the money into your business?
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    • Profile picture of the author Alexa Smith
      Banned
      Originally Posted by smaddoxjr View Post

      tiny bit url is free, why spend for a service when you can get it free and put the money into your business?
      Because if you make the mistake of using that (or any of the other, equivalent, free services available) you'll end up with part of your business being unnecessarily dependent on a third-party service you neither own nor control.

      That's why so many hundreds of Warriors have been posting here, ever since I've been here, warnings about all the entirely and unnecessary accidents (and even "disasters") they've incurred by using services like tinyurl, bit.ly, goo.gl and others.

      Cloak your affiliate-links by all means, but as attested to here by dozens of "warning threads", it makes absolutely no sense to do so in a way that you don't own/control how it's done and what can happen to them in the long run.

      When you're building and running a business, Scott, "Why spend for a service when you get it free?" isn't what matters. What matters is "Am I in control of as many aspects of my own business and future income as possible?".

      .
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      • Profile picture of the author kilgore
        Originally Posted by Alexa Smith View Post

        Because if you make the mistake of using that (or any of the other, equivalent, free services available) you'll end up with part of your business being unnecessarily dependent on a third-party service you neither own nor control.
        I just don't get this issue with this. There are hundreds of third-party services that I rely on that I'm not in control over and moreover that I don't want to be in control over. Amazon.com hosts my website. Google hosts my email. I used an open-source framework as the basis for my website (actually multiple ones). I don't generate my own electricity either.

        Yes, bit.ly (or any of the others you mention) could have an outage -- but so could any number of services I rely on, including my own website. So while it's a generally a good thing to minimize single points of failure, it's also generally a good idea to do what you do best and outsource the rest. No business -- not the largest and certainly a business my size -- can afford to do everything, so you make do and cut corners where it makes sense given what your expertise is and your priorities are.

        Personally, I find bit.ly reliable enough for what little cloaking I do. That said, I tend not to use bit.ly's standard url -- I use a custom URL I bought that's related to my site's name. I also don't do much cloaking at all. I like transparency and it's important for me that when a user hovers over a link to a site like Amazon.com that they see Amazon.com in their status bar. I also want them to know that clicking that link is how I get paid (I've even had users email me asking for my affiliate code so they could use it when buying things that aren't on our website).

        As to the OP, why not spend $17 for a month, do some limited A/B testing on a few links and see if it helps with your returns? You could even compare your results with one or more of the free services others have mentioned. $17/month may or may not be worth it over the long run, but it's hard to find much downside to paying $17 for a one-time experiment.
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        • Profile picture of the author Alexa Smith
          Banned
          Originally Posted by kilgore View Post

          I just don't get this issue with this.
          You may not have seen all the 2009/10 threads when tinyurl disappeared overnight? And so many similar/related "chapters of accidents" all of which were so easily avoidable.

          Originally Posted by kilgore View Post

          There are hundreds of third-party services that I rely on that I'm not in control over and moreover that I don't want to be in control over. Amazon.com hosts my website.
          These are not "here-today-gone-tomorrow" free services with much better alternatives available which anyone can use without being dependent on third parties, though. That puts them in a very different class altogether, surely?

          It does for me, anyway.

          .
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          • Profile picture of the author iAmNameLess
            Originally Posted by EloquentGentleman View Post

            Thought the same thing, but realized that these services/plugins also have a lot of features that if you tried to replicate (link tracking, link rotating, auto submit links to social media, etc.), the non-techie person would probably want to smack himself 1000 times
            That is true I suppose, but auto submitting the links to social media is a bit unnecessary isn't it? I'm not familiar with link rotating, unless you're talking about like having a 300x300 ad and it just rotates every page view? That's not a cloaking issue though.

            I agree though... a lot of people here don't ever build a website even, so it makes sense for those people.
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          • Profile picture of the author iAmNameLess
            Originally Posted by Alexa Smith View Post

            You may not have seen all the 2009/10 threads when tinyurl disappeared overnight? And so many similar/related "chapters of accidents" all of which were so easily avoidable.

            These are not "here-today-gone-tomorrow" free services with much better alternatives available which anyone can use without being dependent on third parties, though. That puts them in a very different class altogether, surely?

            It does for me, anyway.

            .
            This is why I will not ever use a 3rd party service, free or paid, for url cloaking. Not just for affiliate purposes but any purpose. Link shortening, cloaking, etc. isn't exactly a niche that is super profitable and eventually they all have issues.

            Would much rather use my own server for all that stuff.
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          • Profile picture of the author kilgore
            Originally Posted by Alexa Smith View Post

            You may not have seen all the 2009/10 threads when tinyurl disappeared overnight? And so many similar/related "chapters of accidents" all of which were so easily avoidable.
            ...
            These are not "here-today-gone-tomorrow" free services with much better alternatives available which anyone can use without being dependent on third parties, though. That puts them in a very different class altogether, surely?

            It does for me, anyway.

            .
            It's true, I don't know anything about the TinyUrl debacle of 2009. But I certainly do remember Amazon Web Services outages in 2013 that caused huge issues with Netflix, Pinterest, Instagram and a bunch of other big name companies. I've also experienced outages with Gmail, Google Docs and a lot of other services I depend on. It's not fun, but outages happen, regardless of who you're dealing with. You can't eliminate risk, but you do mitigate it and part of that mitigation (for me at least) is offloading where appropriate so that I can spend more time where I'm most vulnerable.

            I also think that it's a bit of a stretch to say that because TinyUrl had an outage a while back or even has frequent outages today, all URL shortening services are bad. That would be like concluding from a Google Apps or Gmail outage that you should always host your own email.

            I also think it's a stretch to call Bitly a "here today gone tomorrow" company. They've been around since 2008; they've received millions in venture capital funding; moreover, while they do have a free option, they also have a paid option that many very large companies depend on. Companies like Amazon.com (amzn.to), CNN (on.cnn.com), the Huffington Post (huff.to), the New York Times (nyti.ms) are just a few examples.

            No, you don't get an SLA with the free option, but (1) I'm of the opinion that most SLA's are pretty useless and (2) you don't really need one. It's in Bitly's interest to keep their free services running smoothly or they'll have a hard time getting paid customers. At any rate, I can guarantee you a company like Bitly has more and better internet engineers than my company does!

            If you got stung by TinyUrl before, I can understand why you might be skittish about Bitly. But though they provide a similar service, they're not the same company. And personally I think that Bitly does a pretty good job doing what it does. It works for me anyway in the limited capacities that I use it.
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            • Profile picture of the author Alexa Smith
              Banned
              Originally Posted by kilgore View Post

              I also think that it's a bit of a stretch to say that because TinyUrl had an outage a while back ...
              It wasn't an "outage". The company disappeared, went under, and its links all disappeared with it, as has happened to other such companies, too. The newer company now referred to as "tinyurl" is a different one, owned and operated by a different business which bought the name from the liquidator as a "rescue package".

              Originally Posted by kilgore View Post

              I also think it's a stretch to call Bitly a "here today gone tomorrow" company.
              Perhaps it is. Respectfully, I really do think you're somewhat choosing to miss my key point here, which is that it's no more difficult to depend on something you're hosting yourself than taking a chance on an unnecessary third party in an industry in which many such services do actually have a history of unreliability.

              (By the way, if it matters to you at all, and I accept that it may not, Ben Metcalfe clearly doesn't agree with your assessment of bit.ly: The .ly domain space to be considered unsafe | :Ben Metcalfe Blog ).

              Originally Posted by kilgore View Post

              If you got stung by TinyUrl before, I can understand why you might be skittish about Bitly ...
              I didn't. I've never depended unnecessarily on a free, third-party service provider. I take the continuity of my business and the longevity of my links a little more seriously than that. But thanks for your concern.

              I think you already know that I have plenty of respect for your posts here, but I'm not backing off this one, because I suspect that in reality you understand as well as I do that given a choice between depending unnecessarily on a free, third-party service-provider and not depending unnecessarily on a free, third-party service-provider, not depending unnecessarily on a free, third-party service-provider is the more sensible option of the two.

              If you seriously want to debate that, then fine: I'm not going anywhere. But I suggest that it might be better if we simply "agree to differ on the subject".

              .
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              • Profile picture of the author kilgore
                Originally Posted by Alexa Smith View Post

                If you seriously want to debate that, then fine: I'm not going anywhere. But I suggest that it might be better if we simply "agree to differ on the subject".
                The respect is mutual, of course, which may be why I've been so keen to debate -- it can be so hard to find something that I feel I can argue with you about and having a snowball's chance in hell of not seeming like an idiot!

                But I'll be glad to just agree to disagree -- though I gotta say, you're missing out on a great opportunity to hear me wax poetic about custom domains in bitly or their API. Believe me, it would have changed your life

                But I bet you can at least agree that Bitly is a good solution to use when you put up a ridiculous signature on the WF and want to see if anyone is daft enough to click on it. (By the way, they do!) See? There's hope of converting you yet!
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  • Profile picture of the author JakeStatler
    Personally I think it's a very beneficial to cloak your affiliate links because it makes the link look much cleaner and professional. Nobody wants to actually click on a link that looks like the following: badlink.com/zz56tsg24mmdu8hcv7

    That just looks spammy, and most affiliate links do because they have to be tracked by the affiliate network somehow. Professional affiliates always mask and cloak links to get higher a CTR (click through rate) and to keep their reputation from becoming tarnished quickly
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  • Profile picture of the author NathanO
    Unless you want to look spammy, I would suggest using a cloaking system for your affiliate links. Pretty Links works great for me.
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