Do you "cloak" your affiliate links ?

by Jekiko Banned
41 replies
I am new to this and am about to put
my affiate links on my website.

Before I do I wanted to know if most of you
"cloak" your links in order to reduce commisson
loss.

ıf so which method do you use ?
#affiliate #cloak #limks
  • Profile picture of the author Asher
    Hi Jekiko,

    Yes, cloak your affiliate links. You won't
    really see a lot of people leaving the affiliate
    links on their websites if they know what
    they're doing.

    Asher
    Signature
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    • Profile picture of the author Jekiko
      Banned
      Thanks for the reply,
      what method do you use ?
      I have looked at using mod_rewite
      and also "header("Location: aff_lnk")" method
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    • Profile picture of the author Scott Million
      Originally Posted by Asher View Post

      Hi Jekiko,

      Yes, cloak your affiliate links. You won't
      really see a lot of people leaving the affiliate
      links on their websites if they know what
      they're doing.

      Asher
      I have loads of affiliate review sites and do not cloak links...and I'm making plenty

      I might be losing some sales, but I don't see affiliate links as being a problem outside the IM niche.
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  • Profile picture of the author knmrwarrior
    Not just of click fraud but also to combat people who avoid clicking no affiliate links. The two simplest ways are using a PHP redirect or HTML redirect.


    PHP Redirect - Create a file such as "the-aff-product.php" and use this code:

    Code:
    <?php header( 'Location: http://www.SOMESITE.com/affpage.html' ) ; ?>
    HTML Redirect - Create a file such as "the-aff-product.html" and use this code:

    Code:
    <!DOCTYPE HTML PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN">
    <html>
    <head>
    <title>Affiliate Product Name</title>
    <meta http-equiv="REFRESH" content="0;url=http://www.SOMESITE.com/affpage.html">
    </HEAD>
    <BODY>
    Please wait, loading "the product name" page.</BODY>
    </HTML>
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    • Profile picture of the author Scott Million
      Originally Posted by knmrwarrior View Post

      Not just of click fraud but also to combat people who avoid clicking no affiliate links. The two simplest ways are using a PHP redirect or HTML redirect.


      PHP Redirect - Create a file such as "the-aff-product.php" and use this code:

      Code:
      <?php header( 'Location: http://www.SOMESITE.com/affpage.html' ) ; ?>
      HTML Redirect - Create a file such as "the-aff-product.html" and use this code:

      Code:
      <!DOCTYPE HTML PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN">
      <html>
      <head>
      <title>Affiliate Product Name</title>
      <meta http-equiv="REFRESH" content="0;url=http://www.SOMESITE.com/affpage.html">
      </HEAD>
      <BODY>
      Please wait, loading "the product name" page.</BODY>
      </HTML>
      Yup, I use the .php redirect for the IM niche. Works great
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      • Profile picture of the author Tekstar
        Is this a concern with CJ or Linkshare links as well? Does that script cloak all of the aff links you have or just specific ones? Is there a script that will work with all links or any links?

        Thanks,

        -Bob
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  • Profile picture of the author glofish
    You'll need to check with your affiliate providers to make sure this is feasible. Some of my providers don't work well with redirects. I've had issues with extended redirect times with some.
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    • Profile picture of the author Jekiko
      Banned
      There some products out there
      both free and paid for that cloak the link
      like LinkGuard

      but I can't see the point of them when simple redirects
      must work.

      Does anyone use mod_rewrite to do the same thing ?

      Another method I've see is to use a tinyurl
      but that seems a bit, well unprofessional

      What do you guys think - any other methods ?
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  • Profile picture of the author madison_avenue
    Domain forwarding is the most effective method. Register a domain and use that as the "middle man', for your affiliate links. Put all your affiliate links onto this domain. Then mask this page; whenever someone clicks on an affiliate link it goes to this domain, all affiliate links are masked on it, so only the " middle man", domain is displayed.
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    • Profile picture of the author lansing
      Not just of click fraud but also to combat people who avoid clicking no affiliate links.
      Third good reason - to make it harder for lazy wannbees from copying your site and just plugging in their own affiliate ids.
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  • Profile picture of the author ~kev~
    Personally, I think its unprofessional to cloak a link. When I mouse over and see the address the link goes to, I want to go to that address, not a redirect. If I am redirected, I will probably leave your site and never go back.

    To answer the question:

    Do you "cloak" your affiliate links ?
    The answer is no.
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  • Profile picture of the author Jesus Perez
    I cloak everything. But I have a different reason.

    I like to be in complete control of my links and I want to have access to control them whenever I want.

    Here's an example: I once sent out a newsletter with cloaked links. Thing is, the link was WRONG! Instead of writing off the loss, I jumped in my cloaker's admin area and fixed the link. I missed a few clicks, but the campaign was not a flop.

    The same goes for forum posting and blog comments. I can change links and test performance.

    Cloaked links rule, man.

    Note: you don't need cloaker software to do this. HTM and PHP redirects do the same. It's just more manual work than managing them from one location.
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  • Profile picture of the author madison_avenue
    Jekiko

    Godaddy provide this service as well. I have seen some videos on youtube showing you how to do the forwarding step by step. Just search for "domain forwarding masking godaddy" on youtube.

    all the best
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  • Profile picture of the author Michael Gentry
    I use a redirect to an affiliate page because sometimes a cloaked link will not work in some browsers.
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  • Profile picture of the author PassiveCashGal
    I use Godaddy and get new domain names and forward and mask my links. It's super easy! Check for a domain name (research good keyword for that niche) and go to domain manager and click on forward domain..
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  • Profile picture of the author MicahF7
    I always cloak... I just use redirects... Works great for me but you need domains to do it.



    Thanks,

    Micah Rush

    <><
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    • Profile picture of the author 4morereferrals
      So some of you guys/gals are buying a domain for every one of your affiliate products? WOW

      So maybe Im not so sharp but - are you that buy a domain and redirect it - never planning on doing OTHER affilioate products? Seems kinda odd to drop $10 a yr just to redirect a link ...?

      If you have a blog / wp ... who is using GoCodes?
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      • Profile picture of the author Michele Miller
        There's various reasons for using masking and forwarding. I don't only do that, I usually cloak my links. However, if you are doing article marketing and you want the link in your resource box to go straight to the vendor's page, ezinearticles.com won't accept an affiliate link, unless it is a top level domain, so if I'm not directing traffic to my own sites first, and want the person to go straight to the vendor's page, I use masking and forwarding via a top level domain name. www.yoursite.com/page.html is not accepted by them. It depends on what I'm doing, as to how I redirect my affiliate links.

        Originally Posted by 4morereferrals View Post

        So some of you guys/gals are buying a domain for every one of your affiliate products? WOW

        So maybe Im not so sharp but - are you that buy a domain and redirect it - never planning on doing OTHER affilioate products? Seems kinda odd to drop $10 a yr just to redirect a link ...?

        If you have a blog / wp ... who is using GoCodes?
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  • Profile picture of the author sunnyman
    I may not be that much of a geek so I use a very simple method:
    a 301 redirect in the .htaccess file.

    There are also scripts that do this for you, in a nice convenient interface.
    (I think there was something called "Gotrythis", for example.)
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  • Profile picture of the author lavaleekathy
    Some great ideas so far, I think domain forwarding is the most effective method. Get and register a domain and use that as the go between for your affiliate links. Then put all your affiliate links into the one domain. Masking is always a better option here so that whenever someone clicks on one of your affilliate links it moves them directly to your own domain so that all affiliate links are hidden and masked on it, so that thing visible is your domain name. Just my 2 cents!
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  • Profile picture of the author Josh Anderson
    We break frames automatically because some link cloaking actually causes problems.

    Plus I do not want anyone tricking their visitors into thinking my content is actually on their site. It confuses people as to where to go for support and who they are doing business with.

    One extreem link cloaking script was so sticky that it tried to keep cloaking when the sale was referred from the order button to the paypal process. This cause browser security to jump in and notify that the cloaking script was potentially a phishing attempt on the visitors paypal account.

    For this reason we break frames and bust through this type of irresponsible cloaking on purpose.

    I see no need for anything more than a simple php redirect in most cases.

    With our system an affiliate really does not need more than that because even if someone deletes their cookies, signs up as an affiliate, and buys off their own link our system knows who the legitimate first referring affiliate was and rewards them completely foiling the thief.

    We track by IP and cookie and we developed a smart anti affiliate theft system that rewards the legit affiliate.
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  • Profile picture of the author NewbiesDiary
    a few things to keep in mind...

    If using something like tinyurl - when a large number of people are using the same domain (eg tinyurl.com) if someones cloaked link is listed as containing a virus - it will contaminate the whole domain - that is ALL cloaked links. I know this because it happened to me when I was using offto as a cloaker.

    There is no need to buy a heap of domains to handle your cloaked links - that's just a total waste of money!! Maybe have one, but you don't even need to do that. A good cloaker should operate on your existing domain. eg if you have a site ultimatedogtraining(.)com - your links could be ultimatedogtraining(.)com/recommends or /links or whatever takes your fancy.

    Depending on what cloaking system you use (including html and php) a quick look at the source code will reveal the affiliate link - leaving it open for another marketer to swipe it.

    Non IM niches aren't as essential for cloaking links to protect the links, but a professional looking link is a lot more attractive for a visitor to click on than some of the ugly hop links. A visitor is more likely to click on mywebsite(.)com/recommends/sitstayfetch than they are to click on http://mynamehere(.)robotstock.hop.c...id=DOGTRAINING

    A good cloaker will also give you other benefits, like tracking stats, landing page encryption (this means that even if you look at the source code, all info including the affiliate link is scrambled and can't be read), and will also give the ability to save ALL your affiliate links - once, regardless of how many domains or niches you operate.

    There are some good link cloakers out there, but most of them require using databases or MYSql (pfft certainly not something I know how to use lol) and can cause a bit of drama getting them to work properly. Or they are ridiculously expensive!

    Personally I always use a link cloaker - wouldn't be without it!
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    • Profile picture of the author stevenh512
      Originally Posted by NewbiesDiary View Post

      Depending on what cloaking system you use (including html and php) a quick look at the source code will reveal the affiliate link - leaving it open for another marketer to swipe it.
      A PHP redirect should never reveal the affiliate link in the source code, since it should never send any source code to the browser. The redirect is done as an HTTP header. Whether or not your affiliate link will show in the address bar after the redirect is a different story, and it really depends on the affiliate script you're redirecting to. I know Clickbank will not show your hoplink in the address bar (at least not for more than a fraction of a second), but will add the ?hop= to the end of the url it finally ends up redirecting to.

      Originally Posted by NewbiesDiary View Post

      There are some good link cloakers out there, but most of them require using databases or MYSql (pfft certainly not something I know how to use lol)
      If your web host has any kind of control panel with PHPMyAdmin, MySQL is pretty painless for most web scripts that require it. It's as simple as setting up a database name, username and password in your control panel, then (if necessary) uploading the script's .SQL file into the new database in PHPMyAdmin. Some scripts even have an installer that does the second part for you.

      To answer the op's question, I always cloak my links so they look like mydomain(.)com/go/productname

      I use Mike Filsaime's Power Link Generator, got it as a bonus for one of his other products I bought years ago (can't for the life of me remember which one.. lol), the latest versions can be used with or without a MySQL database... but for the way I'm using it, simple PHP redirects would work just as well, they'd just require a little more work to set up new redirects.
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      • Profile picture of the author NewbiesDiary
        Originally Posted by stevenh512 View Post

        A PHP redirect should never reveal the affiliate link in the source code, since it should never send any source code to the browsers. The redirect is done as an HTTP header. Whether or not your affiliate link will show in the address bar after the redirect is a different story, and it really depends on the affiliate script you're redirecting to. I know Clickbank will not show your hoplink in the address bar (at least not for more than a fraction of a second), but will add the ?hop= to the end of the url it finally ends up redirecting to.
        So it still reveals the affiliate link - even in the final url - it tells the visitor that this is an affiliate product. I prefer a cloaker that will hide ALL traces of an affiliate link

        If your web host has any kind of control panel with PHPMyAdmin, MySQL is pretty painless for most web scripts that require it. It's as simple as setting up a database name, username and password in your control panel, then (if necessary) uploading the script's .SQL file into the new database in PHPMyAdmin. Some scripts even have an installer that does the second part for you.
        being a very non-techie person - the thought of diving into the database / MYSql / PHPMyAdmin area isn't very tempting (IMO)

        To answer the op's question, I always cloak my links so they look like mydomain(.)com/go/productname

        I use Mike Filsaime's Power Link Generator, got it as a bonus for one of his other products I bought years ago (can't for the life of me remember which one.. lol), the latest versions can be used with or without a MySQL database... but for the way I'm using it, simple PHP redirects would work just as well, they'd just require a little more work to set up new redirects.
        ewww it's the little more work required that I don't like - being even lazier than the lazy affiliate marketer hehehe

        We've got the link cloaker for the laziest marketers LOL - soz I'm just a little biased hahaha
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        • Profile picture of the author stevenh512
          Originally Posted by NewbiesDiary View Post

          So it still reveals the affiliate link - even in the final url - it tells the visitor that this is an affiliate product. I prefer a cloaker that will hide ALL traces of an affiliate link
          Problem with that is, usually you have to use a frame or iframe to cloak that way. Sometimes affiliate cookies don't make it through because the browser is configured not to accept "third-party" cookies. Plus even if you "encrypt" the cloaked page, it's still not impossible (or even difficult) to find the affiliate link in the source code. The so-called HTML/Javascript "encryption" programs really just encode/obfuscate the source code, if it was securely encrypted the browser couldn't read it.

          Originally Posted by NewbiesDiary View Post

          being a very non-techie person - the thought of diving into the database / MYSql / PHPMyAdmin area isn't very tempting (IMO)
          I bet if you played around with it for about 15-20 minutes or searched for a tutorial video on Youtube you'd have the hang of it in no time.

          I'm more of a "techie" person myself, I have a degree in computer science and have been programming as a hobby since I was 5 years old (yeah, started learing BASIC at 5 years old on a Commodore VIC-20.. lol), but I have to admit when I first became interested in web development and internet marketing I was a lot more intimidated by MySQL and the various web hosting control panels than I should have been. Now I can practically navigate CPanel blinfolded.
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          • Profile picture of the author Alminc
            By creating a redirect page for your affiliate link you have
            much more control and can easily make changes in one
            place.

            Say you have one of your affiliate links in 265 places on the Internet.
            The affiliate program owner suddenly changes the link in some way
            and you have to manually change your link 265 times.

            But if you have a redirect page in place, you just need to make 1 change
            for all your 265 links and they will all work fine.

            As an affiliate you should allways build your own redirect pages, for each
            and every affiliate link OR use software such as GoTryThis.

            Another thing equally important: never send your visitors directly to
            vendor's squeeze page. Build your own squeeze page, give them
            a free special report or something, and then send them to vendor's
            sales page through your emails.
            The link in your email should off course point to your redirect page
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            No links :)
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            • Profile picture of the author Nathan Hangen
              Originally Posted by Alminc View Post

              By creating a redirect page for your affiliate link you have
              much more control and can easily make changes in one
              place.

              Say you have one of your affiliate links in 265 places on the Internet.
              The affiliate program owner suddenly changes the link in some way
              and you have to manually change your link 265 times.

              But if you have a redirect page in place, you just need to make 1 change
              for all your 265 links and they will all work fine.

              As an affiliate you should allways build your own redirect pages, for each
              and every affiliate link OR use software such as GoTryThis.

              Another thing equally important: never send your visitors directly to
              vendor's squeeze page. Build your own squeeze page, give them
              a free special report or something, and then send them to vendor's
              sales page through your emails.
              The link in your email should off course point to your redirect page

              Great point that should not be overlooked. Even better, send them to the vendors page after they opt-in.
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          • Profile picture of the author TimRobinson
            Originally Posted by stevenh512 View Post

            Problem with that is, usually you have to use a frame or iframe to cloak that way. Sometimes affiliate cookies don't make it through because the browser is configured not to accept "third-party" cookies. Plus even if you "encrypt" the cloaked page, it's still not impossible (or even difficult) to find the affiliate link in the source code. The so-called HTML/Javascript "encryption" programs really just encode/obfuscate the source code, if it was securely encrypted the browser couldn't read it.
            It's really just a matter of effort, I know a fair few internet marketers that when they click through a normal PHP link and see http://www.makemoneyonline.com/?hop=lalala

            they change the lalala to their own ID before purchasing, and soo many people lose sales that way and don't realize it. Which is why I rarely use php forwarding unless its absolutely required (like if the affiliate site doesn't work with frames).

            Originally Posted by stevenh512 View Post

            I bet if you played around with it for about 15-20 minutes or searched for a tutorial video on Youtube you'd have the hang of it in no time.

            I'm more of a "techie" person myself, I have a degree in computer science and have been programming as a hobby since I was 5 years old (yeah, started learing BASIC at 5 years old on a Commodore VIC-20.. lol), but I have to admit when I first became interested in web development and internet marketing I was a lot more intimidated by MySQL and the various web hosting control panels than I should have been. Now I can practically navigate CPanel blinfolded.
            There's tutorials for everything on the internet, it's just a matter of time and effort. I can program myself but my design skills are horrible.

            Sure I could go through a whole bunch of photoshop tutorials and sort of get the grasp of it but why bother when I can get a nice easy to use program to make headers/graphics for me? (or outsource it if there isn't anything available)

            Time is the most vital and scare resource of Internet Marketers and much more valuable than money.
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            • Profile picture of the author stevenh512
              Originally Posted by TimRobinson View Post

              It's really just a matter of effort, I know a fair few internet marketers that when they click through a normal PHP link and see Make Money Online

              they change the lalala to their own ID before purchasing, and soo many people lose sales that way and don't realize it. Which is why I rarely use php forwarding unless its absolutely required (like if the affiliate site doesn't work with frames).
              You can change the ?hop=nickname to whatever you want and it won't matter.. you'd have to actually find the vendor's Clickbank nickname and go through your own hoplink (affiliate.vendor.hop.clickbank.net) to steal the affiliate commission. The ?hop= is just sent to the site Clickbank reirects to in case you have some reason for wanting or needing to keep track of that information outside of Clickbank.

              I never use a frame or iframe based redirect anymore because the default security settings on a lot of browsers these days are pretty picky about third-party cookies.

              Originally Posted by TimRobinson View Post

              Time is the most vital and scare resource of Internet Marketers and much more valuable than money.
              That's true, but for things like setting up MySQL databases (since it can usually be done in under a minute once you know how), that's something I'd suggest anyone should learn how to do because it's simple and at some point all of us are probably going to need to do it.
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          • Profile picture of the author NewbiesDiary
            Originally Posted by stevenh512 View Post

            I bet if you played around with it for about 15-20 minutes or searched for a tutorial video on Youtube you'd have the hang of it in no time.
            probably - but I don't really wanna spend time searching vid tutorials trying to get the hang of something, when I have the software that does all this for me with the click of a button - color me lazy! hehe

            I'm more of a "techie" person myself, I have a degree in computer science and have been programming as a hobby since I was 5 years old (yeah, started learing BASIC at 5 years old on a Commodore VIC-20.. lol), but I have to admit when I first became interested in web development and internet marketing I was a lot more intimidated by MySQL and the various web hosting control panels than I should have been. Now I can practically navigate CPanel blinfolded.
            LOL I don't have a degree in computer science or been programming since 5 - so I use the software that makes my life soooooooo easy and means I don't have to be techie.
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  • Profile picture of the author James12C
    I think Hostgator provides the domain forwarding too. I think TinyURL looks unprofessional, but Iuse it in my blog (not for aff links). The MySQL business isn't intimidating if you have cPanel and reliable link cloaker software. I like the my.com/recommends/product approach. Generally people (at least in IM) recognise that as an aff link and will either go for it, or not....
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  • Profile picture of the author NewbiesDiary
    Check out our software that cloaks, encrypts, tracks, saves links, rotates offers and heaps more.

    This is the software that James Schramko uses and also talked about on stage at the recent World Internet Summit. The link is the first one in my sig
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  • Profile picture of the author MicahF7
    Yes I cloak my links using a Double Meta Refresh system.



    Micah Rush
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  • Profile picture of the author sitemarketer
    Hi.

    Just a quick note to let you know GoTryTHIS 2 is now available, with discounted early-bird spots.

    Thank you,
    John.
    www.GoTryTHIS.com
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    • Profile picture of the author genietoast
      Yes, I do. The easiest thing to do is to buy a .info domain from $1.07 from Go Daddy and do redirect/masking to your affiliate link. You can go on to You tube and type: Go Daddy Domain forward and masking. There's at least a couple videos that show you how to do it.

      If you have a website, you can do a PHP script re-direct which costs you nothing, but you'll have to ask the more savvy members in the forum how to do that.

      But before you attempt to cloak any of your affiliate links, copy and past your link into a browser and see if the link is already re-directed. Sometimes the vendor will automatically have this done for you.

      Clickbank does not do this, so you'll have cloak the link yourself.
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