Cloaking Links for Amazon Products

by jerry25 30 replies
I have 50 or so Amazon sites and when I built them, cloaked links were allowed. Since then, I have read that Amazona doesn't like you to cloak your links.

Any thoughts on this? Do you have better results with cloaking links or not cloaking affiliate product links?
#main internet marketing discussion forum #amazon #cloaking #links #products
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  • Profile picture of the author Tom Ryan
    I don't cloak any of my amazon links and I do just fine. In fact I usually tell my visitors that the link is going to amazon. Amazon has a good solid reputation and people know this and trust them, so I don't feel that there is really any reason to do it.
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  • Profile picture of the author jerry25
    Thank you Tom. The WSO Amazon course(s) I have taken recommended cloaking the links, but I sure do not want to get in trouble with Amazon.

    You are right, Amazon has a good solid reputation.
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    • Profile picture of the author Chris Thompson
      Originally Posted by jerry25 View Post

      Thank you Tom. The WSO Amazon course(s) I have taken recommended cloaking the links, but I sure do not want to get in trouble with Amazon.

      You are right, Amazon has a good solid reputation.
      There is NO good reason to bother cloaking an amazon link. None at all. Ignore the advice unless you Understand and agree with someone's advice.

      My reasons for saying don't cloak:

      1) amazon links are trusted
      2) the associate ID is so buried under other URL variables that the link doesn't grab anyone as weird
      3) your audience is not the IM crowd.
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      • Profile picture of the author cooler1
        Originally Posted by Chris Thompson View Post

        There is NO good reason to bother cloaking an amazon link. None at all. Ignore the advice unless you Understand and agree with someone's advice.

        My reasons for saying don't cloak:

        1) amazon links are trusted
        2) the associate ID is so buried under other URL variables that the link doesn't grab anyone as weird
        3) your audience is not the IM crowd.
        What about the people who are saying they are ranking better because of cloaking the links. Are they talking out their backside?
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        • Profile picture of the author robp12
          If you have Wordpress, you can just add the plug-in "Go Codes" and you can redirect your Amazon affiliate links from the long Amazon link to something like this http://brocrastinator.com/go/battlefield3/
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  • Profile picture of the author ronaldmd
    It's better not to cloak your Amazon links. I don't think there's difference between cloaked Amazon link or not. Maybe there's in different affiliate program like Clickbank, but not Amazon.
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  • Profile picture of the author SteveDolan
    The reason for cloaking links like Amazon is to help SEO. Google is not keen on affiliate sites and if it sees too many affiliate links your site will be penalized. Hence the link cloaking plugins that cloak the links to look like links within your site.

    Depending on the site I do have some links cloaked and some not. Amazon has not had any issues as far as I know.
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    • Profile picture of the author jerry25
      I knew that too many affiliate links would be bad for SEO purposes. I try not to promote alot of products per site.

      Mixing the 2 methods is unique.

      Thanks
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  • Profile picture of the author PandaPoacher
    Yeah I wouldn't bother with cloaking them. Amazon is good enough as it is so I don't see any problems with the link alone.
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  • Profile picture of the author abubakar89
    In amazon case You will get more clicks if you are not cloaking links because it adds extra credibility to your site. You win your visitors trust by referring him an authority site not some scam site,

    I hope that helps
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  • Profile picture of the author sitemarketer
    There are five different definitions of cloaking links, straight redirects being one of the definitions. Usually, when an affiliate program TOS refers to not cloaking, they mean framing. Framing breaks the Internet in all sorts of ways, despite its various benefits.

    Redirects are everywhere. The entire Internet runs off them. For a service to ban redirect links, they would technically be banning all traffic from Google, Twitter, broadcast email services, etc.

    John.
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  • Profile picture of the author pcpupil
    Every forum i belong to says to cloak your links.
    Including the WF and just about all the senior members that i have read there posts.
    Big G does not like affiliate links,and they do not like bridge pages.

    Amazon sites are bridge pages,plain and simple,as they are affiliate pages.
    Big G is a bridge page by reality so it should kick itself of the internet.
    I cloak everything.Period.
    I just had a friend of mine put up a site last month.
    Here is the scenario,you can take what you want out of it.

    Setup site.
    Started a couple back links.
    Checked big G everyday,bu using site:xxxxxxx code,no results.
    Did this for 2-3 weeks.No show.
    So i looked at his site.Amazon links showing all over the place.
    So i used pretty link,and changed everything.Within 24 hrs,all his pages where indexed.
    Within another 24 hrs,half his keywords are on page 3-4.
    Next 24 they are on page 1-2,and still are today.
    This all started 2 ,months ago.

    That is what my story is and i am sticking to it.
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  • Profile picture of the author ArwenTaylor
    I heard that Google didn't like affiliate links either and that link redirection (which is what we are really talking about here) was the best way to avoid being penalized.

    Personally, I think it is the high amount of outbound links from one site that Google doesn't like, especially if they don't have the nofollow tag on them. Link redirection scripts make it look like all of the links are still on your site since it using your URL as the base for the link.

    I redirect Amazon links, mainly because they are obnoxiously long. However, I usually add text telling the visitor that the link goes to Amazon.
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  • Profile picture of the author kellio48
    This has been a very contentious issue over the past couple of years with no-one really knowing which is the better way to go.
    I did have my Amazon links cloaked but got jittery after reading so many posts about people being shut down by Amazon for doing so.
    I believe now that Amazon will only be upset if you remove the I frames as someone else already suggested.

    Q) What's the difference between a cloaked link and a redirect??
    A) I'm not sure that they don't mean the same thing.

    If you use something like "JVPress Go Pages" you can optimize the link for SEO purposes by using your keyword as the name of the page.
    For Example: Free Wordpress Training Videos
    In the above example, the keyword phrase is "free wordpress training videos" and is a redirect which optimizes the link as well.

    I really can't see how or why Amazon would penalize a site for using this type of link cloaking method and in most opinions would probably enhance conversions.

    While many in this thread are of the opinion that people trust Amazon and are perfectly correct in that assumption, it's within human nature to be wary.
    Many people who see an affiliate link are also inclined to think that by buying through that link, they will be paying more than they would if buying directly from the manufacturer or retailer.
    We affilaites know that it is not the case and quite often is quite the opposite.
    It's also within that same human nuture for many not to pay a stranger a commission and would rather see the money go to a reputable company like Amazon and is exactly one of the reasons why Amazon was able to become the giant in online retail sales as well as affiliate sales.
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  • Profile picture of the author tebor79
    Is google really not smart enough to figure out where a cloaked link ends up?
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    • Profile picture of the author bostoncitymass
      Originally Posted by tebor79 View Post

      Is google really not smart enough to figure out where a cloaked link ends up?
      Exactly, Google knows what you are doing, which is why not to bother with it. It's the same as making all your post links no follow to keep the link juice. Google knows what you are doing. If you don't mind doing the extra work then hey go for it. I don't think it will kill your site if you don't though.
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      • Profile picture of the author Gaz Cooper
        I guess none of us really know what the big G thinks with regards to cloaking and not cloaking links.

        The general concencus has been that Google does not like affiliate sites or sites with lots of affilaite links on them. The fact that they have been focusing on eliminating these sites via Panda updates etc clearly shows that they do not like Affilaite sites whether its Amazon or any other affiliate network.

        So if you don't want to cloak and no follow your links then don't do it however there is no negative to cloaking your link and and if Google is targeting Affiliate sites then you are at least taking steps to handle it the best way you can by cloaking and using no follow links.

        We will never know what the big G is really thinking, but if cloaking has even the slightest perceived advantage for my site then I will do it.

        Kickin it on Amazon

        Gaz Cooper
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        • Profile picture of the author Dale21
          Well I find this thread very interesting indeed. In the past I have had some Amazon links on some of my sites with no problems. Recently I had a fellow warrior build a very nice Amazon site for me since I have never done one, it was very nicely done with alot of ads and links. So I posted a couple of articles and began backlinking. Everything was going great, in 2 weeks time I had one keyword ranked #7 and another on page 2.

          Then I get up one morning and phoof... all gone. I did not get too alarmed, I have had new sites do a big google dance for a few days, especially when I probably was too aggressive on backlinking. But it has been almost 3 weeks now, I mean my keywords danced all the way out the back door, lol. I have been drip feeding article submissions but nothing yet. Never had that happen before.

          The links are not cloaked, maybe I should cloak them and see what happens.
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          • Profile picture of the author kellio48
            Originally Posted by Dale21 View Post

            Well I find this thread very interesting indeed. In the past I have had some Amazon links on some of my sites with no problems. Recently I had a fellow warrior build a very nice Amazon site for me since I have never done one, it was very nicely done with alot of ads and links. So I posted a couple of articles and began backlinking. Everything was going great, in 2 weeks time I had one keyword ranked #7 and another on page 2.

            Then I get up one morning and phoof... all gone. I did not get too alarmed, I have had new sites do a big google dance for a few days, especially when I probably was too aggressive on backlinking. But it has been almost 3 weeks now, I mean my keywords danced all the way out the back door, lol. I have been drip feeding article submissions but nothing yet. Never had that happen before.

            The links are not cloaked, maybe I should cloak them and see what happens.
            Don't be too concerned. I had almost the same thing happen to one of my sites while doing exactly the same thing about a month ago.
            I assumed at the time that it was doing the dance but after around 2 weeks without it's reappearance I started to get concerned thinking it may have been subject to a human review.
            However, around a week ago it was returned to it's former glory in position number 4.
            Wanting to take it a little further, I embeded a YouTube video on the homepage which promptly vanished again the following day.
            After what happened the first time I have no doubt it will bounce back as adding a video can only help and not hinder.
            Sit tight and wait. I bet yours will come back in a better position than it was before.
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            • Profile picture of the author kellio48
              I think there are 2 main issues here.

              1) What Amazon thinks of link cloaking.
              2) What Google thinks of link cloaking.

              While they may both be related in that we cloak Amazon links for Google SEO purposes, and Google certainly knows it, no one really seems to have addressed the Amazon issue and it's probably because no one really knows.

              I mentioned in an ealier post that I had originally had my Amazon links cloaked but got nervous and changed then all back to obvious Amazon links.
              In retrospect, I had those links cloaked for over a year and never brought down Amazon's ire.....but that could well have been because Amazon had not discovered them.

              Just to be sure, until this matter has been irrevokably made clear, I'm leaving them as they are.
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        • Profile picture of the author mrdomains
          Originally Posted by GazCooperOnline View Post


          The general concencus has been that Google does not like affiliate sites or sites with lots of affilaite links on them. The fact that they have been focusing on eliminating these sites via Panda updates etc clearly shows that they do not like Affilaite sites whether its Amazon or any other affiliate network.
          What Google does not like are sites that only have one monetizing affiliation on them. A pure Amazon site falls into this category. Obvious links or cloaked ones make no difference since all monetization comes from a single source, be it ads, texlinks, astore, or what have you.

          My testing shows that inserting a couple of other ads on the page, Adsense, cpa, ebay or whatever often helps it rank a bit better and smart placement won´t impact your A conversions noticeably.
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  • Profile picture of the author bmcgoff
    Does anyone know which plugins are definitely safe to use for cloaking (by Amazon standards)? I've definitely heard of people getting in trouble for "framing" when they just used a popular cloaking plugin...
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  • Profile picture of the author onSubie
    Originally Posted by jerry25 View Post

    Since then, I have read that Amazon doesn't like you to cloak your links.
    Hi

    This was a problem with the way links were cloaked rather than cloaking links in general.

    There was a cloaker plugin that used iframes to make it look like visitors were still on your site. i.e. your domain showed in the browser's URL window not the destination url.

    This is what violates Amazon ToS and a few Amazon Associates got in trouble for (innocently) using a cloaker of this type.

    Amazon does not have a problem with cloaked links in general and actually own a url shortener called amzn.to.

    Any Amazon links cloaked at bit.ly are given an amzn.to/#### url.

    Amazon launches amzn.to for short links through Bit.ly Pro

    As long as your visitors are sent to Amazon and not trapped in an iframe or other trickery, cloaking links should be okay.

    Mahlon

    EDIT:

    The Amazon Linking Agreement can be found under their Operating Agreement for associates. It doesn't explicitly say anything about "cloaking links" but it does say: Links may be created by you or made available to you by us.

    Gaz posted in another thread about this and said he called Amazon and they had verbally confirmed cloaking is fine, iframes are not. I can't be bothered to find his post....
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  • Never cloaked any affiliate links and I work almost exclusively with Amazon. I think people trust Amazon and when they see that something links to them they feel "safe" in some way.

    Heck, one of my sites have had a 31% (!) conversion rate this past month.
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  • Profile picture of the author zimzalabim
    The normal Amazon affiliate links are undeniably ugly and the introduction of the much shorter (and better looking) amzn.to stuff is great and easier to work with.

    Personally, I've never bothered to seek to hide/disguise/cloak Amazon affiliate links simply because it's Amazon and the associated trust factor.

    Best,

    Andy.
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  • Profile picture of the author Big Al
    I used to always cloak my Amazon links but am currently experimenting with no cloaking them. I'm not too worried about users seeing the link because it's not obvious to anyone outside IM that it's an affiliate link.

    I was unfamiliar with Google and cloaking, how it affects ranking and if they can tell a cloaked affiliate link from an un-cloaked link.

    Mmm... any definitive answers on this?
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  • Profile picture of the author ibacklinkpro
    Cloaking links sounds bad just saying it. How about thinking about the user experience? Creating a simple redirect script is simple, you can google it to figure out how to do it, but basically you create a script like go.php, then just create code names for all of your products., which results in a link being yoursite.com/go.php?r=amazonproduct1

    This keeps your user status bars neat, keeps the size of your html pages smaller and easier to read, does not leak any link juice(with rel="nofollow" tag) and both Google and Amazon are fine with this practice.

    You should always consider what provides the best user experience and you will usually find that this is what the major websites want too.
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  • Profile picture of the author bmcgoff
    My part time VA just convinced me to cloak all my links, so he's doing that now. We'll see if it has any effect on rankings...
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  • Profile picture of the author nicnac03
    In my experience I get more clicks by NOT cloaking my Amazon links.
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  • Profile picture of the author bmcgoff
    Is that really true? Anyone else?
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