Much trouble with link cloaking

8 replies
Hi, I have been reading a lot about link cloaking and the problems you can have as an affiliate if you do not cloak your links - especially with clickbank. I have tried several free link cloakers including Ewen Chias Easy cloak in php. For some reason it is not working. I know that I am doing something wrong because all of the cloaking that I have tried doesn't work. Some are with php, some are not. Some I needed to upload to my server etc.

So is there anyone here who can walk me through a step by step way to cloak my links so that I don't end up getting my aff id stolen etc? Do I really even need to cloak my links? I am very new to all of this and am just trying to learn. I would really appreciate any help! I have tried to upload a php file to my server and it uploaded but then how is that hooked to my web page? If I put in the address with the end being .php it won't go to the page.

Anyway, this is seriously bothering me and I feel really stupid because I am usually able to figure these things out. Thanks for any help!
#cloaking #link #trouble
  • Profile picture of the author Steve Diamond
    Hi. Here's an example of one of the simplest possible forms of link cloaking.

    Say you have a page on your website called presell.html that contains your affiliate link to a product about gardening, something like this:

    Code:
    You're an idiot if you don't buy <a href="http://www.gardening-book.com/index.php?aff_id=12345">this stupid gardening book</a> right now.
    In this case, the affiliate link you want to cloak is this:

    Code:
    http://www.gardening-book.com/index.php?aff_id=12345
    It can be anything. The format of the affiliate link doesn't matter a bit.

    Create a new text file using Notepad or another plain text editor. Call it gardening.php or some name appropriate to your situation. (If you use Notepad make sure to save it with a .php extension or change it later. Notepad may try to save it with a .txt extension.)

    Put the following text in the gardening.php file:

    PHP Code:
    <?php
    header 
    ("Location: http://www.gardening-book.com/index.php?aff_id=12345");
    ?>
    Use whatever affiliate link you had in your original html file where I've put the same example link from above.

    Upload the gardening.php to your web server in the same directory where you have your original presell.html file.

    Edit your original presell.html file. Where you originally had something like this:

    Code:
    You're an idiot if you don't buy <a href="http://www.gardening-book.com/index.php?aff_id=12345">this stupid gardening book</a> right now.
    Change it to this:

    Code:
    You're an idiot if you don't buy <a href="gardening.php">this stupid gardening book</a> right now.
    In other words change the link target so it goes to your newly uploaded PHP file. That's it. No fuss, no muss. Create one small file, upload it, and make a small edit in your original file.

    I hope this helps.

    Steve
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  • Profile picture of the author scrofford
    Hey Steve,

    Thank you very much! Worked like a charm! I really appreciate your help!

    Steve
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  • Profile picture of the author GB2008
    Hey Steve - nice neat solution! What's your thoughts on affiliate ID's getting stolen then? Everyone's talking about cloaking - but I'm just not clear how someone could do mischief with your affiliate ID, assuming they don't have any passwords to go with it - how can they get access to your stuff?
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    • Profile picture of the author iBBnet
      Originally Posted by GB2008 View Post

      Hey Steve - nice neat solution! What's your thoughts on affiliate ID's getting stolen then? Everyone's talking about cloaking - but I'm just not clear how someone could do mischief with your affiliate ID, assuming they don't have any passwords to go with it - how can they get access to your stuff?
      I think what he means is that people will just bypass your affiliate ID (if they see that it is obviously an affiliate link) and just type in the URL directly -- especially if they don't want to give you credit.

      For example: page.com/?affiliateid=25

      Folks will just type in page.com in their browser, so you won't get credit.

      The other benefit of using link cloaking is that I personally think it's much better:

      For example:
      BAD: hxxp://www.thisisthehomepage.com/affiliateprogram/affiliateid=123456789

      BETTER: hxxp://www.yoursitename.com/promoname
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      • Profile picture of the author Steve Diamond
        Originally Posted by GB2008 View Post

        Hey Steve - nice neat solution! What's your thoughts on affiliate ID's getting stolen then? Everyone's talking about cloaking - but I'm just not clear how someone could do mischief with your affiliate ID, assuming they don't have any passwords to go with it - how can they get access to your stuff?
        Thanks for the kind words!

        Originally Posted by iBBnet View Post

        I think what he means is that people will just bypass your affiliate ID (if they see that it is obviously an affiliate link) and just type in the URL directly -- especially if they don't want to give you credit.
        Well, not only that, but they could substitute their own affiliate link. They could actually go to the site, sign up for the affiliate program (if they weren't already in it) and buy through their own link. ClickBank's older unencrypted hoplinks made this particularly easy.

        But you're right, GB2008, it's unlikely anyone could compromise your account and re-route your commissions. Unlikely but not impossible.

        Steve
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        Reduce stress | Stay focused | Keep positive and balanced
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  • Profile picture of the author GB2008
    Hi Steve - that was just what I was thinking! There's always someone out to try and beat the system, but in my experience, they are few and far between compared to real customers. I do agree with the "ugly link" thinking though - much nicer to have an appropriate "something.com" in any kind of advertising.
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  • Profile picture of the author kendrickyi
    Hi all.

    I agree with what iBBnet said about other people bypassing your aff ID, but I also think it's more presentable to have a shorter url, because some people get put off by long urls.

    What I normally do is create a new HTML page and add the following script into the <body> tag.

    <SCRIPT language="JavaScript">
    <!--
    window.location="";
    //-->
    </SCRIPT>

    From there, I would enter the long url into window.location="";
    What this does is, it simply redirects the visitor to the url stated in
    window.location="";

    I use this method because I am not familliar with php at all,
    but I was aware that this is possible in javascript.
    This works for me.

    You can also cloak urls at TinyURL.com

    I hope this helps.
    Cheers.
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    • Profile picture of the author Steve Diamond
      Kendrickyi, your method is the exact JavaScript equivalent of the PHP method that I posted. But everyone should realize that there's an important difference. JavaScript will work most of the time, while PHP will work all of the time.

      The reason for this is that PHP runs on your web server. It works regardless of the user's configuration on their computer. The user's browser never sees the PHP script, it just sees the results of your server's running the PHP script. In this case, it gets redirected before anything else happens.

      In contrast, JavaScript runs inside the user's browser. Some browsers (Lynx, WebTV) don't support JavaScript at all, so this method will never work for folks who use them. In most other browsers it's possible to disable JavaScript, and some people do this for security reasons.

      Bottom line is, if you want the redirect to work for 100% of your visitors use PHP. If you want it to work for about 95% of your visitors use JavaScript. Easy choice, IMHO. (JavaScript statistic from w3schools.com)

      Steve
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      Reduce stress | Stay focused | Keep positive and balanced
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