Is cloaking affiliate links needed for SEO?

11 replies
  • SEO
  • |
People all over internet cloaks their affiliate links so that they look nicer, (Like /recommend/theCBproduct/), and then block Googlebot from following the links that go through /recommend so that Google would not see that you are hosting affiliate links and therefor punish your site.

But is this needed? Dont you think that Google still will see that you are having affiliate links on your site? Is there any other reasons for cloaking?
#affiliate #cloaking #links #needed #seo
  • Profile picture of the author TravisHarper
    I don't see any SEO benefits to cloaking outbound links. It is good to do, however. It makes your site look more professional in the readers eyes and it makes it very difficult for someone to hijack your affiliate link.

    For SEO, you should set these links up as "No-Follow" links.
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    • Profile picture of the author Jonathanbj
      Yep, I have the links as nofollow now, but I wonder if I should cloak them also, and put nofollow for the whole folder "recommends" in robots.txt instead.

      Anyhow, you do not see the link target site if you do not check the source or hover the link, so I wonder how many people really sees that there are affiliate links..
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  • Profile picture of the author echaz
    As far as I know google punished sites because they DO cloaking and not for affiliate links.

    Google doesn't like sites where the visitor actually does not know where he gets after clicking a link because it is cloaked. Therefore I think it's still better to not cloak links.

    In my personal experiences I never saw a difference between not cloaked and cloaked links on my sites...
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    • Profile picture of the author paulgl
      nofollow has nothing to do with anything in this case.
      Complete nonsense as far as the use of nofollow.

      People have all sorts of strange ideas as to what nollow
      means or does. It does not mean "no see." It was created
      for one reason and that has nothing to do with putting links
      on your own site.

      Cloaking is neither good nor bad. Just don't stuff a page with
      several affiliate links and create some decent surrounding content
      and other on-page factors which are the main things.

      I have never heard any good argument for cloaking. Seems to be
      something someone made up to charge people for a perceived danger.

      Paul
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      If you were disappointed in your results today, lower your standards tomorrow.

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      • Profile picture of the author Jonathanbj
        Nice to hear this kind of respons sometimes also! I always hear that you HAVE TO cloak links, but I have always been wondering if it is any good.

        I have some affiliate links, un-cloaked, and with nofollow on some of my sites, and the sites does rank as good as they did before, so it seems like Google does not care about my affiliate links..
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        • Profile picture of the author MarketingTorch
          Originally Posted by Jonathanbj View Post

          Nice to hear this kind of respons sometimes also! I always hear that you HAVE TO cloak links, but I have always been wondering if it is any good.

          I have some affiliate links, un-cloaked, and with nofollow on some of my sites, and the sites does rank as good as they did before, so it seems like Google does not care about my affiliate links..
          I had everything cloaked, and then I decided to find out if it mattered. So I split-tested and found that cloaked links get more clicks. You can't get conversion without clicks, so there ya go. In my world, cloaked links = more clicks = conversion. Your mileage may vary.
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          • Profile picture of the author zoddyzz
            Hello all,

            First off I like to say hello, my first post here. Google led me to this post and I have a question on it.

            I use masking of links as well to make my site afffilate links look pretty and also to give me the ability to change a link and have it change through out my site in one step.

            I have not been no following them or blocking them. But I have noticed taht google is now indexing them. I wonder is this a bad thing cause the go url is on my site person clicks the index link and poof off to the affiliate site.

            I been considering blocking an urls with the /go/ in robots.txt but not sure, what do u guys think?

            1. I dont want to make google grumpy
            2. Also thinking on a user level if they click a go link and it takes them to another site they might not click my site again in the future even if it is a non go link....
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            • Profile picture of the author usearchme2
              Personally I would nofollow them as essentially your passing backlinks to your affialtes pages

              Woc

              Originally Posted by zoddyzz View Post

              Hello all,

              First off I like to say hello, my first post here. Google led me to this post and I have a question on it.

              I use masking of links as well to make my site afffilate links look pretty and also to give me the ability to change a link and have it change through out my site in one step.

              I have not been no following them or blocking them. But I have noticed taht google is now indexing them. I wonder is this a bad thing cause the go url is on my site person clicks the index link and poof off to the affiliate site.

              I been considering blocking an urls with the /go/ in robots.txt but not sure, what do u guys think?

              1. I dont want to make google grumpy
              2. Also thinking on a user level if they click a go link and it takes them to another site they might not click my site again in the future even if it is a non go link....
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      • Profile picture of the author TravisHarper
        Originally Posted by paulgl View Post

        nofollow has nothing to do with anything in this case.
        Complete nonsense as far as the use of nofollow.

        People have all sorts of strange ideas as to what nollow
        means or does. It does not mean "no see." It was created
        for one reason and that has nothing to do with putting links
        on your own site.

        Cloaking is neither good nor bad. Just don't stuff a page with
        several affiliate links and create some decent surrounding content
        and other on-page factors which are the main things.

        I have never heard any good argument for cloaking. Seems to be
        something someone made up to charge people for a perceived danger.

        Paul
        The only reason I brought up the "no-Follow topic is because he asked if "cloaking" effected SEO. I brought up the no-follow because it does affect SEO.

        I agree with you that "cloaking" has no effect at all on SEO but it does look much better and there are many case studies stating that people click on cloaked links more often then non-cloaked. It looks better and is much more professional.
        Signature

        I have been quietly working in the Internet Marketing industry for over 10 years and have become an expert in driving traffic and SEO tactics. I have a new site all about niche marketers and I would love for you to check it out. Don't worry, this site is all about free content, not a sales page.

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    • Profile picture of the author TravisHarper
      Originally Posted by echaz View Post

      As far as I know google punished sites because they DO cloaking and not for affiliate links.

      Google doesn't like sites where the visitor actually does not know where he gets after clicking a link because it is cloaked. Therefore I think it's still better to not cloak links.

      In my personal experiences I never saw a difference between not cloaked and cloaked links on my sites...
      This is not true at all. There is no "slap" from Google for having cloaked links.
      Signature

      I have been quietly working in the Internet Marketing industry for over 10 years and have become an expert in driving traffic and SEO tactics. I have a new site all about niche marketers and I would love for you to check it out. Don't worry, this site is all about free content, not a sales page.

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  • Profile picture of the author Rob Greco
    Do you need to cloak? Depends on your affiliate network and how they display your ID in the URL. You can easily set up a bit.ly for links on your own site. Most people will never catch the fact that you are posting an affiliate link unless you say so.

    For the search engines, its usually best to set up the no follow to be safe.
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