Link Cloaking – How cloaking affiliate links will make you more money

Link Cloaking

What the heck is link cloaking? To be as plain as possible, cloaking affiliate links is the art of showing your visitors an internal link when they mouse over an affiliate link so that the visitor doesn’t think they are leaving your site.

For example, one of the websites we used to run was a site that provided leads to online universities. We used a third party affiliate company to gather the leads. So when someone came to our site and wanted to request information from University of Phoenix they had to click on the “request info” button.

When they would do that they would be taken off of our site and to the third party affiliate company where they could fill out the form to request info. The url would be something like http://www.affiliatesite.com/affid=1234?schoolid=366.

So in order to make a more user friendly experience we started cloaking affiliate links by creating a php redirect that when they hovered over the “request info” button it showed the url destination to be http://www.oursite.com/univeristyofphoenix.

This type of link cloaking created a less stressful user experience so they would be more likely to click on the link. They still ended up on the same affiliate page but we found out that more people would click through to the page with the affiliate links cloaked.

Link Cloaking To The Next Level

After awhile we saw that there was a disconnect between the design of our site and the design of the affiliate pages we were sending our visitors to. We really wanted to create consistency as much as possible so we wanted somehow to keep the same design of the site on the affiliate page.

Since we couldn’t control the affiliates website we went to the next best thing. We used an iframe to keep the form where they request information on our site. This creates a smoother user experience.

link-cloaking

When you set up your affiliate pages using this link cloaking technology your website visitors don’t ever have to know that they are dealing with an outside website. Because the user experience stays completely seamless they will be more likely to fill out the form and thus we would make more money.

So if you are looking for a great way to cloak affiliate links, this has been one of the most successful ways that we have done it. The biggest thing to take away is that ultimately what we are doing is taking away any mental roadblocks our users might have before they get to the form. Good luck with your link cloaking strategies.

Posted in Conversion Rates, Featured, Internet Marketing Strategies
40 comments on “Link Cloaking – How cloaking affiliate links will make you more money
  1. Chance says:

    Great Post. I know when I first began perusing the internet for various reasons, I didn’t pay much attention to what the link said at the bottom of the page as I hovered over it. But now that I’m more experienced (and especially now that I have had my eyes opened to the internet marketing world), I rarely click on a link without at least glancing at where it points to.

    I’ve also found it quite useful when reviewing products or websites. It’s actually surprising what you can learn about a site (for example, who they are affiliated through) by using the info in their links as a tool (and watching it change as the site redirects).

  2. lisa says:

    is there a step by step guide that will teach me how to cloak page by itself and in iframe?

  3. Adam says:

    Not that I have seen or used but I am sure there is something out there. Maybe we will do a post in the future teaching that exact thing.

  4. Just curious, can this backfire with certain users that might notice they have been duped and be upset about it? Ever received any such feedback? What was the bounce rate impact after implementing this cloaking?

  5. jeff millett says:

    This is a beautiful idea. I would very much enjoy a lesson on iframes. ;)

  6. Daniel says:

    Good idea, but be careful. It is against the Terms of Service on most affiliate programs to frame affiliate offers. I know Amazon bans people for this technique. A better solution is to just cloak the link, but still send them to the offer unhampered.

    Daniel

  7. Lisa says:

    How do you cloak a link if you don’t have a website yet?

  8. Adam says:

    You probably need a website first.

  9. Lisa says:

    That’s what I thought but wanted to check, thanks Adam.

  10. Lisa says:

    Does anyone agree that in the future there will be a way for google to encrypt links to find out if it’s a cloaked link? I have to wonder and fret when I think about it. Technology can be a scarey thing!

  11. Cloaking makes a lot of sense thanks for the good information.

  12. Riley I. Day says:

    I am genuinely impressed with the general content of your blog. It is easy to determine that you are fervent about your writing. If I had your writing ability, I know I would be successful. I have bookmarked your site and look forward to more updates.

  13. datafeedr download says:

    Success in any business will not happen overnight. It still requires time and effort to get your affiliate marketing strategy up and running. However, if you are determined, decided and prepared to give it your all, affiliate marketing will be the perfect career chance for you.

  14. Fiona says:

    Without a doubt, there is money to be saved from cloaking long and ugly affiliate links. It is not good enough to use tiny-url style links. They do not look professional. The idea of using frames has been around for a while and works in most cases unless the merchant site has a frame-breaker.

  15. smart blogging says:

    whether this cloaking with the link well get a referral commission for us? I am waiting for your answer, and thanks for you share

  16. Adam says:

    Smart blogging, in answer to your question yes you would still get credit for the sale and get the commission.

  17. Heat Pad says:

    The cloaking and the framing are great tactics to use. I have not implemented them yet, but I do see there value and will use it in the future, so I have bookmarked this page.
    thanks a bunch!

  18. Mark says:

    This is a great post! IFrames are good for lots of things, but I find this method as being their most valuable use.

  19. charlotte says:

    I find cloaking so interesting in gaining a traffic. This is good to be applied to our site. Thank you for being generous to have shared your ideas here. Good day!

  20. jackie says:

    this is not the exact answer for this question , its a type of cheating the search engine and creating the page purposely for googel

  21. Jay says:

    Thing I never understood is what is the big deal if someone provides you the information you are looking for whether it be affiliate or not, why is that such a big deal? Oh no, someone made money for me finding out more information, god for freakin bid. Someone had enough gumption to find out how to provide information, they did their work, they provided the information, why should anything else matter?

    If anything they should be glad they helped out someone that might be an affiliate who may not have a job, and to give your full business to a corporation is much better and makes you feel better inside than by clicking on someones affiliate link who provided you the information to begin with?

    People these days are whiney babies plain and simple.

  22. Mohamed Sanih says:

    I read about link cloaking in Ewen Chia’s book, but have never really applied it. I am looking forward in using some software to practically applying link cloaking for all my links.

    great post…thanks for the tips….

  23. Amanda says:

    Great info! I have been doing IM for quite awhile now. For me…link cloaking has been a vital part. I did a test once…I had a few links that were not cloaked and a few that were, well…the links that were cloaked definitely converted FAR better than the ones that were all ugly. Good Luck to you all!

  24. Marcus SaenzII says:

    Hey Adam I just got done browsing your blog, I like that you have categories in almost everything you would need to Prosper Online. And thanks for giving back and helping others learn how to make money online. Back to the subject Link Cloaking is not all about making the website user friendly its also about protecting your profits. If your not using a cloaker your bieng robbed. Yes – robbed! Affiliate marketing is not the most secure way to go about making money online purely because it depends on the fact that any customer you send to an affiliate website actually is recorded as having clicked on your link. Unfortunately, there are many ways that customers can either intentionally ‘avoid’ giving you credit for this. Also, there are many ways by which other affiliate marketers can ‘hijack’ your commissions and gain credit instead!

    All things said and done, it boils down to the simple fact that any potential customer’s computer is simply going to record the last affiliate link that was used and give credit to it. So even if you’ve done all the hard work and convinced a potential customer, they might still visit the product via another website – and hence rob you of all credit.

    The Solution: Link Cloaking

    Visit Link Cloaking Resource.

  25. steph says:

    Thank you so much for putting that in terms that make complete sense to me. It just seems so easy now that You have broken it down.

  26. Russell Yermal says:

    DON’T DO THIS. iFrames keep cookies and sessions from tracking correctly and cost you money. I’ve seen my affiliates lose many sales by trying this method.

  27. Artwork pieces says:

    I was reading a post where a blogger said cloaking links may not be a good idea because it can hurt the credibility of the website owner.

  28. Eugene says:

    Do most people who aren’t into Internet Marketing even know about links and stuff? I don’t think so. Someone who’s looking for a weight loss program has no idea what that link means. And even if they did, what does it matter who they pay too. Whether it’s an affiliate or seller, they’ll still pay the same amount of money for the product.

  29. Ohana says:

    i don’t know how great it is but for sure is usefull and very fresh information for me about seo

  30. Pat says:

    I have a couple of sites that I don’t cloak my links. Seems like I need to spend some time and go back and cloak them all. From now on i’ll cloak them right from the start.
    I also read in another post that google frowns on affiliate links. Another reason to cloak.

  31. Sumu says:

    Thanks Adam, for the last few days I was stunned and I didn’t have any idea that how it works. Your simple explanation has opened up my eyes and forcing me to apply this for more profit. Thanks. But waiting for the iFrame solution.

  32. Dco22 says:

    So i am starting an affiliate site and do you really think that cloaking will make a big difference. Does it really effect seo that much too? I am not sure what to do

  33. Tim says:

    I’d be careful with that – many vendors do no like their affiliates cloaking links, and even though nobody knows what google does or doesn’t like, it’s a risk…

  34. Carl Keegan says:

    My company recently began cloaking client sites that host affiliate links and witnessed explosive growth in click through traffic for them. They also quickly gain search engine rank, proving cloaking as an effective strategy. In fact, the success we had cloaking others’ affiliate links has led us to start cloaking those on our own corporate site.

  35. Chris says:

    Great post. You brought up an interesting reason to cloak, i.e. so the visitor doesn’t think he’s leaving the site. I had different reasons in my explanation, but I like adding in your off-vs-on site reason.

  36. Link-Cloak says:

    There’s brand-new link-cloaking software, not only designed by a professional software engineer, but also cheaper than all others (of inferior quality) that I’ve seen: Abacus “Link-Cloak”

    All the technical stuff is done automatically behind the scenes, so that even complete technophobes can do it. Just fill in a form and click some buttons.

  37. Anthony says:

    You can always use the url shortener method too like tinyurl and the like but learning simply how to use a redirect and ghost your link works best. Link Cloaking should be made possible on every hosting company if they were smart about it…

  38. danior says:

    Really great post and very helpful to understand how to cloaked links and how you can get visitors and money from link cloaking. Author describe briefly in this article about Link cloaks.

  39. Orange county short sale help says:

    This is a great post. I have heard about link cloaking before but never really understood it. Seems a bit grey hat but that’s ok. Just gives you an edge I guess. All’s fair in love and war right?

  40. Kapil says:

    I really like the post its really helpful to understand but tell me how can we do it because I don’t have programming knowledge.

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