Affiliate Link Cloaking – What Is and How to Do It in WordPress

John Mcmullin

John Mcmullin

Link Cloaking

Link cloaking is important to any website and affiliate marketing strategy. It involves hiding the true destination URL behind a shorter, more attractive link that can be easily shared with others without revealing its underlying source URL.

Link cloaking provides many benefits to affiliate marketers, including improved link click-through rates and enhanced privacy protection for visitors who may not want to reveal where they are clicking through from.

This article discusses link cloaking, its significance, and how to employ WordPress plugins for the purpose of masking links expediently.

What is Link Cloaking?

Link cloaking is a technique used to mask the original destination of a link. It involves replacing the original URL with an alternative, usually a shorter and more memorable one.

Link cloaking is a strategy utilized to disguise the genuine goal of a connection, making it simpler for individuals to recall and share connections while shielding them from malevolent locales or tricks.

Link cloaking can be done manually or using WordPress plugins.

link cloacking example

The main purpose of link cloaking is to protect users from potential risks associated with clicking on unknown links. By obscuring the true destination of a link, you make it harder for hackers or scammers to access your site by exploiting vulnerabilities in your codebase or URLs. Link cloaking also makes URLs shorter and simpler to share, which is helpful for platforms such as email or social media.

Link cloaking is an important technique for webmasters to help protect their affiliate links from being stolen or misused. By using link cloaking, you can also gain valuable insights into the performance of your campaigns and ensure that your customers have a better user experience. Now let’s explore the benefits of link cloaking in more detail.

Keynote: Link cloaking is a powerful tool used to mask the true destination of URLs, making them easier to share and memorable. Cloaking links can give you a better understanding of user activity, such as clicks and page views, without needing to use external analytics programs. Cloaked links provide an added layer of security while streamlining your website’s link management process.

Benefits of Link Cloaking for Affiliates

The biggest benefit of link cloaking is that it helps affiliate marketers to keep their links short and easy to remember while also protecting the integrity of their affiliate program. Link cloaking allows you to mask a long, ugly URL with a shorter one that looks more professional and won’t get blocked by spam filters or email clients. Link cloaking can help boost the trustworthiness of your website, potentially leading to higher click-through rates on advertisements.

Another benefit of link cloaking is that it gives you control over how people access your content. Creating custom URLs for each campaign allows you to track clicks from different sources and see which performs best. You can even set up redirects so visitors who click on old links still end up at the right page on your site.

Link cloaking provides a security benefit for both parties involved, as malicious users cannot easily guess the destination of their clicks when using cloaked links. Affiliates are safeguarded from potential commission theft via direct access to the merchant’s product page. In contrast, merchants can rest assured that no one links directly to their store’s pages without permission or attribution. All in all, link cloaking is a win-win situation. 

Using link cloaking makes it easier for search engines like Google and Bing to index your web pages correctly, as they are not confused by multiple versions of URLs pointing back to the same page. This is because they can recognize only one version at any given time, making sure all traffic goes through it instead of being split between two different URLs leading back to the same place, which could confuse search engine bots resulting in lower rankings or penalties altogether.

Link cloaking is a great way to improve the user experience and protect your affiliate links from being stolen. This next section will discuss how to cloak your links in WordPress for maximum security and convenience.

Cloaking links in WordPress is a great way to protect your affiliate link and ensure you get the credit for any sales. With that said, it’s important to choose the right plugin for cloaking your links; let’s explore some of the best plugins available.

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Best Link Cloaking Plugins for WordPress

Link cloaking is vital for website administrators, developers, and entrepreneurs, who must guarantee their connections are safe and appropriately advanced. Link cloaking helps you hide your link’s original URL so visitors can’t see or copy it. It also allows you to track clicks on your links, create shorter URLs, and keep your website SEO friendly.

WordPress has a variety of plugins available that allow users to easily cloak their links without coding knowledge. Here we review some of the best link cloaking plugins for WordPress:

1) ThirstyAffiliates

Price: Free, with premium plans available

ThirstyAffiliates is a popular plugin many affiliate marketers and bloggers use to cloak affiliate links in WordPress websites. The plugin has advanced features such as automatic keyword linking, a category-based link management system, detailed click reports, etc., making it ideal for managing multiple affiliate programs within one dashboard.

This plugin provides additional security measures in addition to link cloaking, such as concealing critical files like the wp-config file from external access or obscuring specific parts of code when viewed in the source view. It also boasts a feature called “Cloak Affiliate Links” which masks all outside URLs on posts and pages with one click from its settings page.

Price: Free, with premium plans available

Pretty Links is another popular link cloaking plugins for WordPress with over two million active installations. It offers features such as auto-cloaking, redirection types (301/302/307), tracking clicks on cloaked links, setting up nofollow attributes for cloaked links, creating custom slugs for shortened URLs, and more.

3) Simple URLs

Price: Free

Using the free plugin “Simple URLs” can be a great way to manage and monitor the outgoing links from your website. This plugin allows you to craft cloaked links and shorten longer existing ones to make them more shareable with clients.

It is worth testing a variety of link cloakers WordPress plugins to determine which one best suits your requirements, as performance can vary between different options. Additionally, if you are looking for more advanced features like split testing or A/B testing,, consider investing in a premium plan that offers these additional benefits, comprehensive reporting tools, and analytics capabilities.

In conclusion, these four plugins offer great options for securely hiding outgoing URLs while providing additional benefits such as tracking user activity on those links and generating shortlinks. Select the plugin that best meets your needs based on its capabilities.

How to Cloak Links in WordPress

WordPress has several ways to cloak links – some require coding knowledge while others don’t.

The easiest way to cloak links in WordPress is by using plugins. Many free and premium plugins for WordPress make it easy to cloak URLs with just a few clicks; however, if more advanced features like split testing or AB testing are desired, then an enterprise-level plugin such as Pretty Links Pro should be considered.

Beyond the basic link cloaking functionality, ThirstyAffiliates can also:

  • Make managing affiliate links easier by grouping them into categories.
  • Automatically nofollow your affiliate links to comply with search engine guidelines.
  • Monitor clicks on each link to measure its success.
  • Target visitors based on their geographical area (paid feature) and direct them appropriately.

Here’s how to use the plugin to start cloaking affiliate links on your WordPress site.

1) We assume you are already logged into your WordPress admin panel (wp-admin).

2) In the left sidebar, hover on Plugins, then click Add New

4) Type ThirstyAffiliates in the Search Plugins text box and press Enter.

5) Look after the ThirstyAffiliates plugin, and then click Install Now:

WordPress Plugin Install

6) After the plugin is installed, click on the Activate button

After you have successfully activated the ThirstyAffiliates plugin, one of the first things you will need to set up is your link prefix. This part of a cloaked link appears after the domain name but before the affiliate link slug. To give an example, it would look something like this:

  • yourwebsite.com/recommends/wordpress-hosting
  • yourwebsite.com/go/chemicloud

7) Head over to the ThirstyAffiliates → Settings and click on the Link Appearance tab. This is where you can decide your link prefix: choose from one of the suggestions or make your own!

Link Prefix
Choose link prefix

Lower on the page, you can determine whether to insert a nofollow attribute for affiliate links and/or open them in a new browser tab. The choice is yours to make!

8) Once you’ve chosen your link prefix, go to ThirstyAffiliates → New Affiliate Link to add your first cloaked affiliate link.

I recommend you include a Title for your link: To ensure that you keep track of the link and use it in your content, choose a relevant title to add. From there, paste the affiliate destination URL into the Destination URL box: 

New Affiliate Link
New Affiliate Link

9) A great way of managing all your links is by using the Link Categories option. Through this, you can set up brand new categories or select existing categories that would be applicable – much like you would when creating a post!

10) Once you’re done configuring your link, click the Save Link button.

When you complete saving your link, one of the choices offered is Cloaked URL. Generally, ThirstyAffiliates will use the title of your link for the slug. However, you can adjust this manually by selecting the Edit Slug button. 

11) Rather than manually creating and inserting affiliate links, you can use the Quick Add Affiliate Link button found in the WordPress TinyMCE editor to add a new link easily:

Insert Cloaked Affiliate Links In WordPress Content 1

That’s it! ThirstyAffiliates will automatically use the link title as the anchor text, but you can edit that if desired.

Conclusion

Link cloaking is an essential tool for any affiliate marketer. It helps protect your brand and reputation while giving you greater control over how users access the products or services you promote. With the right link cloaking plugin, WordPress can be a powerful platform to ensure maximum security and efficiency when it comes to managing your affiliate links. Take advantage of this valuable resource today and ensure all your links are cloaked properly.

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2 thoughts on “Affiliate Link Cloaking – What Is and How to Do It in WordPress”

  1. Hi,
    Thanks for the guide. I am personally using my site’s built-in feature to cloak affiliate links such as this one for chemicloud https://grabh***s.net/go-store/52. If I refer users to ChemiCloud, will it be counted as referrals? or should I use original chemicloud urls?

    Thank You

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