Nov 142011
 

Link Cloaking Tutorial – Hide your Links and Increase conversions

Link cloaking is a process in which internet marketers hide affiliate links . When a visitor hovers over you cloaked link it will seem like a natural, inviting link and will not contain your affiliate id in it.

Why Link Cloaking?

If you are promoting other marketers products, whether through Amazon, ClickBank Commission Junction or any other affiliate program, you are using affiliate ids, which is used by affiliate programs to identify you as the promoter of that products.

In other words, when someone clicks on the link you have provided, the affiliate programs will recognize you as the marketer who promoted the product and credit you for the sale.

Affiliate link structure.

All affiliate links are composed of   parts:

  • Affiliate ID – so you’ll get credited for referring costumers
  • Vendor ID – directs the costumers to the vendors products
  • Product ID – directs the costumers to a particular product
  • Tracking ID – optional, allows you to run different campaign and see where you referrals are coming from.

Here’s the basic structure of a Clickbank hop link:

http://AFFILIATE.VENDOR.hop.clickbank.net

And here’s how it looks like containing a product, the affiliate code and the tracking ID:

http://123e5fgn2we23sdfdf2d.hop.clickbank.net/?tid=TRACKINGID

ClickBank’s link are well protected by linksheild and can be left uncloaked yet most affiliate marketers prefer to cloak their affiliate links.

Why Link Cloaking:

There are a few good reasons why you should cloak your links. Link cloaking provides additional link protection as it hides you affiliate links. This prevents other people from stripping your affiliate link and depriving you from your hard-earned commission.

Additionally, affiliate links are rarely inviting and link cloaking will increase your conversion rate. After all, an affiliate link which look like this:

http://www.the-greatest-product-ever.com/affiliate-area/start.php?offer=youraffiliate-id&pid=1

Is hardly a call to action, right?

So we’ll turn this long, uncloaked link into something a bit more inviting like:

http://makemoneyim.com/mobile-money-machine

That makes a difference now, doesn’t it?

free link cloaking

There are many free link cloaking services and I’m sure you came across a few. Bit.ly, Tiny URL and others all provide link shortening and some link tracking abilities for free. These services are good, especially for beginners, but they still lack some basic features.

Your cloaked links will always carry the site’s name, for example:

http://bit.ly/RSSLinkBomber , and that carries two problems.

– You have limitations on your link design, as if the keyword you have selected has been used by other marketers, you’ll have to keep searching and improvising and the link might not seem as inviting as you have planned it to be.

– Although your affiliate id was stripped off, your link still looks link an affiliate link.

So if you really want to better conversions on your affiliate links, you have to do a better link cloaking job. And that, my friend, brings us to the second part of the link cloaking tutorial:

How to Cloak Links? 

Open up a text editor such as notepad and copy paste the below code:

Insert Less Than Sign Here?php

header(“Location:http://www.the-greatest-product-ever.com/affiliate-area/start.php?offer=youraffiliate-id&pid=1”);

exit();

?Insert Greater Than Sign Here

 

Now, save it as a .php file into a directory on your web site. I would suggest a sub-directory name “recommends”, “go-to” or any other combination and upload the directory and file to your server.

Next, you want to test your cloaked link. It’s always a good idea to test you cloaked link before publishing it, mailing it to your list and so on.

In your url address bar type:- http://www.yourdomain.com/recommends/filename.php and it should take you directly to the page of the affiliate product that you are selling. It bypasses your site entirely so people don’t see all the affiliate code in the php file.

Now, you can use the cloaked link on your site, tweets, emails and any other form you wish to promote the service.

Before you rush implementing this little link cloaking tip,  There’s an even better solution I want to tell you about.

Link Cloaking Services

There are several very affordable link cloaking services that will provide you with the right kind of cloaked linked, one that will hide affiliate links and convert better. Additionally, these link tracking services will track your links allowing you to know who clicks them and where your marketing strategies are most effective.

Click Here to a link tracking comparison chart to learn more about each link cloaking service features.

As most link cloaking services offer free trial period, you can test it and see how useful such service might be for you.

Hope this tutorial helped. Please leave a comment and tell me what you think of it.