3 Simple Ways To Cloak Affiliate Links
Affiliate link hijacking is a big problem. Some people will change your affiliate URL to their own before purchasing a product so they themselves get paid the commission giving them a discounted product.
This problem is far worse if you are promoting to the affiliate marketering crowd as they can spot an affiliate link from 100 yards away! They will just replace your affiliate ID with their own and “hijack” your commissions.
Some people just simply hate the thought that you will make a commission from their purchase and will just cut off your affiliate ID at the end of the URL. If you don’t take steps to try and cloak your affiliate links from hijackers, then you will carry on losing commissions.
Using a redirect php script
This is an easy technique to implement. All you have to do is create a single php file that includes a small piece of code. So if you are trying to promote www-yourID.merchID.hop.clickbank-net then you can create a blank page called, say, http://discounts.php that just contains the redirect script.
So, the actual link you promote would be www-yoursite-com/discounts.
Unfortunately this technique does have one drawback: some affiliate merchant links will still be visible in the browser address bar.
Anyway, it works great with ClickBank products.
Using .htaccess to hide links.
This is works very much the same as the one above except you don’t need to use any scripts, you just need to add a line of code to your .htaccess file. As with the redirect script above, just create a blank page and upload it to your server, then add the following line of code to your .htaccess file.
Htaccess is a server directory configuration file (apache server). With htaccess, you can partially override the main server configuration. It is usually in root of your site, and it can be added to other directories. It can be used for re-direction, password protection, to deny access for particular domains (spiders, spammers), for enabling some more functions, etc.
It is possible that you will not be able to see that file in directory listing.
The real name of htaccess file is “.htaccess”, and it is hidden (actually, it is file extension), so you can’t see that file if “view hidden files” in your FTP has been disabled.
So, enable that feature in your FTP software, or add “-al” option to see the hidden files.
There is solution for that without enabling that feature. Simple make htaccess.txt, edit like any normal text file, and after upload, rename htaccess.txt to .htaccess .
Important info: .htaccess is a text file, use text editor (without wrapping), upload it using FTP text mode. After uploading, check is it working. If you get server error (500), something is wrong. Edit, fix and check again.
To hide affiliate link or simply make shorter and better looking url
1. Edit htaccess and add this line:
redirect 301 /somename http://YourAffiliateUrl
2. In above example, /somename could be anything, you don’t need to make directory with that name, just keep in mind, if that directory already exist, every page in that dir will be redirected to YourAffiliateUrl.
Page (site) you are redirecting to, it is not on your site, so, use redirect 301, or redirect permanent, to “tell” SE spiders that it is not your page.
Your masked affiliate link (url) is looking like:
For visitor, it is looking like link is leading to an other directory of the same site.
In web site log, these requests are appearing like request for directory (or file), and it is possible to count clicks on affiliate link, just counting those requests. Can be used to count clicks on other links too, like on this site.
Unfortunately, this has the same drawbacks as the redirect script method, your affiliate link may still be visible on the merchants site in the browser address bar.
Using a zero-frame to cloak links.
This is the cloaking technique I use most often to hide affiliate links.
Using this method makes it look as if you are sending people to a page on YOUR site, even your URL will be still be visible in the address bar unlike the above cloaking techniques, people will think they are still on your site but they are actually viewing the merchants site.
You simply create a page as mentioned above and insert a few lines of code, I also add a title meta tag to fit the description of the product I’m selling.
However, you MUST test your link before promoting it! This technique can effect the tracking on some sites, so make sure that you will be getting credit for all the traffic you send their way.
IF YOU ARE USING FREELINKSCLOAKER SOFTWARE:
- Click the frame link cloak tab in FreeLinksCloaker Software.
- In the yellow textbox, enter the text you want to appear in their web browser address bar.
- In the orange textbox,enter the link you wish to cloak.
- Press the Cloak button.
- Click Save… to save as .htm or .html.
- Upload to your webserver.
So there you have it, 3 simple ways to cloak your affiliate links.
Using these techniques will certainly increase your sales and reduce link hijacking.
If you aren’t using any techniques to hide your affiliate links, then I can guarantee that you are losing affiliate commissions! You must protect yourself from these hijackers.
The harder you make it for people to recognize an affiliate link, the more commissions you will make.
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Ari Tumijo is a full-time Brand Consulting Practice Executive as well as Head of its Digital Strategies with Rayan Daniyal Consulting (RDC) brand practice. He possesses 5 years of digital marketing experience and this website is the result of his continuous seeking and sharing of knowledge. With RDC, he is responsible for developing the solutions for clients seeking to improve their digital presence and brand equity in the social media space. In addition to account servicing role, Ari is also involved in business development for Brand Capital, a subsidiary brand of RDC. He has a Diploma in Mechatronics Engineering and spent his early career years in F&B Management and Semi-conductor industry.