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How You Can Easily Cloak Your Affiliate Links

Updated on September 2, 2013

If you own a website here is an easy and free way to hide affiliate links

I’ve written a fair amount on social media marketing and thought this would be a good time to introduce you to a way to hide your affiliate link when someone hovers over it. Let me say it again however. Quality content gets you traffic to your website and a persuasive argument for the product you represent are the most important thing you can do to get click-throughs.

Affiliates Deserve Compensation when They do a Good Job

I don’t know why a website owner who has gone through the trouble of finding a legitimate product, doing a review of the product and believes in the product to the extent that the website owner goes and purchases the product himself can’t get a hit on his affiliate link.

The reader can freely go to the site reads and use the information and then go to the next site where the affiliate link has been cloaked and buys the product there. It happens over and over again to the point that there is a whole micro industry surrounding just this one little topic. I researched this phenomenon this past week and found a plethora of product ranging from a one-time purchase to on ongoing monthly fee of over $12.00 to mask the affiliate’s link. The same can be said of some Amazon links and eBay links here on Hub Pages. While I generally don’t hide affiliate connections I think it is to my detriment. Some readers like the information you provide but when it comes to clicking on that affiliate link (which can be seen on the corner of the browser) they just won’t do it. Maybe they’re afraid they won’t get the best deal or they don’t want to be sold or they don’t want anybody else to make a dollar for their publishing efforts I don’t know. Maybe a little bit of everything.

There are FTC Affiliate Rules

So if you have a website and you want to hide your affiliate link don’t go out and buy another product when you already have the means at your disposal. Before I give you the information I think it is fair to point out that now you are legally obligated to disclose that you receive gain from your reviews. I have seen some website owners refer to their policy page. I use a policy page but there has to be clear disclosure on any page that could make you money. It’s not enough to say “may” make money. There is an 83 page guide from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) on how the notice may appear. They even specify font size colour and placement. So go to the FTC site and download a copy if you have affiliate links.

Free Affiliate Link Cloaking

Now do you want the secret recipe to seeing those affiliate links disappear? 301 redirects. There you have it and if you know how to use them read no further. But for everyone else here is the concept and the mechanics of it. A 301 redirect allows you to send someone to a page of your choosing when they click on your link. It goes like this

1) Reader hovers over the link as sees in the bottom corner that your link takes them to another page on your site.

2) Reader clicks the link and is taken to that page where the 301 redirect takes them to your affiliate landing page (company who is selling merchandise)

3) Reader now has a cookie on their computer which will expire at a given time (30 days to lifetime)

4) If the reader buys the product while the cookie is still active you get your commission.

Affiliate Link Cloaking Set Up

When you have your own website you are paying for (need this) you can redirect traffic.Here's how to set up the redirect page.

  • In your public HTML directory you will find a directory with your website name “public_html/yourwebsitename/”
  • Create a new file using the file manager, in that directory with the product name. It will look like “public_html/yourwebsitename/productname”
  • In your website control panel you will see a heading called “Domains” and in that heading “WWW Redirects”
  • Open WWW Redirects and create the directory called after your product (Productname)
  • Set the 301 box with your exact affiliate link.

Press save and you should be all done. Lower on the page will be a legend and as you add several links like this the legend will help you keep on top of the links. You will be able to disable the links from here if the company is running a promotion and gives you a new link.

The Web Hosting Plan you Buy is Important

Make sure you can get unlimited redirects from your web host. If you buy the cheapest plan you may only get a small number of 301 redirect opportunities but if the plan gives you unlimited hosting accounts it will give you unlimited redirects as well. The difference is usually about $5.00 difference per month but if you are a serious web master you will know other benefits of the bigger plan like unlimited SQL databases and cron jobs. In addition to my main host (SBI) I use Host Gator for this purpose. Host Gator is around $10.00 a month for the plan you need. They have 24 hour support which I like as I often work odd hours to get my web work done. They are happy to answer your questions about redirects. It took me a couple of tries but if I can do it so can you.

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Affiliate Link Cloaking Summary

Affiliate link cloaking will most likely result in a higher click-through rate for your product. It may lead to greater affiliate income. I don't see this as an unethical as long as you follow the FTC rules (USA based sites) The quality of your website will make all the difference. The number of people that get added your your email list will make a huge difference as well. Conversions (from a looker to a buyer) happen when you over deliver on information and demonstrations of your product. Affiliate link cloaking is not the panacea for all of your affiliate woes. Demonstration pages, videos, free downloads and info-grams are all ways to help you in your affiliate marketing life. Best of Luck!

How to make money with Affiliate Marketing

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