What’s an affiliate link? What does it mean to cloak affiliate links? Is it going to cost me money and are there more than one way to get this done?
In this tutorial, I am going to answer all of your questions related to affiliate links cloaking in WordPress. By the end of this article, you will have enough knowledge to decide if you want to make use of this feature and how it helps you in making more money from your affiliate links, and what are the various downsides of using links cloaking in WordPress.
Let’s get started.
What’s an affiliate link?
Affiliate links are unique links supplied to you by a company, person, or organization to track your referrals. Whenever someone signs up using your affiliate link, it helps the company record this sign-up and awards you for your referral.
In short, you get paid to sell someone else’s product and the affiliate links is the best way to track this transaction.
In most cases, they appear to be very long with numbers, special characters and alphabets, and a unique tracking code.
What does it mean to cloak affiliate links?
As mentioned earlier, most affiliate links are unpleasant to look at and this may turn off a few interested users from clicking on these links assuming them to be spam or suspicious. To avoid this situation, you use a WordPress plugin to make these unpleasant affiliate links look professional and tidy.
Once cloaked, your affiliate links will not have any unreadable strings at the end. Unless, of course, you want to insert special characters.
How can you cloak your affiliate links in WordPress?
There’s only one way to cloak your affiliate links in WordPress and that’s with a plugin.
I will walk you through the whole process in a bit.
Why you should and shouldn’t use affiliate link cloaking plugins in WordPress?
The biggest downside to using a link cloaking plugin in WordPress is performance. Nobody really talks about this issue. Since most of these affiliate link cloaking plugins depend on server-level redirects and JS redirects, it results in a slight delay in your page load time. The delay is tiny but if you are using a cheap web hosting plan, you will see a huge negative impact on your website’s page load time.
Now, let’s talk about the Pros. Link cloaking plugins solve so many problems that you definitely want to install them if any of your income sources depend on affiliate marketing. Here are a few pros:
- Organizing made easy. You can separate links based on categories and tweak some settings to enable or disable advanced features.
- You can change the link targets without replacing the links from your posts/landing pages manually as the personalized link that you created remains the same no matter how many times you change the target affiliate link.
- Ability to automatically make affiliate links “No Follow” and force them to open on a new browser window.
Tutorial: Cloak affiliate links in WordPress
Step #1: Head over to your plugin dashboard and install & activate “ThirstyAffiliates Affiliate Link Manager” plugin.
Step #2: After installing the plugin, you will see a panel will all the settings and configurations that you can tweak.
Step #3: Go to the “Link appearance” tab and select the options as per your needs.
Step #4: To create a new affiliate link, click on the “New Affiliate Link” option and add your affiliate link and select the suitable category.
Step #5: Copy this newly generated affiliate link and use it anywhere on your website.
Step #6: You can also replace the target links by inserting new links in the target URL input box.
An alternative to using a WordPress plugin to cloak links
If you aren’t comfortable using a WordPress plugin to cloak your affiliate links, the next best thing is to use a URL shortening service such as Bit.ly. It’s a free service that anyone can use even without signing up. But, if you are in for the long run, I would strongly recommend signing up for a free account.
Bit.ly doesn’t come with a lot of features that these link cloaking plugins offer but using an external service to handle link cloaking will help you in taking the load off your server.
Conclusion: Cloak affiliate links in WordPress
In this tutorial, I walked you through the whole process of cloaking affiliate links on your WordPress website.
Furthermore, I have also answered some very common questions that most people have in mind when installing a link cloaking plugin.
Let me know which plugin do you wish to use to make your links pretty in WordPress and if you use any other technique to achieve the same results.
Having an affiliate links cloaking plugin definitely helps in managing, organizing, and controlling the appearance of your affiliate links but if you are not into affiliate marketing, you can do with making use of Services such as Bit.ly.