Link Cloaking: How to Hide Affiliate URLs with ThirstyAffiliates

Affiliate marketing is like the ultimate online competition – everyone's scouting for the next big thing to boost their sales and beef up those commission earnings.

But the climb to the top isn't always clean. You've got some players out there who aren't afraid to play dirty and snatch commissions right out from under you.

Here's how the sneaky stuff goes down: these shady characters deploy malware that quietly latches onto your computer. It's like a spy lurking in the shadows, scouting for affiliate links. When it spots one, it pulls a switcheroo – swapping the legitimate affiliate ID for its own.

And just like that, your cash is going into their pockets.

For all us good guys in the affiliate game, there's a trusty technique to help protect ourselves: Link Cloaking.

In this post, we're going to walk you through some real-deal situations where hiding (aka cloaking) your affiliate links is the way to go. Then we'll show you how ThirstyAffiliates can make you a link cloaking ninja!

What is Link Cloaking?

A cloaked link is basically an affiliate link in disguise. It's a way to take that long, unwieldy URL you get from an affiliate program and tidy it up so it's not only shorter but also hides your affiliate ID.

This neat trick is all about keeping your affiliate earnings under wraps and out of the sticky hands of commission thieves.

A cloaked link typically looks like any other link, maybe even shorter and sharper, which makes it more clickable in the eyes of your visitors.

Cloaked Link Example: www.mysitename.com/recommends-playstation-5-console

To the casual observer, it's a simple, clean link that takes them to your partner merchant's front door. But under the hood, it's your affiliate link working undercover.

By using a cloaked link, you're not just protecting your commissions from digital pickpockets; you're also serving up a link that visitors won't hesitate to click. It's a win-win: security for you and simplicity for them.

The Benefits Of Link Cloaking

We've covered how cloaking your affiliate links is a solid move to shield your earnings. But there's more to it than just playing defense with your commissions. Why else should you use link cloaking?

Link Trust

People are smart. A visitor is much more likely to click a link pointing to the same website they're on rather than to click on an affiliate link directly. It's been seen time and time again – cloaking affiliate links leads to an increased click-through rate.

Cloaked links also look friendlier and more inviting. They don't have all those weird numbers and letters that scream “I'm taking you on a sales pitch”. Instead, they're like a friendly nudge to another cool spot on the same site.

You're the Boss of Your Links

When you cloak a link, you get to decide exactly how it should look. No more messy URLs that look like alphabet soup. You can make the link say something simple and clear, so people know what they're clicking on.

Take this link for example:

http://www.merchantsite.com/product/bb2e&jkaudl_your-affilaite-ID_gb43al=action may link to a really awesome home theater speaker setup… But you'd never guess that from the URL, right?

If I cloaked this same URL and make it look like this: http://www.merchantsite.com/reccommends-home-speaker-set, you'd know just by looking at the link that it probably leads to a home speaker product – one that I highly recommend even!

Clear Path to Purchase

Ultimately, cloaked links mean people click with confidence. They're like clear, well-lit street signs pointing to the checkout. Shoppers who know what they're in for are shoppers who are ready to pull out their wallets.

Management

Cloaking affiliate links often involves using a plugin designed for link management, such as ThirstyAffiliates. This type of tool offers significant advantages, particularly when it comes to oversight and organization.

For an affiliate marketer, the reality is that you're likely dealing with more than a handful of links. When you scale up to hundreds or thousands, managing them without assistance quickly becomes overwhelming.

That's where a solution like ThirstyAffiliates allows you to categorize your affiliate links, which is a lifesaver for keeping things orderly. You can have a category for “Outdoor Gear” affiliate links, another for “Sporting Equipment,” and so on, making it simple to find and manage links related to different products or services.

Beyond organization, ThirstyAffiliates simplifies the process of embedding affiliate links into your blog content. Instead of manually copying and pasting links, you can link text directly within your post editor with a quick search and click. Keep reading to learn how to embed affiliate links into your WordPress blog posts.

This not only saves time but also ensures that your links are always accurate and up to date.

Tracking

One of the top advantages of cloaking your affiliate links is the tracking feature. It's like having a dashboard that shows you which of your links are the hot favorites and which ones are just sitting there gathering digital dust.

Understanding the patterns in your audience's clicking behavior is crucial. It's like getting a sneak peek into what catches their eye and what doesn't.

Take this scenario: your tracking data might reveal that your audience is all over the latest summer dresses, but seems to scroll past your winter coat recommendations. Armed with this insight, you can tailor your content to highlight more summer wear and capitalize on the trends that resonate with your audience.

It's about making informed decisions, focusing your efforts on what's hot, and aligning your content strategy with your audience's preferences.

How to Use ThirstyAffiliates to Cloak Links

First, you'll need to install the ThirstyAffiliates plugin, which can be found by searching for “ThirstyAffiliates ” in your dashboard under Plugins > Add New. Alternatively, you can download it here.

Once installed, you can move on to the fun part.

Creating Your First Cloaked Link:

  1. Once the plugin is up and running, navigate to ThirstyAffiliates > Add New from your dashboard.
  2. Enter a name for your link; this is how you'll identify it later.
  3. Paste the destination URL. This is the affiliate link you've been given by the affiliate program.
  4. You can also categorize your link for better organization by selecting an existing category or creating a new one.
  5. Click “Save Link”, and just like that, your affiliate link is cloaked and ready to go.

Embedding Your Cloaked Link in a Blog Post:

When you're writing a post and want to include your affiliate link, start by highlight the text you want to turn into a link:

  1. Click on the TA icon in the WordPress Editor popup.
  2. Search and find the link by the name you assigned to it.

Updating Your Cloaked Links:

And here's the best part: if you ever need to update the URL your cloaked link points to, you don't have to dig through every post where you've used it. Just change the destination URL once in ThirstyAffiliates, and it automatically updates everywhere you've used that link.

Conclusion

Cloaking your affiliate links is like giving them a secret identity – not only does it keep your commissions safe, but it also makes your links way more click-friendly. And with ThirstyAffiliates, it's a piece of cake to turn those long, scary-looking URLs into something neat and tidy.

ThirstyAffiliates takes the complexity out of cloaking, offering a user-friendly way to keep all your links in check, even if you've got enough to fill a phone book. Plus, it's a real detective when it comes to tracking, showing you which links are the crowd-pleasers so you can focus on what works.

And if you ever need to switch up where your links are pointing, it's no sweat – one quick tweak with ThirstyAffiliates, and you're good to go across your whole site. So, yeah, it's pretty much the Swiss Army knife for your affiliate links – simple, smart, and seriously handy.

Still have questions on how to cloak the affiliate links on your website? Ask away in the comments section!

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106 thoughts on “Link Cloaking: How to Hide Affiliate URLs with ThirstyAffiliates

  1. Thank you for this awesome guidance. Affiliate marketing is one of the main sources of income for bloggers like us. This is really a great tool to gain more from affiliate URLs.

    1. Thank you. This is very helpful because I am a complete newbie affiliate marketer. Now my question is answered why a blue word when clicked will land to another page

  2. Thank you for explaining what link cloaking is. You are right, it doesn’t sound as scary or sinister as I had originally thought it would be!

  3. I’m Amazon associated user and i’m running a website for an affiliate, this guide is really helpful for me … now i’m going to install the plugin and also gonna change the Urls which i have placed directly.

    Thanks for sharing ..

    1. Hi Francis,

      CPA offers work best when you direct people to a landing page – yes.

      If you’re just testing the conversion on the offer though you could send them directly to your cloaked link and get a count of the visits that way.

      Hope this helps.

      1. Do we have any risk from Google Analytics, Google considering cloaking as black hat pratice?
        I used it on my blog (https://stylistme.com/amp) since a couple of weeks and updates lot of links with your nice plugin (to track best source pages)

  4. Hi,

    I want to promote cpa offers using link cloaking and bring paid traffic instead of taking the traffic to landing pages.

    Ofcourse there is no guarantee that ppc channels allow this but want to try this.

    Does cpa network allow this? and will traffic that we bring to this link cloaking be counted like regular traffic?

    Please ping your skypeid if i can reach you there?

    Please let me know.

    Thank You

    1. Hi Nagesh,

      Thats a question for the affiliate network you are working with. From my knowledge they probably won’t say no unless there’s a special non-compete condition on the PPC. This is usually in place when the company themselves are heavy on PPC ads. Give it a go and just talk to your affiliate manager about it, you won’t know the answer unless you ask 🙂

  5. I’m Amazon affiliates user and i’m running a website for an affiliate, this is an awesome guide for me … now i’m going to install this pluginfor sure and also gonna change the Urls which i have placed directly.

    Awesome share

  6. Thank for sharing this informative blog post about the affiliate marketing and link cloaking 101 with thirsty affiliate link management plugin for WordPress. The plugin is useful for affiliate marketers indeed.

    1. Hi Erik,

      Yes, when you cloak a link what you are doing is basically creating a redirect. The visitor visits your cloaked URL, then they are immediately redirected to the destination URL which includes your tracking information. The destination URL is the URL that the affiliate program you’re working with provides you.

      Hope this helps!

  7. Thanks a lot for the information!

    So far I’ve been using Scarlett cloaker to cloak my links and has been working great for me but I will try the ThirstyAffiliates plugin to see if its better 🙂

  8. Thanks for the useful info, Josh.

    Are there any concerns with cloaking an affiliate link that will redirect again? For example, would any issues arise if your cloaking link were to redirect to a Google click tracker that then redirects again to the final landing page?

    Also in this scenario, if we were to use the uncloaking feature on a link like this, would the user still pass through the google click tracker in order to get all of the click tracking in that tracking system as well?

  9. I have installed the plugin and activated it. I have included my affiliate links, but when I click on them, they still show the ugly affiliate link. What could be the problem?

    1. Post-redirect it’s up to the affiliate program to handle any further redirections. If they don’t do this, then there’s not much you can do. ThirstyAffiliates will put the link behind a redirect to give a friendly looking URL, but that is as far as you can go. Any “cloaking” beyond that is against Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.

  10. Hi,
    Is there any way to mask the url appeared in the url address bar at the top of the directed site?
    I mean, for example, your https://thirstyaffiliates.com/recommends/bluehost-wordpress link will be appeared as https://www.bluehost.com/wordpress?utm_source=%28direct%29&utm_medium=affiliate&utm_campaign=affiliate-link_codemyow_notype
    at the top of the bluehost page, which let the users realize that the link they clicked was actually an affiliate link. So, what I’m looking for is some method to show https://www.bluehost.com/ as Bluehost original home page url rather than https://www.bluehost.com/wordpress?utm_source=%28direct%29&utm_medium=affiliate&utm_campaign=affiliate-link_codemyow_notype . Am I searching an impossible technique?
    Jack

    1. By the time they’ve clicked it, it’s already marked you as the affiliate for their sale. Going this one step further is possible with some javascript or by iframing the page but its not recommended as this level of cloaking is against Google’s webmaster guidelines. You’ll be deindexed pretty quickly if you pursue it.

  11. Hi Josh,

    Thanks for the article, how does a tracker fit into this picture?

    For example if I’m using Bemob or Voluum, at what stage do I put the tracking link in?

    1. Hey Greg, as you’re wanting to link up a word in your site. You would instead create a new link in ThirstyAffiliates, it gives you a cloaked url and then you use that instead.

  12. Hi Josh,
    I have a little bit of confusion about the “noindex” tag.
    Should I use “noindex” tag in my cloaked url?
    or is it perfect with only “nofollow” and without “noindex” tag?
    Please help me for the same. I waiting for your response.
    Thanks!

  13. Hello, I’ve got a website on HTTPS, but an affiliate network I’d like to use, has all affiliate codes on HTTP. So when I put those links on my site, the “Not Secure” warning displays on the browsers.

    Will cloaking these HTTP affiliate links, eliminate that from happening? (The not secure warnings).
    Thanks!

  14. Hello,
    Can i use Thirsty Affiliate Plugin for Amazon Associates for free?

    Please let me know, as i am new in affiliate marketing industry.

    Thanks

  15. Josh, thanks for this awesome tool. The affiliate links really look elegant now. It is easy to use too. I am pretty excited to use. Can I share these links on other platforms like twitter and Facebook. Sorry if I sound foolish. I am pretty new to affiliate marketing. Am learning all the time.

  16. Hi TA!
    How do I implement my affiliate link as I am from CB. So all my blog post are offers from them. Where will I place my affiliate link?
    Is it to the “add new” or “destination url”
    TIA

  17. Hi, first I thought it a click bait but I never though that clocking can provide this much benefits. I am learning digital marketing and this topic really amaze me. Thank you.

  18. Hi Josh,

    Links from ShareAsale or CJ are pretty lengthy and ugly, So I would like to cloak them but can someone steal my commission when I use affiliate links from FirstPromoter, because they let you customize and there is no such number or letters in the links, I can use my name as Id, So, is it still unsafe If I don’t cloak the Firstpromoter links?

  19. I first learnt about this word and searched it and went through you blog and i got all the information i needed for this topic thank you very much and much appreciate the effort.

  20. I’m interested in getting into affiliate marketing but still doing research into pros and cons, and what I need to do. Thanks for the info in your blog on link cloaking.

    I have one question. Is thirstyaffiliates only for use in WordPress? Or is it compatible with Squaresquare created websites? Many thanks.

  21. Hey,
    Thank you for sharing this informative article. It was very helpful and something new to learn in future i will surely applied this informative article.

  22. All this information to stay on top of the game! I had never heard of cloaking since I just started posting affiliate links. Thank you for the video showing us visually what to look for , as well as, all the step by step instructions. I appreciate you teaching us your little gems of information. It’s a win – win for everyone! Shalom

  23. Hello, and thank so much for the helpful info. I just started a new affiliate project, and was wondering how people make their affiliate links look nicer. I think they were using your plugin. I like that is makes that the affiliate link is a part of your website. I think that would get more clicks and help viewer to actually click the link. Very nice that it’s for WordPress. Thank again!

  24. Nice article and quite insightful steps to follow. I tried shortening my affiliate link on Pinterest something ago, it didn’t go well.
    What do you think could be the cause?

  25. This blog post provides a comprehensive guide to link cloaking using Thirsty Affiliates, empowering readers to effectively mask affiliate URLs and enhance the overall user experience. It delves into the concept of link cloaking, its benefits, and the step-by-step process of utilizing Thirsty Affiliates to cloak affiliate links seamlessly.

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