How to Uncloak Your Amazon Affiliate Links Using ThirstyAffiliates

I recently wrote an article for FeedFront magazine talking about some use cases where you might want to uncloak your affiliate links – primarily Amazon affiliate links. See, I've been in the hot seat with Amazon's moderation team myself, and trust me, it's not fun.

The Amazon Associates program is pretty strict about not letting you redirect links. If you're using cloaked URLs and they catch you, they won't hesitate to kick you out of their program. Yep, I got a warning from them once that really put me on edge.

Since I'm the guy behind ThirstyAffiliates, one of the top affiliate plugins for WordPress, I felt it was important to help other marketers in the affiliate community, especially those who've gotten that dreaded warning letter from Amazon's review team.

So, what did we do about it? We rolled out this cool feature called “Uncloaking“. It's our way of making sure you can play by Amazon's rules without losing out on all the great stuff our plugin offers.

What is Link Cloaking?

Link cloaking is a clever technique widely used by affiliate marketers to streamline and enhance affiliate links.

Essentially, the process involves transforming lengthy, complex affiliate URLs into shorter, branded links; such as changing an unwieldy URL filled with a jumble of letters and numbers into something clear and concise:

ThirstyAffiliates link cloaking example

But there's more to link cloaking than just creating cleaner URLs. It plays a crucial role in tracking user clicks and understanding audience behavior, which is invaluable for tailoring your marketing strategies.

Additionally, cloaking protects your earnings by hiding your affiliate IDs, preventing others from tampering with your commissions.

ThirstyAffiliates elevates link cloaking with added functionalities like automated keyword linking and geo-specific targeting. These features (and more) ensure that your cloaked links are strategically optimized to maximize your affiliate revenue.

Achieve Complete Amazon Compliance with ThirstyAffiliates

We introduced our uncloak affiliate link feature in ThirstyAffiliates 3.0, and it quickly became a fan favorite. What it does is simple yet powerful: it reveals the true URL of a cloaked link when your page loads. This happens so smoothly that your visitors won't even notice a change.

Typically, your visitors would see a cloaked link like: example.com/recommends/awesome-product. But with uncloaking, the reader sees the actual raw destination URL you specified in the edit screen for that link.

That means your links are naked for all to see, but that's what Amazon wants. They require that URLs appear directly on the page, completely raw, not hidden behind any redirects or cloaked URLs.

How to Use the ThirstyAffiliates Uncloaking Feature on Amazon Affiliate Links

So, why use our plugin at all? Couldn't you just place the Amazon affiliate link directly on the page and be compliant?

Technically speaking, yes. That's one way to stay compliant with Amazon's rules. But let me tell you why using ThirstyAffiliates is a smarter move.

When you use our Uncloaking feature, you're not just meeting Amazon's requirements; you're tapping into the full suite of ThirstyAffiliates tools. You get detailed stats, automatic linking, geo-specific links, and a bunch of other cool features.

What's really neat is the simplicity it brings to your workflow. You can choose to uncloak specific links, and ThirstyAffiliates handles the rest effortlessly. This means no headaches and no risk of running afoul of Amazon's policies.

To activate uncloaking, just head over to ThirstyAffiliates > Settings > Modules. Check the box next to Uncloack Links, then be sure to hit the “Save Changes” button:

Uncloak Links setting_ThirstyAffiliates

It's that simple, yet it makes a huge difference in managing your affiliate links effectively.

Streamline Your Link Cloaking with Custom Categories

Additionally, we've designed ThirstyAffiliates with functionality in mind, including the ability to create specific categories for your links. For example, I created a category named “Amazon Links” on my sites to easily manage those specific affiliate links:

Create uncloaked link category in ThirstyAffiliates

You can do the same thing by going to ThirstyAffiliates > Settings. Then in the Link Appearance tab, you'll see “See Category to Uncloak” down at the bottom:

Select category to uncloak in ThirstyAffiliates

Simply select the category you created – like the “Amazon Links” one I mentioned. Once set up, any link that falls under this category will automatically be uncloaked.

And bang! Now you don't have to think about it anymore.

What's Next? Leveraging ThirstyAffiliates for Enhanced Amazon Link Management

Now that you're familiar with the basics of ThirstyAffiliates and its uncloaking feature, let's kick things up a notch with your Amazon links, focusing on tracking and geo-targeting.

Link Tracking: Keeping an Eye on those Clicks

ThirstyAffiliates isn’t just about making your links look neat; it’s also about giving you the lowdown on how they're doing. You can see which of your Amazon links are getting attention, where your audience is coming from, and which pages are the real MVPs in driving clicks.

ThirstyAffiliates link tracking report example

If you directly insert the raw link, you'll miss out on these valuable stats. However, by using ThirstyAffiliates' uncloaker, you can show the raw link to your users while still capturing those important analytics.

Geo-Targeting: Hit the Bullseye Every Time

Another powerful feature of ThirstyAffiliates is geo-targeting. This allows you to direct users to the appropriate Amazon store based on their location. For example, a visitor from the UK can be automatically redirected to Amazon.co.uk, while a visitor from the US goes to Amazon.com:

ThirstyAffiliates geo-targeted redirect examples

This increases the likelihood of conversions since users are directed to a store in their region, making their purchase process smoother and more relevant.

Get these features into your regular routine! By mixing smart tracking with geo-targeting, you’re doing more than just playing by Amazon's rules. You’re getting savvy with your strategy, making sure you’re hitting the right notes with your audience.

How Seriously Should You Take Uncloaking Your Amazon Affiliate Links?

Very seriously. As I mentioned earlier, I received a warning message from Amazon myself.

I actually received the warning because I submitted a support request asking a question about the policy. They automatically sent my site (that I had to specify for the request) for review.

They didn't respond to my support request straight away, but they sure as heck put my site up for review right quick!

Within a day of sending that support request, I received a letter something along the lines of this:

Dear Blair,

Your site has been reviewed and has been found to be in breach of our terms and conditions.

You have 5 days to comply, or else…

Sincerely,

Karen “The Unfeeling Borg” Bot
Amazon Associates Program Review Team

Not wanting to kiss my account goodbye, I hustled to get everything in line. They checked again, saw that I was playing nice, and voila – my account was back in business.

That little episode was the nudge I needed. More importantly, it also got the gears turning for the proper development of this feature in ThirstyAffiliates 3.0. My goal? To arm other affiliates with the tools to tackle these curveballs with ease.

So, fellow affiliate, how seriously should you take this uncloaking business? Well, that depends on how much you like your monthly check from Amazon.

I suggest you take Amazon affiliate links very seriously because they can and will hit you with their mighty ban hammer if you don't.

For more information on Amazon Associates, be sure to check out our Comprehensive Guide below. It's packed with insights and tips to help you navigate and succeed in the program:

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Affiliate Link Disclosure

34 thoughts on “How to Uncloak Your Amazon Affiliate Links Using ThirstyAffiliates

  1. Hi, As simple as you have described the uncloaking method, I have Version: 3.3.5 and there is no option to uncloak a category.
    Can you tell me please why it cannot be found?

    1. Hi Jane,

      Check under ThirstyAffiliates->Settings, Link Appearance tab. It will be down near the bottom of the list. If you don’t see it, make sure Uncloaking module is enabled under the Modules tab.

      Hope this helps, any probs just reach out to support 😉

  2. Why does amazon hate link cloaking? After speaking with Amazon representatives, I found their primary reason for this clause in their program terms. They want to see exactly which page the visitor is coming from. Cloaked affiliate links mask this on the HTTP headers. It’s a fine distinction, but one Amazon is paying attention to.
    Thanks for the nice guide Josh!

  3. At first, I liked your plugin. But it wasn’t long before I realized some serious shortcomings.:

    Once you add links and or images to pages, and you later want to change an image or even delete the link totally, this is not possible. You have to manually go into ALL individual pages where links were created and delete them one by one. ;( Shame. There are plugins where you can disable or enable links en mass and even exchange the affiliate link an image from the backend. Cheers.

    1. Hi Martin,

      You can do this. When you place an affiliate link you’re actually linking to the cloaked link in the post content. If you need to change the link you just change the ThirstyAffiliates link, not every link in every post. Not sure what you’re experiencing but that is how its designed as a core feature, it sounds like you’ve been inserting the destination URL into your content?

  4. Hi Josh,

    Thanks for sharing that. As a user of Thirsty Affiliates myself, I found that the cloaked URLs are showing indexing errors in my Google Search Console. So I uncloaked each and every URL that was cloaked before in the TA plugin.

    I believe that there’s no harm in uncloaking the URL as much as there are downsides to doing it. So every person should, by default, choose the uncloaking option.

    1. Good question Pingsunday,

      It helps to remember you can use cloaked links for anything other than Amazon.

      However, if they’re cloaking Amazon links it’s only a matter of time before the Amazon review team catches up with them and gives them a warning or bans their associates account.

      1. I am convinced that amazon treat the big affiliate accounts differently and with tolerance , for example the site of thisiswhyiambroke which is considered one of the biggests is breaching many amazon terms but is still running amazon products mainly.

  5. Hi all, I have noticed in Amazon Associates that I am getting 0 clicks on my links since cloaking them all via TA. However when I check TA reports I see 40 clicks yesterday. I didn’t realise that TA stopped Amazon being able to report clicks.

    Will this uncloaking solve this?

    1. Hi Ben,

      It shouldn’t unless something has changed on the Amazon end.

      You should definitely not be cloaking your Amazon links. You need to use the uncloaking feature as described in the post above or face the risk of being banned from the program.

  6. Great article and glad I read it.

    I’m having a minor problem since I’ve uncloaked my links, though. In Google Analytics, the cloaked link made it so much easier to know what link was clicked. Now, I’m back to the undecipherable Amazon link for my analytics. Is there a way to track with the cloaked link?

    1. Hey Kevin,

      If you use the Google Click Tracking module in Pro you can track clicks on your links as events. Much easier to get a full view then and I personally find its more reliable.

      Hope this helps!

  7. If I’m reading this correctly, this is also extremely valuable if a product you’re linking to sitewide comes out with a new version, and you need to update all your links. I’d be able to update the end destination url in one spot and all the links sitewide would update to the latest URL. Is that right?

  8. Hi Josh
    if I understand it correctly, search engines do not want websites with affiliate links.
    My main affiliate partner is Amazon. So how do I behave correctly: Link cloaking (for the search engine) or direct Amazon affiliate links (for Amazon)??
    This other point is that you wrote, that cloaked links are more secure, because so the links are protected from thefts.

    1. Hi Helene, yes cloaked links are less susceptible to commission theft, but with Amazon you don’t have a choice. It’s in their T&C upon joining their program that you will not redirect your affiliate links. I suggest making use of the uncloaking feature in ThirstyAffiliates 🙂

  9. 1. What if I place 10 Amazon in an article? It will take forever to search all of them manually and create a link for each country. There are some plugins who automatically redirect users to the store of their country, can ThirstyAffiliate do that also?

    2. Let’s say I added hundreds of links which are cloaked in the posts but TA makes them look uncloaked. What happens if I remove TA? Will it change all links into the uncloaked version or do I need to change all links myself manually?

    1. Hey Thomas,

      1. Yes, ThirstyAffiliates Pro has Geolocation abilities. One link, multiple destinations based on visitor’s location. See the pricing & features page for more.

      2. You’ll need to correct those manually. ThirstyAffiliates is the one doing the uncloaking, so if it’s not there, it won’t uncloak.

      Hope this helps!

  10. Your feature list shows that smart uncloaking is available in the free version:
    https://thirstyaffiliates.com/pricing

    Unfortunately, I’m not seeing any uncloaking options in the free version 3.6. (As a rule I’m using the free versions of everything until I start actually earning revenue.) I’d be happy to provide screenshots upon request.

    1. Hey Kay,

      Have a look under ThirstyAffiliates->Settings, Modules tab and make sure its enabled. You’ll then see it as per the screenshots above.

  11. Hi,

    I have TA Pro and have just signed up to the Amazon program. I’m just having some issues with geo localization of my links:

    First few days I was using amazon US links as they came and clicks were recorded on my first ever Amazon product review properly. Then I tried to setup Onelink, linking all my other store IDs, and placing the code in my footer. I’ve read your article before and just keep coming back to it as I can’t find a solution. Even when ticking the “uncloak link” on all my amazon links, it seems that clicks are then no longer recorded by Amazon, even though they appear in TA reports. I keep checking all the other countries store and no clicks anywhere.

    I’ve tried that trick I’ve read somewhere else where you change your amazon https links to http as it seems that’s what causing onelink not to work, but no success.

    I’m hesitating between trying to make Onelink work even if it means not using TA for Amazon, or give up on Onelink and use either TA’s or another plugin to manage the geo localization. I keep reading online that geo localization isn’t as easy as it seems as stores don’t always have matching products etc… But it’s definitely essential to our site as we only get about 20% of US visitors.

    Apart from that, very happy with TA, thanks for your work.

    1. Hey Jim, TA’s geolocation features will let you send traffic anywhere, they could be to other Amazon stores (in which case our Amazon importer will help you import those specific store links). Amazon’s Onelink is good, but don’t use it in conjunction with TA’s geolocations. Onelink handles the transporting of people to the correct store on Amazon’s end.

      As for not seeing traffic from your Onelinks, if you already have your link uncloaked (all Amazon links should be uncloaked including Onelinks) then contact Amazon and complain that traffic isn’t being tracked when you use Onelink vs. when you use direct links.

      Hope this helps you and anyone else having the same issue.

  12. Thanks for sharing this post. Amazon is really strict. Honestly, one of my friends recently got his banned from Amazon because he had a mentioned the price and as you know Amazon keeps on changing their prices so, your required to never mention price. He plans on changing his entire website’s links from amazon to another affiliate network soon. Strange how you got an email saying you had 5 days, maybe my friend didn’t read his email.

  13. What about leaving 1 uncloaked link so amazon could find it and let others cloaked ?

    Cause as an SEO issue it’s not Affiliation itself that could be a problem it’s the number of affiliate links per page.

    1. I haven’t tried that, but you could give it a go. From what I understand they have internal tools to help them diagnose but if you have an account you don’t mind risking and a site you don’t care about, you could test it.

    1. Nofollow can be applied to uncloaked links. Using nofollow essentially says a combination of “this link is a sponsored link” and “I don’t vouch for where this link ends up so don’t count it as my sites viting for this other site”

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