Keep Your Affiliate Links Safe! (well, kinda)

Something that I have been focusing a lot of attention on lately is how to mask or cloak affiliate links.  I’m sure just about everyone has seen the ads about how people need to safeguard their potential affiliate link commissions from theft.

You see lots of ads for software products that show you how to protect your affiliate links from being hijacked or bypassed.  Affiliate link hijacking is when someone takes your link and replaces it with theirs.  People can have their affiliate links bypassed when someone sees the link itself, decides not to click on it and then go to the website directly thereby depriving the person who posted the affiliate links of any potential commissions.

Now there is a major consideration to take into account when deciding to mask or cloak your affiliate links.  When the person arrives at the webpage in question after clicking your links, the original affiliate link will display in the address bar of the browser.  But what masking the affiliate links does for you the marketer is that with the affiliate link being masked, the person who is reviewing the webpage containing your link would still have to click on your link to go to your page.  Now it’s one thing to type in some text such as Click Here! (<– actual link) and insert a link to attach it to the affiliate link URL address or you could do something and cloak the affiliate link with a “cloaking device” Click Here! (<– also an actual link).

Now when you click on each of the links that are connected to my affiliate link (which you are more than welcome to visit !),  you will end up on the same webpage but there is a significant difference involved.  If you “right click” the page that this blog post is on and select “view source”,  a review of the HTML code will show my actual affiliate link that is attached to the first link I inserted on this page.  As you scroll further down, you should notice a bunch of ampersands (& symbols) and numbers that shows reference to the affiliate link but it is converted into unicode.   So the affiliate link whose URL address is converted into unicode will require the person visiting the page containing the affiliate link to click on the link and go to the actual webpage that features the affiliate product.  A product that I came across and I started using is called “Affiliate Link Cloaker” (go to http://www.auratech.com.au/linkcloaker/ to learn more), which is a free download and so far I have enjoyed using it.

Another method that can be used for masking affiliate links is by writing what is known as a redirect script.  Basically this involves doing some HTML editing on your webpage and inserting the URL of the affiliate link that you want your customers to go to.  Again, once your customers have arrived at the “final destination”, the actual URL of the affiliate link will be displayed in the address portion of the browser.  With the redirect script, you basically set up a path using your domain name along with a couple of extra folders attached with it; the final folder being one that contains an index.html file that contains a redirect script.  An example that you may see would be in this format: http://yourdomain.com/likes/name of product.    Here is an example of HTML code involving a redirect script:


After spending many hours with both of the methods mentioned above, my vote goes the the software that converts the link into unicode!  Lots of playing around with FTP programs on the webhost service when using redirect scripts are involved.

I am currently not aware of any methods to have a different URL address show up on the webpage of the affiliate product. Please send me a comment if you have anything you are willing to share on this!

The term “affiliate link hijacking” was referenced earlier in this post.  This is where someone takes someone else’s affiliate link and replaces it with their own affiliate link.  I am currently not aware of how this is done since a person would need to be able to access someone else’s web page editing capabilities.

So in summary, does the effort involved in masking your affiliate link pay off in higher commissions that you would have received otherwise?,  I myself at this time have no first-hand experience to say one way or the other.  All I have seen are testimonials on sites that promote the software that is available to help mask affiliate links.  I figure that if someone does not wish to buy from you, they will either try to bypass the affiliate link when they view the webpage source and if they see that the affiliate link is masked and they can’t determine what it is, they may still decide not to buy from you.  Or, if they go all they way to the final page, see what the link address is on the webpage, they would still have the option to not buy.  So……….if someone is willing to go to all these measures to not buy your product and deprive you of your commission,  perhaps it’s just better to not do business with that type of individual.

Please share your thoughts on this post!

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