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Affiliate Link Cloaking: Is It Feasible?

There are many reasons for cloaking your affiliate links - some of which are extremely valid. These include affiliate link hijaking, affiliate link bypassing and condensing your affiliate links.

Affiliate link hijacking is theft of your sales commission through a person who comes to your website, decides they want to buy the product and substitutes their own affiliate link in the place of yours. When they use the new link to purchase the product, they gain the sales commission instead of you.

Affiliate link bypassing is like hijacking but no one gets the commission. For whatever reason, the person who arrives at your site, clicks on the link will then remove the link ID and neither you nor the purchaser gets a commission. While affiliate link hijacking is more annoying, affiliate bypassing is also a no-win situation for the people involved.

Condensing your affiliate link just makes sense. Less so now, but still quite prevalent is the link that goes on forever. It's long, needs to be carefully cut and pasted into a person's browser to work properly and generally discourages a person from trying to visit a site via your link at all. Condensing the link goes a long way towards producing a link that is user-friendly and, as a result, garners a higher click through rate.

With all of that said, there is a couple easy ways to cloak your affiliate link to take care of any of these three conditions: affiliate hijacking, affiliate bypassing or condensing of the affiliate link.

Probably the simplest and safest way to cloak an affiliate link is by using URL masking. For the product in question, purchase a domain and forward it to the affiliate link using URL redirection and masking. This will assure that your affiliate link will be seen by no one and it will be very difficult for the surfer to alter or change.

You can also place a simple redirect on your site that will create an actual web page on your website. It will be a page containing only the bare necessities so that it loads quickly. Simply place a redirect after the body tag with your actual affiliate URL and upload it via FTP to your domain.

There are a number of sites which will teach you how to mask your URL as well as some free places that will make the URL redirect for you. Simple Google and put URL redirect as the search term. While there are a number of places, check each one because all are not equal.

Another approach is to simply use a service that shortens and changes your URL so that it is unchangeable. These sites will take a long affiliate link with your affiliate ID and change it to something that not only shortens the link but masks your ID in the process. Just remember, with URL shorteners only work until you get to your location. Upon landing on the main page of the program you are promoting, it will then show your affiliate ID.

The services available that will help with cloaking your affiliate URL include:

- http://www.tinyurl.com
- http://www.snipurl.com

While some marketers consider cloaked URLs a form of dishonesty, in today's highly competitive market it is becoming almost a necessity to cloak them in order to make honest commissions. Unless an affiliate promoter has an extremely high level of trust with their website visitors and have sent out a specific email to a list, it is only prudent to take that extra step to be completely sure. Affiliate link cloaking is rapidly becoming the norm in Internet marketing.

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