As an affiliate marketer one of the most important assets you have is the affiliate links on your site.
That’s right they are assets and if you are not showing these links some respect you are losing money, keep reading to find out why.
Why You Should Cloak Affiliate Links
The first and most obvious reason for you to cloak affiliate links is the fact that they are butt ugly and really don’t look very inviting for anyone to click on as well as being very unfriendly in respect to on page SEO.
The next reason is that there are unscrupulous people out there that will actually hijack your link making you lose your commission there is documented statistics showing many affiliates loose around 70% of your commissions from this hijacking practice alone.
The most important aspect for me is this, by using a cloaked link, I decide what the format of that link will look like giving me much more control and keyword diversity. To show you what I mean, I am going to create a cloaked link for my site using the simple URL plugin, I discuss this plugin further down the page but here is the link which took me seconds to create right from in my WordPress admin panel “http://www.affiliatexfiles/product/cloakedaffiliatelinks/”.
You would have to agree that this looks much more inviting to anyone viewing the link but there is another factor that many don’t consider.
By doing it this way it is very easy for me to “nofollow” every affiliate link on my site using my robots.txt file by simply adding this line of text. I no longer have to “nofollow” individual links as I add them it is now handled from the robots.txt file.
The first is for Googlebot and the next will be for all other search engines.
You will get a much better click-through rate by having a link that actually looks like part of your site rather than a mass of jumbled letters and numbers that you find in a Clickbank or Shareasale affiliate link.
You are also now covered from making a huge affiliate mistake that will not only cost you money but your valuable time as well.
What If This Happened To You
In some of the smaller affiliate networks you are running the risk of the link structure being changed or even those networks going out of business leaving a mass of broken links all over your site that you have to deal with fast.
And if you think it can only happen to smaller networks look at the screen shot above where Amazon the largest affiliate network on the planet stopped certain states in the USA from promoting their products via affiliate links. Remember at the start of this post where I was talking about assets, well over night for these affiliates they lost a massive amount of assets from with in their business.
Clickbank has just introduced a new system with-in their affiliate network which rates your account called a “Risk Management Tier“. This is both for affiliates and vendors and if you fall into the unacceptable category you will have your account closed with-in 50 days if you can not improve the rating.
If this happens to you hopefully you have a link cloaking solution so that you do not have to go to each page of your site removing or changing links.
So now I have to ask you, why would anyone want to treat such a valuable asset so recklessly and allow the loss of control of the single most important asset in their affiliate business.
Putting This All Into Perspective
What if you had numerous blogs, guest posts, Facebook pages, HubPages, Tumblr sites and even dozens of personas and so on that all had naked affiliate links that now no longer worked. How much time is it going to take to find every one of those affiliate links and replace them with another product or service or delete them all together.
Remember while you are wasting your precious time doing this you are also losing lots of money.
Why Every Serious Affiliate Needs To Be Cloaking Their Links
What I am going to show are the three preferred applications I use to cloak affiliate links on all on my sites. I know there are others but these are the tree that I personally use.
Simple URL by Nathan Rice & StudioPress (free)
This is a very basic link cloaking plugin for WordPress that adds a custom post type to your admin menu. You simply add the title and the affiliate link and you will get a link that is formatted like this www.affiliatexfiles.com/go/YOURAFFILIATELINK.
Easy to use and completely avoids page based redirects, which is the current trend in masking affiliate links, also there will be no permalink conflicts.
You can check out the WP plugin here Simple URLs.
Affiliate Ninja by MaxBlogPress ($1 Trial Limited Time)
Affiliate Ninja comes with either a single $37 one time payment or multi site license $97 one time payment depending on your needs.
Comes with many different features such as linking your affiliate links to keywords through-out your site as well as the newly added analytics in (version 1.9) where you can track everything you need to manage in your different affiliate campaigns.
Click here to learn more about Affiliate Ninja.
Track.Ly by John Reel
Since this post was written GoTryThis is now called Track.ly
This is my favorite service it is very affordable and offers a whole range of statistics so you can track and monitor every aspect of your affiliate marketing campaigns. All the affiliate links from all your domains are managed from one place making it very fast and easy to change and update links without having to edit or find those links on your sites.
Some of the options include being able to brand affiliate links to your own site (important for SEO) as well as using shortening for your social media and even being able to generate QR codes for mobile marketing. I have been using this service for well over six years.
Every aspect of your affiliate links can be tracked and analyzed including the top 200 keywords, top 200 IP’s even search engine bots that are indexing those links making it very easy and fast for me to make changes where needed. If an affiliate network closes or changes their TOS and I no longer wish to be part of their network I can simply change the affected link with a click of a mouse button it really is that easy.
Click here to learn more about Track.ly. Best of all this is not just a WP plugin and can be installed on any site you own including HTML Static sites.
Start your affiliate business the right way and don’t lose any time due to such a silly and basic mistake by not cloaking your affiliate links right from the start, if you do. you will be back here to thank me for the head-ups on this guaranteed.