Why Cloak Your Links?
Many bloggers specially internet marketers are using a kind of tool or software to cloak their affiliate links. Cloaking links simply means masking, hiding, shortening or redirecting your links in a way so that they look short, neat and more SEO friendly.
Here’s an example of an Affiliate link:
Before Cloaking: http://c51007x-jqaugy5dy6unziq167.hop.clickbank.net
After Cloaking: http://www.arezk.com/DirectoryofEzines
This is an affiliate link for a Clickbank product called “Directory of Ezines” which is a good directory for Solo Ads. As you can see the main affiliate link is very long link with random characters and numbers (Ugly). It’s neither a user nor search engine friendly, and generally no one likes to click on long ugly links that look spammy or suspicious.
The cloaked affiliate link will redirect people to the same old link, but it looks short, more professional (looks like a page or post on your website) and it’s very easy to remember. In the above example i use arezk.com as a custom domain for all of my affiliate links.
These are many reasons of why you should always cloak your links. If you are an internet marketer you will be more likely to work with many affiliate links, and you will need a good tool not only to cloak your links but also to help you track link clicks, performance, conversions and to prevent commission theft.
Can You Really Rank Your Cloaked Affiliate Links ?
You may already know how to cloak links, but have you ever imagined that your cloaked affiliate links can rank?!!
Yes, it is possible, specially when you use an affiliate cloaking tool that allows you to optimize your links for search engines, and make them more discoverable. I have tried many link cloaking tools including the two popular: Pretty links and MaxBlogPress Ninja Affiliate plugin.
Then I have switched to Linktrackr which is a web based tool to cloak, track and manage all links in one place. Because linktrackr is web based platform (Not a Plugin), all your links will be stored in your online linktrackr account, so your links will always remain active & working even if your website goes offline for any reason, and you don’t have to install wordpress plugins or worry about incompatibility issues.
Not only that but here’s what makes linktrackr outstands from other link cloaking tools, Check this example of a cloaked affiliate link made by linktrackr that is ranking in top 10 in Google:
As you can see in the screenshot above, an affiliate for linktrackr, John Chow got his cloaked link ranked #4 for the term “linktrackr”. The URL is nothing but a custom domain used by his linktrackr account, so there is no content or article to be indexed by search engines in that URL, except the actual linktrackr website cloaked in an iframe.
The Cool thing is that all people who are searching for the term linktrackr can go directly to the affiliate link and john would be earning commissions with no extra effort or advertising.
What is the Secret? It is simple, Linktrackr allows you to optimize your affiliate cloaked links, for each link you can add own title, keywords and description. By using a unique meta information your link will be treated like a unique piece of content or unique page on your website that will be indexed by search engines.
Ofcourse there is no guarantee that your affiliate links will rank on top of google, but this one little secret can make your links appear above the competition.
Optimize Your Cloaked Affiliate Links
Optimizing affiliate links is very easy with linktrackr, when you create a new link you have the option to add link meta this is where you add a meta title, meta description, and meta keywords. You can automatically fetch data from your affiliate link however if you want it to rank you should write unique meta information to allow your content to be indexed by search engines and to avoid duplicate content.
Ranking Your Cloaked Affiliate Links
You will need to drive some inbound links (backlinks) to your affiliate links to them rank just like any indexed piece of content. Ranking will depend on the amount of competition for the keyword you are trying to rank for. If you are targeting a long tail keywords, you may only need to drive a few backlinks to your cloaked affiliate link and it is going to be much easier to get it ranked.
Generally optimizing your affiliate links gives you more advantage over your competitors and with time you will find yourself linking or referring people to your affiliate links so why not get an extra free traffic from the search engines this way. 😉
You will just need a reliable affiliate link cloaking platform to optimize your links, i personally recommend linktrackr.