WordPress Affiliate Link Cloaker Plugins – I don’t use them!

If you are an affiliate marketer then I don’t need to tell you  how important it is to cloak your affiliate links.   Nothing worse than doing a pile of work to find someone has hijacked your links and you are not getting paid.     The solution to link hijacking is link cloaking.

The WordPress community has created a ton of plugins for link cloaking.   If you are interested in a free wordpress link cloaker plugin then here’s a few to check out:

I think I’ve tried all the free versions and purchased a number of the paid ones like:

and, of course, there are others that I’ve left out :)

I don’t use any of them anymore. They are all laying dormant on my hard drive now.

Why?

The problem with a WordPress Affiliate Link Cloaker plugin is that they are only really useful if you have a couple of sites. This means it’s easy enough to log in to each site and add the link you wish to be cloaked or edit it.

I have  more than “a couple of sites” and that’s where the problem is.   I don’t want to spend all day logging into each site to add a link or editing a link.   When an affiliate program changes I have to do extra work by running around all sites editing links.   Not only that, I also have to remember which site is promoting the particular program.   With a couple of sites this is not going to be a problem – with lots of sites this is a headache I could do without.   Personally, I would prefer to spend my time sipping cocktails :)

The other problem with using a wordpress plugin to cloak your affiliate links is that it only works with WordPress.    As much as I love my WP there are times when you need to act outside of WP and this is one of them (for me anyway).    If  you are a writer, like me, then a plugin is not much use to cloak affiliate links in your ebook :)

In order to save time it’s much easier for me  to use a domain redirect as an affiliate link cloaker.  That means I have one domain and then I just add my links to it.   You can do this manually just in your web hosting panel but I prefer to use a script for this task.

Using a script to cloak my affiliate links means that  I now only have one place to go to add links, edit them and delete them.  I can use the cloaked links on my wordpress sites and in my ebooks so it is multi purpose which saves duplicating work  and frees up time in my life.

The script that I like is called Easy Redirect Script and it really is easy.   What I like about is that the interface is clear, there is no clutter and no way to get confused.

Easy Redirect Script Affiliate Link Cloaker

When you log  in you will be greeted with a slick easy to understand interface.

You just add your link add where you want it to be redirected to in Simple Mode and that’s it.  Done.  You can also view your  links and edit them from the handy admin panel.   Not only that, you can quickly and easily create a QR code which is great for marketing a product in this day and age.   I love the category function because it allows me to assign a particular affiliate link to a category eg. health.    This saves me a ton of time if the links have changed.    I don’t need to sort through all the links that I’ve created I just need to go to the category and edit the link.  Simple.  The other feature I like is the Description field.    This is a useful space to write a few notes about the affiliate program for example, the email address, when commissions are paid and the amount and some details about the product/service.

Affiliate Link Cloaker

If you want more Advanced Features then there are other things that you can do with the plugin including creating categories, seo links,  promotional links and the like.

Affiliate Link Cloaker - Advanced Mode

It’s been an expensive and time consuming exercise deciding not to use a WordPress link cloaking plugin but for me the domain redirects or using a simple script like Easy Link Cloak is the best solution for managing multiple sites and products.

By the way, if you purchase the link cloaker plugins or script through my links then I will get a small commission. It won’t be enough to retire to a beach but I may get a few cups of coffee out of it


About Leanne

My name is Leanne King and I'm an Australian internet marketer and WordPress fanatic. I share my knowledge of WordPress here on my blog, through my products, private coaching and in private forums. In my spare time I like to develop products for WordPress users that are easy to use.Find me on Google+

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21 Responses to WordPress Affiliate Link Cloaker Plugins – I don’t use them!

  1. filomena April 19, 2013 at 10:09 am #

    I pretend to create a site with affiliate links in WordPress but heard that they not aloud affiliate links in other hand I see every body using W.P. and I see links there your help is appreciated Thanks Filomena Filomenablogs4U.com.

    • Leanne April 28, 2013 at 3:18 pm #

      Hi Filomena if you are using wordpress.com then affiliate links are not allowed – see the terms and conditions. However, if you are using self hosted WordPress (wordpress.org) then you are hosting on your own web host with your own domain and can have affiliate links etc.

  2. Federico December 2, 2012 at 5:35 am #

    I also are having a issue but rather then not cloaking the link is being cloaked it is and it shows as http://binauralfrequencies.com/?hop=whereuare which is mine but then when one gets to the actual buy page at the bottom it is not mine it is
    [affiliate = viglink.1ikybeumxbtnz]
    Not sure how/where it is being changed but any help is GREATLY APPRECIATED. My actual web page is http://www.becomespirituallyawake.com

    i AM USING Cloak.FM (multisite),Basic Pass (free)

  3. Louis April 17, 2012 at 9:13 am #

    Centralized management is great – but it’s even easier if it’s in the WordPress admin area.

    Almost all of the listed plugins will work just fine with WordPress multi-site.

  4. Jeremy Ruggles March 4, 2012 at 6:57 pm #

    Hey Leanne,

    Thanks for the link cloaking advice. I use free link cloaker personally. It has worked fine for me so far. I tend to stay away from link cloaking plugins for the very reasons you do.

    I come back and visit your blog again soon.

    Take care.

    ~Jeremy

  5. Joe February 1, 2012 at 7:34 am #

    So let me see if I have this 301 redirection stuff clear.

    1. people come to my website and read a review of some product I’m promoting.

    2. I use a product – like Easy Redirect Script -to make my affiliate link look more like my own website.

    3. (The confusing part) The links that contain my affiliate links are really on pages of other websites (URLs) that I own. Those are the links that are 301 redirected to the products actual website (squeeze page etc).

    3. When people click on my affiliate link, they dont even see my other website but instead are immediately redirected to the products website, hopefully to be converted (buy the product).

    Do I have this right? Do I have the part about having to own other domain names correct? It would make sense in a way because if I make a page on my main website that contains nothing but a “buy the product link” it would show up to everybody on my RSS list as soon as I publish it right?

    • admin February 2, 2012 at 5:44 pm #

      You have it pretty right Joe. For example, you could have the Easy Redirect Script on a domain called http://www.joelikes.com when you make a link for say a great wp plugin you link would look like http://www.joelikes.com/wpplugin when people click on that (or the anchor text) they bypass your http://www.joelikes.com domain and just go straight to the affiliate offer page. You could of course do the same thing with a service like bit.ly or any url shortener which is disguising your links. Just make sure that whatever you use that you are able to track clicks (so you know what is converting for you).

      I like the redirect script because I can add links to it and include them on websites and in books etc, I have them all organized and categorized and if a recommendation or affiliate program changes I just change it at a central location and don’t need to change all the individual links in books/websites etc.

  6. Buy my phone February 1, 2012 at 1:19 am #

    I’ve found the w-shadow.com one useful in the past but you’re correct that it is time-consuming to update outdated links.
    Do you worry that your visitors notice that the link is not at the same domain? That was part of the reason that I use a separate redirect from each site…

    • admin February 2, 2012 at 4:01 pm #

      No, I don’t worry about that at all :) A separate redirect from each site would be very time consuming much easier for you to have a domain like wpqueen/recommends and your 301 is in your “recommends” folder

  7. JR December 10, 2011 at 9:27 am #

    I was just researching these plugins and dreading having to go and edit a hundred blogs that I have, this is a perfect solution, thank you!!!!

  8. link cloaker October 25, 2011 at 9:16 pm #

    What the heck is link cloaking? To be as plain as possible, cloaking affiliate links is the art of showing your visitors an internal link when they mouse over an affiliate link so that the visitor doesn’t think they are leaving your site.

  9. BrevilleJE900 September 29, 2010 at 5:50 pm #

    I use the prettylink plugin and think it’s a really good plugin, but I will check out some of the other plugins you have listed to see if there are any better options.

  10. admin July 18, 2010 at 1:11 am #

    @AJ I have hundreds of domain names so I don’t need to worry about buying one for one purpose. If I add through a ht access file I don’t have the benefit that the script gives me of being able to sort things by categories and track them.

  11. AJ July 13, 2010 at 4:23 pm #

    I most definitely use a link cloaking device on my sites. I actually used the free version of pretty link pro then bought the pro version. This plugin doe exactly what you want…it creates a 301 redirect of your affiliate link. This is great because people think that your link is on your domain and wont be scared to click on it. Plus there is an option to automatically change keywords into no-follow links to your affiliate. Now it can’t get much easier then this…

    And for the issue with it only working with wordpress, you can export all your redirects onto an excel file in case you want to switch to another platform or to straight CSS + HTML.

    Anyway, I do agree that a lot of people probably spend too much time worrying about this rather then doing something more productive such as adding new content to their site.

    But if you really want to get simple, why not add your re-directs through the .htaccess file? Did you buy a whole other domain for your affiliate re-directs? If so why?

  12. Ghufron July 7, 2010 at 8:40 pm #

    Thank you for those plugins…

    I found you on Google’s search result :d

  13. Warren June 18, 2010 at 5:42 am #

    Centralised management of your affiiliate links makes a LOT of sense – especially as the number of sites and links you maintain starts to grow.

    If you particularly want your links to appear as if they are “from inside”, then simply create the appropriate “internal” page and redirect it to your affiliate link redirection script.

    Following Leanne’s example above, if she was to promote a product called ABC Link Cloaker from this site, this would look like:

    1. wpqueen.com/abclinkcloaker would be the displayed link.
    2. This would redirect to http://www.y5y.info/abclinkcloacker.
    3. This would in turn redirect to the appropriate affiliate link.

    Still only one place to update if the end affiliate link changes (not every site Leanne might promote it from) – just requires one extra page to be created on the site with a small piece of redirection code.

    One caveat here – some affiliate links redirect a number of times before landing on the target site. Many browsers limit the number of redirections allowed before they treat the link as spam and refuse to load the page. This one additional redirection MAY (in a small number of cases) be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. You will need to test to make sure this does not happen for you.

  14. Jay June 14, 2010 at 5:47 am #

    Your idea no makes sense at all. The proccess to hidden links are used to:

    1 – Hide the affiliate link;
    2 – Your visitor must believe that the link is “from inside”, so you must work these redirections at every single domain. If you have 50 projects, you have to create different links to each one of them;

    If I want just change the link to another domain, or make it shorter is very easy to use a service like bit.ly.

    I hope you change your mind soon.

    • admin June 15, 2010 at 12:51 am #

      If you have one site using a service like bit.ly will be easy for you. If you have hundreds of sites that you have to log into and edit the affiliate links on you’ll have a headache. More importantly, if you have an ebook and one of the affiliate link changes do you go back, edit the ebook and then send out the new download to everyone each time an affiliate link changes? Don’t think you’ll have many happy customers if you do that. However, if you use an affiliate script like I use I can change the affiliate link without editing the book or the site which is a huge time saver.

  15. admin November 29, 2009 at 8:11 pm #

    Sure you can convert a link with Bit.ly but all you are doing is converting not saving time when the links change. So, for example, if I need to change an affiliate link in my 950 page book if I was using Bit.ly I’d convert the new link then I would have to send out the book again to all customers to ensure they were clicking the right link! Now, I wouldn’t do that because it’s not fair to my customers. If i’m using a redirect script I don’t touch the book at all, I just change the link so no need to fiddle with the book or send it out again.

    Also with websites say I have a lot of WordPress news sites and I change one affiliate link banner that I use on all of them, if I use bitly I have to go to each and every site …..If I use a redirect script I don’t need to go to any sites – just change it once in my admin panel and I’m done.

    Hope that helps

  16. Ferree Money November 29, 2009 at 6:03 pm #

    Minor clarification request. If I convert an affiliate link to a Bit.ly link, would this be adequate to prevent an affiliate link thief from stealing my aff commissions or is a redirect the only safe way to go?

  17. smarty November 19, 2009 at 5:03 pm #

    Nice article, very helpfull.

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