For an affiliate marketer, link cloaking plugins can do wonders as they replace the long, complex and often annoying URLs with branded, manageable links and URLs. Or it can drastically shorten URLs, while retaining the root domain name and keep everything on your blog looking neat and tidy.
Some link cloaking plugins for WordPress include the useful ability to track outbound clicks on links and also rotate an affiliate offer to test performance and to set follow and do follow attributes.
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However for a new WordPress user or blogger, all these settings and variables can be a daunting challenge. It can be rather tricky to implement the right plugin. Simply as as he/she isn’t aware of the proper method to place link cloaking in motion on their blogs and web sites.
With various link cloaking plugin solutions competing for your valuable time and money it can also be tough to choose the right WordPress plugin for tracking affiliate links and the sales commissions that inevitably accrue.
Cloaking Affiliate Links in WordPress CMS
This extended guide to properly integrating affiliate link cloaking on the WordPress CMS will soon become your definitive resource for affiliate link management in WordPress. You will learn how to make it work perfectly the very first time you try and implement.
In fact once you have learned to set a few affiliate links and parameters and experimented with some of the affiliate link cloaking plugins mentioned here it will become second nature.
That said, before we head too deep into the detail of the actual link cloaking process itself. Let’s first take some time to fully understand what link cloaking actually is. So here is a brief introduction of what we mean by the term of link cloaking itself. The term link cloaking sounds like you are partaking in something you shouldn’t, almost naughty but do not be concerned.
In fact nothing could be further from the truth. Link cloaking is a standard marketing technique used within the affiliate marketing sector for legitimate tracking, data preservation and branding purposes.
What Exactly is Link Cloaking?
So what is link cloaking after all? To best define this predominantly affiliate marketing centric terminology, let’s take a quick look at an example url link to help you better understand the concept of link cloaking.
This is a Standard Affiliate Network URL : www.affiliateproduct.com/product/?affid=12345
But This is a Unique Cloaked URL : www.Example.com/refer/product
So what are the real differences between these two types of url links? Regular affiliate links look cheap and undermine the value of your site. Certain data sets such as the referrer and affiliate ID and other unwanted information can be divulged way too easily. Sometimes third parties can use raw affiliate links to discover your traffic sources and other private information that you would not want to share with them.
The other reason is that audiences just don’t like mouse clicking on obvious affiliate links. As they know for a certain that they will be offered some pushy advertisement or product promotion. In short they know your promo blasting them with offers.
Just like with regular display ads and Google Adsense, people have a tendency to switch off or block them altogether. It is a form of banner blindness which is a term coined to refer to people that have become immune to similar looking ads that they see every single day.
Striking a Practical Balance on Your WordPress Blog
Yet we cannot run our WordPress blogs and web sites for free, they are time consuming enough to run without doing it for nothing. In a world where display advertising pays a pittance for the sake of survival, a blogger or digital marketer has to make money out of his or her endeavors. Generating sustainable income online is crucial for their growth.
Some of that revenue after all gets ploughed back into new content and valuable tools. So how can we ensure balance and keep all aspects of running a site looking good with strong revenues in check?
The choice is stark and the solution is a rather blunt one. Either go with the usual raw affiliate links. If you choose this process expect to suffer a pretty bad conversion rate. Or integrate cloaked links that you can control and track and enjoy the highest possible conversion rates, based on the quality of your sustained fresh content over the longer term. I know what I would do!
So, in a standard definition of regular usage, link cloaking is a method of concealing an affiliate link which is way too long. Then showcasing a standard looking URL, hiding away all the unnecessary details that you would not wish others to see. Also if you do any form of social media promotion it is common to see short urls in use there also on external links, same concept in play.
How to Cloak Affiliate Links in WordPress
If you’re a WordPress developer, you can achieve this same functionally by putting a custom code section into the WordPress backend. WordPress of course is mean’t to be accessible to a regular user. Hence there are link cloaking plugins that swiftly do the same job. In theory as easy as 123 ( but not always. )
So with WordPress, once you have a suitable plugin implemented into the backend, setting up few options can get you up and running with the link cloaking process. Thereafter, every affiliate link (as per the configuration) will be properly cloaked to your exact specification. This is great for branding, for better commissions and for keeping the blog looking sweet and finely tuned.
Find The Best WordPress Plugins for Link Cloaking
Following in this feature are the best affiliate link cloaking plugins for WordPress to mask an affiliate link correctly in 2017. Some are free to install but may have paid add ons or paid premium modes. The best advice is to try each plugin and see how it meets your link cloaking and tracking needs.
Link Cloaking Plugin: ThirstyAffiliates
Thirsty Affiliates is not a normal WodPress plugin with a single functionality. Instead it includes some seriously cool tools and modules. All of which can help you get better conversions via various affiliate channels. The ThirstyAffilates plugin for WordPress can cloak a link properly and mask it properly to look standard and is great for link branding and user confidence.
Thirsty also includes a geo targeting module, a link management module and dynamic keyword inserting. All this is available behind the scenes and the plugin provides accurate and regular updates of the performance of your various affiliate links. It is also possible to assign images to ads and integrate with other ad plugins for fine tuning placements.
The geo targeting module within Thirsty Affiliates means that you can easily show country specific offers to different users depending on their IP. This can be a great tool for optimizing the cash depending where mot of your traffic comes from..
Thirsty Affiliates also offers all kinds of useful redirection modules. Along with the option to display category slugs in affiliate link URLs. This is a pretty awesome addition to an already great WordPress cloaking plugin.
The Thirsty Affiliates plugin takes swift and resolute care of the dofollow and nofollow attributes of most WordPress blog links. Most importantly, it works on complete automation. It can generate affiliate links for your blog without any time consuming manual efforts. The plugin also hooks into the WordPress kitchen sink for one click implementations. The links can easily be rebuilt if you decide to change the global plugin settings at any point.
You can pick up Thirsty Affiliates for free and use the basic features of this plugin. Yet there is also a premium version that includes many of the modules mentioned above with tons of advanced features for more experienced affiliate marketers and blog managers.
Thirsty Affiliates: Full Details & Download
Link Cloaking Plugins: Pretty Link Lite
If for some strange reason you decided that Thirsty Affiliates is not for you. Then here is the second cloaking plugin for WordPress. Pretty Link Lite is available for free and offers numerous essential features. While keeping the more advanced features for the premium version. The Pretty Link Lite plugin is regularly updated by it’s authors to ensure proper compatibility with latest version of WordPress.
Pretty Link Lite can easily manage and maintain the affiliate links on your site or WordPress blog. It can generate clean links automatically. Then mask the links properly and can even take care of the redirection type if this is a feature that you need.
Configurations that are offered inside Pretty Link Lite are totally SEO friendly. The plugin is also optimized for speed and efficiency so expect great performance. Moreover, it keeps a proper stats of all your link activity which is great for checking ‘at a glance.’
Pretty Links Lite allows for the downloading the various performance tabs in CSV format for further data analysis. This cloaking plugin can set the nofollow and dofollow link attributes when needed. Any webmaster using this plugin can quickly enable or disable the affiliate channel for a particular affiliate link when necessary.
Pretty Link Lite: Full Details & Download
Link Cloaking Plugin: WP Wizard Cloak
WP Wizard Cloak is a free WordPress plugin that can achieve the link cloaking you need. Without offering too many overwhelming features, buttons or complex configurations to play with.
The WP Wizard Cloak WordPress plugin tracks affiliate ad performance robustly using country codes, referring URL, IP addresses, browser types, and type of activity clicks. These data sets can even be exported into the popular CSV format for detailed performance analysis. A dedicated support forum for the WP Wizard plugin is available for any user to post a support query when stuck.
WP Wizard Cloak: Full Details & Download
Link Cloaking Plugins: Easy Affiliate Links
Easy Affiliate Links is a relatively new plugin on the scene and is available for a free download. This is a useful WordPress plugin for masking an affiliate link correctly. While at the same time creating short, brand links which look neat and tidy for your performance affiliate campaigns.
Easy Affiliate Links support the importing and exporting of the affiliate links in your WordPress blog with a just single swift click. Links can be organized into logical and intuitive categories. This is useful if you have a lot of affiliate links on your blog to manage.
Esy Affiliate Links has ad performance tracking integrated into the plugin. The developer of Easy Affiliate Links has announced that they intend to introduce more advanced features to the plugin features in the future.
However for the time being the available features built into this plugin are excellent. They are more than adequate for any blog owner or affiliate marketer.
Easy Affiliate Links: Full Details & Download
Link Cloaking Plugin: Affiliate Links Lite
Affiliate Links Lite is also a free WordPress cloaking plugin. This solution to affiliate link masking packs unique features such as link embedding via HTML or via a Shortcode generator. It allows for link cloaking and for grouping links correctly within the categories that you assign. As the plugin supports Shortcodes it will integrate with other ad plugins for fine tuning front end placement and so on.
Affiliate Links Lite can also take care of the link redirection types on your various ads and affiliate offers. This is accomplished by using the usual 301, 302, and 307 type redirects on your WordPress blog.
The Affiliate Links Lite WordPress plugin can even keep accurate stats log of activity such as clicks on ads and so forth. The WordPress developer who has produced Easy Links Lite is a well known name in the WordPress industry. So far, Affiliate Links Lite has managed to get 5 out of 5 ratings from those users running the plugin on their blogs and landing pages.
Affiliate Links Lite: Full Details & Download
Final Thought: Link Cloaking Plugins
So, this was all about link cloaking and how to cloak affiliate links in WordPress. You can see how this is done using a variety of great plugins and WordPress tools. Broadly they all do the same thing. However some are easier to use and more fully featured than others. Test them all out and see which link cloaking plugin for WordPress best fits your blogging needs.