If you are monetizing your website with affiliate links, it is a good idea to cloak them. There are several reasons why this is a good idea and I will be discussing them below as well as provide you with instructions on how to cloak an affiliate link.
Advantages To Cloaking Your Affiliate Link
– Easier to manage
There may be times when you will need to make changes to your affiliate links. It can be a very time consuming task if you have links spread throughout your website or blog. When affiliate links are centralized, you can manage them all from one central location.
– Prevents PageRank leaking to advertisers
Since affiliate links are basically ads, you should nofollow or alter them so that PageRank isn’t leaked to the advertiser. Rather than needing to do that manually for each affiliate link, it can done without a lot of hassle from one location. That also helps to prevent you possibly forgetting to add nofollow to some of your links.
– Gives you clean links
Various affiliate programs have a tendency to employ different permalink structures with their links. Although some may have fairly clean links, others have a tendency to add a ton of gibberish to them. When a redirect script is used it can help you manage this issue since the cloaked URL follows the same exact structure each time. That makes things much cleaner for users in terms of where the link is directing them to.
How to Cloak An Affiliate Link
The basic process for cloaking an affiliate link is fairly simple:
1, Create a folder to store your redirects in, such as /goto/
Block your /goto/ folder in the robots.txt file through adding:
2. Inside your redirect folder use a script for redirecting your affiliate URLs.
3. Manually add each direct into your redirect directory’s .htaccess file.
You can find an affiliate redirect script online from various website. One reputable one can be found at Yoast.com.
If you are running a website with WordPress, there are also plugins you can use instead of the above option to cloak your affiliate links with. They are easy to use but one potential issue you may have is speed. Since the plugins depend on the core code of WordPress, they have to wait until it is fully booted before they can be executed. So if you happen to be on a slow server it can add a few seconds to your total loading time redirecting time. However, many WordPress site owners do use a plugin to redirect plugin for cloaking their affiliate links since they are so easy to use.
The best option for you will ultimately depend on what your specific needs are. Another advantage to plugins is that they do provide you with statistics for your affiliate links which can provide you with some valuable information. If you just want your redirects to run quickly or you don’t run a WordPress site, then using a script is probably the best option.