How to Cloak Affiliate Links (Pinterest, Website & More!)

A lot of people are wondering how they can promote affiliate links without users or platforms, such as Pinterest, being skeptical of the link. Unfortunately, many people lose trust in a person promoting a link as soon as they discover that they will get a commission on that product.

So, what can you do? The answer is cloaking your affiliate links. While many have caught on how to do this, there are many new affiliate marketers out there that are asking this question, or don’t know that they should even be asking this question at all.

Why Cloak Affiliate Links?

There are a handful of reason you might want to cloak an affiliate rank. Some of them are as follows:

1. Hide the fact that your links are monetized

Some bloggers or website owners don’t want their viewers to know that everything on their site is a monetized link, so when those links are cloaked, it is easy to hide. You can cloak all your links leaving your viewers to decide if they are monetized or not.

2. They look cleaner

What link would you rather click on… one that has a crazy long URL attached to it with weird characters, or one that is branded such as Option number 2 looks better to me by far.

3. Link tracking

Do you ever wonder if anyone is actually clicking your affiliate links, and how often? By cloaking your links with Pretty Link Lite, you can keep track of how many times each link was clicked on. You can get really crazy with this and track different instances of the same link such as to see if people are clicking on the link at the top of your page versus the bottom, but simple tracking often does the trick.

We have affiliate sites with many products on the same page and it’s nice to see when one is clicked more than others, or that some links aren’t clicked at all. That gives us an opportunity to optimize our site for better conversion rates.

4. Social media friendly, like Pinterest

I started my first board with affiliate links on Pinterest a few days ago and saw an article today that stated that Pinterest was no longer allowing affiliate links. The links will still work, but the affiliate tracking code apparently will be stripped. When setting up my board, it appeared that my tracking codes were being stripped from the URL. So what did I do? I cloaked my links. Now when they are clicked, they are sent through a 301 redirect to Amazon and my tracking code is still there. I’m not sure if this will work forever but my thought is that they can’t police every single pin.

Here is where you can paste a cloaked affiliate link in Pinterest, for example.

How to Cloak Links Using Pretty Link Lite

So how do you cloak links using Pretty Link Lite? It’s actually really straightforward and easy to do. We’ve been using this plugin for a couple years with no problems.

  1. Install Pretty Link Lite
  2. Click “Add New Link”
  3. Fill out link details

Target URL: This is the affiliate link that the Pretty Link should point to.

Pretty Link: Here you will create a unique code for your Pretty Link. It defaults to four unique numbers, but you can change this to something custom. We put ours in the subdirectory /go/ so that we can implement goal tracking on the links with Google Analytics. We want to know what percentage of traffic coming to our site is clicking on affiliate links.

Title: This is self-explanatory. This is for your information only, not your visitors.

Then you will have additional options as seen below.

Group: If you want to create groups for your links then go ahead and do so. We usually don’t take this step.

Nofollow this link: We almost always nofollow these links because Google doesn’t like affiliate links. Some take it a step further and tell the bots not to crawl anything in the subdirectory that these cloaked affiliate links are in “example: /go/”. We don’t do this either.
Track hits on this link: Yes! Why not?

And that’s about it!

And that’s all there is to it folks. Have fun with your new Pretty Links, and use them to your advantage!

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