Q: Why do some affiliates cloak there affiliate links? Do you recommend it?
A: I do recommend cloaking affiliate links, and I’ve been doing it myself for quite some time.
There are a variety of reasons that affiliates cloak links, and I do it myself for a few different purposes.
One note: some people refer to the practice as redirecting affiliate links, and cloaking is sometimes seen as a way to describe shady ways of doing it. For the purpose of clarity here, I’m using cloaking and redirecting synonymously.
Anyhow, I send out text emails to some of my lists, and an affiliate link is often so long that it will break in text emails. So cloaking the links makes them short enough to work without any issues.
Also, I cloak links to track clicks. This way I can audit the link reporting I’m getting from an affiliate program. If it’s far off from my own numbers, it can be a red flag for their tracking.
Finally, affiliate offers or entire companies will sometimes disappear abruptly. If you have the actual affiliate links out there in lots of places, it can take a significant amount of time to go back and find all of them to make updates.
But if you have the affiliate link cloaked and it’s out there in 10, 20, 100 places or more, it’s a matter of changing one link to update all of them.
In the past, I was using an .htaccess file, but now all of my affiliate sites are in WordPress, and I use a plugin called Pretty Link to create and manage redirects.