An Insight into Link Cloaking

The term Link Cloaking often resurfaces, both for good and bad reasons, forcing one to think about it with the intention of finding its true nature. Though it has invited a lot of discussion but no single statement has been issued which clarifies the confusion. The write-up is our attempt to provide some useful insights that will help the readers to understand the concept of Link Cloaking.

What is Link Cloaking?

Link Cloaking is the practice of disguising the link directed to the affiliate site and making it appear as if it is part of the site. In other words, it hides the long URL of the affiliate site and rather presents an appealing URL to the users, to which they click and are redirected to the affiliate site from where they can make a purchase. It is one of the ways used by online marketers to increase their online sales.

Link Cloaking

What Link Cloaking does?

  • It masks the affiliate link
  • It creates a link (short URL) which provides an idea to the users about the page they are going to visit

Why Link Cloaking is done?

There are several reasons that prompt marketers to adopt Link Cloaking including:

  • Users avoid affiliate links

There is strong tendency among users not to click on the links from the affiliate sites, which affects the marketer in achieving sales targets. However a cloaked link by appearing relevant makes them click and who knows that they might buy if they get the desired thing.

  • Cloaked Link is better to look at than long and confusing affiliate link

Cloaked link is made to appear neat and guide the user whereas affiliate link, being a complex mix of words and numbers repels the users. This makes Link Cloaking preferable.

  • Provides protection against commission theft or Commission Hijacking

Not cloaking a link discloses the affiliate ID to those visitors/hackers who can take advantage of it to steal a part of marketer’s commission. In order to prevent hackers from using the information to get commission credit, links are cloaked.


  • To maintain credibility

As a cloaked link gives the impression that link is meant to be useful it maintains the credibility of the marketer among its visitors. Also it looks unprofessional to put the affiliate link as it is on the site.

  • Helps in conversions

This is one of the crucial reasons that makes online marketers practice link cloaking as it helps them increase the number of conversions.

How to Cloak A Link?

Link Cloaking can be done manually as well as there are several software programs available to do it. Few of the link cloaking plugins available for WordPress are GoCodes(Free), Ninja Affiliates (Paid) and Pretty Link Pro (Paid)

Whether it is right for marketers to use Link Cloaking for their benefit or does it really have any advantages for the users are some questions which are difficult to answer as the subject has always drawn conflicting reactions While some say it is justified to undertake link cloaking, others are of the opinion that it is against ethics. The term is controversial and we can only hope to get the issue resolved with time.

[stextbox id="info"] Probably you would also want to read our review of the best link cloaking for WordPress out there, check it out: Thirsty Affiliates Review[/stextbox]

9 Mar 2011