This is an update to a previous post I made about cloaking affiliate links in WordPress. Now, while the method I outlined in that post is a perfectly valid way of achieving the outcome, it does have some limitations. In this post I will explain what they are, the potential gotchas and how to get around them. So, without further ado, let’s get going!
How to Cloak Affiliate Links
In the previous post, I went through setting up a new robots.txt file and adding a plugin called Redirection to create and maintain the links. Now, the method I showed you is great if you are on a tight budget or don’t want to pay for this feature. While there are no security issues involved, there are a couple of areas left uncovered which render it not as effective as it could be.
1. Address bar URL is the original link
This is quite possibly the main cause for concern. Although the links you create and insert into your posts are similar to https://stevenspiller.com/likes/P2S, the browser will show something like http://ff2d6l0nsgyekialgi4ttkdz8j.hop.clickbank.net/ in the address bar. This means that people are still able to remove your affiliate links, for example.
2. Requires a WordPress Plugin to Work
The second issue is less of a concern, more of a performance issue. Let’s face it, unless you have a really simple blog you usually have a few plugins installed into WordPress. Each of these plugins may add to the time it takes to render the page, or increase the size of the page. In most circumstances you may not notice this increase, but you can be sure that Google, Bing, et al do.
Also, with each plugin you add there is the increased chance that one or more of them do not play nicely with the other plugins.
3. Links are Stored in the WordPress Database
Finally, all of your link data is stored in the same Database as your WordPress blog. While this may sound like a Good Idea™, it’s a bit of keeping all your eggs in one basket. If something takes out your WordPress install, then you lose all of your carefully crafted custom links (unless you make regular backups, of course).
“Ahh,” I hear you say. “He finally gets around to the solution!” Yup, and although it is a paid solution, it takes the idea of cloaking your affiliate links and turbo charges them. There is no need for another plugin, no need for a Database and, as a bonus, you can use the links in any page you like. The page does not even need to be a post or page in your WordPress blog.
Ladies and gentlemen, may I introduce to you Link Supercharger! This amazing piece of software takes your link cloaking to the next level. No only does it allow you to use your links in any page you like, it also does a very good job of tracking hits. You can even create special pages you can send to your list as a weekly round-up.
I will be posting a full Link Supercharger review shortly, but just in case you can’t wait why not sign up for a free copy of Link Supercharger Lite? It does everything the full fat version can, except you have a 6 Hot Page limit.