Understanding Link Cloaking for Affiliate Program Work

Credibility is integral when you wish to build an income through marketing for affiliate programs. Potential customers will only click those pay per sale links when they trust the person making the recommendation. But too many affiliates think that the best way to build trust is to hide what they’re doing. They mask promotions and cloak links. And the result is usually the loss of credibility. That’s why decloaking links is usually the best practice for affiliate program members.

Cloaking and Decloaking Links for Affiliate Program Work

What is link cloaking?

People cloak links to hide their true destination from a website user. And it can be done in a variety of ways. You might change the characters in your web address, code in an automatic redirect, or even cloak your landing page – a highly frowned upon tactic that involves showing different content to human visitors to that revealed to search bots. The idea is to get your potential customers to where you want them to be – usually your sales landing page – without them realising that you are in fact trying to sell to them.

What is link decloaking?

As you’d probably expect, decloaking is the removal of all cloaking techniques. Essentially, being honest with your audience, and letting them see that you are promoting affiliate program content. So, if you’re promoting dating offers, for example, you’ll let your readers see that your links will take them to your landing page, service page, or wherever else you might want them to go.

If cloaking leads to mistrust, why do affiliate program members do it?

The main reason why online affiliate program members cloak links is because having too much promotional content on your blog or website can damage your SEO. Search bots will automatically lower a website’s SEO ranking if it looks like you’re producing nothing but ads. Cloaked links can also look better, helping to give your blog a smoother appearance. And it can make your links more memorable.

So, should affiliate program members use link cloaking?

This is a massively divisive subject. Some people will argue that the gains you get from cloaking links outweigh the damage to your SEO. Others will say that cloaking links will damage your credibility so much that any potential advantages the practice brings will be moot. We think that the best plan is a combined approach. Try to be as open as possible with your audience. Build trust through honesty. And try to avoid cloaking where you can. But there are circumstances in which some cloaking can be beneficial. If, for example, your affiliate links are really long and unwieldy, you may wish to hide or reduce them to avoid interrupting the flow of your sight. Or, if you want to include an affiliate link, but not let your readers see it before they’ve fully opened an article, you may want to cloak any early links, before acknowledging them later.

Is it possible to decloak existing affiliate links?

There are a number of ways that you can decloak affiliate links to improve your SEO and website credibility. If you have the technical know-how and the time, you can do it manually. But there are also a number of plug-ins and digital services available to help. Carry out a search online. It won’t take you long to find a provider.

When you work with an affiliate program to monetize your blog or website, you’ll find yourself confronted by endless advice. And it’s often contradictory. In such cases, it’s usually advisable to find the middle ground. Link cloaking can be an incredibly useful tool at times, but it has its limitations. And at a time when trust is of paramount importance, you’ll do well to use it wisely.