How cloaking your links can save you both time and money

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How cloaking your links can save you both time and money
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6 th Jun 2004
You’ve most likely seen them in ezines, websites, etc. and quite possibly clicked on a few of them. If you’ve been in affiliate marketing you might have even used them yourself… or at least you should have. Because it can save you both time and money.
What I’m talking about are cloaked affiliate links. That is, small HTML files that hide your referral ID, username, member #, etc… and/or shorten the full URL.

How Do They Work?
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Usually the HTML file you use to cloak your affiliate URL
forwards the user to the actual affiliated website just moments
after clicking your cloaked link (or entering it into the web
browser). The HTML file can also be frame-based, meaning that it
will put the affiliate URL in an invisible frame so the user will
only see the URL to your cloaked link and not the URL of the
website you are directing the user to.

What Is The Purpose?
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Many dishonest people will do anything they can to prevent
affiliate marketers from getting their commission for their hard
work. When people see a link that they recognize as an affiliate
link they might cut your username off and buy directly from the
website or even worse, they might replace your username with
theirs and take your commission.

Also, some people might be uncomfortable clicking on a link they
recognize as an affiliate link.

What link would you rather click on:
http://www.madisondynamics.com/index.php?13523
or
http://www.workathomemadeeasy.net/recommended/madison.html

Tests have shown that up to 30% of all affiliate commissions are
STOLEN by people who replace with their own link to “buy at a
discount” and it’s a serious problem.

How Can You Prevent That?
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

If the service you are affiliated with uses cookies or other
tracking devices using a cloaked link that refreshes to the
affiliate URL should make sure that you get the commission/
referral you deserve. Because once the user clicks your cloaked
link and is redirected to your affiliate URL a cookie with your
referral ID is saved on the user’s computer and the user should
be less likely to succeed in stealing your commission.

Here is a sample of the HTML code you can use to create a HTML
file that refreshes to your affiliate URL:

content=”0;URL=http://www.YourAffiliateURL.com“>

Loading… please
wait


If you are not redirected in 10 seconds
http://www.YourAffiliateURL.com“>click here.

Just replace “http://www.YourAffiliateURL.com” with the referral
URL your affiliate program gave you.

However, if your affiliate service/program doesn’t use cookies or
if you’re not sure, it would be safer for you to use framed
cloaked links because then the user won’t see your full
affiliate URL and won’t be able to cut off your referral ID.

Here is a sample of the HTML code you can use to create a HTML
file that puts your affiliate URL into an invisible frame:

http://www.YourAffiliateURL.com” name=”mainFrame” border=0>

Just replace “http://www.YourAffiliateURL.com” with the referral
URL your affiliate program gave you. You should also change the
title to the actual name of your affiliate program or something
else you think is appropriate.

You should know though that people will always be trying to get
passed the cloaked links so there is never a 100% way of ensuring
your rightful commissions. But using cloaked links will
definitely decrease the chance of you losing out on a commission.

But How Can It Save You Time?
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Now that we have seen how cloaking your links can save you money
how can it save you time?

Well, I realized this recently when I decided to drop out of a
certain affiliate program. I had been promoting this program
on several places on the internet and the URL I was promoting was
a cloaked link I had created on my domain.

You can understand that I no longer wanted to promote a program I
was not affiliated with any more. So I was looking forward to at
least a half hour of searching the internet for places where I
had put a link to this program and either change it or delete it.

But that’s when I realized I didn’t have to hurry and delete all
these links so I wouldn’t be wasting money and credits on this
program. All I had to do was log in to my website and edit the
HTML file I had created to cloak the program’s URL and make the
file direct people to another URL I was comfortable promoting.

I could then later on when I had the time go find the places
where I had been promoting the program and update the information.
I could even just skip that if I didn’t want to, and if the
information promoting that URL wasn’t misleading, related to the
new URL. But even if you want to update the information or delete
the link sometimes you can’t. For example, on certain places
where you buy text links, etc.; then instead of that link
promoting a program you’re no longer affiliated with you are able
to promote another website, without any major effort.

* Tip: Even after you’ve gone through the websites where you had
put your cloaked link and deleted it I would recommend keeping
the file on your domain because there might be a few “ghosts”
left out there on the internet who still link to this file.

Resources To Help You Cloak Links
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

If you don’t know how to create HTML files and edit them or if
you don’t trust yourself to do it there are many services
available to help you:

* Affiliate Link Cloaker – makes it all easy and secure:
http://www.workathomemadeeasy.net/recommended/cloaklinks.html
* NameStick – cloak a link with an easy to remember domain:
http://www.workathomemadeeasy.net/recommended/cloakdomain.html
* TinyURL – cloak a link with 1 click:
http://www.tinyurl.com
* shorlify – like TinyURL, but with statistics too:
http://www.shorl.com
* CJB.net – one of the many free forwarding services out there:
http://www.cjb.net
* Here.is – another free forwarding service:
http://www.here.is
* Free .tk domain – get your own domain for free, pretty cool:
http://www.workathomemadeeasy.net/recommended/freetkdomain.html

Here are some places that provide you with free webspace where
you can put your cloaking HTML files:

* http://www.geocities.com
* http://www.angelfire.lycos.com/
* http://www.tripod.lycos.com/
* …if you want more places just do a Google search.

Although free webspaces are nice I would recommend putting the
cloaking files on your own domain, where you have total control
and don’t risk losing your files or being blocked by bandwidth
limits. Therefore I would recommend these hosting solutions >>

* Host4Profit – 300 MB webspace, 10 GB bandwith, great support:
http://www.workathomemadeeasy.net/recommended/host.html
* iProBuilder – set up a profit-pulling website in 24 hours or
less… – unlimited storage space!:
http://www.workathomemadeeasy.net/recommended/iprobuilder.html

Conclusion
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

As an extra bonus, while you’re using your cloaked links to
promote on various websites you automatically increase your
search engine rankings because of all the incoming links to your
domain 😉 Plus, you’ll also be increasing your Alexa ranking
because of the extra page views.

So, to save you both time and money:

* Cloak your affiliate URL using the methods and services I
mentioned above
* Promote that cloaked link wherever you can
* Cash in those bigger commission checks
* ..and if you decide to leave the program just edit that one
file you created on your domain 🙂

Thanks for reading.


About author:
Hannes Johnson is the author of the book “Residual Traffic” ( http://www.residual-traffic.com ) and maintains The Home Biz Blog ( http://blog.workathomemadeeasy.net ), where this article was first published. To subscribe to his Home Business Tips Newsletter send a blank e-mail to: workathomemadeeasy@SubscribeMeNow.com

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