How cloaking your links can save you both time and money (c) 2005 Hannes Johnson
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 full URL.
How Do They Work? ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Usually HTML file you use to cloak your affiliate URL forwards user to actual affiliated website just moments after clicking your cloaked link (or entering it into web browser). The HTML file can also be frame-based, meaning that it will put affiliate URL in an invisible frame so user will only see URL to your cloaked link and not URL of website you are directing 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 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.artcl 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? ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Here is a sample of HTML code you can use to create a HTML file that refreshes to your affiliate URL:
<#html> <#head> <#title>Loading... please wait<#/title> <#meta http-equiv="refresh" content="0;URL=http://www.YourAffiliateURL.com"> <#/head>
<#body> <#p><#b><#font size="+1">Loading... please wait<#/font><#/b><#/p> <#p>If you are not redirected in 10 seconds <#a href="http://www.YourAffiliateURL.com" rel="nofollow">click here<#/a>.<#/p> <#/body> <#/html>
Just replace "http://www.YourAffiliateURL.com" with referral URL your affiliate program gave you.
Here is a sample of HTML code you can use to create a HTML file that puts your affiliate URL into an invisible frame:
<#html> <#head> <#title>Name of your affiliate program<#/title> <#/head>
<#frameset rows="100%,*" frameborder="NO" border="0" framespacing="0"> <#frame src="http://www.YourAffiliateURL.com" name="mainFrame" border=0> <#frame border=0 scrolling="NO" noresize> <#/frameset> <#noframes><#body> <#/body><#/noframes> <#/html>
(Note from author: In order for HTML code to be seen correctly I've added "#" signs. If you intend on using this code just remove "#" signs.)
Just replace "http://www.YourAffiliateURL.com" with referral URL your affiliate program gave you. You should also change title to 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 cloaked links so there is never a 100% way of ensuring your rightful commissions. But using cloaked links will definitely decrease 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 internet and 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 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 HTML file I had created to cloak program's URL and make file direct people to another URL I was comfortable promoting.