In the world of affiliate marketing, the word “cloak” gets thrown around a lot and means different things to different people. So let’s be clear:
Definition: Using on page techniques to obfuscate the destination URL of a link when the user hovers over it.
Purpose: To hide ugly, complex, or affiliate code laden URLs from the user. The idea is this: when the user hovers over a link, he will see the destination URL in the browser’s status bar. A nice, clean URL, makes him feel warm and fuzzy inside and more likely to click through.
Defintion: Using off page techniques to hide or obfuscate the true referring page.
Purpose: To keep people out of your shit. When you send traffic to an offer, the final destination is the merchant’s page. If you don’t cloak the referrer, the merchant will be able to see exactly where the traffic is coming from. This might be your landing page or, if you are direct linking, your traffic source. “Tall fences make good neighbors”.
Referrer Cloaking is done via double-meta refresh and will not be the subject of this post. However, it is worth noting, Prosper202 can handle this for you and you should definitely be doing it. Instead, I’m going to be showing you how to cloak links.
How to Cloak Links
Option 1: PHP Redirect
<a href="goto-yahoo.php">Visit yahoo.com</a>
<?php header( 'Location: http://www.google.com/' ) ; ?>
How it works: if the user hovers over the “Visit yahoo.com” link, he will see something like “yourdomain.com/goto-yahoo.php” in the browser status bar. You can name this php file anything you want, I just chose “goto-yahoo.php”. When the user clicks on the link, the “goto-yahoo.php” file uses a php redirect to send the user wherever you want him to go. I chose to send him to Google to illustrate a point: what the link says, and where it goes can be two different things. As you can see the limitation of this method is it must end with “.php”. But you can get fancier….