Affiliate Link Cloaking – The Best Way To Protect Your Affiliate Commissions

What is an affiliate link cloaking and why is it required?

It’s a program or script created for a few main purposes:

  1. Protects the affiliate (who promotes a certain product) from another unfair affiliate who could easily modify the affiliate code and buy the product via own affiliate link – affiliate link hijacking.

  2. Protects the affiliate from visitors who delete the affiliate link and buy products instantly – affiliate link bypassing.

  3. Cloaking makes an affiliate url completely ‘unknown’ to visitor and more search engine friendly.

The Biggest Problems Each Affiliate Face When They Promote Products Online

Problem #1 – Affiliate links are too obvious

Most people who frequently use the Internet know that this kind of url:

Is obviously an affiliate link and that an affiliate will get the commission if the visitor buys the product. Some visitors just don’t like the idea that they were referred by an affiliate… So they are quite reluctant to buy a product via such link.

Problem #2 – Visitors delete affiliate usernames from the urls and buy products directly

A lot of affiliate marketers face a huge problem online. They signup for an affiliate program, get their affiliate links and then start promoting a certain product. In most cases all affiliate programs provide unprotected affiliate links. E.g.

Affiliates start driving targeted traffic and making sales. But the problem is that a lot of  visitors can easily see that he/she was brought to the website via affiliate link. The browser just shows ‘affiliate-name’ at the end of an url. Such type affiliate links are made to ‘make’ the life easier for affiliate (to easily create an campaign, etc). However, they also make an affiliate’s life much harder in other areas.

Some visitors who see an affiliate’s name in the url just delete it and purchase the product themselves directly from . This way merchant receives a sale, but the affiliate gets nothing in return for bringing this kind of visitor-buyer. The affiliate commission is lost, because the visitor just ‘bypassed’ (deleted) the affiliate link. Of course, in most cases the ‘affiliate cookie’ is set on the visitors browser, so even though he/she deleted the url, the affiliate is still credited. However, in most cases such ‘buyers’ never forget to delete the browser cookies to make sure you (affiliate) don’t receive your affiliate commission.

Problem #3 – Visitors replace affiliate IDs with their own IDs and this way receives a product for rather low price

Another problem is that many product buyers know about affiliate programs. Once they enter a product’s sales page and see that their browser displays a link:

They could easily enter and search for a page to signup as an affiliate. Then, once they have done this, they create their own affiliate link and buy the product via their link. This way unfair buyer steals the commission from you and actually cheats on the merchant – gets the product at "discount" price. The real affiliate who brought the unfair visitor-buyer is left without any commissions.

The Solutions to these problems

These main problems stated above result in huge commission losses for affiliates. Affiliate’s hard work gives no results and a lot of people (especially the new ones in affiliate marketing) just end up promoting affiliate programs and products for no commission. However, if affiliate marketing would be so easy, almost everyone would be doing this and living off the Internet by just selling others’ products. But here comes the link cloakers to the rescue.

What are link cloakers and what they do?

Link cloaker is a special script, software program or just a simple page that redirects user from the entered url to your desired page. It could be just a simple redirection page, while it could also be a ‘framed’ page. Framed pages could show 2 or more websites on the same browser window and display only one website url.

E.g. visitor clicks on the link 

and his/her browser is automatically redirected to your desired affiliate program’s url: (affiliate-name contains your username on affiliate program’s system).

On a framed page the visitor’s browser will display , even if the page loaded inside the browser’s window is your affiliate program’s page. So the basic working principle of affiliate link cloaker is to create a framed page on your website’s domain to display the affiliate program’s page in the browser and hide your affiliate program link at the same time.

Such small piece of software program or script allows you to solve all 3 above mentioned main problems.

Link cloakers allow you to:

  1. Make your affiliate links ‘invisible’ for your visitors

    Affiliate link cloakers can easily encrypt your ‘obvious affiliate link’ and make it ‘not so obvious’. With the help of affiliate cloakers you can easily turn your affiliate link:


    or make it look like this one:

    Once you have this kind of cloaked url, the affiliate program’s website URL is not visible, so when a visitor clicks on your link, he/she doesn’t know where the link goes. The visitor can’t find out the direct link to your affiliated products website (or sales page). Moreover, if you use an affiliate network, the visitor won’t know exactly if there is any network used.

    The problem #1 is solved!

  2. Hide your affiliate IDs

    Once link cloaker cloaks your link in a way that your affiliate ID is not visible, the visitor can’t delete you as affiliate. What is more, they don’t know whether it’s an affiliate link or a real link to some kind of a product.

    Problem #2 is solved!

  3. Your affiliate ID just can’t be replaced by visitor’s own ID

    Because of the reasons stated above, your website visitors just can’t find out where this cloaked link leads and to which affiliate program it belongs, so they CAN’T clean cookies and just replace your affiliate ID with their own. This way affiliate link cloaker saves you from loosing a deserved affiliate commission.

    Problem #3 is also solved!

  4. You make your cloaking links more search engine friendly

    You can easily create cloaked links with some keywords inserted to the URL. Let’s say you promote an ebook that shows people how to repair LCD monitors. So you can easily cloak the ugly affiliate url with your affiliate id into a good looking, keyword rich and search engine friendly link, e.g.:

  5. Encrypts your affiliate urls with Html UNICODE format

    You might say that it is quite easy for visitor to find out if the page: is only a framed page. During the redirection process all you need to do is just to right-click on the page and select "View Source" from the browser’s menu. Your affiliate url might be visible.

    But link cloaking software can easily encrypt your affiliate url, so the real url would not be shown. All the visitors could see are just some special characters and digits on your url.

    E.g. can be easily encrypted into this kind of coding:


    So it is not that obvious for any visitor to find out where is the actual url leading. Basically, you can’t understand anything from these digits…

    The Internet browser decodes such urls and leads the visitors to your desired page. Moreover, the affiliate cloaker software usually uses additional code on the framed page to disable right click. If you try to right-click and "View Source" to check the source code of the page, you get the warning that you can’t view the source of the page.

    This way your visitors are not even able to view the source code of the framed page. This prevents them from finding out even simple html tags.

How to cloak your affiliate links easily and safely?

There are online link cloaking services, paid link cloaking softwares and many other ways to cloak your link. However, the thing is that a lot of affiliate cloaking services or softwares might cloak your affiliate link in such way that affiliate cookie might NOT be placed correctly on your visitor’s browser.

In other words, some services might encrypt your affiliate links so that once a visitor enters your cloaked link and is redirected to your affiliate URL, the cookie is not properly set in visitor’s browser (especially in browsers with higher security settings) and the visitor IS NOT tracked properly on the affiliated product’s system (affiliate network).

This means that you might easily lose your affiliate commissions because of these cloakings.

How to find out if the cloaking is working correctly and you are not losing your affiliate commissions? That’s simple: just enter your cloaked link, then click on ‘buy now’ button as if you would be a real buyer and check if affiliate program displays your affiliate ID.

E.g. on Click2Sell.EU you can easily check this by cloaking your affiliate url, then visiting it and clicking on Click2Sell buy now button. Once you are in the checkout page, ‘Affiliate’ line with your name should be displayed near the product’s description.

What are the safe ways to cloak your affiliate link?

Piece of cake! Use .htaccess file cloaking.

How to set this kind of cloaking properly?

Let’s say you have this affiliate link for your product:

You want to cloak and make it look like this url:

It’s easy… Just follow these steps:

  1. Open your .htaccess file (you can find it at your public_html or www dir on your webhosting account)

    Advice: make sure you backup your existing .htaccess file before uploading the new one. In case something goes wrong – you could easily overwrite it with the original version of file.

  2. Enter this line in your .htaccess file:

    Redirect /lcd-monitor-repair-tips-online/

  3. Save your .htaccess file and re-upload it to your webserver.

  4. Create a new directory lcd-monitor-repair-tips-online with your FTP client on your webhost

    As you can see /lcd-monitor-repair-tips-online/ is a directory created on your web hosting account. Once you try to access it automatically redirects your visitor to .
    You can create any-directory-you-want , so your cloaked link will look like:


This way is a safe way to cloak your affiliate campaign links and you can be sure that your affiliate commissions will never be lost.

Used information: "Affiliate Link Cloaker" by James S. Huggins

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