What Is The Best Way To Shorten or Hide (Cloak / Mask) Your Affiliate Links, So That you Get More clicks?
In this article...
So you’ve chosen a product to promote as an affiliate, you’ve generated your affiliate link but there’s one problem…. it’s ugly as hell.
It looks something like this:
So, what do you do?
Glad you asked.
The answer is simple…
You shorten the link.
Pretty it up a bit.
Make it look a bit more attractive.
The “what” is easy, the “how” is where the secret is.
So HOW do you shorten your butt ugly affiliate links?
Well, there’s a few ways to do it…
You could use a service called Bitly, but spammers use that, so we’ll give that one a miss.
You could use Google’s own free link shortener, but unless you’re absolutely fine with Google shutting down your links without any notice, then I’d avoid that one aswell.
In fact there’s a whole bunch of link shorteners or link cloaking solutions that you could use, but use a bad one and you’ll wish you hadn’t.
There are several terms for hiding your links.
You might have heard of 1 or 2 of them.
The most common terms are:
- Affiliate Link Cloaking
- Affiliate Link Masking
There’s 3 services (and only 3) for this that I recommend you use and one of them is free.
- Pretty links (free)
- Joturl (paid)
- Clickmagick (paid).
Besides being affiliate link shorteners, they’re so much more than just shorteners.
They’re brilliant tools for tracking your affiliate marketing effectiveness aswell.
But I’ll cover that in a separate blog post.
So you’ve got 2 options, one is free, the other is paid.
And a special mention of clickmagick a little later in this blog post.
The paid solution Joturl is very inexpensive and that’s the one I’m going to show you now:
Joturl has one specific feature that most other link tracking tools completely miss.
And if your link cloaker doesn’t have this feature, you’re going to lose money…
When looking for a link cloaker, there’s one thing that almost always get’s overlooked by affiliate marketers.
Most affiliates use a cloaking tool to make their links look better to get more people clicking their affiliate links and that’s where most stop.
They create their link, make it look good and post it somewhere and forgot about it.
Which makes sense, because in our world, the more clicks you get, the more money you’ll make….all things being equal…right?
In actual fact, it could actually cost you money unless you implement the one thing I’m about to tell you..
Any link cloaker you choose, MUST have the ability to monitor links AFTER they have been created.
And by ‘monitor’, I mean, it has the ability to constantly and consistently check that you’re links are still pointing to active webpages.
When linking out to other websites, you don’t have any control over what the owner of that website does in the future.
If he decides to change the URL or move the page, or move to a new domain altogether, guess what, your link stops working.
And you’ll have no way of knowing, unless one of your visitors who clicked it, tells you it’s not working….which almost never happens.
Thankfully, Joturl has a way to check this built directly into their affiliate link tracking tool.
Here’s how to set it up inside Joturl:
Once you’ve created your link (instructions further down this blog post)
1. Go to “link options”:
2. Select the “security” feature:
3. Select “ping” and then click “Save”:
And that’s it!
Now, you can post your links with confidence.
Because if the content your linking to, ever disappears, Joturl will send you an alert straight away.
This feature alone is what makes Joturl a must-have link cloaking tool for any affiliate marketer.
Joturl’s Pricing is very cost affective, with plans starting at just $9 bucks a month.
They have a 14 day free trial aswell.
They have a lot of other cool features like:
- Click tracking
- Retargeting Pixel Tracking
- Custom Domains
And a lot more.
But at this point all we’re interested in is the ability to hide our affiliate or at the very least, make our ugly affiliate links look better and mask it’s appearance.
If you’re wondering what “masking” is?
Masking is just a term for hiding your naked affiliate link from view.
In Affiliate marketing it’s known as Affiliate link masking or URL cloaking.
And in this blog post you’re going to learn how to mask affiliate links quickly and easily.
It’s perfectly legal and ethical to mask affiliate links, in fact it’s something you should, for all the reasons I’m about to tell you below.
Using Joturl, I am going to make this link:
Look like this:
As you can see it will look a lot shorter and a lot cleaner.
Think about your own browsing habits, which link are you more likely to click?
The long ugly one or the nicer shorter one?
The short one right? Every. Single. Time.
And do you know how many affiliate marketers are doing this?
And the ones who are bothering to do this, are making a lot of cash because they’re getting their nice short affiliate links clicked on a lot more than all the other affiliates out there.
And more clicks = more cash.
So it’s worth learning this and doing it yourself and that’s what I’m going to show you now…
But before I show you HOW to hide your affiliate links, it’s worth keeping in mind why it’s so important hide your affiliate links and make them look better…
- Ugly links don’t get clicks.
Think about your own browsing.
Are you more likely to click a 20 character string link or a simple, clear one like this:
Simple & clear wins everytime.
And as an affiliate marketer, your success, meaning, money in the bank, depends on the amount of clicks you get on your links.
So hiding ugly links, doesn’t just look better, it’s just good business sense.
2. Stops your affiliate links being hijacked.
Yes it happens.
And it happens a lot.
The right person, who knows what they’re doing, could literally steal your affiliate commission’s if they can work out what your naked affiliate link is.
Affiliate links are made up of a string of unique characters that are unique to you, this how affiliate networks know to pay the right person.
If a rogue person was to figure this out, it’s very easy for your affiliate commission’s to be hijacked and your hard earned commission’s stolen.
And finally, Reason #3:
If email marketing is going to be part of your affiliate marketing strategy (and I highly recommend it is for all the reasons I mention here) then you’ll definitely want to change your affiliate link and shorten it.
Most of the popular email service providers like Gmail and Hotmail treat long ugly affiliate links as spam and can send your email to your subscribers spam folder.
Or in some cases even outright block your email from ever being sent.
That’s obviously bad news because there’s a high chance your subscribers will never see your emails.
By shortening your affiliate links before adding them to your email, means it’ll likely be flagged as ‘safe’ and delivered to your subscribers inbox correctly.
And here’s how to easily do it with Joturl.
Once you’ve created an account with Joturl, you’re dashboard will look like this:
Simply click “Add Tracking Link” and that will bring you to a screen that looks like this:
As you can see, all we do here is enter in our ugly clickbank affiliate tracking link and then click “save”…
And that’s it.
You’ll then be given a tracking link that looks like this:
See how much better that looks?
NOTE: in order to use Clickbank tracking links with Joturl, you will need to set up a custom domain name.
See this video:
So as you can see, in a few simple steps we are able to make our affiliate links look much shorter.
It also keeps our affiliate tracking links it hidden to stop our affiliate commissions being stolen and also to prevent any links we use in email marketing being marked as spam.
The Free Option…
The other option I wanted to give you (if $9 bucks a month is a stretch) is a free option.
Which is Pretty links. (Actual name). (website here)
And it’s a wordpress plugin, so although it’s free you need will need WordPress.
Joturl is a cloud based solution that doesn’t require wordpress to work, however, pretty links does.
Although the pretty links plugin itself is free (they do have a paid version) there will be a time investment involved and a cost.
- You’re going to have to set up a wordpress website.
- And for WordPress you’re going to need sufficient hosting.
- A Domain Name
Pretty links will use the domain name as your tracking link, so make sure whatever domain name you choose, it’s short.
Or it kind of defeats the point of what we’re doing here.
So just keep in mind, although pretty links is free there’s still a cost and time investment involved.
The free version of Pretty links does everything you’ll need to get started and as your affiliate marketing business grows, I recommend you either upgrade to their paid plan or move to Joturl.
Now, a word of warning…
As your affiliate business grows online, you’re going to have a lot of links and I’ll tell you outright, moving tracking solutions when you have a lot of links
can will be a nightmare.
That’s why the solutions I mention in this blog post are solid solutions and will still be useful as you grow.
So choose one with the intention of sticking with it forever.
With that being said, let’s take a look at the pretty links plugin…
In the quick video I made below, I’m using the free version of the Pretty Links plugin.
Pretty Links do have a paid option but their pricing is relatively inexpensive starting at $49/year for one website.
At this point, for the benefit of shortening our affiliate links and making them look better and more ‘clickable’ you only need the free version.
How to Install and Use The Pretty Links WordPress Plugin
Note: I recommend the domain you choose is SHORT. The pretty links plugin will you use that domain for your links. The domain I’m using in this video is just an example.
So as you can see, using the Pretty Links plugin is relatively straightforward.
If you don’t yet have a wordpress website setup, there a couple of ways you can do it.
- Set up a simple WordPress installation by following the steps outlined here: https://wordpress.org/support/article/how-to-install-wordpress/.
- Use your hosting ‘1 click WordPress install’. Most hosting providers have this included. Here are a few web host’s that offer this.
The last option I wanted to give you is an affiliate link tracking solution called Clickmagick.
Unlike Pretty Links, Clickmagick is a cloud tool.
This means you don’t need to install WordPress to use it, it works straight out of the box.
If I wasn’t curently using Joturl, Clickmagick would have been at the top of this blog post and would have my highest recommendation.
Clickmagick is an all-in-one marketing and affiliate link tracking tool.
And as such, it’s not free and it’s not the cheapest around.
The plans on Clickmagick start at $27.
It used to be cheaper than that when I was using it.
But even at Clickmagick’s current pricing it is still good value.
The features of clickmagick are extensive and for most of you, might be a bit too feature-rich.
But the upside of that is, it’s extremely robust, you’ll probably never need a different tool.
The only reason I stopped using it, is because the interface is a little bit dated.
Joturl displays data a little bit better than Clickmagick does.
But make no mistake, if joturl didn’t exist, I’d still be using Clickmagick now.
If you want to know more about Clickmagick, here’s a letter from the founder, Patrick Kelly:
ClickMagick also has a free trial.
So that wraps up my top 3 Affiliate link and Tracking tools.
As with everything on my blog, you don’t need to choose my recommendations, there’s a lot of solutions out there, some are good, some are bad.
It’s up to you if you want to find one yourself, but these that I’ve mentioned on this page are the best that I’ve used and tried myself.
If you enjoyed this blog post, don’t forget to access my ‘Affiliate Marketing On Crack‘ Mini-course. It’s free and you can get it here.