How to Cloak Your Affiliate Links

Hey there! Some links on this page are affiliate links which means that, if you choose to make a purchase, I may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. I greatly appreciate your support!

If you're serious about affiliate marketing, you must cloak or hide your affiliate links. In this post, I'll discuss what link cloaking is and why you should cloak your affiliate links.

What is link cloaking?

Cloaking an affiliate link is disguising or hiding an affiliate link URL that is provided by the affiliate program to hide your affiliate ID.

  • Cloaking affiliate links protect your affiliate commissions from hijacking scripts.
  • Link cloaking can include your URL as a part of your link.
  • Cloaking also helps you brand your URLs.

This is a CLOAKED LINK that includes my url

Link shortening vs link cloaking

Many people are using the terms “link shortening” and “cloaking” interchangeably but they are not the same.

Link shortening is making a link shorter. You can shorten links with,, or other link shrinking services. Link shortening is just one way to “cloak” your affiliate links and create short URLs that are easy to share.

Any type of link shortening will help you protect your affiliate links from commission hijacking.

Here's an example of a link that is shortened with

This is a URL of an article on my website

This is a link that is shortened by

bitly - link shortener can cloak your affiliate links

Why should you cloak your affiliate links?

Here are some of the reasons why affiliates should cloak affiliate links:

  • Visitors will be more likely to trust a link and click on a link that includes your domain than on in a weird-looking affiliate link. Cloaking makes your affiliate links more appealing to visitors and will increase your click-through rate or CTR.
  • Cloaking protects your affiliate commissions by disguising your actual link and by making the affiliate ID less visible. It hides your affiliate IDs from scripts (malware) that look for links with affiliate IDs and try to steal your commissions by replacing your affiliate link with theirs. Cloaking your links hides your affiliate IDs and stops this type of attack.
  • Cloaking can increase the deliverability of your emails that have affiliate links in them.
  • Most cloaking systems allow you to track your clicks so you can check your analytics and see how well your promotions are performing.
  • Some of  the best cloaking systems can track conversions. Conversion tracking will show you which strategies work and save you time and money on ineffective promotions.
  • Cloaking is also good for SEO (search engine optimization) as Google may penalize sites that have too many affiliate links. In some affiliate management plugins and software you can make your links “no follow” links. The screen image below shows how you can do that with Pretty Links.
pretty links help you cloak your affiliate links -  image shows no follow settings

How to Manage Your Affiliate Links

In addition to cloaking, affiliate plugins help you manage your affiliate links. They store your links in one place and make it easy to find them and easily search for them by name.

The biggest benefit of a link management program like Pretty Links is that you can edit a URL in one place and it will update every link on your site.

This comes in very handy when a merchant changes an affiliate link. When you don't use a link management plugin, you would have to edit every single link in every post where you used that link!

How to cloak your affiliate links

There are several WordPress plugins that cloak and manage affiliate links. Some have better tracking capabilities than others. The best cloaking and affiliate management plugins are Pretty Links and Thirsty Affiliates. They are very similar but each has a few unique things that the other one doesn't.

What they both do:

  • They make your affiliate link URLs shorter.
  • The pro version of both plugins provides good link tracking.
  • They make it easy to edit affiliate links. Here's why this is important: If a product link changes, you can replace all the links you have on your site for that product with the revised links by making 1 change in their system.
  • Both have automatic keyword linking.

1 – How to Cloak Your Affiliate Links With Pretty Links
(Free – Pro version is $59/year)

pretty links link shortening and cloaking

This is the plugin I'm using to cloak and manage my affiliate links. It's my cloaking plugin of choice as it’s simple to use and yet effective. The lite version is free and perfectly adequate for most needs. You can download it here.

Here are some of the benefits Pretty Links provides that make affiliate marketing easier:

  • Pretty Links is very easy to use.
  • Pretty Links helps you cloak, shorten, beautify, track, manage and share your affiliate links.
  • It enables you to shorten links using your own domain name. You can't do that with link shrinking services like or
  • It's easy to cloak your links with Pretty Links. Just add a link, customize the URL, and choose the type of redirection you want to use.
  • Tracking: You can see how often people have clicked on a link (even in the free version).
  • It's easy to manage your links.
  • You can set up link groups to organize your affiliate links (Pro version).
  • It's super easy to update your affiliate link when your URL changes. This can happen when a merchant changes some of their web pages or affiliate software or system they're using. When an affiliate URL changes, you only have to make one change in one place.
  • Pretty Links' link shortener is easier to set up than Thirsty Affiiates's shortener,
  • Pretty Links tracks each hit on your URL and provides a full, detailed report of where the hit came from, the browser, OS, and host.

The free version is adequate for most needs. You can download it here.

The pro version gives you additional benefits:

  • Advanced redirect types
  • Auto-create Pretty Links
  • Auto-link keywords
  • Get support and updates

The Pro version adds many tools and redirection types that will allow you to create pretty links automatically, replace keywords throughout your blog with Pretty Links, categorize and tag your Pretty Links and more. You can learn more about Pretty Links here.

2 – Cloak Your Affiliate Links With Thirsty Affiliates (Pro version is $49/year+)

Thirsty Affiliates has more features than other free link-cloaking plugins but you have to pay for some of the add-ons. The free version is good for most users. You can download Thirsty Affiliates here.

Here are a few things that you can do with Thirsty Affiliates that Pretty Links doesn't provide:

  • Schedule links
  • Auto health check for your links.
  • You can receive notifications e.g. when your links got a certain number of clicks
  • Direct import of Amazon Associates settings (amazon API importing)
  • Geographic redirects

3 – Cloak Your Affiliate Links With WP Auto Affiliates (Free)

This free link cloaking plugin allows you to associate certain keywords with affiliate links and then automatically cloaks them for you as a link. Some users claim it quadruples their affiliate earnings. You can download Auto Affiliate Links here.

4- Lasso ($19/month)

Lasso alerts you when affiliate links are broken or out of stock. You can fix the URL in one place and it will update every link on your site.

Your Amazon product information is always up to date. Enter any Amazon URL and Lasso will grab the product title, image and price automatically and update that data every 24 hours.

Cloaking your links will make you a more successful affiliate. If you haven't done so already, start cloaking your affiliate links now!

Affiliate Marketing Resources
To Help You Jumpstart Your Affiliate Sales

There are many resources that can help you get started in affiliate marketing. The hard part is finding the right advice. It’s important to choose the right resources so you don’t get overwhelmed or confused or get inaccurate, outdated information. Below are some resources I recommend.

Would you like to learn from someone who makes $50,000 a month from affiliate marketing? 

Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing.

If you want to learn affiliate marketing from someone who’s making $50,000 a month in affiliate marketing, I recommend getting Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing.

I was intrigued by Michelle Schroeder’s income reports and bought Michelle’s course, Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing at the end of December 2018.

Even though I’ve been an affiliate marketer for many years, Michelle reminded me of some strategies I hadn’t implemented. I also found some areas I can improve on. So, I am gradually implementing some of Michele’s recommendations to increase my own affiliate sales (although I’m making steady affiliate sales). It’s a course you have to read more than once to really get what’s making Michele the kind of money she’s making.

You can read my review of Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing here. Or get Michelle's book at her site at Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing.

Ready to Get Started in Affiliate Marketing?

Learn from someone who is making $50,000+ a month in affiliate marketing!

Recommendation #1:
Michelle’s course: Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing

making sense of affiliate marketing

If you want to learn from someone who’s making $50,000 a month in affiliate marketing, I highly recommend getting Michelle’s course, Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing.

Michelle’s free ebook
Affiliate Marketing Tips for Bloggers

free affiliate marketing ebook

Recommended Reading

Do you have an affiliate program of your own?

If you have your own affiliate program, you don’t want to be legally liable for your affiliates’ mistakes! Protect yourself with this Affiliate Agreement template that is created by Amira, a lawyer and blogger. Her affiliate template includes all the affiliate terms and conditions you must have your affiliates accept. Get it here.

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