There are many reasons why you should cloak affiliate links. There is a rumor going around saying that if you cloak your affiliate link, Google won’t be able to find out that you are using an affiliate link. However, trust me, they know; they will not be fooled by those cloaking scripts. As long as you do not stuff your site with full of affiliate links, then you should be fine. Nevertheless, the following are the most obvious reasons that I think you should cloak affiliate links:
1. Leaking PageRank
Any affiliate link should be nofollow, because you do not want to leak your PageRank to advertisers. Even though Matt Cutts mentioned that Google will not count affiliate links because those links are easy to spot and be ignored, still I think it is best to cloak it and make it nofollow.
Most affiliate links are pretty easy to spot and they don’t usually look clean. Also if you have ads blocker installed, those links will not be appeared. So that if you have a button with an affiliate link hyperlink to it, that button won’t be showing. On the other hand, with the cloaking affiliate link, the link will look much cleaner, and ads blocker will not block the link or the button.
3. Easy to manage
Most cloaking tools/plugins have pretty neat system that can help you manage affiliate links very well. Also, if you wan to change any links, you can just go to one place and change it, no longer you need go to a post by a post, and manually to change them.
Now, we know some benefits of cloaking affiliate links, let’s move on how to actually cloak affiliate links.
First, you need to connect to FTP or file manager, and then browse to the root directory of your domain. Open the robots.txt file (if you don’t have one, you can always create one using notepad), and add the following code to it, and save it
note: you can change “site” to whatever you think it will look good.
Now, after that is done, go back to wp-admin dashboard, and then install WordPress Redirection plugin.
After that is done, go to Tools -> Redirection, and click Add new redirection.
So basically, you will add something like this
and in the Target Url file, enter your affiliate link, and then click the Add Redirection button.
After that is done, modify the HTTP code from “301″ to a “302″. The reason for “302”, so Google will not pass the juice over to advertiser. Of course, you can use 301, but you need to manually no follow the link. You can follow whichever you think it is easier for you. Of course, you can also use plugins such as Pretty Link and ThirstyAffiliates. Hopefully, this article is helpful for anyone having trouble to cloak the links. As always, leave a comment if you have any question or doubt.