Categories: Crawling, indexing & ranking :

Affiliate link cloaking

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Affiliate link cloaking silyavski 7/15/12 5:19 AM
before i resubmit a web site with 100% original content i need to know if this is a problem. I use plugin in WP that cloaks my links. Instead of the long link i have sth like mysite/favourite/product name. I have the plugin to "no follow" and the robots to Disallow: /favourite/

Is this a problem o no? Nowhere i can see a straight answer. I use this to organize all of my links from one place and the links to look great if i post them at other places.
Re: Affiliate link cloaking Pelagic 7/15/12 5:51 AM
Although many call it affiliate link cloaking, its actually link masking, personally I consider it equally as bad as cloaking and equally deceptive to the user.
Re: Affiliate link cloaking silyavski 7/15/12 5:55 AM
I dont see a moral problem with it when i state it and have a disclosure policy at my blog where clearly i say that i can eventually earn from that
Re: Affiliate link cloaking webado 7/15/12 5:56 AM
While it might not be considered webspam as such (due to the rel="nofollow" bit) it is rather a poor user experience. I, the visitor, don't know that when I click what appears to be a link on your site I may end up on some other site. My anti-virus link checker is unable to know in advance that the link is going to get redirected elsewhere which may be a malicious site, by then it's too late.

I don't recommend it. Use the real raw affiliate link with rel="nofollow".
Re: Affiliate link cloaking webado 7/15/12 6:05 AM
>> dont see a moral problem with it when i state it and have a disclosure policy at my blog where clearly i say that i can eventually earn from that

I do.
Re: Affiliate link cloaking Pelagic 7/15/12 6:06 AM
So let me ask you, why are you masking these links ?

Re: Affiliate link cloaking silyavski 7/15/12 6:10 AM
If my site and that posts looks spammy to you/ / and to google, then i say "This is too bad" . Because i am very knowledgable on the subject. 

What do you thing is better to be in the 1rts page of google for my key word. A  review from a person like me who knows his job, has 25 years experience on dog training  and points to the cheapest products on various sellers.  Or 10 shops that each preach they sell the best and know their jobs. By the way this site is not showimg on search results from a week. 100% originaaly written by me, 100% photos taken by me, 100% vector art ordered personally by me to an artist, made especially for that site. I still dont know why i am not in search results. I believe some links problem, Cause i saw links that i did not made. In fact i made a couple of posts to other blogs and some directory submissions. I dont know what is happening and what is the real problem. I go in links in Google Webmaster and see links that i have not made.

Re: Affiliate link cloaking silyavski 7/15/12 6:16 AM
Because i read that should be masked.Thats what all say in warrior forum and SEO blogs. I am into this from one month. I am newbie and do as other say
Re: Affiliate link cloaking webado 7/15/12 6:19 AM
You picked the spammers to follow.
Re: Affiliate link cloaking silyavski 7/15/12 6:24 AM
Unfortunately. Cause i heard it benefits you some how. Obviously  even if i was not penalized for this, i reconsider now and will straighten whats wrong. Thanks for the insights!
Re: Affiliate link cloaking silyavski 7/15/12 6:31 AM
That is why i am here, not somewhere else. I made some mistakes but what i learned these days is something very simple. There is no such thing as SEO. There is a bunch of clever trick that work and after a time when G figures them, they can be real trouble. 

The Seo is to read the Guidelines and thats what i am doing now. I see so many people on the forums buying "secrets" and have never even read the guidelines, like me just 2 weeks ago.
Re: Affiliate link cloaking webado 7/15/12 6:38 AM

Re: Affiliate link cloaking Pelagic 7/15/12 6:40 AM
I would ignore everything stated on that particular forum and 99.9% of SEO blogs.

What you are intentionally doing is hiding those links from Googlebot by Disallow: /products/ , when you could just nofollow those affiliate links. As they are Amazon affiliate links, G will handle them automatically so that they don't pass PR anyway ;)

Your question is about masking those links, no one has criticized the content of your site, it looks very good :) what you need to realise is that Google are not anti affiliate sites, they are just anti thin low quality zero added value affiliates.

Re: Affiliate link cloaking yamsher 7/15/12 6:40 AM
This really is not a problem and in fact as an affiliate marketer this process is an absolute must for you for the following reasons:

1. It removes the long ugly looking affiliate link that people hate to see and click on.

2. It protects you from affiliate link theft and someone stealing you potential sale that you did all the hard work for.

3. It stops the person clicking on the link from removing your affiliate link and you not getting credit for the sale if they buy something.

Most people not into affiliate marketing will not understand the need to do this and the reason why these methods exist.

Now that being said, you should also make it clear they are leaving your site and going to another one when they click the link. I do this by letting them know in the article or by tagging the image or link they click on.

For example and instead of them seeing something this:

They will see something like maybe with a tag so when they hover over the link it says going to the 'Business Name'

Hope this helps.

Re: Affiliate link cloaking Pelagic 7/15/12 6:51 AM
Yamsher, I disagree on all three points

1: The length of the url is irrelevant, it gets truncated when hovering above it anyway, what users want to see is where that link actually takes them to, a page on the same site or to an external site, in this case its a trusted site > Amazon, I would happily click on that ;)

2+3: Complete Nonsense ;(

Re: Affiliate link cloaking webado 7/15/12 6:52 AM
Nonsense. The only purpose is spamming.
Re: Affiliate link cloaking yamsher 7/15/12 7:42 AM
I have been doing affiliate marketing long enough to know what works and what doesn't and have made enough comparisons to see what methods work best.

1. Simple fact: Long ugly affiliate links are are less likely to get clicked, Amazon of course is well known and trusted so you can not use them as a fair example.

And there is nothing wrong as long as you are honest and tell them they are going to another site.

2 + 3: I have lost many sales in the past due to this very reason and since i have implemented these methods my sales have increased drastically.

If you are an affiliate marketer, you could be losing sales and probably are and do not even know it.

So, It is not nonsense. It is just smart affiliate marketing practices and nothing wrong with it as long as you are not upfront about it with your articles and linking.

I have never had an issue with it.
Re: Affiliate link cloaking yamsher 7/15/12 7:44 AM
Has nothing to do with spamming...LOL  If they come to your site by finding you through a Google search and you tell then they are going to another site for the product or service, how is that spamming???
Re: Affiliate link cloaking silyavski 7/15/12 7:53 AM
That is why i started this thread in first place. I believe its high time to hear an Oficial Guide Line that treats Exactly this subject. For now i took away this plugin from one of my punished webs and will submit it for reconsideration. What is still dont get is should i "nofolow" the afiliate links or G is clever enough to recognise Ebay and Amazon?
Re: Affiliate link cloaking webado 7/15/12 8:02 AM
You have to nofollow them.
Re: Affiliate link cloaking yamsher 7/15/12 8:03 AM
I use no follow on affiliate links. I think a lot of this comes down to people not really being educated on many of these subjects and have certain opinions on them without really even knowing why.

Let me use an example: I am sure everyone reading and commenting on this post has used or seen Twitter at some point.

If I was to use the URL of this post I would use a service like TinyUR to shorten the link from:


So how is that any different from doing the same with an affiliate link? Is Twitter allowing spam or dubious links?
Re: Affiliate link cloaking silyavski 7/15/12 8:03 AM
I found an answer from just before a week
Re: Affiliate link cloaking Pelagic 7/15/12 8:04 AM
Re: Affiliate link cloaking silyavski 7/15/12 8:06 AM
I dont like url shorteners. When they close, if you posted links on forums, i mean real informative stuff, everything dies. Also most of them use that as a strategy for backlinking and money making from your links.
Re: Affiliate link cloaking yamsher 7/15/12 8:14 AM
I was just using it as an example. It is the same thing as changing your affiliate link, yet no one well tell Twitter or TinyURL they are being dubious, misleading or spamming people.

By the way, what is the name of the WordPress plugin you were using? I am a coder/developer so I developed my own my system because I really don't like to use plugins when I can help it. Also I have built campaign tracking stats into mine.
Re: Affiliate link cloaking yamsher 7/15/12 8:36 AM
According to this article
 What we do with affiliate links is fine by Google and not considered cloaking.

"Based on the above, it all boils down to the intent of the cloaking. Are you trying to trick Google into believing something about your webpage that it’s really not? If you are, you’re asking for trouble… If you aren’t, and cloaking your affiliate links to make them more manageable (and/or secure) — as discussed in my Affiliate Link Cloaking post back in May 2009 — you should be okay."
Re: Affiliate link cloaking silyavski 7/15/12 9:00 AM
The plug in is an old one GoCodes and was working perfectly with latest WP. Its very simple one. I dont have my web banned from ranking because of this, it was just another  stupid mistake i made. But have unlisted other web for no obvious reason., so i am now going through anything that can cause a problem and deciding if i really need it or no. Even a 8 page web like the last one i mention, took some serious research for the posts. I spend like 20-30 hours researching for just one post, so i don't want unnecessary risks taken here. I am not sure if Seo Yoast plugin is not stuffing something too much. 

About the intent, i really dont see how they will do it without manualy revising my web, which i believe is not the case. Sth is wrong, but i still dont know what 
Re: Affiliate link cloaking webado 7/15/12 9:19 AM

According to  yamsher   it's OK so it must be OK.

You're making a ring around the rosie trying to justify your actions and "beliefs" and never once are you referring to Webmaster  guidelines and best practices.
Re: Affiliate link cloaking yamsher 7/15/12 9:32 AM
Apparently you have not read it yourself nor have you offered any evidence to support what you say against it. Show me something that says it is a clear cut violation of Google guidelines.
Re: Affiliate link cloaking Pam T 7/15/12 10:20 AM
YOU need to read the Amazon Affilate Operating Agreement.  Amazon does not allow link cloaking. 
Re: Affiliate link cloaking yamsher 7/15/12 10:23 AM
Okay so for everybody that thinks masking your affiliate links to make them more secure and better looking is a bad policy.

Answer this. Why does Google itself have a URL Shortener Service and how does that differ? Google URL Shortener.

Take this forum link:!categories/webmasters/crawling-indexing--ranking

Add it to the Google URL Shortener and it becomes: and same when you hover over it. So the user has no idea at all where this link will take them.

Explain to me what is different about this process? Would you all be making the same comments if he was using this service to mask his links?

The URL for this post id
Re: Affiliate link cloaking silyavski 7/15/12 10:42 AM
That was a good one! 
Re: Affiliate link cloaking webado 7/15/12 10:55 AM
If you have not yet noticed checks the health of the links being shortened.

I believe most of the legitimate url shorteners do too.

None of the links in their forum are followed and none are affiliate links profiting the owner (i.e. Google) in any way. Nor would they profit anybody, least of all the spammers who try their hand at spamming here, if we forgot to report them for spam.

Re: Affiliate link cloaking yamsher 7/15/12 11:46 AM
First let me say, I hate Spammers more than anybody. I manage over a dozen sites and I am sick to death of comment spam, email spam and all the rest I have had to moderate over the years and have done everything possible to combat them.


Let us be clear on what spam is. I see both sides here and I understand both.

As a person using a site, I want to know where I am going and what I am viewing. I cant stand popups, redirects and any type of message that blocks what I am reading, it really irritates me.

But as an affiliate marketer I also worked hard to get that traffic to my site. And if i feel the need to mask my URL so that my affiliate link cannot be changed, hacked or stolen and safeguard my investment, I should be able to do that as long as I am being open about it and saying to the user, when you click here you will be sent to so and so's site.

And I think that is what Google is saying.

Cloaking is showing Googlebot one set of content and the user a completely different set of content under the same URL. Its not changing a link format to make it looks nicer and more secure. If Google follows that link it will bring them to the same location as the user and I believe that is ok.

If anyone has some other knowledge or is privy to some facts about this, please feel free to share it and enlighten me, by all means.

I have been using the same methods for a few years now and have had no issues with Google, Yahoo or Bing at all and my sites are much healthier for it.
Re: Affiliate link cloaking JohnMu 7/16/12 6:43 AM
Hi Boyan

Generally speaking, using tools like that to obfuscate your links isn't something that we'd worry about. That said, it doesn't change anything from our point of view: Our algorithms expect unique, compelling, and high-quality content on your site. Whether you're an affiliate or not, it's important to us that users are able to find what they're looking for on your site -- otherwise they might be better served by having the final destination in our search results. It doesn't matter so much that a link is an affiliate link, or where the ultimate target is (and with that in mind, it doesn't provide any additional "SEO" benefit to hide that from search engines), it's really much more about the additional value that your pages add. 

We have more about affiliate programs at & in general about duplicate content (a common problem with many affiliate sites) at 

Personally, given that hiding affiliate links like that is not going to sway our algorithms, I'd try to avoid those kinds of games (with the associated maintenance hassle) and instead spend time working on the website overall. 

Hope that helps!
(unknown) 7/25/12 6:39 PM <This message has been deleted.>
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