There are a number of ways, and reasons, to shorten, or cloak, affiliate links and any other type of hyperlink for that matter.
The two ways I am going to discuss are;
- Using Free URL Shorteners
- Making Your Own Server Side Redirect
First off what is cloaked/shortened URL, or link?
Here’s a good example….
My Buy.com Affiliate link which is from this ad banner;
and the raw ugly link;
The link being structured this way is unfavorable because I can’t remember it, and users may not be interested in clicking it.
What happens in the event that I want to include it in a comment at a blog or forum, or a status update using social networking? Or even a small text ad? An email? Nothing, because that’s too much data for “on the go” assault marketing.
So we need to shorten our affiliate links to make them more marketer friendly for us and user friendly for our loved ones, the customer.
I’d like it to be like this; http://vizfact.com/buy.html
or better yet, Buy.com
Lovely isn’t it?
URL shorteners work, somewhat, in the same way. The only way I would recommend using them is if you host your website for free and don’t have a file manager, or your home domain is already extremely long.
The process is more commonly referred to, as a “redirect”.
The steps to perform a local URL redirect, which simply means a html redirect through your web host, is to follow the following steps;
1. Log into your hosting control panel
2. Open your file manager (it may be called something different, but this is the most used term)
3. Access your directory
4. Created a blank html document
5. Name it whatever you’d like, for this example, buy.html resulting in http://vizfact.com/buy.html
6. Copy & paste this redirect code into the top of the blank .html document you just created;
<meta HTTP-EQUIV=”REFRESH” content=”0; url=http://affiliate.buy.com/fs-bin/click?id=6NoCcZphfUE&offerid=229300.10000394&type=4&subid=0“>
7. Change the URL, shown in red, to the URL, or website link, of your choice.(the blue “0” [zero] is the timer; so the zero represent 0.00 seconds. 1 would be one second)
8. Save the file.
9. Test it out!
Need a free URL shortener because you don’t have a website or use free hosting?
Benefits of Using Your Own Web Hosting Provider To Shorten URL’s
1. This is my favorite, imagine if you have 90 or so, shortened/cloaked links out there for buy.com, then Buy.com closes down, or either cancels their affiliate program. All you would have to do is log into your web hosting account, go to your file manager, and change the URL the redirect is set to land on.
2. So in effect, you could update 90, already embedded in cyberspace, affiliate links at one time to redirect the user to where ever you want them to go. I like that kind of future proofing, which isn’t granted or by using url shorteners.
3. They would also be easy to remember and keyword friendly, if I chose.
4. Also, my users would know its one of my links and will trust it, and will click it.
5. If someone copies my material the link will still work, and they can’t change the “landing” URL either. They would have to manually update it with a new link, which is rare when dealing with plagiarists.
6. You wouldn’t have to worry about ads (that you are getting paid for) or other shenanigans popping up during the redirect process.
7. For the most part you, the publisher, get total control of that links traffic and where it goes, for life, no matter where it is located.
If this has helped you, or enlightened you, please share it with others.