What is Link Cloaking?
Simply put, link cloaking takes links and rearranges or replaces them so that they look different from the human eye and software (eg search engines, spam blockers, etc.). A good example of link cloaking is the very popular TinyURL application. TinyURL requires long links and creates shorter redirect links that are easier to use and easier to remember. Link cloaking, basically, is the practice of hiding (blurring) the actual text from a link.
The most common form of link cloaking is on individual websites where third party links are made to look like they point to another page on the site. This is very commonEmail Marketing Tips – Cloaking Links practice with affiliate links but can be useful for a number of reasons. The following are some reasons for engaging in link cloaking practices.
Reason # 1 for Using Cloaking Links
Perhaps the most interesting reason to use link cloaking is to prevent link juice from passing. In practice, this is not the same as using the rel = “no follow” attribute and value in HTML. Remember that link juices are references to link points and how they affect your search ranking. When you link to a website, you lose a little link juice. When a website links to you, you get link juice. The more link juice you have, the better your PageRank and hence your search engine ranking.
URL shortening software products, such as TinyURL, use 302 redirects, which are temporary redirects. Most search engines will discount such links and therefore will not transfer any link juice from your site when they find it. This practice is very useful for affiliate links because it solves two problems in one step. The first problem is you don’t want to transfer your link juice to your affiliate. The second problem associated with solving cloaking revolves around customers who read your affiliate link and then bypass it. This last problem is discussed in the next section.
It’s probably one of the last things that beginning email marketers think about, but cloaking links in your email is a very important part of the process for many reasons. However, there are problems with the process because of the services people use to cloak their links. This article is going to explore this issue in some depth. So sit back and relax.
Okay, the first question we probably have to answer is this one. “Why cloak links in the first place” Well, there are several reasons. For one thing, if you’re promoting affiliate products in the make money online niche, not cloaking them is suicide. This is an open invitation for a marketer to simply replace your affiliate ID with his own, thus stealing your commission.
Another reason is because of the economy. Those of you who use an autoresponder service like Aweber will know what I’m talking about. In order to keep email lines within a certain length so that they can be easily read by most email programs, Aweber displays a format so that you know exactly where that cutoff is. Long URLs will go beyond this point. Therefore, we need a cloak to shorten the URL to a size that will fit.
Still, yet another reason is to make the URL easier for people to remember. Some URLs are so long that there is just no way that they’re going to remember the whole thing. So cloaking will take care of this problem.