Why I Always Mask Affiliate Links

In the past I didn’t mask affiliate links because it seemed a little deceptive in my mind. I owned a website, wrote high quality content and was not ashamed to be an affiliate. Why go through all the trouble to mask my affiliate links then? Well, I eventually found out there are a few reasons why affiliate links should be masked.

1. Conversions

Masked affiliate links increase conversions because they look cleaner than raw affiliate links. When you recommend a product with a link, the default affiliate link usually looks something like this:

  • www.affiliatesnowlol.com/ref/1038483.htm

That link just looks sketchy. If your visitor hovers his mouse over the link and sees that mess, he is less likely to click on the link. A typical masked affiliate link looks something like this:

  • www.mywebsite.com/coolproduct/

The domain is recognizable and the link is descriptive. It looks a lot more “legit” in the eyes of the average computer user. Masking your affiliate links is one of the simplest ways to increase conversions at any website. It doesn’t matter if you run a major online file storage website or a website about handmade bird feeders; masked affiliate links get conversions.

I can remember back when I was a regular web surfer and had no experience whatsoever as an affiliate marketer. I was always skeptical of affiliate links and for some reason, I refused to click on them. Looking back on this, I have no idea why I did this. I just felt like someone was trying to trick me into buying something, so I always opened a new tab and typed the URL in manually.

Now that I know what it’s like on the other side of the fence, I am more than happy to give people credit for a sale if they convince me to try a product. However, I am no longer your typical web visitor. People have naturally become more skeptical thanks to massive scamming, spamming and fraud online.

2. Changing affiliate links

This advantage his huge but I didn’t realize it until I had a 100+ page website and one of my affiliate programs decided to change all affiliate links. This resulted in me having to go through every single page on my website and manually update the link. It was a major waste of time and I’m sure I missed a few links.

If you use a simple redirection plugin (explained below) to mask your affiliate links, you can change every link across your entire site by altering one little link in the backend of your website. The change is instant, easy and does not miss links.

3. Click tracking

Not all affiliate programs offer decent click tracking capabilities. With a redirection in place, you can track how many times your links are clicked. You can also experiment with different links/advertisements by setting up different affiliate links in the backend. That way, you can see which links or ads get the most clicks.

Easiest Way to Mask Affiliate Links

The easiest way to mask affiliate links is to use a simple WordPress plugin called Redirection. All you have to do is install the plugin on your blog, enter your ugly affiliate links and then type in a nice, clean link instead. Whenever someone clicks on your nice pretty link, redirection sends that person on through your affiliate links.

If you don’t have WordPress, you can set up affiliate links manually by editing the .htaccess file in your server’s main public folder. This method is a little riskier because the .htaccess file is something that you don’t want to mess up. However, redirects are not very difficult to set up. First, you’ll need to download the .htaccess file from your server. Then, you need to open it with notepad (not Word).

Add a new line that looks like this:

  • Redirect /coolproduct/ http://www.affiliatesnowlol.com/ref/1038483.htm

You can replace “coolproduct” with anything you want. The next part of the link is your actual affiliate links. If you use the above redirect, you can insert the following link:

  • http://www.mywebsite.com/coolproduct/

….anywhere you want on your website. Whenever someone clicks on that link, htaccess will automatically redirect that person to the real affiliate link.

This free guest post was written by:
Wes is a full time affiliate marketer who has worked in a wide variety of niches online. His latest and most aggressive project to date is www.onlinefilestorage.com.

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