Tracking and cloaking links is a very important step for you as an affiliate. Tracking your links will help you see where your sales are coming from. Cloaking your links can help with Search Engine Optimization, click through rate, and in preventing affiliate theft. Understanding how to do each of these is key to increasing your income as an affiliate marketer.
First, let’s discuss cloaking links. If you’ve ever seen the way affiliate links tend to look, you’ll agree that they are quite ugly! Many people are fearful of links that they are not familiar and will not click them. This can dramatically decrease your conversions.
Wouldn’t you rather click a link that looks like: http://yourdomain.com/clearyouracneinstead of: http://affiiliatenetwork.com/eoaihreohroeihrhauierheurhauer1223? People will be more likely to click through the cloaked link because it is “pretty” and appears to come from your domain name — they trust it more without even thinking about it.
Many people also suspect that cloaking your links can help with search engine optimization. There is evidence out there that search engines like Google do not like pages with many affiliate links on them. Cloaked links are thought to be more search engine friendly. You will want to test this yourself, but it may improve your rankings if your affiliate links are cloaked rather than bare.
Another reason you may want to cloak your links is to prevent affiliate theft. If another affiliate marketer runs across your link, they may be tempted to insert their affiliate code or user name in place of yours. This is very common among Internet marketing products since your readers are likely to be affiliates too. If you cloak your link it might not be as obvious that they can “steal” it, thus preventing theft of your commission.
There are many different tools you can use to cloak your link. If you are using WordPress, then you’ll love something like the Simple Link Cloaker plugin. It makes it very easy to cloak your links with a few clicks, and it’s completely free! There are dozens of other options if you’re using a different setup.
Tracking where your sales are coming from is also an important step. Thankfully, many affiliate networks will do a lot of the tracking for you. You’ll be able to see which specific links were clicked on if you add a tracking ID to them. For instance, when you generate links through ClickBank they will allow you to add a tracking ID to the end of each link you generate. There are also other tracking options out there that can go even further, such as Prosper 202 (free) and Xtreme Conversions.
The depth of tracking you are able to use will depend on the tool you choose to do the job. Some tools can track things as deeply as which keywords are working best and leading to sales. Others just track what links are getting clicked on and how many sales they generate. Gathering this information is very important so you know where to expand your marketing efforts, increasing the amount of money you are able to make online.
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