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SEO problems with cloaking links?

Does Cloak n Rotate cause problems?

     
3:37 am on Jul 19, 2011 (gmt 0)

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Hi,

I'm in the process of adding some pages to an existing content website to educate and promote products to my site visitors. So, I'm really a newbie at the affiliate issues.

I've been reading that people can steal your commission if your affiliate links are shown. Also, many resources say that site visitors are more likely to click on a link if the long, affiliate link doesn't show in the bottom left of the browser.

My site is well-ranked for my targeted keywords, so I don't want to do anything that will hurt that. I can't really find any credible resource that addresses whether hiding or cloaking links as I described above is against Google guidelines, for example.

I've seen a software program called Cloak n Rotate that creates cloaked and encrypted affiliate links, rotates where a particular link goes to (testing different affiliate results), and tracks click stats.

Does anyone know whether doing this type of a redirect is going to get me in trouble with the search engines?

Thanks for your help.
4:53 am on July 19, 2011 (gmt 0)

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In general, I don't think search engines have any problem with redirected ( I don't call them 'cloaked') links.
For evidence, just look at most of the top coupon sites.

...people can steal your commission if your affiliate links are shown. Also, many resources say that site visitors are more likely to click on a link if the long, affiliate link doesn't show in the bottom left of the browser.


On the other hand, from my limited testing, I've never seen much difference in results between using straight, or redirected links. I guess any small difference is worth taking advantage of tho.
5:03 pm on July 20, 2011 (gmt 0)

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cloaking / encrypting / rotating links will not affect people who steal commission credit.
6:09 pm on July 20, 2011 (gmt 0)

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Thanks for the reply onepointone.

Do you think hiding the affiliate link makes a difference in click through, Rhinofish? And, I agree. Just like a locked door, it only keeps out people who aren't really serious. Do you think it's worth doing? Have you seen it hurt SEO?
2:56 pm on July 21, 2011 (gmt 0)

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for comm stealing, look into afsrc=1

yes, there's probably a very small gain in CTR - question is, what other things are affected, like seo, aff managers trust is seeing meaningful referral urls, and more. many affs claim "hiding" is a good idea, especially to make it harder for people who copy your ideas, to find all of your sites. i'm not personally famous enough to worry about that issue. but, if you build a site of any size, link maintenance can be made much easier if controlled by a database where rewriting would be common. i think "hiding" is the wrong word for it in my experience, but as i said, i know some important affs who would consider it an absolute must, but that's not the case for me. imo, your time is better spent on improving your site in many other ways than this topic.
3:34 pm on July 21, 2011 (gmt 0)

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Thanks once again. You make some good points, and I'll have to consider everything before moving forward.
3:57 am on Sept 11, 2011 (gmt 0)

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There is no difference in results between using straight, or redirected links.
10:29 am on Sept 13, 2011 (gmt 0)

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Use PHP to redirect visitor to your affiliate link. Keep that PHP file in a directory and disallow that directory in robots.txt file. This practice is good for SEO and link maintenance. You can use that PHP script to track the clicks and users.
4:42 pm on Sept 24, 2011 (gmt 0)

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No difference should be seen in results between using straight or redirected links
11:38 am on Jan 16, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Yeah well if you show your affiliate id, and you have ridiculously loooong links, Then its not so good. Google does not fancy affiliates links as they not always have any substantial, original content included.