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Thursday, 18 February 2016

How to Hide Affiliate Links in WordPress – The Easy Way

How to Hide Affiliate Links in WordPress
Have you ever wanted to hide your affiliate links from your readers and search engine bots?
While you can hide your affiliate links by using a URL shortener, but it is not the best way. The best way is to use a WordPress Link Cloaker Plugin.
If you are wondering why you should hide your affiliate links, here’s the answer for you.
Affiliate links are pretty ugly. They look spammy to both readers and bots. Here is my StudioPress affiliate link –
It’s long and ugly. It might confuse some people. So it’s a good idea to hide this link and make it awesome. Here is the cloaked version of my StudioPress affiliate link.
It’s sweet, simple and easy to remember. And it won’t confuse the readers.
Benefits of Hiding Affiliate Links
Before moving to the tutorial on how to hide affiliate links, I’d like to share some advantages of hiding affiliate links.
  • Readers & SEO Friedly – Whenever you add the original affiliate link on your blog, visitors often get confused where they’re going to. If you are using third party affiliate links like Shareasale, CJ, Clickbank, etc, then it becomes more confusing. On the other hand, Google bots hate too much affiliate links.
  • Easy to Manage – Sometimes you may need to change your affiliate links if the affiliate networks change their link structure. It will be painful if you don’t have any centralize management.
  • Easy to Remeber – If you publish podcasts or Youtube videos, you can use cloaked version of your affiliate links there. It will be easier for your audience to remember the link.
  • No Pagerank Pass – It’s annoying to tag affiliate links no follow every time. But you have to make sure that those links are tagged as no follow to prevent PageRank passing.
  • More sales – Many people don’t like to click on affiliate links. If you have a clear link, it won’t scare people away.

How to Hide Affiliate Links in WordPress

You can hide affiliate links by editing .htaccess file. But it’s complicated. Using an Affiliate Link Cloaker WordPress plugin is the easiest way. There are plenty of affiliate link cloak plugins. Thirsty Affiliates is my personal favorite.
Thirsty Affiliates is a free Affiliate Link Manager WordPress plugin. It also offers some premium add-ons to make affiliate link management easier. You can quickly hide your ugly affiliate links by using this plugin. Let’s see how to do it.
1. At first, install Thirsty Affiliate WordPress plugin. (Read: How to Install a Plugin)
2. Once you’ve activated the plugin, it will add new “Affiliate Links” menu in your WordPress admin panel. Now go to Affiliate Links > Setting to configure the setting. Here you will see a lot of options to configure. I’d suggest you to change few settings here.
Thirsty Affiliates Settings
The first option you need to change is “Link Prefix”. This prefix will be used before your cloaked link’s slug. If you select “go” as link prefix, your affiliate link will be like http://yourdomain.com/go/affiliate-link/. At techshoutme, we use “go” as link prefix.
Then I’d suggest you to configure two more things. Check the box for “Use no follow on links?” and “Open links in new window?”.
You can go with default settings for other options. Click on “Save All Changes” to save your settings.
3. Now let’s see how to add new affiliate links using Thirsty Affiliate.
It’s extremely easy. Just go to Affiliate Links > Add New. If you are using Yoast SEO plugin, you may find the Yoast SEO box there. Ignore this box.
Add New Affliate Link
Link Name: Use the product/service name here. This name will be used in the cloaked name.
Destination URL: Put your raw affiliate link there. You can also make the link no follow and open it in the new tab from here. You don’t have to check the boxes if you have already enabled these on the settings page.
Attach Images: You can attach images to your affiliate links. It’s useful if you want to display your affiliate links in the sidebar. I don’t use this option.
Link Categories: You can categorize links into different categories. You can add new category while adding a link or you can add categories from “Link Categories”.
Click on “Save Link” to add the new affiliate link.
Once you’ve clicked on “Save Link”, you will get your “Cloaked URL” under “Destination URL”.That’s it. You are done. Start using the cloaked affiliate link.
That’s it. You are done. Start using the cloaked affiliate link.
Now you have the cloaked version of your affiliate link. But there’s a problem. This cloaked version of affiliate link may get indexed by Google. However, you can easily tackle this by adding “Disallow:” derivative on Robots.txt file.
If your link prefix is “go”, you need to add the following line in your Robots.txt file.
Disallow: /go/

Over to You
Hope you found this post useful. If you have any questions regarding this, feel free to ask us via comment. If you are using any others plugins to hide your affiliate links, share your experience with us. And consider sharing this post on Facebook, Twitter or Google+.

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