Last updated on October 16th, 2018 at 07:41 am
You are about to learn how to cloak affiliate links in WordPress. Plus, I’ll also share why it’s important to click affiliate links and the plugin that I use to make this process so simple.
If you started your blog to eventually earn passive income from it, chances are you are considering monetizing with affiliate marketing. The first thing you will want to do is add an affiliate disclaimer to your blog.
Maybe you’ve been wanting to start a blog so you can earn money from home but just don’t know how. Head on over here to get your blog started today.
Once you get your blog setup, head on over here to start learning the basics of WordPress.
New to WordPress?
I’m not going to lie, WordPress does come with a little bit of a learning curve. Don’t feel like you need to know everything about it before starting.
I’ve put together some of the basics that you’ll need to be comfortable with the platform.
Once you start getting the hang of logging in and writing blog posts. Maybe you’re ready to start monetizing with affiliate links?
I started implementing affiliate links as soon as my blog went live. It’s your blog and you can start monetizing whenever you’re ready.
As long as you understand that you’re probably not going to make a lot of money right out of the gate. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with using affiliate marketing when you’re a brand new blogger.
What Is an Affiliate Marketer?
Affiliate marketing is nothing more than recommending products and services to your readers. If someone buys through your unique affiliate link, then you’ll earn a certain percentage of the sale. Of course, it’s a little more challenging than just inserting links into your blog posts.
It takes time to build up the relationship with your readers. Once you’ve worked on those relationships and your traffic and audience has grown, eventually, people start buying the products and services you recommend.
How to Cloak Affiliate Links and What Does That Mean?
As I mentioned above, you’ll be given a unique link. This link usually looks extremely ugly and is hard to remember.
If you want to make a commission from the vendor, you need to make sure that people are clicking through and buying directly from your link.
Otherwise, you won’t get the commission. Of course, some affiliate programs have different cookie lengths on their terms and services.
Some companies have a first visited cookie on their affiliate network. This means that even if someone buys from your link if they clicked on someone else’s link before buying from your link. You don’t get the commission, the first link clicked gets the commission.
Every affiliate network has different terms and conditions for payouts. Before you start promoting any product, you’ll want to know the terms and conditions.
What Is Cloaking?
Cloaking an affiliate link is nothing more than make it prettier and shorter. This makes it easier for you to remember and also makes it look friendlier when someone clicks on one of your links.
Plus Google does not really like affiliate links. So when you use the plugin that I am going to recommend, you can be sure that all your affiliate links will be no follow and will be easy to change whenever you need to.
I know that all this sounds like a bunch of gibberish. But the method that I am going to show you is going to solve all your problems.
It’s a one time process to get everything set up.
Whenever you join a new affiliate program, you can then add your unique link and the plugin will make it look nice and pretty without you having to worry about it.
Plus you won’t have to worry about whether your links are set as nofollow or not.
So let’s get started.
How to Cloak Affiliate links With ThirstyAffiliates
I thought I would create a step-by-step tutorial that shows you exactly how to cloak your affiliate links using the ThirstyAffiliates Plugin. You can pick up the plugin here.
For this tutorial, I will be using the paid version. There is also a free version of the ThirstyAffiliates plugin, but the Pro version has features I won’t do without, like automatic keyword linking.
Installing ThirstyAffiliates Pro
Once you have purchased and downloaded the plugin, you’ll need to install it. Here’s a step-by-step tutorial to help you understand WordPress plugins.
- Log into your WordPress dashboard and go to Plugins >> Add New
- At the top of the screen, click on Upload a Plugin button
- Browse for the ThirstyAffiliates plugin on your computer and click on Install Now
- On the next screen click on Activate and then go to the ThirstyAffiliates tab and go to Settings >> License
If you’ve just installed the free version, you won’t have to enter a license key. You should be able to start using the plugin. As I mentioned, I am not familiar with the free version as I am currently using the Pro version on this blog.
Setting Up The Options In ThirstyAffiliates Pro Version
ThirstyAffiliates Pro has a ton of options, but I’m going to keep things simple and show you the core options that I set up when I activated my plugin. My hope is that you’ll be able to follow this tutorial and start cloaking your links today.
I don’t want to confuse you with all the different features of the plugin.
Think of this as the quick guide to starting with ThirstyAffiliates Pro. If you want to venture into all the other features of the plugin, I recommend visiting the knowledge base on their site.
Setting Up The Basic Options
I am going to walk you through on how to set up the various different options in the plugin dashboard. Feel free to follow along and use the same settings that I am using for this plugin. You’ll also see some screenshots that show you exactly how I have mine set up.
This tab is extremely easy to setup, you just want to make sure that you set the default link insertion type of link. If I remember correctly, I believe it’s defaulted to this type.
If not then set that up and loves move on to the link appearance tab.
Link Appearance Tab
This is where you decide how you want your link to appear whenever someone clicks on your link. You’ll have several different options you can choose from such as:
- custom (you can create your own link prefix)
When you choose one, this is what will be used on all your affiliate links on your blog.
Link in category: If you want to show the name of your blog category in your affiliate link you can choose this option. I chose to leave this box blank.
Link Redirect Type: 302 Temporary Redirect (this prevents link equity from being passed.) I am not sure if this is the right setting or not, but this is what I have mine set as.
Use No Follow: Yes
Open Links in New Window: Yes
Pass query Strings to destination URL? I have no clue what this means, but I left mine set at No.
Additional rel Attribute Tags: I left this as blank
Disable ThirstyAffiliates CSS classes: I left this as unchecked. If you want to apply your own styles, you can check this.
Disable title Attribute on link assertion: I left this blank
Here’s how mine looks like, in case you’re a visual person,
One of the benefits of using the Pro version is the ability to automatically add affiliate links to your blog posts. You can do this based on the keywords that you use for your settings.
While it is nice to automatically add affiliate links to your blog posts based on keywords. The truth is that you don’t want to add a ton of links in your blog posts, to where it looks spammy.
This is the area where you control how you want to automatically link in your blog posts.
Keyword Limit: This is where you enter the number of times you want the keyword to be auto-linked into your blog posts. I chose one, but you can change this on an individual basis inside of your blog posts later on if you choose to.
Random Autolink Placement: I left this checked
Link inside of heading tags: I left this unchecked. I don’t want my headings to be auto-linked.
Disable auto linking on archive pages: This was left unchecked
Disable auto linking on the home page: I don’t want any affiliate links on my homepage.
Enable auto-linking in feeds: I chose to check this.
Enable auto linker on the following post types: I put posts in the text line because I only want to add affiliate links auto-linked on blog posts.
Clear the auto linker cache: If you make any changes to the plugin you might want to clear the cache to make sure that the changes take effect.
One of the cool things about the Pro version is that it will continually check your affiliate links. If it finds something wrong with one of your affiliate links, it will give you a warning.
I’ve actually found a few broken affiliate links thanks to the link health checker.
I chose to leave my settings as default to run the cron job every 7 days.
If you have more than one blog and you’re using the plugin on both sites. You can easily import all your affiliate links and data from one blog to the next.
While I haven’t personally used this feature, you can bet that if I had more than one blog that was similar, I would definitely try it out. It would save me a ton of time instead of having to manually add all my affiliate links again.
Preventing Google From Crawling Your ThirstyAffiliate Links
I believe that the plugin is already set up to prevent the crawling of your affiliate links. However, when I was fixing my Google errors in Google Webmasters Tools, I noticed that Google had tried to crawl my affiliate links.
This is how I fixed this problem. Hopefully, I won’t get any more errors pertaining to my affiliate links.
All you have to do is add some code to your robots txt file and the Yoast SEO plugin makes it. so easy to do. Here’s their robots txt tutorial if you want to follow along.
Go to SEO >> Tools >> File Editor
If you don’t already have a robots.txt file, you can quickly create one with this plugin. Once you’ve got your robots.txt file open, add the following directive to it. Replacing /recommends/ with whatever link prefix you chose in your settings.
Then click on the save changes on the Robox.txt file.
If you need more help with other amazing things the Yoast SEO plugin can do, make sure that you check out How to Use Yoast SEO Plugin Everything You Need to Know.
Adding A New Affiliate Link
Now that you have all the settings set up, it’s time to start cloaking your links. All you have to do is click on ThirstyAffiliates and click on New Affiliate Link.
When you click on add new affiliate link, you’ll be asked to enter a title. Whatever you title your affiliate link, will be the what your affiliate link will be called.
It’s very easy and very self-explanatory, here’s a quick pic to show you what it looks like.
The title will become the name of your affiliate link. You can change this if you want by editing the slug of the affiliate link.
Enter the keyword that you want to auto-link as an affiliate link. Whenever you use this keyword throughout your blog posts, it will automatically be turned into an affiliate link.
As you can imagine, this can look spammy quickly. This is why it’s important to make sure that you limit the number of times a keyword is automatically auto-linked.
Remember, you’ve set up these settings in the general settings. But you have the option to change these on a post per post basis.
When I first started creating affiliate links, I wasn’t taking the time to create categories. But I’ve found it a lot easier to create categories for my links.
I’m not really sure if this makes a huge difference or not. But if you like staying organized like I do, then it definitely helps.
Adding Affiliate Links to Your Blog Posts
If you’re like me, you want control over adding your affiliate links. Maybe you won’t want to always use the auto link feature.
The cool thing is that you have the option to disable ThirstyAffilates auto linker on a post per post basis. All you have to do is scroll down and on the right side under the ThirstyAffiliates categories keep scrolling until you see the option to disable the auto linker.
Check that box and then update your blog post. Once you do, none of your affiliate links on the post will be automatically linked.
If you want to display any affiliate links on that post, you’ll need to go back in there and add them manually.
Adding Affiliate Links Manually
Once you have added your affiliate links in your blog, it’s so easy to add your links manually. All you have to do is highlight the text that you want to turn into an affiliate link.
Once you click on that, you’ll be prompted to type in an affiliate link. Type in the name of your affiliate link and you’ll see the affiliate link that you created. Choose that and it will turn your highlighted text into an affiliate link.
The next option, which is the Quick Add function allows you to add a new affiliate link that hasn’t been added to your blog.
If you’re like me, then you set a day aside to sign up for new affiliate programs and find other ways to monetize your blog. After all, your goal is to set up different passive income streams.
Well if you’re in the middle of writing your blog post and you just signed up for a new affiliate product you can quickly add it while writing your blog post so you don’t lose your place or writing rhythm.
Highlight the text that you want to turn into a link and then click on the quick add button. Once you do that a box will open up that will prompt you to set up your affiliate link.
After you fill out the information, click on Add Link & insert into Post.
That’s How Easy It Is
As you can see, it’s so easy to cloak your affiliate links with the ThirstyAffiliate Plugin. Hopefully, this quick guide helped you realize how easy it is to cloak your links.
If you have the premium version of the plugin, there’s so much that this plugin can do. But to tell you the truth, I really don’t mess with a lot of the features.
As long as the plugin is cloaking my affiliate links and the auto link feature is working, I am happy. I don’t worry about anything else.
How Is The Support?
No one wants to spend money on a WordPress plugin if the support sucks. I’ve only reached out to support once when they upgraded the plugin to the newest version.
I can say that I was happy with the quickness of the response. They answered my question and I haven’t had to reach out to support since then.
They do have a knowledge base on their site that will answer a lot of common questions. If you ever need anything, send them a support ticket and they’ll get back to you to answer your question.
Benefits of Cloaking Plugin
As I mentioned above, the ThirstyAffiliates plugin will make all your links no follow. Which is what you want for all your affiliate links.
Another thing that I love is that it’s so easy to change out an affiliate link if your unique link ever changes.
Without the use of a cloaking plugin, you’ll have to go through all your blog posts and change out each individual link. I don’t know about you, but I don’t have time to go back through all my blog posts just to change out a link.
Whether you’re using the ThirstyAffiliates or Pretty Link Plugins, you won’t have to worry about it. All you will have to do is log into your dashboard and change out the link quickly.
Once you click update, all the links on your blog will be updated. Talk about a huge time saver 🙂
If you’re ready to test this plugin, you can download the plugin for free here.
How to Find Affiliate Programs to Join
Now that you have an awesome plugin that will make it easy to cloak your affiliate links. You probably need to find more affiliate program you can join.
I don’t recommend that you go out and join hundreds of different programs. Make sure that you’re only joining the ones that are related to your blog.
Final Take Away
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with using affiliate marketing as a method to monetize your blog. In fact, I believe it’s one of the best ways to for new bloggers to make money with their blog.
If you’re struggling with affiliate marketing or haven’t made a dime. I recommend investing in this course to help you learn how to monetize your blog.
The most important thing about making money with this monetization method. Make sure that you’re only promoting products that you yourself have used or had experience with.
You don’t want to promote anything just to make a quick buck. Remember, your readers are real people and they work hard for their money.
Treat them like you would be want to be treated. If you wouldn’t buy something then you should not promote it to your readers.
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Are you using affiliate marketing as a way to monetize your blog? If so, let us know why you started with affiliate marketing.
Recommended Blogging Resources:
- Free 12 Day Blogging Bootcamp
- Article about using Yoast SEO for optimizing your blog posts and how to do it.
- SEMRush Free Trial to Gather Low Competitive Keywords
- Quiz: Which theme is best for your blog?
- If you want to build an email list and send newsletters, I recommend ConvertKit (starts at $29)