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Link Cloaking And Link Tracking - Are They The Same?

Dec 21, 2007
You often hear talk of "link cloaking" in the internet marketing business, and most times it's also somehow linked to something called link tracking, or ad tracking -- Which one should you care about in your online business?

To answer that, we need to go into a little bit of detail about how cloaking is handled in the background -- and don't fret, this is going to stay at a "high level" -- I'll resist the tempation to get all "techy" with you!

When you give someone a cloaked link to click on, it's going to lead back to YOUR web site -- it doesn't go straight to the site of the product you're promoting. It leads to your site, it's automatically looked up in a list, and the person who clicked is redirected to the product site using your affiliate link.

Since the click takes the person to YOUR site first, the cloaking software takes the opportunity to save some information, such as the date and time of the click, where the user came from, end even the IP address of the user.

By saving that information in a file you can look at, it's easy to see what links are being clicked on.

So the process of cloaking a link, also means the link can be tracked -- as long as you're using software that takes that into account. There are some methods of cloaking a link that don't track the clicks, and I recommend you stay away from those. Since cloaking and tracking can easily be accomplished at the same time, it makes sense to use one tool that does them both.

So, is there any difference between a link that's redirected and a link that's cloaked?

They're basically the same thing -- a cloaked link will redirect the person who clicked it to the site of your choice. They see, and click on, a link that looks very normal, but it can be a long gnarly-looking link on the back-end that they're redirected to.

And that brings up another reason to use a redirect, or a cloaked link. Sometimes, even if you're not using an affiliate link, you end up with a link that's just too long for emails without wrapping, or that just looks ugly. In those cases a cloaked link will get the person to the correct page or site, but you'll use a nice compact link to do the job.

Most people have seen links using the TinyURL web site -- those are cloaked links that redirect the user to a different web site. While the links are nice and short -- and disguise the destination of the link -- the downside to using a service like that is that you don't control the redirect URL -- once you've sent out the link, you have to live with it.

Using a self-hosted solution for handling your cloaking/redirecting and tracking is usually a much better option for your online marketing business.
About the Author
Jay Jennings is the creator of one of the most powerful (and easy-to-use) cloaking and tracking programs available, Cloak and Tracker. For a free, 15-minute online video showing how you can easily cloak your links, see http://LinkCloakingExplained.com and watch the video right now.
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