When someone talks about “cloaking” affiliate links there are two possible issues:
First, that they do not want visitors to see their affiliate link.
Let’s face it – many affiliate links are long, ugly, and a visual turn-off.
Worse, someone may be concerned about being scammed if they can see the link.
This issue is common with ClickBank affiliate links, and some other affiliate programs with long links having plenty of variables and options.
This situation of “customer satisfaction” is easily resolved by creating a redirect link.
What happens is you create a nice looking link, such as yourdomain.com/gohere and that page then redirects to the desired destination with your affiliate link. This is accomplished by using html or php as you prefer and is quick and easy to setup.
Second, a more important issue is the affiliate marketer does not want Google to see their affiliate link.
Why, because Google hates affiliate sites. Some of Google’s webmaster guidelines have special rules just for affiliates. Merchants can get away with “thin” content. Not affiliates.
Just how does Google know you are an affiliate? By seeing your affiliate link.
If you are using a redirect as previously discussed the Googlebot simply follows the redirect and gets your affiliate link.
Just like that your site is toast.
So how do you cloak affiliate links where you have an affiliate link that works, but Google does not see it?
Traditional “cloaking” involves showing Content A on your website to human visitors to get conversions, but Content B on your website for SEO purposes. This has long been a disfavored practice leading to Google bans if discovered. That is traditional cloaking.
What what is often referred to today is a practice where the same content is shown to the Googlebot and human visitors, but Google does not “see” a link and human visitors do. Perfectly “legal” per Google’s rules, these practices take advantage of differences between how bots and human interact with and display a site.
There are two main scripts which do this “cloaking” – both of which have been around for years and have been thoroughly used.
Squeeze Links is for html sites. This is the oldest script and still works great today. You will need some basic experience modifying a couple files and uploading them to your website.
Elf Links is a fantastic WordPress plugin. It works as a link manager, has an “Autobot” option for automatically converting links, and another advanced option that doesn’t even create links until someone clicks on your Elf Code. Yeah, its a bit mindboggling, which is why million dollar affiliates use this plugin.
Depending on your needs either of these options will show you how to cloak affiliate links for the most important purpose: keeping your site from being tagged as an affiliate site.
Your search rankings, and pocketbook, depend on it.