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Affiliate Link Cloaker

How Affiliate Link Cloaker Works

Affiliate Link Cloaker is a program created to help stop affiliate link hijacking and affiliate link bypassing. Affiliate Link Cloaker was designed to hide affiliate links.

This page explains what these issues are, how the Affiliate Link Cloaker software works, why Affiliate Link Cloaker is not completely effective and how you can do the same thing for free.

It also explains why I don't do any of this on my website.


What Is the Problem?

Affiliate Link Cloaker is motivated by the idea that if you use affiliate programs to sell product, then people are ripping you off. The idea that you are being ripped off comes in two flavors: affiliate link hijacking and affiliate link bypassing.

Affiliate link bypassing refers to someone just removing your affiliate link to go directly into the selling site. For example, suppose that you note a book on my site and take the link to Amazon to check it out. Once there, you decide to buy the book, but instead of just buying it based on my link, you decide that you don't want me to get a commission, so you leave Amazon, go back in and once there search for and buy the book. When you do that, you have bypassed my affiliate link and I do not get a commission.

Affiliate link hijacking refers to someone using their own affiliate link to buy a product. For example, suppose that you note a book on my site and take the link to Amazon to check it out. Once there, you decide to buy the book, but instead of just buying it based on my link, you copy the information of the URL and then substitute your own affiliate link. Then you use that new link to go and buy the book. When you do that, I do not get a commission and you do.

These two things bother some people so much that they will go to some interesting lengths to try to hide or "cloak" the affiliate link to prevent both of these. (I'll explain later how I feel about these, and why they don't bother me so much.)

One product that does this is called the Affiliate Link Cloaker.

What Is Affiliate Link Cloaker?

Affiliate Link Cloaker is a software tool that creates a "frames page".

Frames are a way of showing more than one "real" page inside of a browser. You go to one URL, and once you are there, you see several actual, real pages. This is most commonly used by people who want to have their navigation buttons on one page and their content on another page. Then when you click the navigation buttons, the content page changes, but the navigation buttons do not.

But frames pages can also be used to "hide" a page. To do this you create a frames page that doesn't do anything except display another page inside of it. When you do this, the browser displays the URL of the outer or framing page and doesn't show the URL of the page being displayed inside.

The Affiliate Link Cloaker uses this technique. It creates a page on your site that is a frames page that actually displays another page inside of it.

So Can I See An example?

Ok. I've created a page that "cloaks" the Amazon.com site. (Note that I'm only doing this as an example and that the cloaking is fully disclosed in the title.)

http://www.JamesSHuggins.com/h/web1/cloak1.htm 

Check it out. It shows my URL and the Amazon.com site.

Then click on View / Source and you can see the complete source for the page to see how it is done.

(Note: do not use "right click" then "view source". Go to the browser command buttons at the top and click "View" then "Source".)

Wouldn't That Be easy to Figure Out?

Sure. Anyone who had the smarts to hit View / Source would see the frames code and would also see the URL being displayed inside the frame.

So, the Affiliate Link Cloaker "cloaks" the URL by expressing it in "Unicode" or "HTML Unicode". Instead of using the natural characters, the Affiliate Link Cloaker uses the numeric equivalents.

For example, an "A" is represented as "A".

And my website URL, 

http://www.JamesSHuggins.com

would be represented as

http://
www.Jam
esSHugg
ins.com

Let's go back to my prior example of cloaking the Amazon.com site. Instead of 

http://www.Amazon.com

I'll use 

http://
www.Ama
zon.com

You can see this result in my second example page: 

http://www.JamesSHuggins.com/h/web1/cloak2.htm 

Again, check it out. It shows my URL and the Amazon.com site.

And, again click on View / Source and you can see the complete source for the page to see how it is done, but this time the URL is harder to understand because it is "cloaked" in HTML Unicode.

Is There Anything else?

Yes there is. In addition to the use of frames and the use of HTML Unicode, the Affiliate Link Cloaker does two more things:

  1. It adds language to the top of the HTML code to "discourage" people from looking at it. It adds text that says

    !STOP! WARNING: you are not authorized to view this Code - Close your text editor immediately

    Now, of course, that doesn't really mean anything. But it might stop one or two who don't have a clue.
     
  2. It runs all the code together, eliminating any formatting that might make it easier to figure out.

Again, I've made an example: Check out my third example page: 

http://www.JamesSHuggins.com/h/web1/cloak3.htm 

It still shows my URL and the Amazon.com site.

But, this time, if you click on View / Source you will see the warning message. You will have to scroll down to see the actual code. And the code is more difficult to read because it has all been run together.

So, Does That Really Hide It?

Yes. And no. It hides it. But it doesn't make it all that difficult to figure out.

Anyone using Ie 6.0 or later, can just "Right Click" and select "Open Frame in New Window". That will clearly show the affiliate link.

Anyone using an older browser might have to work a bit. But not much.

Still, some people must not know how easy it is to see because people are paying $59.00 to buy the software that does this (see below).

How Can I Make Such A Page?

There are two easy ways.

First, you could buy the Affiliate Link Cloaker. Their site says the software is worth $300.00. But they are only going to charge you $100.00 Then they take three dollars off so you can buy some coffee. Then just for good measure they discount it more . . . to $59.00.

That is one option: pay $59.00.

Another way is to do it for free.

How Can I Do It For Free?

Follow these steps:

  1. Get the "Model Page" code in the box below. The easiest way to do that is to put the cursor in the box, then type Ctrl-A (to select all) and then Ctrl-C to copy it all to the clipboard.
     
  2. Paste the code into your own page to create the basic page. Once this is done all you need to do is to change the title and the URL.
     
  3. Change "--TITLe'--" to whatever title you want.
     
  4. Go to tokira.net/unicode or fantomaster.com/fantomasSuite/shadowCoder/fascodersv-e.cgi
     
  5. Use either of these two pages to  translate the URL you want to cloak from "normal" characters to HTML Unicode. (For example, you can type "http://www.Amazon.com" in the top and get the cloaked characters at the bottom.
     
  6. Put this cloaked URL in place of --URL-- on your page.
     
  7. Voila. You are done. You have created a cloaked page.

 

Model Page

 

 


Why I Don't Use This Technique

On this page, I've explained how you can use techniques like this to attempt to hide your affiliate program links from people. And I've given you a free alternative to buying the $59.00 tool.

(Of course, my free approach is slightly more complex than the $59.00 tool. It might take three minutes instead of 45 seconds. And you have to upload the page yourself. But, it is free.)

So, some people asked whether I use this technique. 

I do not.

In fact, on my pages I use a completely different approach. You see, I believe in being open and honest. When I have an affiliate link, I disclose it. And, I even tell you about it so you can bypass my affiliate link if you don't want me to get any money. I have even created a formal Affiliate Programs Policy that says exactly that. 

(Want to see how I disclose this information? Look at the bottom of my Einstein Posters page.)

Don't get me wrong. I participate in affiliate programs. It is just that if my visitor wants to credit their own account instead of mine, or just doesn't want to credit me for some reason, I don't see a personal need to try to trick them. I'd rather just let them do it.

The extra text menu links (previously here) are being removed in the site redesign.
Browser and search engine improvements have eliminated the motivation/necessity for them.

This page created:
before
Fri, 25.Oct.2002

Last updated:
16:21, Sat, 10.May.2014

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 Explanation of the rewrite: New Page Layout.
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