I’ve written before about the benefits of ad tracking and link cloaking.
Using ad tracking you get to see how many times links are being clicked on, which can help you fine tune your writing and give you insight into the psychology of your readers. And since ad tracking links are basically cloaked links, you protect your affiliate links from tampering.
But, there are times when you do not want to use ad tracking and/or link cloaking.
The main reason to not use them is when you are trying to gain some SEO benefit from a link. When a search engine sees a link titled, make money online that leads to OnlineOpportunity.org, then the blog gains a little bit of credibility for that keyword. This is true whether you’re linking to your own site or to someone else’s.
But, if I was using an ad tracker or link cloaker for that link, it would go instead to something like www.trker.com/go/13222. That’s the URL that would get the SEO benefit, not OnlineOpportunity.org. So by using an ad tracker or link cloaker for that link, I’d be giving up the SEO benefit for my blog.
Typically we find that loss acceptable for affiliate links, because the benefit from knowing how many clicks on each link we get outweighs not giving some SEO benefit to an affiliate program. But you don’t want people to use ad trackers or link cloakers for links to your sites.
If you’re running an affiliate program, you can remove the need for people to use ad trackers when linking to your site by providing ad tracking functionality built into your affiliate program. This doesn’t help with cloaking the affiliate link to make it harder for others to tamper with the links, but at least removes one reason someone might be motivated to hide your link.
So, before you use an ad tracker or link cloaker, think about whether you’re trying to get (or give) some SEO benefit from the link or not. If you are, use the naked link instead of the ad tracking or cloaked link.