Why I Don’t Use Viral Link Cloakers

Viral link cloakers are fairly common these days.

In fact, most of the free link cloakers are automatically viral, even if they don’t advertise it that way. A viral link cloaker performs the main function of a link cloaker, by giving you a URL that is different from your affiliate link to use. But they also put an affiliate link to themselves on your page, so that more people will join the viral link cloaker. The typical benefit from that is that you’re building a list, and may get some commissions later on.

Anyone concerned about losing affiliate commissions has probably looked into link cloaking solutions (or should). By using a URL that is different from your affiliate link, you’re making it harder for someone to substitute their own affiliate link and buy through themselves. That way they get the commission instead of you…good for them, bad for you.

This is mostly a problem with ClickBank products. It’s dead simple and free to get a ClickBank account, and ClickBank doesn’t care if you buy through your own link. They say you’re not supposed to, but there’s nothing stopping you. And many people do, since ClickBank commissions are often quite high. Buying through your own link is like getting a 50% discount on the product in some cases.

I don’t condone buying through your own link, because you really should support the person who finally convinced you to buy. But people still do it.

Using a link cloaking solution means a person looking at a link of yours has no idea it’s a ClickBank link. So to buy through their own link, they’d have to search the ClickBank marketplace to see if the product is listed there. A lot more time consuming than copying and pasting your link and replacing your id with their own. So mostly they click your link instead of bothering.

So if link cloaking is such a good thing, why don’t I use viral link cloakers?

The point of linking out to a page is to have the person take whatever action makes you money on that page. Adding in a link to join the viral link cloaker system detracts from getting someone to take the action that makes you money.

The main advertised benefit of viral link cloaking is building a list for you. But you’re not really building a list, you’re recruiting others to the viral link cloaker. They’ll cheerfully delete any emails you send them about other opportunities, because they joined to get link cloaking.

You’re only building a list when someone joins your list because they are interested in what you have to say. Having a collection of email addresses you can send to is not the same as building a list.

If I want to use link cloaking, I use an ad tracking solution that adds nothing else to my pages. The two I use are Hits Connect and Traffic Wave.

If I want to build a list, then I build a list with a squeeze page designed for that purpose, such as the one for my Traffic Exchange Secrets course

You’ll do much better if you focus your efforts, rather than trying to use a service the uses the Swiss army knife approach.

12 Replies to “Why I Don’t Use Viral Link Cloakers”

  1. viral link cloaker is never a good choice out of the many ways to cloak link. we can use javascript, php redirect, html meta, wordpress plugins, all are simple solution good for people with little budget, just need to google for it. btw, pay for a link tracking solution is better if you need to know the details of every link click on your site.

  2. Link cloaking alone doesn’t make a lot of sense, in my opinion. If you’re going to the trouble of redirecting a URL, you might as well get click information out of it, too.

    But for those on a budget, javascript or php redirect work great for just cloaking links.

  3. I am new to this online marketing thing i have seen alot of viral or url cloaking site i have tried a few , it make your url short but they are not that much attractive, it’s my personal opinion & im 20 only so dont get after me .Good post Jay 😉

  4. I agree with you, Shak, the links are not very attractive in most link cloakers. To get the nice looking onces, you need to install some software on your website, or be good with PHP and .htaccess files.

  5. Hmmm, interesting post. I just kind of stumbled across this. Doing what, seeing where my site was listed for the term “Viral Link Tracker”.

    While I agree with what your saying to some degree. I personally use viral link cloakers to build my list.

    No, I’m not talking about the list inside of the cloaking site. I’m talking about driving traffic to all of my different squeeze pages, through the placement of ads, that I’m able to place that show up on other people’s sites, because of the viral capablities.

    So, I don’t actually email any members inside the viral site. Never have, actually and I completely see your point there, but, it also gets me prospects for my real lists in which I can build a relationship with these people.

    I guess there is a few ways to look at it! It does work though. I do enjoy new subscribers because of using this method.

    Cheers and thanx for the good post.



  6. Hi Davin, thanks for the comment!

    If you work it the way you’re doing, taking advantage of placing ads on other people’s pages, I can see where you’d get benefit from it.

  7. I’ve been trying to find a cloaker for ages and now I’ve found one that might work belive your advice and am not happy! could anyone lie me know a good non viral cloaker that works as free as possible please?

  8. With the free http://www.ViralURL.com link cloaker and tracker you can do the same (yourdomain.com/recommends/etc.) and it has all kinds of advanced tracking functions.

    Plus you don’t loose focus of your main offer with it’s viral frame as it opens in a new window (your main offer stays open).

    It’s list building works as according to it’s over 28,000 users it’s one of the best converting ways of safelist mailing.

    Best regards,

    Frank Bauer

  9. Hi Frank, I’ve looked at ViralURL before, and the trick that allows the nice URLs on your own domain can be used with any viral link cloaker. Kudos to ViralURL, though, for being the one to document it.

    I’m still not crazy about the whole concept though, for the reasons I mention above. Opening a second window is a bit spammy, and may be seen as such. Referring others to ViralURL isn’t the same as building a list (or rather, it’s building a list of people who are interested in free link cloaking solutions).

    Still, a solution like ViralURL is great for those people who don’t have web space of their own available, and are still in the “send people straight to affiliate pages” mode. It at least gives them a way to easily cloak URLs.

  10. *laugh* I’ve just found another reason I don’t use viral link cloakers…if you choose to use ViralURL.com, sign up with a gmail address used only for that. As a free member you get a ton of safelist quality email (e.g. you’d call it spam if you hadn’t agreed to receive it when you signed up).

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