Domain Name Cloaking for Affiliate Marketing

Besides simple HTML link cloaking and cPanel link cloaking, you can also use domain name cloaking in your affiliate promotions. This means that visitors will only see the top-level domain name, with the underlying affiliate link completely hidden from view.

There are a few advantages to domain name cloaking:

  1. A top level domain hides any trace that it could be an affiliate link
  2. It definitely looks more natural that any cloaked tracking link
  3. It could make the visitor believe that he is on the actual merchant site if the domain name is similar to the actual merchant’s

I’ve seen a lot of top affiliate marketers use domain name cloaking instead of regular link forwarding, and I’ve done some myself. For example:

  1. www.AmemberPro.net – Domain name cloaking that actually leads the visitor to the Amember membership site software.
  2. www.DesperateBuyersGuide.com – Domain name cloaking for the Desperate Buyer’s Guide information product website.
  3. www.EasyMembersPro.com – Domain name cloaking that promotes the Easy Member Pro membership site software.

Domain Name Cloaking Setup

The easiest way to get started with domain name link cloaking is to use the “URL Frame” feature provided by your domain name registrar. In this example, our domain name registrar is NameCheap but most registrars should provide similar functionality.

Just go to the domain name you want to use, and click on URL Forwarding. Then, enter the affiliate link in both [email protected] and “www” columns. This tells your registrar to cloak or “frame” the actual affiliate link within the domain name itself.

To add a title and meta tags to your cloaked domain name, just click on as shown below and enter meta tags for both [email protected] and “www” options:

This makes the cloaked domain name look more natural, as if it was a real website. Here’s how your cloaked domain name would look like in a Google search:

Since cloaking domain names will be indexed by Google like regular websites, you could also benefit from long-tail search engine queries.

Domain Name Cloaking Strategy

Although you can use domain name link cloaking with a naked affiliate link, the smarter way to do this is to use a link you have cloaked with LinkTrackr. By doing it this way, you can get access to LinkTrackr’s viral marketing tools, complete stats reporting and other useful features like A/B split testing.

To track domain name cloaked URLs, I normally add a tracking campaign of “domain” to the back of my LinkTrackr links, like this: http://gobala.linktrackr.com/easymemberpro-domain

This helps me identify how many clicks I get using the cloaked domain name, versus other direct promotion methods and keyword conversions using the LinkTrackr WordPress plugin, like this:

Domain Name Cloaking Drawbacks

Although domain name cloaking seems like a cool thing to do, there are a few drawbacks to this method:

  • If you promote the cloaked domain names directly, you lose all your traffic when you let the domain name expire
  • The cost of yearly domain name renewal can be hard to swallow if you decide to renew it
  • If you registered a domain name with the product / company name in it, you could be putting yourself in danger of trademark violations

So use domain name link cloaking wisely. It would be a great idea if you plan to promote the product long-terms, or if you’re planning to use offline promotion strategies. If you’re not planning to do either of the above, then domain name cloaking is a waste of time and money.

Gobala Krishnan is the founder of LinkTrackr. To try LinkTrackr, simply go and create your free account. If you’re signing up for any of the paid plans, then be sure to use the coupon code JOHNCHOW to get 20% off.


51 thoughts on “Domain Name Cloaking for Affiliate Marketing”

  1. actually i dunno much about domain name cloaking as i usually use my domain names with keywords within it for search engine ranking purpose. i guess i can start looking into it now.

    i also dunno about the URL forwarding feature in the registrar as i usually points my domain to my web host and use domain redirection in my cpanel to do so.

    any idea what is the difference between using URL forwarding in domain registrar, compared to pointing the domain to the name servers of the your web host, and within the cpanel of your webhost, perform a domain redirection?

    sorry if my question is too confusing.

    1. i did a test on my .com domain to forward to my .sg domain using your method and it works for me. though i am not using affiliate links but i would definitely love to see how does Google sees my .com domain which is forwarded to .sg domain. Let’s hope that Google will see my title, description and keywords which I have keyed in under my URL forward masking.

      here’s the settings for GoDaddy for those who are keen to know.

      In GoDaddy, click on the link “Forwarding”. You need to choose “Forward with Masking” as masking prevents visitors from seeing your domain name forwarding by keeping your domain name in the Web browser’s address bar. Next, enter your title, description and keywords will do. It is recommended by Godaddy to tick on “Update my DNS settings to support this change”.

      1. Technary says:

        Thanks for the information about forwarding in Godaddy.

        1. Whitney says:

          I’m on Godaddy myself..yea thanks! This is very helpful! Always lookin to learn new things!

  2. I am also wondering if we build backlinks for the cloaking domain, will the cloaked domain benefits anything?

    1. Technary says:

      It benefits a lot in changing your affiliate marketing referral links

      1. Positive and direct impavt.

  3. fazal mayar says:

    cloaking domain name? havent heard of that before thanks mate

    1. MykeTech says:

      What the heck is a cloaking domain?

      1. Technary says:

        cloaking domain is a temporary domain used for the redirection of the links which you need. For eg. in affiliate marketing link can be saved in your hosting and use the cloaking domain to redirect it!

        1. Thanks for the information, I was also wondering what it was.

          1. Technary says:

            Anytime. Always there for any technical information which I know. Let Technology Speak!

  4. MykeTech says:

    I don’t understand this… Can anyone simplify it for me?

    1. Technary says:

      Use the software Linktrack. They have some set up guides which will help you.

  5. Technary says:

    domain name cloaking is really important to have success in affiliate marketing!

    1. Yes and I am sure very soon adsense will also come up with these kind of ideas.

      More and more people knows about adsense hence in coming years click rate will decrease more

      1. Hey ZK,
        I don’t know how they would do that. I think that most people know that they are ads and Adsense cannot hide the fact. When you watch a commercial on TV you know it’s a commercial. That allows you to either ignore it or watch it intently.

        Cloaking a link makes it look pretty and may prevent unsavory characters from stealing a sale from you. Otherwise using cloaking to pretend you are not an affiliate is questionable. At least in the eyes of Google.

        1. Email you are not getting my point here …

          In TV you do not have to perform any act to see it … its keep going on … but for adsense to act on it you need to act on it to see what it is … but when people will know that this is advertisement than clicking rate will be less.

          Have you seen that Google adsense showing title as related to the topic and when you will click on it you will land on monster.com

      2. Technary says:

        I agree. People (including me) have started using alternatives for adsense.

    2. AIEEE 2012 says:

      I hope adsense doesnt goes against such ideas.

      1. Adsense and Google wants it to be clear that an ad is an ad and they don’t want people to be cheating in any way which includes pretending that you are not an affiliate when you are.

        1. PPC Ian says:

          That is absolutely correct, well said. Google AdSense is all about transparency. They way they will raise CTRs is by improving ad formats. You can already see a lot of this type of testing in 2010 and 2011 such as the new leaderboard format (it’s doing really well) and also testing showing/not showing/showing partial URLs.

          1. Technary says:

            Adsense has strict polices. They ban accounts instantly in case of cheating as said by “email list building”

          2. Technary says:

            *adsense has strict policies

  6. Chathura says:

    wow! never though that. thanks for the news. Also have to say, You have some great creative ideas.

    1. You are hearing it today but believe me this is regularly using by many affiliates.

  7. fas says:

    thanks for the info on cloaking… interesting stuff

    any long term effects?

    1. Yes more sales, more revenue, more profit and enjoy life.

  8. Erwin Miradi says:

    It’s a nice strategy. I haven’t heard a lot about frame domain name cloaking anyway. I’ll try this one and see how good it does. Thanks for sharing it.

    1. Technary says:

      Its really good descriptive information!

  9. Believe it or not but visitors started to hate aff or similar terms in url and this kind of tips or tricks can be handy and result more.

  10. PPC Ian says:

    Cloaking has a lot of negative connotations. It’s something you don’t really want to use for SEO since it can confuse search engines and is prohibited by many search engines. However, there are a few cases where cloaking can help the affiliate marketer. The big one is hiding your ClickBank id when selling products on ClickBank. That way, the user cannot replace the ClickBank id with their own (or remove your id). I have personally used Affiliate Ninja to achieve this result.

    1. Technary says:

      SEO might be affected as you say. But publishers who already know what importance a referral link has should try these things to increase sales!

    2. Erwin Miradi says:

      Yeah I agree cloaking has negative connotations. But since I also use WordPress, I can manage to hide my CB Id only with plugins like Pretty Links or Affiliate Ninja.

      1. allan stuart says:

        i do think that cloaking was like cheating??? i don’t know about that for sure , but i do feel uncomfortable in doing that . any insight would be helpful.

        i rarely tried CPS before, only focusing on CPC now.

  11. Terry says:

    Thanks for the clarification on this. I have heard of domain name cloaking but didn’t quite get it. Very helpful blog!

  12. Technary says:

    Which one will be the best linktracker?

  13. Whitney says:

    I think domain name cloaking, or any other kind of cloaking, for that matter, is super important, as you have outlined in this post. It’s important not to lose sales all because someone could tell it was an affiliate link and didn’t trust it. I know me personally, I prefer to buy direct from the merchant. I think whatever you can do to make it as natural as possible is the best! Thanks Guest Blogger, this article is dope.

  14. Free Forms says:

    Fabulous cloaking strategy indeed…glad to read your entire post.

  15. Free Forms says:

    Agreed about Google AdSense is all about transparency & Google AdSense is a program run by Google Inc. which enables publishers in the Google Network of content sites to automatically serve text, image, video, and rich media ads that are targeted to site content and audience.

  16. Free Forms says:

    Well Thanks for the valuable information sharing with us.

  17. Buy a Blog says:

    Yes you are right and this is correct.

  18. Thanks for this awesome guide! 🙂

  19. Buy a Blog says:

    Thank’s for great Article, Really helpful.

  20. I have used this technique several times in order to gain soem extra cash

  21. Who knew that this is possible. Thanks for letting us know about this! Very useful for me.

    1. Haitham says:

      First time to know. Great thanks for you for sharing

  22. Gift Ideas says:

    Nice tips here. Thanks for posting.

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