10 Best Link Cloaking Software & Plugins For Affiliate Marketing

Last Updated on September 27, 2020 by Zac Phua

The trend of affiliate marketing is booming in recent years. It’s by far one of the most beginner-friendly ways to make money online because of it’s extremely low entry barrier (takes little to zero startup cost), and often comes with huge a return if you know how to do it the right way.

Chances are, you already know what affiliate marketing is or even crushing it, but then you might be troubled with those long and ugly affiliate links that might hurt your user experience. If so, this post is definitely for you!

In case you don’t know anything about Affiliate marketing, here is a thorough article that will help you to get started:

Related Article: 5000+ Words Thorough Guide To Start A Thriving Affiliate Marketing Business

As for this article, I have listed down all the necessary details of the best link cloaking software/plugins (in my opinion) and suggest which one you should go for.

Without writing any longer, let’s get started with some fundamental knowledge first…

Affiliate Disclaimer: This article includes my affiliate links, which may provide a small commission to me if you purchase through those links (at no extra cost to you!). I recommend them to you because they’re companies that I’ve found helpful and trustworthy. You can read my full affiliate disclaimer here.

What Is Link Cloaking?

Simply put, link cloaking means customizing an ugly default link into a new one, which is shorter and often easy to remember. 

When someone clicks the cloaked link, it redirects them to your intended affiliate merchant.

5 Reasons Why You Need To Cloak Affiliate Links

1) Make Your Affiliate Links Short & Simple

As mentioned earlier, most affiliate links are very long and full of many strange parameters, something looks like this:

Example of Garbled Affiliate Link
Example of Garbled Affiliate Link

Obviously, I’m low-balling the link above as many affiliate links are filled with way more random characters that making it looks scammy, and they will hurt your click-through-rate.

But when link cloaking comes into play, it can turn your affiliate link into something more visual-appealing like this:

Example of Cloaked Affiliate Link
Example of Cloaked Affiliate Link

From our audience’s standpoint, this is the main reason why you need to cloak your affiliate links to make it short, simple, easy to remember, and eventually make a good impression for your audience.

2) Tracking Your Link Performance

While I prefer using Google Analytics to see which “money posts” generate me the most affiliate commissions, I know that some people favor more link tracking to optimize their blog posts with best-performing affiliate links.

Suppose you prefer the latter approach. An affiliate link cloaking software will provide you a dashboard where you can track your affiliate links’ performance in one place.

3) Ease Of Link Management

Besides providing my audience with nice-looking links for a better experience, this is my second intention why I would like to use a link cloaking software.

Pretend that something bad happens to my current vendor, leaving me with no choice but to switch to another relevant affiliate vendor.

In that case, if I am no using link cloaking software, I might need to go to my blog posts and update new affiliate links one by one. This could be a worse nightmare as it will eat up a lot of my time.

But if I don’t do it, I will not be getting sales anymore, and my site will face a terrible broken links issue, leading my audience to the “404” error page, and of course, this will give them a poor user experience.

However, with the help of a link cloaking software, I can manage all of my links in one place and update them with a few simple clicks easily.

4) SEO Benefit

SEO stands for search engine optimization. It’s the best practice you can utilize to gain highly targeted organic traffic by getting your blog posts ranked higher on the search engine results page.

Some experts say that search engines don’t like a post that full with ugly default affiliate links, probably because of bad user experience. 

If you don’t cloak your affiliate links to make it nicer, the search engines will consider it a low-quality post and hurt your SEO performance.

5) Protect Yourself From Affiliate Parasites

Inevitably, there will always have some tech-savvy that try to steal your affiliate commission by rewriting your affiliate links with malware hidden in browsers so that it keeps the sales credits to their affiliate code or someone else’s.

Even though such cases rarely happen, but it’s always good to be safe than sorry.

Link cloaking makes your affiliate ID less visible, which could prevent it from stolen by people with bad intentions and protect your affiliate commissions.

Is Link Cloaking A Black Hat SEO Strategy?

Frankly, this is the one I concern the most when I first start in affiliate marketing. I don’t want to use a strategy that seems great, but ended up being an inappropriate practice that sabotages the site that I spend all my time and energy to build.

According to Search Engine Journal, they claimed that: 

"Google Confirms it’s Okay to Redirect Affiliate Links" - Search Engine Journal

Source: Search Engine Journal

That said, I believe as long as you always come from a good place to help your users, and never trying to trick the search engines for these reasons, you’ll be safe:

  • Hiding the URL because users would otherwise never click it.
  • Hiding the URL because when users click it, they are redirected through multiple ads before reaching the destination.
  • Showing different content to the search engines compared to what you offer to users.

The bullet points above are adopted from SEO Blog

10 Best Link Cloaking Softwares For Affiliate Marketing

1) Pretty Links

Best link cloaking software - Pretty Links
Pretty Links

Short Description:

I guess you might hear of Pretty Links before because it’s the most popular link cloaking plugin on WordPress, with over 2.5 Million downloads and 200,000+ active installations when writing this article. 

It’s also the one that I use for my affiliate marketing websites. Although they have a paid version, I’m already quite satisfied with its freemium plugin.

Key Features: 

  • You have 100% control over how your links look.
  • It allows you to create a link redirects from your website’s domain.
  • It enables you to clean up, categorize, organize, automate, and track your links.
  • Compatible with all WordPress themes.
  • An interface for you to check the detailed analysis of the performance of your links.
  • Auto-Link Keywords
  • Migrate existing links into Pretty Links.
  • Shortcode support.

Customer Reviews: 

Averaged 4.5/5 stars rating based on 448 ratings, as seen on 25 September 2020 in the WordPress plugin library.

Pricing & Refund Policy:

For Free Version:
  • Offer you the basic features that allow you to cloak links and detailed statistics reports.
  • Free For life!
For Paid Version:
  • It costs you $99/year for a single-site license and $199/year for up to 5 WordPress sites.
  • You get access to all the key features mentioned above and much more.
Refund:
  • Pretty Links offers an unconditional 14-day money-back guarantee. If you aren’t satisfied with Pretty Links Pro (premium version), you can apply for a refund within 14 days. No questions asked.

2) Thirsty Affiliates

Short Description:

Seeing how the name of this link cloaking software is coined as Thirsty Affiliates, you can probably guess that it’s specifically designated for affiliate marketers. Still, it’s suitable for anyone wanting to take control of their link strategy easily.

Like Pretty Links, it’s also a freemium plugin, and you can always upgrade to their premium plan (Thirsty Affiliates Pro) to unlock more features to take your business to the next level.

Since we are only interested in link cloaking, I guess the free version is more than enough to manage your affiliate links.

Key Features: 

Here’s the list of the key features that are included in Thirsty Affiliates Pro, as seen on their official website:

  • Shortening / Destination Cloaking 
  • Link Categorization 
  • Smart Uncloaking (for Amazon Associates compatibility) 
  • Uses Custom Post Types 
  • See Which Pages/Posts Affiliate Links Are Inserted 
  • Automatic Keyword Linking 
  • Advanced Statistics Reports 
  • Geolocation Link Redirects 
  • Automatic Affiliate Disclosure 
  • Amazon API Importing 
  • CSV Import / Export Tool 
  • Link Scheduling 
  • Google Analytics Click Event Pushing 
  • Link Health Checker 
  • Google Tag Manager Compatibility 

Customer Reviews:

Thirsty Affiliates now has 30,000+ active installations on WordPress and scored an average of 4.5 out of 5-star rating based on 142 ratings when writing this article (25 September 2020).

Pricing & Refund Policy:

For Free Version:
  • Offer you the basic features that allow you to cloak links (with link prefix) and detailed statistics reports.
  • Free For life!
For Paid Version:
  • The paid version pricing starts at $49/year for a single-site license and $149/year for up to 10 WordPress sites.
  • You get all the key features mentioned above and much more.
Refund:
  • Thirsty Affiliates has an unconditional 14-day refund policy. If you aren’t happy with their paid version, you can apply for a refund within 14 days after purchase. No questions asked.

3) LinkTrackr

Short Description:

LinkTrackr is a link cloaking software recommended by several successful digital marketers like John Cow, Mike Filsaime, and Armand Morin. 

As it’s a 100% web-based software that you can use right out of the box, you don’t need to install it in your WordPress site or deal with software updates. 

Key Features: 

  • Cloak affiliate links
  • Pixel & postback tracking
  • Track sales & leads
  • Track traffic source, medium & campaign
  • Conversion (ROI) tracking
  • Upload earnings in CSV
  • Google AdWords optimization
  • Conversion data by keywords
  • A/B split testing
  • Brand tracking links with your domain name.

Customer Reviews: 

As this software is not listed in the WordPress library, most reviews are from other standalone bloggers and give the software full of praise.

Even though most of them are affiliated with LinkTrackr, but I found that their reviews are authentic, which means they do try the software before writing their reviews.

I also mentioned several famous digital marketers recommend LinkTrackr, so I reckon that this software might be worth a shot.

Pricing & Refund Policy: 

Sadly, LinkTrackr doesn’t provide any free plan

The pricing of their monthly premium membership starts from $17/month up to $77/month. They charge you mainly based on the number of tracking links and the number of link clicks you can obtain.

You can save up to 57% by signing up for their annual membership, which starts from $7/month to $47/month (paid annually).

They also offer a 30-Day Risk-Free Guarantee. You can cancel your account and ask for a refund if you don’t like LinkTrackr services within 30 days of purchase.


4) ShortyWP

Short Description: 

The same team of LinkTrackr develops this link cloaking software. 

But different from LinkTrackr, ShortyWP is a WordPress plugin specially built for internet marketers who use self-hosted WordPress blogs to optimizes their link clicks for maximum conversions.

You can start using it by upload the provided ZIP file to your WordPress blog and activate the license.

As long as you are using the latest version of WordPress and you’re on decent hosting, there should be no interruption with the existing files/content on your site.

Features: 

  • Shorten, Cloak & Rotate URLs
  • Custom Geo-IP Redirect
  • Click Limit & Link Expiration
  • Retargeting For Any Link
  • Link Monitoring & Downtime Alerts
  • Auto Keywords Linking
  • Affiliate SubID Tracking
  • Import Affiliate Commissions
  • Instant Postback URL Builder
  • Country, City & Mobile Reports
  • See Conversion Timeline
  • User Access Levels

Customer Reviews: 

I don’t know why ShortyWP is not listed in the WordPress library, so there’s no way for me to check the customer reviews.

Pricing & Refund Policy: 

Like LinkTrackr, ShortyWP doesn’t provide any free plan.

To get this plugin, you need to buy their license for a one-time payment that varies from $37 to $167, based on the number of site installation and extra features you could get.

Besides that, they also provide you 2 FREE online courses (Affiliate Marketing 101 and Niche Profits) worth $99 and $79, respectively, only if you decide to buy their plugin. 

If you’re not satisfied with ShortyWP for any reason within 30 days, they will refund you everything you’ve paid, no commitment whatsoever.


5) Easy Affiliate Link

Best link cloaking software - Easy Affiliate Link
Easy Affiliate Link

Short Description: 

Easy Affiliate Links is a popular freemium link cloaking plugin on WordPress. It’s easy to use and compatible with both the Classic Editor and the new Gutenberg Block Editor as well.

Key Features: 

Some of the key features in their free plan are included:

  • Easily add affiliate links to any post or page by clicking on the icon.
  • Give you complete control over each affiliate link’s options.
  • Easy-to-navigate admin dashboard to manage, analyze, and bulk edit your links.

Customer Reviews: 

As yet, Easy Affiliate Links has gained over 10,000 active installations on WordPress and scored an average of 4 out of 5-star rating based on 21 ratings.

Pricing & Refund: 

The plugin is available for free. 

However, you can upgrade to their premium plan to unlock more advanced features like automatic broken links checker and conditional geo or device targeted links.

Their premium plugin will cost you a one-time payment of €29 for 1 live website, or €119 for 20 live websites.

They offer a 30-day money-back guarantee. You can send the development team an email within 30 days of your purchase, and they will refund the entire amount to you.


6) Simple URLs

Best link cloaking software - Simple URLs by StudioPress
Simple URLs by StudioPress

Short Description: 

As its name tells, Simple URLs are a free basic link cloaking plugin developed by StudioPress that allows you to cloak your links, track the click counts, and manage them in one place.

Simple URLs Admin Dashboard
Simple URLs Admin Dashboard

Key Features: 

  • Cloak your links, and manage them in one place.
  • Track total link clicks.

Customer Reviews: 

Simple URLs has more than 8,000 active installations, with an average of 4 out of 5-star rating on WordPress (based on 19 ratings) to this date.

Pricing & Refund: 

No premium plan. FREE to use.


7) WP Affiliate Links

Best link cloaking software - WP Affiliate Links
WP Affiliate Links

Short Description: 

Much like Simple URLs, but WP Affiliate Links seems to be more “simple”. No many fancy features as you have seen with the other plugins. It’s just designated for affiliate marketers who want to cloak their links and track their outbound traffic. That’s it.

Customer Reviews: 

Maybe people love about WP Affiliate Links’ simplicity, it has more than 3,000 active installations, with an average of 4.5 out of 5-star rating on WordPress (based on 4 ratings).

Pricing & Refund: 

Completely FREE.


8) Affiliate Links Lite

Best link cloaking software - Affiliate Links Lite
Affiliate Links Lite

Short Description: 

Affiliate Links Lite is another link cloaking plugin on WordPress that’s free to use (most WordPress plugins are free, seriously). It is a useful plugin for creating and shortening any internal or external links.

Key Features:

  • Hit count stats.
  • 301/302/307 HTTP redirect codes setup.
  • Nofollow and noindex for redirects.
  • Link categories setup.
  • HTML and shortcode generator for link embedding.
  • Category slug in the link URL if needed.

Customer Reviews:

More than 4,000 active installations and gained full 5 stars rating (based on 7 ratings) on WordPress.

Pricing & Refund: 

The lite version is free to use.

You can go premium for a one-time payment of $25 or $100. The only difference between these 2 packages is that the more expensive one allows you to charge the end-users to use the product.

There’s no clear refund policy on their premium plan, so I can’t make any claim here.


9) WooCommerce Cloak Affiliate Links

Short Description: 

Even our core topic today is about affiliate marketing, but let’s assume you would like to start an e-commerce site in the future, WooCommerce might be a great option to build your online empire. 

If that’s the case, WooCommerce Cloak Affiliate Links might be a plugin you might be needed to cloak all external links in your WooCommerce store.

Key Features: 

  • Cloak external links.
  • Set up 301, 302, or 307 redirects.
  • Mark your links as ‘nofollow’ in the search engines.

Customer Reviews: 

This plugin has 1,000+ active installations on WordPress so far, with an average of 4.5 out of 5-star rating (voted by 9 people).

Pricing & Refund Policy: 

It’s a freemium plugin.


10) EazyAzon

Best link cloaking software - EazyAzon
EazyAzon

Short Description: 

Although Amazon Associates might not be the most lucrative affiliate program that pays massive commissions, it’s still undoubtedly the best jump-off point for newbies who want to give affiliate marketing a try.

Suppose you are one of those affiliates who mainly use Amazon Associates in monetizing your blog, EazyAzon is a plugin you cannot miss.

It could be a big time-saver by enabling you to insert affiliate links into your posts without going through the tedious steps of manually creating links within your Amazon Associate account.

Key Features: 

  • Create and cloak Amazon affiliate links.
  • Open the Amazon affiliate links in a new window tab.
  • Extending time when you can get paid. (this is a game-changer as Amazon usually only provide 24-hr timeframe).
  • Display product preview pop-ups.
  • Apply nofollow attribute to certain links.
  • Link localization (If someone in the UK is visiting your affiliate site, EazyAzon will automatically redirect them to the Amazon UK store after clicking on your links. This could prevent you from losing commissions from international traffic.)
  • Powerful “Add To Cart” feature to bring you more sales.

Customer Reviews: 

EazyAzon has over 10,000 active installations on WordPress, with an excellent reputation of 4.0 out of 5-star rating.

Pricing & Refund Policy: 

This plugin is free to use. But if you want to use it for multiple sites, you are required to buy their license.

They have 2 different licenses, encompassed:

Multi-Site License
  • Use on unlimited personal websites
  • Bonus: The Ultimate Amazon Affiliate Course
  • $47 one-time payment
  • 30-Day Money-Back Guarantee
Developer License
  • Use on unlimited personal websites
  • Use on unlimited client websites
  • Use on unlimited websites to flip
  • Bonus: The Ultimate Amazon Affiliate Guide
  • $67 one-time payment
  • 30-Day Money-Back Guarantee

Conclusion

I have just discussed the highlights of each best link cloaking software and plugins for affiliate marketing. 

Allow me to put them all together in a chart to give you a quick recap of what we have covered so far:

Link Cloaking SoftwareWordPress PluginCustomer ReviewsFree PlanPremium Plan Pricing
Pretty LinksYes4.5/5Yes$99/year ~ $199/year
Thirsty AffiliatesYes4.5/5Yes$49/year ~ $149/year
LinkTrackrNoNo$87/year ~ $567/year
ShortyWPYesNo$37~$167 (one-time payment)
Easy Affiliate LinkYes4.0/5Yes€29~€119 (one-time payment)
Simple URLsYes4.0/5YesFREE
WP Affiliate LinksYes4.5/5YesFREE
Affiliate Links LiteYes5/5Yes$25~$100 (one-time payment)
WooCommerce Cloak Affiliate LinksYes4.5/5YesFREE
EazyAzonYes4.0/5Yes$47~$67 (one-time payment)
**The data above might vary at the time you read this article.**

Yet, you might still be confused about which plugin you should go for, despite the table above and all the key points that I have just listed down for you. There’s just so many of them.

Obviously, these link cloakers all serve the same purpose: Allow you to clock affiliate links to make them more visual-appealing and get you more clicks and affiliate revenue.

But the question now is: 

Which plugin gives you more useful features in the free plan? Plus, which one is the most cost-effective if you decide to upgrade to the premium plan when the time comes?

Of all these tools, I recommend you choose Pretty Links or Thirsty Affiliates simply because they are 2 of the most downloads link cloaking plugins on WordPress, with excellent customer reviews.

I also believe these 2 plugins have all the features you need to cloak, track, and managing your links. And either their free or paid versions, both of them are easy to use.

Nevertheless, if you are running an Amazon affiliate site, EazyAzon is the one you should consider using. Not only because they can save you a lot of time by allowing you to insert affiliate links into your posts easily but also to protect you from missing out commissions with the link localization feature.

Anyway, these are just my recommendation for you. You can always pick the one you that suits your needs.

I am about to stop writing here. Feel free to drop a comment below if you have any questions or any plugin you would like to recommend that we never heard of.

6 thoughts on “10 Best Link Cloaking Software & Plugins For Affiliate Marketing”

  1. Hello Zac, anyone who’s into business online would certainly want to jump on these ideas and I have seen a couple of things that I could make use of and first is the aspects of search engines optimisation benefits that comes with this cloaking software and it would he very great to have anyone these suggestions working for your business 

    Reply
  2. It’s very good that you shared this here  reading through articles like this always help you discover more about the things that can be very beneficial to your business. This best link cloaking software is very nice and it’ll be of great help to online business owners, thanks for sharing about it, it’ll be resourceful.

    Reply
  3. I believe that it would be very good if I try it for my links too. Always wondered how to make my links look more attractive to my potential customers but didn’t know about cloaking at all. Now that you have shared it, it seems like it even gives me more benefits than I first imagined. Now I’m definetely going to be a part of this cloaking trend for sure. I’m also glad it’s not a black hat strategy as well.

    Reply

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