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'm surprised nobody is adding their 2 cent to this thread. It's a touchy subject and you want to be sure your AM knows exactly what's going on or you could be in trouble without knowing it.
Link cloaking is a method used to make a long affiliate URL link into a shorter and prettier one—often to the detriment of a brand.
That's first sentence made me mad. So, I've not been reading the end of the article too closely.
LinkShare and SAS are offering ways to shorten affiliates URLs to use on Twitter... WordPress has mod_rewrite for "Pretty Permalinks", you'll find WP plugins like "Pretty Links" To my knowledge they are not doing it to "the detriment of a brand"
Cloaking is "redirecting", masking is "redirecting". Redirecting is not Cloaking or Masking links. Link redirecting has nothing to do with black hat, and is not detrimental to a brand. Cloaking and Masking could be.
Redirecting links (not cloaking links) is mostly done to shorten an URL (for various reasons) and some of her points are correct like tracking or consumer-friendly practice, others are not proven like "boost quality score" or "commission hijacking". Parasites are still doing their dirty job if you redirect your links. It can offer some protection for Clickbanks or other networks but if an "unsavory affiliate" or an AM want to see what's behind your redirect they can use software like fiddler to capture HTTP traffic and log it for review.
Shortening an URL (or redirecting) is not masking (or erasing) the information in that URL if it's done properly. A merchant can still see the origin of the click. All my links are redirected thru my own tracking system and my original clicks are in the network reporting.
Cloaking is a search engine optimization (SEO) technique in which the content presented to the search engine spider is different from that presented to the user's browser. This is done by delivering content based on the IP addresses or the User-Agent HTTP header of the user requesting the page.
URL Masking means that the visitors to the domain name will be forwarded to your destination website, however the URL in their browser address bar will remain the same.
What is the different between link cloaking or URL Masking..?
Cloaking is in fact a search engine optimization (SEO) technique in which the content presented to the search engine spider is different from that presented to the user’s browser. This is done by delivering content based on the IP addresses or the User-Agent HTTP header of the user requesting the page. When a user is identified as a search engine spider, a server-side script delivers a different version of the web page, one that contains content not present on the visible page, or that is present but not searchable. The purpose of cloaking is sometimes to deceive search engines so they display the page when it would not otherwise be displayed (black hat SEO). Beware from using this methods. Many of the major search engines normally delete your page or even your entire website from their databases if they are “cheated” with this technique.
With link masking you will not have the same problem, in fact the page that the user see is the same the search engine spider see and vice versa.
URL Masking. means that the visitors to the domain name will be forwarded to your destination website, however the URL in their browser address bar will remain the same. Also known as Stealth Redirection or URL Hiding, this will ensure that your visitors see the orignal domain name and not the destination URL.
Link cloaking is a method used to make a long affiliate URL link into a shorter and prettier one often to the detriment of a brand. ... The first URL clearly identifies the merchant, whereas the second is simply a shorter URL seen more frequently as more and more people use link shortening services.