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:
- A top level domain hides any trace that it could be an affiliate link
- It definitely looks more natural that any cloaked tracking link
- 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:
- www.AmemberPro.net – Domain name cloaking that actually leads the visitor to the Amember membership site software.
- www.DesperateBuyersGuide.com – Domain name cloaking for the Desperate Buyer’s Guide information product website.
- 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 “@” 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 “@” 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.