Affiliate Marketing: How To Protect Your Commissions

When it comes to affiliate marketing, a great number of people are actually doing everything they need to do to make money online except for one thing.

That one thing is PROTECTING their affiliate link.

Let me share with you why this problem exists and three ways you can solve it, beginning today.

The Problem

Here is a sad, but true, fact about affiliate marketing.

When the people who see your advertising know you are promoting an affiliate product they will often be tempted to go around you and just type in the name of the website directly and cheat you out of your commissions.

Why this happens, I don’t know.

Worse yet, some people see an offer you advertise, join the affiliate program themselves and buy under their own link.

Some see this as a legitimate way to get a “discount” on the product.

I could not disagree more. Affiliate programs exist to reward promotion, not give out discounts to those who did no work.

The Solution

The solution is to simply never, and I mean never, use a “naked” affiliate link.

By “naked” affiliate link I simply mean a link that reveals that you are an affiliate.

Let’s take a look at an example, and then I will offer a few solutions.

For this example we will use Clickbank and one of my own products, Follow Up Selling Systems.

A standard affiliate link with Clickbank looks like this.

When you create a Clickbank link you replace the word “affiliate” with your Clickbank nickname and the vendor adds their vendor name.

So my “naked” link for promoting Follow Up Selling Systems would look like this …

In this link, cdpage is my affiliate ID (or nickname) and followupss is the vendor.

Here’s the problem.

Many people who see that link will know it’s an affiliate link, replace the “cdpage” with their Clickbank nickname and get the commission for themselves.

And it’s not just Clickbank that has this issue. Many, if not most, affiliate programs provide links that don’t protect you, the affiliate.

To protect yourself you must “cloak” your link.

Cloaking your link simply means using a link tracker, or redirect service, that produces a link that hides the fact that you are using an affiliate link.

There are many ways to do this. Here are the three I recommend, along with my recommended resources.

Option 1 – A Link Tracking Service

The first thing is to use a cloaking service like HyperTracker.

HyperTracker is my favorite, and a service I have used for many years.

If you use a cloaking service then the person who sees your affiliate link won’t know what product you’re promoting.

  • They will never see the name of the product.
  • They will never see the website address of the product you’re promoting.
  • They will only see your tracking link.

Link trackers will all cloak (or hide) your affiliate link from being too obvious.

So if you use a HyperTracker, or any of the tracking services, you will be cloaking your link.

You can use free trackers like and other trackers like that too but I do not recommend that because the volume of people who are spamming and doing things like that can really put you in jeopardy.

I have an article about the dangers of free cloakers here.

I suggest a high quality paid tracking service like HyperTracker.

Option 2 – A Cloaker on Your Blog

The second thing is that you can use a cloaking script on your own website or blog.

This is a non-technical way to cloak your link and to brand your website at the same time.

My favorite tool for this is called Pretty Link.

If you use a blog, Pretty Link is a plugin that you can install on your blog.

There is a free version that works perfectly well. You can install it from right within your WordPress admin panel.

There is also a paid version if you want more options. I would suggest starting with the free version.

If you use Pretty Link on your blog, you will be able to cloak your affiliate link, it, track clicks and the link you provide to people in your advertising will be your website address.

It’s a win-win-win!

Here is an example. My website address is

Using Pretty Link, I created this cloaked link for Follow Up Selling Systems  …

I believe this is the best of all worlds.

You brand your site by putting out links with your site address in them, you track clicks and cloak your link … all free!

Option 3 – A PHP Script

There’s a third way that’s a little bit more complicated and that is to use what is called a PHP redirect.

That’s a little bit more complicated, a little bit more technical, but if you are a person who likes the technical aspect of it then it’s very easy to create a PHP redirect.

What you do is you insert the URL that you want to protect in this little PHP script and then you upload that to your server.

The name you give that PHP file becomes your tracking link.

Again, more complicated than it needs to be, especially in the age of blogging, but if you are a technical type you might enjoy that.

Here is the most important thing.

If you are doing affiliate marketing, by all means protect your affiliate link by either using a cloaking service like HyperTracker or using a cloaking script like Pretty Link. Or, if you are technically inclined, you can use a PHP redirect.

Let’s look at those three links again, all next to each other, and see the difference. I believe you will immediately see what I mean.

My “naked” link –

My Hypertracker link –

My Pretty Link –

To my way of thinking the third link (the Pretty one) is so much better.

The first link is an obvious affiliate link. The second link is better, but still clearly a tracker, and some people don’t want to be “tracked”. The third link brands my site and gives me click tracking too. All free!

If you begin protecting every affiliate link that you have, I believe that you will see over time that your commissions increase simply because nobody can steal from you and you can track results better.

If you have ever promoted an affiliate offer and wondered why you did not earn more, commission thieves might be to blame.

By using a cloaker on your affiliate links every time you promote, you will stop these thieves in their tracks, know how many clicks you receive for every ad and earn more commissions too.

And that is a beautiful combination indeed!

Charlie Page Sig

24 thoughts on “Affiliate Marketing: How To Protect Your Commissions”

  1. The problem with all shorteners and cloakers is that the affiliate link is revealed at the landing page.

    For example, using Charlie’s example:

    The cloaked and shortened link:

    On the landing page url in the browser we find the affiliate link:

    Anybody can delete everything up to the .com and the commission will be lost.

    The perfect cloaker would hide the affiliate link even in the landing page.

    Just some thoughts on the subject.

    Your friend,

    Luis Antonios

    1. Luis,

      I agree and disagree. Since clicking the link sets the cookie the cookie will persist unless overwritten. So changing the link should not change the commissions unless the cookie is deleted.


      1. Luis Antonios

        That’s relaxing: cookies.

        But do most affiliate programs have that feature?

        I understand that some, don’t.

        Your friend,

        Luis Antonios

      2. In my experience. almost all affiliate programs use cookies to track affiliate referrals. That is something that should be on the checklist for choosing a program in my view.


  2. I have my own domain name hosted with HostGator.

    I use their redirect feature.

    It’s a shortener and a cloaker, too.

    My Trafficwave autoresponder affiliate link is:

    My redirect for that link is:

    Short, cloaked and domain branding.

    I can use an unlimited number of redirects.

    And, I have complete control of my links. If they change I can easily access that, too.

    Your friend,

    Luis Antonios

  3. Hey, regarding Clickbank – do you have ideas about improving conversions on a non-niche site? I own a document uploading webpage and as such it is very to match offers to the visitor. Best wishes

    1. You would likely be best served by custom software that could track the ad source back to the conversion.

  4. Pingback: Do You Know How to Keep Your Affiliate Link Safe?

  5. Thanks for the detailed information, Charlie. The Devil’s in the details, but luckily the details are often not that hard…they’re just details. We just need someone to point them out.

    We appreciate ya!

  6. Hi Charlie,
    Great amount of information here! Thanks! I’ve tried to cloak my clickbank affiliate id using pretty link lite. It did work cos when I hover my cursor over the affiliate banner, my id is hidden. However when I copied and pasted this new url on my browser, my click bank id shows and stays. What could be the problem? Do help.


    1. You say you “copied and pasted this new URL”. If that is the URL you see after you clicked your Pretty Link protected affiliate link you will always see your Clickbank ID.

      If that is what you did, copied the URL you saw after you clicked your affiliate link, then there is no problem. Just don’t promote using that link (the one you see after you click your affiliate link) or you won’t get paid.

  7. Hi Charlie
    I use a url ‘re-direct tool to redirect my affiliate link. Whilst it is a good idea to cloak your link, there are some affiliate programs out there that do not allow you to cloak your affiliate link.
    In this situation, you can only show your affiliate link and it is better to read the T&C carefully to make sure you do not violate them and risk losing your commission.


  8. Thank you soo much Charlie, as a new internet marketer I come to appreciate your open sharing of expertise this will save me some headaches.

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  10. Pingback: Affiliate Marketing - How To Protect Your Affiliate Commissions

  11. Dazzling Dolly Lutz

    Great Article, Charlie…….I’ve been teaching this to all my Sponsees the last few years.
    I did have the experience of having my Affiliate Link ‘changed” and someone else stole the Sale. Very unscrupulous behaviour…..cloaking our Affiliate Link is crucial.
    When there are thousands of people promoting the same Company using their Affiliate Links, it can get the Company “Blacklisted” with Google. ALL Companies should teach their Affiliates to cloak or redirect their AL, not use them “naked”.
    I have been using and now I’m going to check out HpyerTracker.
    Thanks for continuing to share your knowledge and wisdom with us.

  12. Hey Charlie

    Thanks for the post, good info as usual, I’m going to get “Pretty Link Lite” as soon as possible.

    Well done.

    Mark M

  13. Hi Charlie

    Thanks for this, it’s very timely as I’m about to launch a couple of campaigns and, amongst all the things I need to do, cloaking my link wasn’t, until now, on the ‘to do’ list.


  14. Charlie,
    Thank you for providing this timely information! I’ve been well aware of this problem for a while, but it never hurts to be reminded of the need to protect our affiliate links. I appreciate the tips provided in this article, and especially the Pretty Link tip. I’m going to look into that one myself. Thanks again.

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