There are plenty of link cloaking scripts out there, and most of them seem to work the same way. Basically they allow you to take an ugly affiliate link like http://www.ghosturl.com/#a_aid=xx&a_bid=yy and convert it to something nicer looking like http://joshkotsay.net/recommends/ghosturl.
That’s all well and good, and while the latter is an improvement, many of your visitors can still tell that it is an affiliate link. Because of this, you will no doubt be losing out on a certain percentage of potential affiliate commissions. Especially in the IM space where people are much more savvy about clicking on affiliate links.
So what if there was a link cloaker that could hide your affiliate links completely? Your link will look like a normal product url, but when a user clicks on the link itself, it will use your affiliate link. Well with GhostURL you can. GhostURL is a relatively new wordpress plugin that allows you to easily create truly cloaked urls, and allow you to start earning all the affiliate commissions you deserve.
How it works
Ghost URL is really simple to use. After installing, you will see a new GhostURL menu in your WordPress control panel. To add a new link, just click on the Add New link. The two required things you need to enter is the Display URL and your Affiliate URL. Affiliate URL is self explanatory, but the Display URL is what gets displayed in your visitor’s browser when they hover over your link. Normally you want to set it to your affiliate product’s homepage url.
Now, any link to your site that uses this exact Display URL will automatically redirect to your affiliate url when the user clicks on it.
Optionally, you can also input in one or more keyword phrases, and GhostURL will automatically link each of these phrases on your site, and cloak it using the specified display and affiliate url.
GhostURL In Action
Here it is in action. I’ve specified my Display URL as http://www.ghosturl.com and input my own Ghost URL affiliate link.
Now look what happens when I link the keyword GhostURL.
When you hover over the link, it displays the regular GhostURL homepage address in your browser window. But when you click on the link, it goes through my GhostURL affiliate link. If you purchase the product, then I get the commission. Cool, huh?
Ghost URL Limitations
The link cloaking aspect of GhostURL works very well in my tests, and it does exactly what I expected it to do. Still, there are a couple of minor limitations to be aware of when using it.
Second, the analytics portion of GhostURL is pretty barebones at the moment compared to some other link cloaking products. Right now, it will just track your total clicks and unique clicks for each link. There are no graphs to see daily click trends or anything like that. There also doesn’t seem to be a way to reset your link stats which I think could be useful.
GhostURL currently sells for $47, and purchasing a license entitles you to use it on all of your sites. You’ll get access to the WordPress plugin, and there is also a hosted version which you can use for non-Wordpress sites as well. Support is excellent, and the plugin has already been updated a few times since I first bought it.
Losing out on affiliate commissions because of obvious looking affiliate links is definitely a huge problem for affiliate marketers. Link cloaking is one way to address this problem, and GhostURL is the first solution I’ve seen that really offers “true” link cloaking. If you have any type of site that uses affiliate links to make money, then I think you will find GhostURL to be very useful. Check it out, as I think it can boost your sales quite a bit.