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How to Cloak Your Links Using cPanel Redirects

website cpanel pretty link redirectionWhile I was at NAMS6, a Niche Affiliate Marketing Systems Workshop, I learned that one of the best ways to cloak your links, especially your affiliate links, is to use the cPanel Redirects function in your hosting administration area (hosting must use cPanel, like Hostgator and Bluehost). This little tip was suggested by Bob The Teacher as he says it’s safer to use than third party programs that may be here one day and gone the next, consequently, causing you to lose all of your links!

First, What’s a Redirect?

A Redirect is a feature that allows you to send visitors who try to access one URL to another URL. These redirects can be temporary or permanent redirects (most used and recommended).

Why Cloak Affiliate Links Using Redirects?

Well, it looks so much cleaner. For instance, which of the following would you rather see, use, and remember?

  • https://freeblogfactory.com/ref,brown-1308515603 OR http://xdwebsolutions.com/freeblog
  • http://www.shareasale.com/r.cfm?b=107871&u=517569&m=15608&urllink=&afftrack OR http://sharemysale.com

See how much better it is to use redirected links rather than the actual long links themselves? It can also help protect you from those who try to steal your affiliate sales (yes, there are people who do that!).

How to Create a Redirect Using cPanel

Watch the quick video below for a more detailed look into how to setup cPanel Redirects.

However, there’s one caveat to this solution…

During my testing of cPanel Redirects, I found that my newly created links weren’t working and I couldn’t understand why. So I went to my old trusty, Google, to help me solve the issue.

Well, lo and behold, this method doesn’t work properly if you are using WordPress or other CMS that uses a .htaccess file to manage access permissions.

And I’m a WordPress Chick! :-)

So, Then, What Are Your Options?

If you are using a CMS, like WordPress, there are other options.

  • PHP redirection (advanced method and you need to know a bit about PHP)
  • Pretty Link Pro (premium method)
  • Pretty Link Lite (free and easiest way to get started; link is to WordPress plugin)
  • SubDomain redirects (i.e. URLRedirect.xdwebsolutions.com; not really recommended as it will most likely still be too long depending on your domain name)

Your turn…

What do you use to cloak/redirect your links? Don’t forget to share with your network!

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10 Comments

  1. Melanie Kissell @SoloMompreneur

    Thanks, Kesha!

    Leave it to Bob the Teacher to offer up a good lesson like this. You can take the man out of the classroom, but you can’t take the classroom out of the man. LOL!

    I’m also a WordPress gal so I’m going to look into creating “pretty links” via the plugin you suggested. :)

    On another note …

    I’m using a plugin called “Link Within” for suggested posts readers might also enjoy. I LOVE the way yours are designed. Would you mind sharing which plugin you’re using?

    Thanks a heap!
    Melanie
    xoxo
    Melanie Kissell recently posted..Delivering A Pregnant IdeaMy Profile

    • Kesha

      Hey Mel, yes, I’m glad I got a chance to meet Bob in person at NAMS. His sessions were the most popular ;-)

      I used to use Yet Another Related Post Plugin (YARPP) until it started to act up. So I found nRelate. You can find out more about this and their other free plugins at their site – http://nrelate.com/ (direct link).

      Then you can just install the normal way using the WP dashboard.

      There are even different categories for you to choose from for styling. I’m using the Polaroid style on this site.

      Glad you like! :-)

      Let me know if you have any other questions or need assistance with installing on your blog.

      ~K

      • Melanie Kissell @SoloMompreneur

        Thanks so much, Kesha — you’re the BEST!

        I imagine meeting Bob Jenkins in person was a blast! Rumor has it he hangs out a lot with Felicia Slattery — another one of the good eggs. :)

        I’ve been on Bob’s list for the past couple of years and I really enjoy his teaching style. And he’s got a great personality. Definitely NOT a stuffed shirt.

        Off to scope out nRelate — thanks again!
        Melanie
        xoxo
        Melanie Kissell recently posted..Delivering A Pregnant IdeaMy Profile

  2. Stella | Increase Optins Fast

    Thank God, I’m not the only one who’s been scoping out other ways of redirecting long, ugly URLs. BTW, thanks for this post.

    This cPanel redirects sound cool except your last finding that it doesn’t really work on WP sites.

    You’re dead right about the concern on “what if the 3rd party redirect companies go under? Hmm.. that’s been my fear as I’ve been thinking I may have to start doing PHP redirects BUT again worried because it’s cumbersome.

    I use GoCodes and recently discovered that Bit.ly has blacklisted CB links – found out after a nice blogger buddy informed me that one of my links was showing such. I wonder how many people have used bit.ly to redirect their CB links and wondering why sales are down?

    • Kesha

      @Stella, hey deary! Oh, I didn’t know that about CB links and bit.ly so thank you for informing me about that!!

      Another reason we have to always be watchful and careful with our properties :-)

      ~Kesha

  3. Veronica Cervera

    Hi Kesha,

    I also changed the codes in .htaccess. I had to do this way back for url canonicalization. I believe this is necessary in SEO in order not to lessen the value of the backlinks.

    • Kesha

      @Aminka, thanks for the resource Aminka! I should check that one out too and see if it will be a good fit.

      ~Kesha

  4. Kate Brown Wilson

    For all internet marketers link cloaking is very important to know for privacy sake I think, this will add up something to my knowledge specially that I am new to this kind of activity.
    Kate Brown Wilson recently posted..חנוכהMy Profile