I see a lot of new affiliate newbie’s using the bit.ly and other similar URL shortening services to shorten and cloak affiliate links on their blogs or websites. Having done this myself in the beginning I have found this to be a potentially ineffective way and possibly a deadly mistake in affiliate marketing. Why do I think it’s a mistake to use a URL shortening service? well it can actually do your blog more harm than good. In this post I will share with you 3 reasons why I think using bit.ly URL shortening or similar services for your affiliate links are not recommended.
I recently went through the laborious task of removing 99.9% of the bit.ly URL’s on this blog. I generated many of them to cloak my affiliate links. One of the biggest reasons why I wanted to get rid of Bit.ly links on my blog was because many of them had been identified as spam… I had my readers email me telling me that when they clicked on an affiliate link, that was cloaked by Bit.ly, they were redirected to a spam warning page… This wasn’t good. So I decided that I wanted to use uncloaked links with a short text message (affiliate link) next to the anchor link itself. The moment I began to remove Bit.ly I started to see more clicks and more affiliate sales as the result…
1. In a recent affiliate summit affstat report early this year a survey carried out suggested that more than 58% of affiliate marketers don’t cloak their affiliate links, and more than 63% don’t use a URL shortening service. It would seem that honesty sometimes is the best policy, right?
2. Using bit.ly URL shortening to shorten affiliate links can sometimes backfire like the scenario I was faced; If your blog site is riddled with these, you could end up doing irreversible damage to you blog’s search engine rankings, especially after the recent Penguin updates.
3. Lastly, imagine should anything happen to Bit.ly, lets say for example the site get’s hacked into or someone the other end pulls the plug etc, you’re going to be left with a blog filled with potentially thousands of dead links…
Here’s my advice, don’t use a URL shortening service to cloak your affiliate links. Don’t even use an affiliate link cloaking plugin, most of them are pretty useless. Instead, use the laws of opposite attraction and leave them completely naked and place in brackets by the side of your affiliate link the following: (affiliate links) so people at least know what they’re clicking on should they wish to. Enjoy.
What about you?
What are your thoughts on cloaking affiliate links and using URL shortening services such as bit.ly to cloak your affiliate links?, Do you believe that it’s ethical to cloak affiliate links anymore? Share your thoughts and experiences below.
Photo by jpbourque