Some advantages of link design using redirects are to:
– get around requirements that prevent posting affiliate links to your site
– shield your affiliate links from information retrieval systems
– make the link appear more attractive and not look like an affiliate link
– easily change what merchant or offer is associated with the link
A popular word for link design is cloaking, but like everything else with multiple meanings, there is also some confusion and stigma that can distract from the purpose of creative link design.
The word “cloaking” in this article is used to describe different ways a link can be shown to a visitor and how tracking your links is good for business. Link management is essential to internet business building. Cloaking and tracking are key link management tools. If you are going to take the time to build links, you might as well design your links and track them as well because it is not that much more effort.
The simplest form of link design is called redirection. For example, if you have organized your site to manage more than one product then you will have a different subdirectory for each product, service or activity.
Affiliate links present different problems like having your link code removed, altered or appear with a lot of numbers and hash marks that are very long and ugly. Using a redirect can give you options for creative link design.
There are a number of different redirects you can use but if tracking is going to be included then you will need to use software that can gather the data needed to make an informed decision. You can either hire a remote service or install a script locally on your server to design and track your links. However, among the many services and scripts available, the feature-benefit-cost significantly differ – buyer beware!
Services range from free to monthly payments with tracking and reports being the up-sell feature. The biggest downside of remote service is that if you choose to change service providers, or if they close down, all the links you built will be deleted leaving you with a reconstruction headache or even worse broken links.
The benefit of installing a script on your own server includes a one time software purchase and you control the admin panel. The downside of running your own script is that you must have enough technical knowledge to install and update the software as well as manage things like backups and restores to protect against failure.