Affiliate marketing has become an extremely popular way for publishers to monetize their content. By promoting relevant products and services, publishers can earn commissions when their readers make purchases through affiliate links.
However, raw affiliate links can appear unappealing and spammy to readers. This is where link cloaking comes in. Link cloaking allows publishers to mask ugly affiliate links with cleaner, branded links that are more likely to be clicked.
In this post, we‘ll explore some of the best WordPress plugins for cloaking affiliate links. We‘ll look at their key features and how they can help boost your affiliate earnings.
What is Link Cloaking and Why is it Important?
Before diving into the plugins, let‘s first understand what exactly link cloaking is and why it‘s so useful for affiliate marketers.
What is Link Cloaking?
Link cloaking is a technique for disguising long, ugly affiliate links with cleaner, branded URLs that better represent the destination page.
For example, this is what a typical Amazon affiliate link might look like:
https://www.amazon.com/Acme-Widget-XYZ123/dp/B0123456789?tag=your affiliate ID
With link cloaking, you can transform this into something like:
So instead of exposing the underlying affiliate link, you present a branded link aligned with your website.
Why is Link Cloaking Important for Affiliate Marketing?
There are several benefits to cloaking your affiliate links:
Increases click-through rate (CTR) – Branded, relevant-looking links are more likely to be clicked than long, spammy-looking affiliate links.
Protects commissions – Affiliate links contain your publisher ID. Cloaking prevents competitors from seeing and possibly copying your IDs.
Improves user experience – Clean links create more seamlessness for users clicking from your content to a product page.
Enhances branding – Branded links reinforce your website domain and build user trust.
Streamlines link management – Cloaked links let you easily update or redirect links site-wide.
Provides analytics – Link cloaking plugins can integrate with Google Analytics for click tracking.
As you can see, cloaking affiliate links benefits both publishers (more clicks and commissions) as well as users (better experience).
Next let‘s look at some of the best WordPress plugins for cloaking links.
ThirstyAffiliates is arguably the most popular WordPress affiliate link plugin. It makes it easy for bloggers and affiliate marketers to cloak links across their sites.
Some of the standout features include:
- Intuitive link management dashboard
- Automatically cloak links on publish
- Link redirecting and forwarding
- Click tracking and affiliate link analytics
- Bulk import/export of links via CSV
- API support for dynamic linking
- Flexible link settings and controls
- Works with Amazon native shopping links
- Integrates with Google Analytics
- Browser extension for easy affiliate link capture
ThirstyAffiliates essentially functions as a central hub to manage and track all your affiliate links. The dashboard provides an overview of clicks and commissions by link or groups of links.
There are also robust tools for cloaking links at scale across all your content. The plugin can automatically find keywords and swap in your cloaked affiliate links.
For Amazon affiliates specifically, ThirstyAffiliates has native support for Amazon Product Advertising API integration. This makes it easy to dynamically pull in product details.
ThirstyAffiliates starts at $67 for a single site license. Multi-site licenses are also available.
When to Use It
ThirstyAffiliates is a great choice for bloggers, media publishers, and anyone else with a larger affiliate program portfolio. It provides enterprise-level power for cloaking, tracking, and optimizing affiliate links.
The array of management and analytics features make it easy to stay on top of performance across all your links and content.
Lasso is another robust WordPress affiliate plugin. It focuses heavily on custom link cloaking and streamlined management.
Here are some of the main Lasso features:
- Custom branded link cloaking
- Group links into campaigns
- Link click tracking
- Link access permissions
- Cloud link management and sharing
- CSV import/export
- Click maggots support
- Evergreen countdown timers
- Integration with Google Analytics
- Browser extension
Like ThirstyAffiliates, Lasso provides a central dashboard to organize and monitor affiliate links. You can easily create groups for different products, categories, or promotions.
Lasso‘s custom link cloaking also makes it simple to brand your affiliate links. For example, you could create a link like
https://yourdomain.com/recommended-product instead of exposing the underlying affiliate URL.
The cloud platform additionally enables seamless link sharing and management across sites or teams.
Lasso offers both free and paid versions:
- Free version supports basic link cloaking
- Pro ($97/year) unlocks advanced analytics and permissions
- Agency ($197/year) adds user management and white label reports
When to Use It
Lasso is another great choice for anyone managing multiple affiliate links across one or more websites. The polished link management platform and sharing features make Lasso ideal for teams and agencies.
Marketers who value custom-branded cloaking URLs will also appreciate Lasso‘s flexibility compared to default cloaking formats in other plugins.
3. Pretty Links
Pretty Links is a straightforward affiliate link cloaking plugin. It focuses on simplifying the process of creating cleaner URLs.
Here are some key capabilities:
- Automatically create shortened, branded URLs
- Click analytics and tracking
- Organize links by groups and campaigns
- Role-based access control
- Redirect management
- Link data exports
- Integrations with tools like Bitly and Google Analytics
Everything in Pretty Links centers around the concept of "Targets" and "Pretty Links." Targets are the underlying affiliate URLs you want to cloak. Pretty Links are the branded redirects you create.
For example, you could take an affiliate link to Acme Software Company and create a Pretty Link like
https://yourdomain.com/acme. Pretty Links hide the ugly affiliate URL and redirect to it when clicked.
Pretty Links make it easy to track clicks and cloaked URL performance. You can see which of your Pretty Links are driving the most conversions.
Pricing starts at $39 for a single site license.
When to Use It
Pretty Links excels at fast setup and basic link cloaking. The automatic link creation engine makes it easy to quickly brand and track affiliate links across your website.
Pretty Links is a good option if you want minimal complexity. While it doesn‘t have quite as many robust features as tools like ThirstyAffiliates, it‘s streamlined and beginner-friendly.
EasyAzon is a lightweight plugin specifically built for Amazon Associates. It lets you easily add text-based Amazon affiliate links without leaving WordPress.
Key capabilities include:
- Text insertion of Amazon affiliate links
- Auto link localization based on visitor geography
- Product lookup via search or ASIN/ISBN
- Link click-through tracking
- Universal short links for easy social sharing
- Automatic info popups with product images and pricing
- Support for linking to Amazon categories or entire store
The main benefit of EasyAzon is quickly inserting Amazon text links without having to manually create product associate links on Amazon‘s site. For example, you can just type
[easyazon_link identifier="B000012345" locale="US" tag="my site"]awesome product[/easyazon_link] in the block editor.
EasyAzon will automatically transform this into a properly formatted affiliate link. The plugin will also localize the link to show visitors the appropriate Amazon country storefront.
EasyAzon has tiered pricing:
- Basic: Free
- Plus: $27 per year
- Pro: $67 per year
Higher tiers unlock more advanced features and sites.
When to Use It
EasyAzon is the perfect solution if you solely want to focus on Amazon affiliate linking. The tight integration and text linking capabilities make EasyAzon a specialist in quickly adding Amazon affiliate links across content.
For general affiliate linking beyond just Amazon, other tools like ThirstyAffiliates would be better suited. But EasyAzon remains a top choice for anyone doing heavy Amazon Associates marketing.
5. Easy Affiliate Links
Easy Affiliate Links is another popular link management plugin for WordPress. It provides a simpler alternative to tools like ThirstyAffiliates.
Some key features:
- Automatically create cloaked or non-cloaked links
- Click tracking metrics and stats
- Categorize links for organization
- Schedule expiration for temporary links
- CSV and XML import/export
- Contextual help links
- Complies with Amazon Associates Operating Agreement
While Easy Affiliate Links doesn‘t have quite as many robust enterprise features, it provides a solid set of essentials for cloaking and tracking affiliate links.
The plugin follows Amazon‘s policy by letting you choose to cloak or not cloak Amazon links (Amazon requires links be displayed as-is).
Easy Affiliate Links is also beginner-friendly. It has built-in contextual help info to explain settings and features.
When to Use It
Easy Affiliate Links hits a nice balance between feature richness and simplicity. It provides the core capabilities most affiliate marketers need without overwhelming complexity.
The contextual help and documentation also make this a great choice if you‘re newer to affiliate marketing. Easy Affiliate Links is easier to wrap your head around than tools like ThirstyAffiliates with many advanced options.
Overall it‘s a solid free plugin for basic link management and cloaking.
Geniuslink provides advanced link management and cloaking across sites and channels. However, it doesn‘t offer a specific WordPress plugin.
Some noteworthy features consist of:
- Link shortening and custom link aliases
- Group links by campaign with reporting
- Pixel tracking and analytics integrations
- Segment links by platform like email vs social
- A/B testing of link combinations
- Multi-user collaboration and management
- API access for developers
Although not a plugin, Geniuslink provides robust enterprise link management comparable to tools like ThirstyAffiliates. For example, you can easily shorten links, brand them, track their performance, and share access.
There are also more advanced features like A/B testing different link copy/placements and API access.
Geniuslink starts at $99/month for the basic plan.
When to Use It
Geniuslink is ideal for larger teams managing lots of links across websites, emails, social posts, and more. Even without a plugin, Geniuslink equips you with powerful tracking and analysis thanks to the script implementation.
The link management capabilities make Geniuslink a top contender among enterprise tools. The broader platform support beyond just WordPress sites is also a unique advantage.
Which Plugin is Right For You?
All of these plugins offer effective solutions for cloaking affiliate links on WordPress. Which one is right for you depends on your specific needs and use case:
ThirstyAffiliates – Best for larger affiliate programs with lots of links to manage and optimize.
Lasso – Great for custom link cloaking and cloud link management.
Pretty Links – Simple and beginner-friendly for basic link cloaking.
EasyAzon – The perfect choice if you focus solely on Amazon Associates links.
Easy Affiliate Links – Provides core link cloaking and tracking features for free.
Geniuslink – Feature-packed enterprise platform even without a plugin.
Take some time to review the key capabilities of each plugin above. Consider which features would provide the most value to your affiliate marketing efforts.
Many of the paid plugins offer free trials so you can test drive them on your own sites stress-free.
Link Cloaking Best Practices
Whichever plugin you choose, be sure to follow these link cloaking best practices:
Use your hostname – Your domain name adds branding and trust, e.g.
Be descriptive – Choose keywords that describe the product or category, e.g.
Keep links short – Concise links are memorable and shareable.
Group strategically – Organize links into meaningful categories and campaigns.
301 redirect old links – When changing a cloaked URL, use a 301 redirect from the old version.
Track traffic sources – Use UTMs to see which posts or channels drive the most conversions.
Refresh expiration dates – Check for expired links and keep everything current.
Provide value – Only recommend products you genuinely believe in and use.
Smart link cloaking strategies combined with compelling content are key to boosting affiliate performance. The right plugin simply makes managing cloaked links at scale much easier.
Go Forth and Cloak Affiliate Links
I hope this overview gives you a good sense of the top WordPress plugins for affiliate link cloaking and management.
Cloaking your ugly affiliate links will benefit both you and your audience. You‘ll see your click-through-rates and commissions increase. Users will have a smoother experience clicking from your content to products. It‘s a win-win.
Try out the plugins above to find your favorite options. And be sure to consistently provide value to readers rather than just optimizing purely for affiliate income.
Happy link cloaking and may your affiliate commissions prosper!