Eclipse Link Cloaker 1.1 – Keywords Into Links, Conversion Tracking And More
I’ve just released a major update for Eclipse Link Cloaker – the premium link cloaking plugin for WordPress. Version 1.1 includes a fine selection of bug fixes and UI enhancements, as well as two big new features : the ability to automatically turn specified keywords into links, and conversion tracking support. The new version is already available for purchase on EclipseCloaker.com. Existing users will get this upgrade for free.
Here’s a more detailed overview of the new features.
So how does this “autolinking” stuff work? Basically, it lets you take any URL and specify one or more keywords that should be automatically linked to that URL. The plugin will then automatically analyze your posts and turn all instances of the specified keywords into links.
Of course, this feature is completely configurable. You can set the maximum number of automatically inserted links per URL/per post, exclude certain posts, give the autolinked keywords a unique look by applying custom CSS rules, make automatically inserted links open in a new window, and more.
Some affiliate programs offer an option to insert custom tracking code on the order confirmation page. With the new version of Eclipse Cloaker, you can use this feature to keep track of how many of the people who click your cloaked links actually buy the product you linked to. You just need to place the tracker code that the plugin generates on the merchant’s confirmation page, and the conversion stats will start showing up in the Cloaked Links tab.
- Localization support. The current release is still English-only, but the necessary code infrastructure for translation support is already in place and a French translation should be available in the first half of January. If anyone’s willing to translate the plugin into another language, let me know. You could get a significant discount on the cloaker 🙂
- Search box. The list of cloaked links can get huge and unwieldy quickly when using automatic cloaking. Search box to the rescue! Enter a domain name (partial names also work), a keyword or part of the link’s name, and the plugin will filter the list to display only the links that match your query. You can also sort the results by name, URL, hits and so on.
- Interface improvements. Version 1.1 also includes a number of small UI changes intended to make the plugin easier to use. For example, the plugin will now automatically select the entire contents of the cloaked URL box when you click it.
- Bug fixes. The combined clicks & conversions chart has been updated to use your blog’s configured timezone. Invalid pass-through URL parameters are filtered better. The free version’s .htaccess rules are correctly removed even if it is still active when Eclipse Cloaker is installed.
I am doing some research on link cloaking as I teach beginner internet marketing classes and I want to have some idea of what I am talking about.
After trying the simple link cloaker on one of my affiliate sites, and having the site disappear from the server with a 500 error post haste, I decided, whoops something may not be kosher. 🙂
A “guru” (whatever!) suggested to his students (me) that this tool would keep Google from recognizing that your unique affiliate site was in fact an affiliate site and this would help bring traffic.
Now after reading at Google and noticing that the Yaro S and Darren R don’t really get into the subject much at all, I thought I would see what you , as a developer of a link cloaker would say. Is this tool a black hat tool, is there room for grey? If I were teaching white hat only, would I not only have the links be original, but maybe in RED so Google can for sure see them? (just kidding, I know color doesn’t do it…)
Okay, Sorry for such a long post. I am really trying to learn here and value your comments either publically or personally.
With the default settings, this plugin is a light-grey-hat tool. Cloaking links the way it does is really no worse (from the visitor’s perspective) than shortening them with something like TinyUrl. In fact, it might even be better – cloaked links can have descriptive URLs like “http://example.com/goto/Red_Widget_Site/” that tell the visitor something about the destination of the link. Compare this with cryptic short URLs like “http://tinyurl.com/dh5n4m” that really don’t.
Now, you could also configure the plugin to display the target site in a frame (thus obscuring the address bar URL, too)… that would make your hat a rather dark shade of grey.
Whether white-hats would/should use link cloaking is an interesting question. On the one hand, making a link appear to lead somewhere else than where it actually does seems decidedly non-white. On the other, tens of thousands of people do this every day with services like TinyUrl and Bit.ly and their sites seem no worse for wear in terms of SEO. So it’s a risk/reward decision.
Then again, one could argue that a true white-hat would never even consider a strategy that implies any kind of risk… 😉
Thanks very much for taking the time to respond. I have searched and read many many pages on this topic. I take it redirecting can lead you to more spam attacks on your site, those with less than ethical leanings (:-) ) use the redirect, or hitchhike it if I understand correctly, to take it somewhere else. Does your plugin protect against this behavior?
Thanks again for your insights.
Sorry, I don’t understand the question (spam attacks? hitch-hiking?). Could you rephrase?
Sorry – meaning
Does cloaking or redirects allow for others to capture your affiliate income or copy your pages etc to their site, or sites you may not want any affiliation with?
From all I read from the 2008 time, this has beoome a very serious issue.
I still fail to understand how something like that would even be possible, or what relation cloaked links might have to someone wanting to copy your pages.
If someone wants to make a copy of a publicly accessible web page, they can do that easily enough. Cloaked links would neither help nor hinder them.
As for “capturing your affiliate income”, I’m going to assume you’re talking about someone copying your affiliate link and replacing your affiliate ID with their own. This kind of thing is possible, but cloaked links make it harder. In fact, preventing commission theft is pretty much the raison d’etre of link cloaking.
And even if someone does copy & modify your aff. link, this will only allow them to buy the product (or whatever) without giving you a commission. It will not affect your site. Cloaked links don’t give people magical powers to go and edit your websites.
I will immediately grasp your rss as I can not in finding your email subscription link or newsletter service. Do you’ve any? Please allow me recognize in order that I may subscribe. Thanks.
Thanks for the clear and insightful post, much appreciated re link cloaking. It’s an important element of any campaign.Cheers!