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  1. #1
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    Question Why would I cloak a link if the search engine can follow it anyway?
    I saying doesn't Google, even if you cloaked a link, know it was an affiliate link by following the cloaked link?

  2. #2
    ABW Ambassador 2busy's Avatar
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    Yes. Why worry about it? Google is OK with affiliates generally.

  3. #3
    Moderator MichaelColey's Avatar
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    Generally, the purpose of cloaking isn't to hide a link from a search engine. By having links go through a redirect script, it lets you:

    1) Track the popularity of links.
    2) Stop bots from "clicking" through your links, which can throw your stats off.
    3) Make your links shorter and simpler, which is useful if you want people to share them.
    4) If they're stored in a database, it makes it easier to update your links when merchants change networks or modify their links.
    5) With a little programming, you can modify links to add user/session tracking information to pass through to the network so you can track sales back to particular users or sessions.

    I'm sure I didn't cover everything, but these are just some of the things that make link cloaking / redirecting useful.
    Michael Coley
    Amazing-Bargains.com
     Affiliate Tips | Merchant Best Practices | Affiliate Friendly? | Couponing | CPA Networks? | ABW Tips | Activating Affiliates
    "Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world." Nelson Mandela

  4. #4
    Full Member gcarson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MichaelColey View Post
    2) Stop bots from "clicking" through your links, which can throw your stats off.
    Michael.. I'm interesting in hearing about this. Like alot of others, my out links go through out.php?2u493874938729834. The tracking programs I was using like piwik, stats programs on Wordpress, etc was telling me that link 2343243243 was clicked. Unfortunately, that did me no good as I had to look up what that link was manually.

    So I wrote my own script to track the clicks, the merchant and the link clicked and then wrote my own scripts to read the data in some tables like I wanted.

    I was pumped.. I spent all day doing this and formatting my tables, etc etc. Then, some bot came through and was 'clicking' on the out.php page. I quickly realized that I needed to change my robots.txt to block bots from the out.php file, but we all know some bots don't follow the rules.

    Is there any other way to stop tracking 'bot clicks'? It still looks like there are other 'bot clicks' as the clicks seem high.

  5. #5
    ABW Ambassador 2busy's Avatar
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    You could try John's Spider Trap to block misbehaving bots:
    Spider Trap Anyone? - ABestWeb Affiliate Marketing Forum

    Nothing will keep them out but you can trap them when they misbehave.

  6. #6
    Full Member gcarson's Avatar
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    Thanks 2busy will check that out. Was I missing anything when I wrote the scripts? I use to use wordpress stats to track clicks. That only worked when the link clicked didn't have the same URL. Piwik only tells me that an out link was clicked, but can't tell me what the merchant was or the exact link. The only way I thought I could get this info was to write my own custom scripts. Was there another way to track cloaked links that don't use a 'pretty link' or some other link cloaking plugin?

    That Spider Trap script is fantastic.. can't wait to implement it.
    Last edited by gcarson; October 22nd, 2010 at 09:08 AM.

  7. #7
    ABW Ambassador 2busy's Avatar
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    I don't use Piwik, their total lack of information (can't even access their forum) convinced me to use something else. Many free stats can give you exact exit link info, even StatCounter offers that. I have started using Woopra on two sites just this week and it shows exit links too.

  8. #8
    Full Member gcarson's Avatar
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    Yeah, it shows exits links.. so it will show that out.php?=234323 was clicked. But without setting up a script to check what merchant and product the link "234323" is associated with, what do those do for you? Or am I missing something? All the stat programs I checked would only tell me that a link was clicked, but couldn't give me more info on it. I must be missing something.

    Edit.. sorry to 'hijack' the thread.. hope its relevant for everyone.
    Last edited by gcarson; October 22nd, 2010 at 09:29 AM.

  9. #9
    Moderator MichaelColey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MichaelColey View Post
    2) Stop bots from "clicking" through your links, which can throw your stats off.
    Quote Originally Posted by gcarson View Post
    Michael.. I'm interesting in hearing about this. Like alot of others, my out links go through out.php?2u493874938729834.

    ...

    I was pumped.. I spent all day doing this and formatting my tables, etc etc. Then, some bot came through and was 'clicking' on the out.php page. I quickly realized that I needed to change my robots.txt to block bots from the out.php file, but we all know some bots don't follow the rules.

    Is there any other way to stop tracking 'bot clicks'? It still looks like there are other 'bot clicks' as the clicks seem high.
    I have a table of "Bad Bot IP Addresses" and "Bad Bot User Agents" for those bots that don't follow the robots.txt rules. My jump page checks the IP address and user agent against those tables and returns 403 FORBIDDEN if there's a match.

    You can manually add to the tables when you identify excessive clicks from a suspected bot, or you can use a honeypot (probably just for IP addresses).
    Last edited by MichaelColey; October 22nd, 2010 at 11:03 AM.
    Michael Coley
    Amazing-Bargains.com
     Affiliate Tips | Merchant Best Practices | Affiliate Friendly? | Couponing | CPA Networks? | ABW Tips | Activating Affiliates
    "Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world." Nelson Mandela

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