Hiding Links – Why You Should and How You Shouldn’t
Some affiliate links stick out like a sticky-outie thing on a smooth surface. For some reason many people, me included, get suspicious or at least a bit anti-social at the site of an obvious link and if they’re going to visit the site they will chop off the affiliate ending before going there.
The sort of link that looks like – www.greatlookingproduct.com/?a=affname
Clickbank used to be almost as easy – http://steven938.cbpassive.hop.clickbank.net/, In this case, the affiliate’s name was at the beginning rather than the end, but it was still a doddle to clip the affiliate name off and put your own in, or at least a friend’s, so someone else gets the benefit and not the advertiser.
Along came TinyURL and bit .ly which enabled people to cut down long links into much shorter ones and in the process allowed them to hide the fact the link was an affiliate one.
Unfortunately, spammers soon caught onto this and were able to hide nefarious and nasty site names behind these top two shorteners, bringing them into disrepute. They are still in business and doing well, but in emails, these shortened links raise the spam score a bit.
The other popular link shortener is Pretty Links which is WordPress plugin and allows you to hide a link behind your own domain name but it does come with 4 big disadvantages –
- You need your own domain name, preferably a short one – which are in short supply.
- You need hosting for your WordPress site.
- You need to keep that site secure. Spammers would love to take control of your site and use your Pretty Links for themselves. I know personally the problems there!
- If you’re on shared hosting, you also rely on other users of the same hosting to keep their sites clean and spam free. You’re all under one IP address and if one site goes bad, you’ll all suffer.
What Else is There?
There are a few other shorteners around, but the amount of control you have is limited – Google’s, for instance, goo.gl is well accepted but the Big G has given no sign recently that the public side of the service will continue as it hasn’t been updated for a while and of course, many people think they already get enough of our information, so why give them more?
Many of the social media sharing sites like Hootsuite & Buffer also have their own shorteners, but they’re also after you to upgrade to their paid services and primarily, they deal with social sharing, not link shortening.
Snip.ly is also a shortening service but with a special twist – They use their shortener to frame the site you want to visit with an overlay and not every site allows that.
So this brings me nicely to a new service that’s just started – url.lv
It’s a link shortener and does quite a bit more – It will also do some link tracking – so you know where in the world you click has come from and whether it was desktop or mobile and more features will be added as time goes on.
Now there will be free and premium versions, but the good news there is that while they’re still in the advanced testing stage, anyone who signs up for a free account instantly gets upgraded to pro account, lifetime for free, so yes, you’re doing some testing for them, but you’re also getting a premium upgrade at no cost.
There’s also something even more special that will be revealed to you when you go to the site and watch the introduction videos. It’s a unique opportunity that I’m sure you’ll like.
So take a look at url.lv and see what you think. I’m starting to use it now and I’m sure I’ll retire my Pretty Links site soon because of it. Domain for sale soon, perhaps?