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Affiliate Links—To Hide or Not to Hide? What’s Your Opinion?

Affiliate Links—To Hide or Not to Hide? What’s Your Opinion?

By Pat Flynn on

There’s a lot of debate whether or not a person who has a blog or does any kind of social media type affiliate marketing online should hide or disguise their affiliate links. I’m interested to hear what you think, but let’s talk more about it first.

For those of you who don’t understand, affiliate marketing is where individuals promote a business (or products of a business) in exchange for a percentage of the sales they generate. The actual affiliate link is the link on the individual’s website that points people toward the other business’s product or service. Normally, the link will have some sort of identification tag on the end that helps the business identify who is bringing in the leads and how much commission they will have earned.

Here’s the exact affiliate link for the Internet Business Mastery Academy which I will refer to every once and a while here on this blog:

http://www.internetbusinessmastery.com/cmd.php?af=866217

You may notice that I hide some links, while others I don’t. The reason, I’m not exactly sure what to do.

Observations

Here are some observations I’ve made about affiliate links:

  • Many internet marketers are afraid that people will be turned off by seeing the “tag” at the end of the link which obviously identifies the link as an affiliate link, one that could potentially earn that person some cash. So as a result, they hide the links (I won’t go into how this is done, but affiliates do have their options, i.e. URL shorteners and PHP scripting).

In my opinion: Not all people will notice the “tag” at the end of the link – and the people that do will totally see your disguise too, and know you’re trying to hide your affiliate link.

  • Many people will hide their affiliate links just for the sake of making them shorter, and/or keeping track of your clicks.

In my opinion: If a person is shortening their links so they can tweet them or put them on some other social media platform, then I totally understand – this isn’t hiding, it’s being resourceful. Click tracking isn’t hiding either, although many affiliate programs have click tracking and reporting built in already. I’m more concerned about the links in the middle of blog posts or in email addresses where shortening isn’t absolutely necessary.

  • Besides the actual text of the link, there are two basic types of affiliate marketers: ones that don’t explicitly mention the affiliate link and insert it into their posts or email lists; AND those who are blatantly obvious about it.

In my opinion: Being casual or Captain obvious doesn’t make that much of a difference – it’s just a delivery style that a person chooses. However, one should always be consistent or else it might draw some unnecessary attention to your audience. The results will most likely depend on your particular audience. The best thing you could probably do is to split test your blog posts or emails, and see which one converts more for your readers.

What Do You Think?

So, I’m just curious to know how you use and/or respond to affiliate links. If you see one, are you turned off? Has noticing a hidden affiliate link made you think twice about clicking through? Do you think that announcing a link is an affiliate link is a terrible mistake, or the best way to go?

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