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What is url masking and why is different from link cloaking

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URL Masking

means that the visitors to the domain name will be forwarded to your destination website, however the URL in their browser address bar will remain the same. Also known as Stealth Redirection or URL Hiding, this will ensure that your visitors see the orignal domain name and not the destination URL.

How does URL Masking work?

In case of URL Masking the Domain Forwarding server sends the client a Frames page where the Frame Source contains the destination URL you have specified. This ensures that the URL in the address bar of the browser does not change though the client sees the destination page.

Why (sometimes) masking my url is useful?

Hide (mask) an URL or a domain name can be useful in many cases, following are a couple of examples:

Mask affiliate links, track the clicks and the conversions

As Web surfers become more knowledgeable of how affiliate programs work, more people will omit your affiliate ID or use someone else’s ID when ordering. Either way, you may lose commissions you’re supposed to get. Using full window frame page is probably the most effective (though not perfect) way to prevent such loss. In fact, practically all of affiliate link cloaking software uses this method. The address bar won’t display your affiliate URL unless the affiliate site has a frame breaker (e.g.: Gmail). If visitors book mark, they will come back to your frame page. This means they use your affiliate ID every time.
Note: this feature will not work for the (very few) websites (e.g. Gmail) that has a “frame-breaker” and for the browsers that does not support frames or where the “no-frame” option has been activated from the user. In these cases the tracking-link will work as you did not selected this option

Mask hide your long domain and track the clicks

Sometimes your domain is too long and complicate to spell and/or write. Or you are using something like a free hosting that do not give you a dedicated domain but just a subdirectory of their domain. Using a shorter, more undertsandable and pretty domain is a big boost to your online marketing.

Although masking your url address can be very effective for your marketing, in the most of the cases it is not necessary and disturbs the normal navigation of the user. So be sure to use url masking only when it’s really necessary.

Url masking doesn’t mean link cloaking.

Cloaking is in fact a search engine optimization (SEO) technique in which the content presented to the search engine spider is different from that presented to the user’s browser. This is done by delivering content based on the IP addresses or the User-Agent HTTP header of the user requesting the page. When a user is identified as a search engine spider, a server-side script delivers a different version of the web page, one that contains content not present on the visible page, or that is present but not searchable. The purpose of cloaking is sometimes to deceive search engines so they display the page when it would not otherwise be displayed (black hat SEO). Beware from using this methods. Many of the major search engines normally delete your page or even your entire website from their databases if they are “cheated” with this technique.

With link masking you will not have the same problem, in fact the page that the user see is the same the search engine spider see and vice versa.

Sources for this article:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Domain_Masking
http://www.megrisoft.com/kb/idx/0/007/article/What-is-URL-Masking-.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cloaking

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ClickMeter
The online service helping advertisers, agencies, affiliates and publishers optimize their conversion rates through the management, tracking and monitoring of marketing links. Through an online dashboard or API integration users have access to a portfolio of tools including: click and conversion tracking, short links using user’s domain, split A/B testing, dynamic traffic redirect, landing page monitoring and more.
  • VIVEK G

    Very concise yet informative. Thanks for the good article. But please correct the spelling cloaking in the title/ link

    • Maurizio Tiberi

      Thank you for catching that typo!;)

  • Interesting definition of the Link cloaking…apparently what I thought was link cloaking is in reality just url masking! I suppose like many others I have come to use the terms interchangeably.

  • Alex Thompson

    Does URL masking of the domain has a negative impact on the SEO wise of the website?

    • admin

      SEO does not depend on Masking but on the type of redirect you apply. ClickMeter allows you to use 301 redirect. This pass 100% of Page Rank to the destination URL so it does not affect SEO in any way.
      On the contrary, using ClickMeter dedicated domains you can improve the ranking of specific keywords if you include them in the link tag, eg.: mydomain.com/mykeyword

  • john

    Personally I use a link shortener called https://tny.gd , this way I can track my clicks and see how I can infulence my traffic