Small URL – Hiding Your Affiliate Links for Free

In this article, I will cover a growing problem in the affiliate marketing world – “Link Piracy”. There are people out there who, rather than clicking through your affiliate link and purchasing the product you are promoting, will instead read the destination address of the link, and then either enter the vendor’s web address manually without your affiliate ID, or replace your ID with theirs – either way, you lose your commission.

Why Do They Do This?

The most obvious reason is to put your commissions into their pockets. If you are, for instance, marketing a ClickBank product, anyone who has a ClickBank account (describes most affiliate marketers) can simply take the address in your affiliate link and replace your ClickBank ID with theirs, and the commission goes to them, not you! They get to buy the product you are promoting, and effectively get a rebate on the price by collecting your commission.

There is another type of “link thief” out there – the grumpy old guy who just doesn’t want you to make money from his purchase, even though it doesn’t cost him anything. He would rather go to the trouble of removing your affiliate ID from the link than to see you profit from providing the solution he needs. This way, nobody gets a commission. I suppose making money from marketing a product just sounds too “capitalistic” for some.

There is a third group – not really thieves, but they still rob you of your commissions: The Nervous Surfer! This is a person who has heard so much about the mischief going on out there: viruses, phishing, porn sites.. that he doesn’t want to click on a link that doesn’t look “normal”. (and what looks normal about ““?)

Can They Be Stopped?

Here’s the good news and the bad news… The bad news is “no”. If someone is knowledgeable enough to know what an affiliate link is, they can easily figure out how to “hijack” it. It doesn’t matter what the link looks like in your article or blog, they can hover their mouse over the link and see the address that it’s going to. If not, anyone who’s been surfing the web for more than a week can figure out how to grab the web address of the vendor’s site once they’ve clicked on your link. Then they can clear their cookies and re-enter the address without your affiliate ID.

What you need is a small URL. A URL is, for our purposes, the web address – a small URL is exactly what it sounds like – a web address that doesn’t look like an affiliate link.

Affiliate links usually look something like this:


or even something like:

You can find software and websites that will “mask” your affiliate ID, by providing you a shortened version like:

where “” is the website providing the link, and LinkName is whatever name you want your visitors to see.

A small URL, one without special characters or ID numbers, may be overlooked by inexperienced link thieves who may not recognize it as an affiliate link. A small URL will also help with the “Nervous Surfers” mentioned above – they’ll see a “normal” looking, non-threatening link that won’t intimidate them.


Gone are the days when nobody knew what Affiliate Marketing was, and nobody cared what your affiliate links looked like. Link theft is part of the landscape now, and a small URL may be just the ticket to increasing your commissions!

Good Luck!

CJ Reynolds