How's that for a title? Don't worry, I'll give you more details. Have you noticed lately that there have been a flurry of blog posts about hiding or cloaking affiliate links? I swear, it feels like I read a new one every week, but of course I could only find a few of them when I went searching for them, and some of the ones I found aren't real recent. But when people like Everett Sizemore, Sebastian, Joost de Valk, Hamlet Batista, John Chow, Shoemoney, and Dave Taylor all think that the subject deserves a post, then maybe there's something to it.

In fact, every time I read a post about the topic, I wasted several hours of the day trying to make it work for myself, and each time, I gave up in frustration and decided I didn't care. Yet, the very next time I read a post about it, I went through the whole frustrating process again...and again...and again...

Finally, I mentioned to my buddy, Michael, that a tool that would make this easy might be useful. After all, if everyone is talking about it, and everyone has different ideas about the best way to do it, but no one is really agreeing 100%, then maybe the "best" way hasn't been found yet. I had ideas of course. I was pretty sure I knew the "best" way, but of course, Michael took my ideas and made them even better than I'd imagined. Oh well, I take credit for the fact that the end result was based loosely on my original idea and plan.

And what is that end result? Well, it's a tool that lets you "hide" or "obfuscate" anything really. Any sort of text or html block that you would like to encrypt and hide from snoops, scrapers, parasites, or bots, can be run through the Full Text/HTML Obfuscator Tool.

I'm sure everyone can come up with reasons why this might be useful for blocks of text or html, such as keeping images from getting hotlinked in scraped content, but since it was affiliate links that prompted me to suggest this tool, I'll give a few reasons why you might want to obfuscate affiliate links.

  • Prevent Google or other search engines from thinking your site is nothing more than a thin affiliate site
  • Prevent users from seeing long, ugly URLs
  • Eliminate perceived trust issues, thereby increasing affiliate conversions
  • Prevent affiliate parasites and tools from stealing your commissions
  • Prevent duplicate content problems for the affiliate site being linked to

The tool is simple to use. Just put in a block of text or html and click the button. In return, you'll get a file to download so that you can place the file in your root directory, and a small javascript code that points to the file. Put the js code wherever you want the block of text or html to show up in your page, and you've got obfuscated stuff.

I have no doubt that some people will slam me, or Michael, or the tool, as "black hat". Sorry, but that's just not what this was aimed at. Sure, some people might use it for black hat purposes, but don't blame me for that. It's kind of like the old saying, "Guns don't kill people, people kill people". 😀

Hope you enjoy the new tool. I like seeing my ideas take shape. Thanks, Michael, for indulging me and then creating a really nice tool.