3 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Use bit.ly URL Shortening for your Affiliate Links!

I see a lot of new affiliate newbie’s using the bit.ly and other similar URL shortening services to shorten and cloak affiliate links on their blogs or websites. Having done this myself in the beginning I have found this to be a potentially ineffective way and possibly a deadly mistake in affiliate marketing. Why do I think it’s a mistake to use a URL shortening service? well it can actually do your blog more harm than good. In this post I will share with you 3 reasons why I think using bit.ly URL shortening or similar services for your affiliate links are not recommended.


I recently went through the laborious task of removing 99.9% of the bit.ly URL’s on this blog. I generated many of them to cloak my affiliate links. One of the biggest reasons why I wanted to get rid of Bit.ly links on my blog was because many of them had been identified as spam… I had my readers email me telling me that when they clicked on an affiliate link, that was cloaked by Bit.ly, they were redirected to a spam warning page… This wasn’t good. So I decided that I wanted to use uncloaked links with a short text message (affiliate link) next to the anchor link itself. The moment I began to remove Bit.ly I started to see more clicks and more affiliate sales as the result…

1. In a recent affiliate summit affstat report early this year a survey carried out suggested that more than 58% of affiliate marketers don’t cloak their affiliate links, and more than 63% don’t use a URL shortening service. It would seem that honesty sometimes is the best policy, right?



2. Using bit.ly URL shortening to shorten affiliate links can sometimes backfire like the scenario I was faced; If your blog site is riddled with these, you could end up doing irreversible damage to you blog’s search engine rankings, especially after the recent Penguin updates.

3. Lastly, imagine should anything happen to Bit.ly, lets say for example the site get’s hacked into or someone the other end pulls the plug etc, you’re going to be left with a blog filled with potentially thousands of dead links

Here’s my advice, don’t use a URL shortening service to cloak your affiliate links. Don’t even use an affiliate link cloaking plugin, most of them are pretty useless. Instead, use the laws of opposite attraction and leave them completely naked and place in brackets by the side of your affiliate link the following: (affiliate links) so people at least know what they’re clicking on should they wish to. Enjoy.

What about you?

What are your thoughts on cloaking affiliate links and using URL shortening services such as bit.ly to cloak your affiliate links?, Do you believe that it’s ethical to cloak affiliate links anymore? Share your thoughts and experiences below.

Recommended Reading

1. Affiliate Program Manager: An Hour a Day

2. The Basics of Affiliate Marketing: Running a Business

Photo by jpbourque

About Fabrizio Van Marciano

Hey everyone, I’m Fabrizio Van Marciano and I’m just a regular bloke, doing his thing in the expanding universe we call the blogosphere. I’m the founder and editor here at magnet4marketing.net. I'm also the author of 170 Blog Traffic Tips; a FREE guide I created to help you get tons of traffic to your blog. Why not connect with me on Twitter, Facebook and, or Google+. You can find out more about me and what I love doing here. If you want to start your own blog, check out this resource page, I've put it together just for you :)... Happy online marketing and blogging.

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  1. Thanks for sharing. I’ve used cloaking in the past, but found some problems with it, when the cloaking service failed to redirect the link. Your article has confirmed a lot more.

  2. Benjamin says:

    I am the middle of changing most of my links to being ‘naked’ as the main affiliate company I used told me that it could be taken as a sign of bad practise by merchants.
    Benjamin recently posted..Is your website worth it?My Profile

  3. Good read… I was in the midst of debating if I wanted to use bitly or someone else for my new cpa network I signed up for this week.

  4. Rahul Verma says:

    You saved me man. I was going to start with Bitly URL shortner but now I will stay away from it.
    I have a question here. I am using 301 redirect (with tag) for most of my affiliate links. Am I doing any thing wrong? Should I continue using 301 redirect?
    Thanks in advance.. :)

    • Hi Rahul, I am also using 301 redirects (permanent) with tag for my affiliate links using a plugin called Pretty Link. As far as I know there isn’t anything wrong with them. But I have to say I’m not 100% sure.

  5. Thanks for sharing your experience. I had been contemplating if I should start using bit.ly for shortening affiliate links. Now I know not to. Thanks for saving me from a potential headache.

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