About Cloaking Referers
Cloaking referers in the sense on how we; ppc affiliates using them is to cloak/spoof/hide the incoming referering traffic to the networks we work with. In other words, as affiliates if you cloak your referer, you can hide from the network where your traffic is coming from. The reason you would want to do this is because if you do not cloak your incoming referers the network with whom you work with will know where all of your traffic is coming from.
If they know where all of your traffic is coming from, they will see the keywords your bidding on and the text advertisements you have written, they will also be able to see the landing pages your using. In other words, if you do not cloak your incoming referers the networks you work with will know everything about your campaign. This is a bad thing.
As affiliates we are getting paid to promote other peoples' products and services, if we reveal to them everything we are doing to generate traffic they no longer need us. In that they can simply shut us down and then start bidding on the keywords themselves, they can copy your landing pages and use them for their own needs because if you do not cloak your referers they will see everything your doing. Keep in mind that most networks promote their own offers internally, so if they see all your keywords don't be surprised if they start bidding on them theirselves. They too can make money off promoting offers via ppc, and this is why you want to cloak your referers, you don't want them to know where your traffic is coming from, just like you don't want other affiliates to know your keywords, likewise you don't want the network with whom you work with to have all of your keywords. So that is why we cloak, and I'm going to show how to do it here.
How Does Cloaking Referers Work
So know you know alittle bit about why we cloak our referers, let me share with you how it works. So again, basically whenever someone clicks on a link to another website for instance, that website which receives the new visitor can find out by using some PHP code, or some other type of code, where that visitor came from. So if you click through a link on our website to google.com for instance, google.com automatically can find that you came from Prosper202.com, they do this by checking your browser's http referer information. In other words, google.com can check where their visitors come from, so in order to difuse this we need to make it look like we came from a different website!
So this is how it works, now instead of clicking through a link straight to google you clicked on a link to example.com/redirect.php, and then on example.com/redirect.php it redirected to you google.com. Now what happens is google thinks you came from example.com/redirect.php, because that was the last landing page you landed on before goign to google. See we cloaked the referer, they can no longer tell you came from Prosper202.com, because you clicked on a link to example.com/redirect.php first, and then that page loaded on your browser, it then redirected you to google.com, so when google pulls the referer data it thinks you can from example.com/redirect.php instead of prosper202.com.
Now I know this might seem a little confusing so I will illustrate it below
- Without Cloaking
- Prosper202.com » Google.com
- In the above example, google.com can tell Prosper202.com was the referer
- With Cloaking
- Prosper202.com » Example.com/redirect.php » Google.com
- Notice now, you are going to google.com through example.com/redirect.php, google now thinks that you came from example.com/redirect.php, you have succesfully cloaked this referer. Google.com does not know now that you came from Prosper202.com, it thinks you came from Example.com/redirect.php.
So you see in the above examples, google.com now thinks your visitor came from example.com/redirect.php, bceause that is the last referer the visitor was at before coming to google.com. This is how cloaking the referer works.
How To Set It Up
You now know how cloaking the referers works, basically instead of directly linking to google.com, we link to another page, in this case, example.com/redirect.php instead, which then redirects the visitor to google.com.
So to set it up is quite simple, instead of making your links to google.com, make your links point to a different page that will redirect your visitors to google.com. So for instance, you could now link your visitors to mydomain.com/redirect.php, so then you would want to change all your outbound links to mydomain.com/redirect.php, and then we will redirect out to google.com instead. Below I will show you the code you need to place on mydomain.com/redirect.php to succesfully redirect a visitor out to google.com with cloaking.
<!-- Replace http://google.com with whatever url you like !-->
<meta name="robots" content="noindex">
<meta http-equiv="refresh" content="1; url=http://google.com">
<form name="form1" id="form1" method="get" action="http://google.com"></form>
<div style="padding: 30px; text-align: center;">
You are being automatically redirected to Google.<br/><br/>
Page Stuck? <a href="http://google.com">Click Here</a>.
Now instead of hyperlinking directly to google.com any more, you change your links to your redirect.php file, which you can name whatever you want, and then it'll redirect the visitor with google.com; with google now unable to see the true referer source! On the google side it will appear as the visitor now came from redirect.php, but they really came from a different page, but because we cloaked the referer, google only sees redirect.php as the referer. You have now cloaked the referer succesfully.
Good Practice: You should always test everything after setting up a cloaked redirect to make sure your visitors go through properly.