I've already written here>> about a good plugin to hide link URLs in WordPress that I recently found – Pretty Links. There I also wrote that the free version of this plugin has a set of tools that is quite sufficient for the basic needs of bloggers and developers. But there is also a pro version that looks like an older, stronger brother of its free version – that same plugin but on steroids. The pro version of this tool is intended for professional marketing work and people who are serious about making money from affiliate links. This article is about that version.
The main purpose of the Pretty Links plugin is to hide or mask the real (physical) link's URL that is visible on the site. Modern browsers have Copy or Save link options, and also display the link's URL (usually in the lower-left corner of the screen) when we hover over it. This can be counterproductive or ugly when it comes to marketing and affiliate links.
For example, it is much better for a site visitor to see the address, https://mywebsite.com/sitedevelopment4you than, say, https://sitedevelopment4you.com/?ref=$wQrHGHGF784c (note: this is not a link from a real affiliate program – this is just an example though). Also, masking is handy in cases where we offer downloadable files. It is certainly more pleasant for a site visitor to see, for example, https://mywebsite.com/name-of-my-file than the physical URL https://mywebsite.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/name- of-my-file.zip. In the case of masking the URLs of download files, the advantage is not only to the aesthetics and/or the visitor's feeling that things are going smoothly on the site – but also a matter of security.
But what do professionals need in addition?
All of the above is offered by the Pretty Links plugin already in the basic, free version, as written in the previous article. Users are actually offered more than that: statistics; the ability to select a redirect code (301/302/307); redirection works well even when the link is called outside the page where the plugin is installed, and so on. And everything works great. Quite enough for the excellent rating that the plugin earned from the user in that way.
Still, those are the basic things. Marketing professionals and serious affiliates have their own additional requirements. They want things that allow them to work easily with a large number of links on the website, process automation, and aces up their sleeves that make a difference compared to their competitors.
Categories and tags – a way to better organize your links
On the WordPress dashboard, Pretty Links are displayed in the same way as custom type posts – which they actually are. This allows this plugin to use the built-in WP capability to assign taxonomies to such posts. In the free version of the plugin, this feature is not operationalized, but the PRO version allows the division of links by categories. Tags can also be assigned to all Pretty Links.
The purpose of the categories and tags is as is common in WordPress. This increases visibility and accessibility and allows sorting. Thus, faster access to links is achieved, in accordance with their key characteristics. For example, you can divide them into categories according to the main website they point to, give them an indication of whether they are affiliates or some other type of links, etc. When you are a professional who has dozens of masked links on the site – this can make your work day more pleasant.
Automatically replacement of keywords and URLs
The Pretty Links plugin in its Pro edition allows you to link any word from your site automatically to the desired hidden URL. It is possible to refer to the same address with multiple keywords and multiple URLs from the text – at the same time.
The possibilities don't stop here. Everyone who deals with SEO knows that there is no need to exaggerate in anything, not even in optimization. In this case, it means to be moderate with linking. To avoid the trap, it is possible to automatically limit the number of replacements and links, by setting the so-called Thresholds.
8 Possible ways in which redirection is performed
This plugin masks or hides URL links by redirecting. I’ve already mentioned that the free version allows three different types of redirects: permanent redirection with code return 301, or temporary with returning obsolete code 302 or newer 307. It is recommended to select redirection with 307 code.
The pro version brings five more redirect options – however, you should be careful with them. They are really for professionals and it is understandable that they are available in the PRO version only.
The Cloak and Pretty Bar use the iFrame technique to display the linked page. The problem with this is that many service providers (this is very important with affiliate links) do not allow it. When using the Pretty Bar, your content is displayed at the top of the screen, and the content of the link below it.
A Pixel is actually a way to secretly track traffic. For this reason, it is very useful in assessing the success of email marketing.
Is something missing?
Honestly, everything stated that is enabled by the Pretty Links plugin – and especially its PRO version – seems quite complete. It would be fair to mention that the PRO version brings more benefits. Among other things, there are more detailed click statistics and, of course, qualified support from the authors.
My personal suggestion to the authors is to consider extending this plugin by introducing the ability to create one-time and/or temporary alternate URLs. This would be especially useful in cases that have little to do with marketing, affiliate, and SEO, but more with downloads and/or selling digital goods.
In any case, it is a pleasure and not quite common to find a WP plugin that is so well designed and works so stably, as is the case with this plugin.