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How to Set Up ThirstyAffiliates Plugin to Cloak Affiliate Links

thirstyaffiliate plugin setup

Managing affiliate links can be a challenge without using a tracking software.  Most links are long, composed of many numbers and characters that can be difficult to sort through.

However, using a plugin can simplify this process by restructuring and shortening them on websites built with WordPress.

ThirstyAffiliates WordPress plugin is a free affiliate link manager that can cloak and shrink a URL to make it look prettier and more functional.  Some useful functions include adding a rel=”nofollow” and 301 link redirects.

The setup process is simple and once you have it configured, it eliminates repetitive tasks for affiliate marketers when embedding sponsored links in web pages.


  • 1. Install ThirstyAffiliates Plugin
  • 2. Initial Setup and Settings Configuration
  • 3. Adding and Cloaking Links
  • 4. Using Cloaked Links in Web Pages & Posts
  • 5. Check Click Statistics Report





ThirstyAffiliates plugin has a free version and a pro version.  The free version has all the features needed to cloak and organize affiliate links while the pro version has added benefits that can help further streamline the processes.


There are many features with the free version of ThirstyAffiiliates that can help new and established websites and blogs to get started with affiliate marketing.

    • Shorten and cloak long affiliate links
    • Categorizing links
    • Choice of JS or server side redirects
    • Easily add links with toolbar icon
    • Uncloak specific links (Amazon Associates TOS compliance)
    • No follow & Open in new tab option
    • Custom post types to avoid conflicting links
    • Bot excluded click statistics report (Basic)
    • Rest API compatible
    • Easily scan and locate affiliate links in pages


ThirstyAffiliates is fully functional out of the box but the features included in the pro version adds more configuration options that can add to its utility.  More information is available from ThirstyAffiliates.

    • Auto keyword linking
    • Click statistics report (advanced)
    • Link redirects based on geolocation
    • Auto affiliate disclosure
    • Import Amazon API affiliate links
    • Import and export from Excel CSV
    • Auto ON/OFF link scheduling
    • Function to push click event in Google Analytics
    • Use htaccess for faster link redirects
    • Email notification for click events
    • Auto notification of broken 404 links
    • URL shortening with bit.ly and goo.gl
    • Google Tag Manager compatibility
    • Author/user based admin access
    • External product integration with WooCommerce





The free version of ThirstyAffiliates can be installed from the WordPress plugin marketplace by clicking Install Now and Activate.

thirstyaffiliates wordpress plugin

If you need the features from the pro version, a single site license can be purchased from their website for $49.  You should consider the upgrade if you plan on working with many affiliate partners or links.


They offer 3 different pricing plans for multiple site licenses.  All pro plans include a 14 day refund policy with 12 months of support and plugin updates.

    • 1 site license: $49
    • 5 site license: $79
    • Unlimited site license: $149





A lot of the default settings are fine as-is so there isn’t a whole lot to tinker with.  There are however a few you may want to initially personalize before setting up all your affiliate links.


    • Default Link Insertion TypeLINK.  Choose SHORTCODES if you prefer to use shortcodes when inserting links into web pages.
    • Disable “Uncategorized” Category on SaveUNCHECK.
    • Disable Buttons on the Visual EditorUNCHECK.
    • Disable Buttons on the Text/Quicktags Editor?UNCHECK.
    • Trim Stats Older Than1 month.  Specify how long you want to keep the record of stats.
    • Don’t Cache 301 Redirects?CHECK.  This will allow 301 redirected links to updated in real time in your visitors browsers.
    • Disable IP address collectionUNCHECK.  There’s no reason to check this since you’re collecting visitors stats anyway.
    • Disable browser/device data collectionUNCHECK.  Another stat to be collected in visitor’s reports.
    • Blocked BotsLEAVE AS DEFAULT.  Bots can click your affiliate links which can skew data so this section is used exclude bots.
    • Enable Bot Crawl Blocker ScriptUNCHECK.  Checking this can send a 403 error to googlebots which may result in errors in Google Search Console.
    • thirstyaffiliates general settings


    • Link PrefixSELECT ANY.  This word will be included in your URL of your affiliate links.  It doesn’t matter which one you choose but changing it later can break your links so choose one and stick with it (i.e. http://www.example.com/offer/your-affiliate-link-title).
    • Link Category in URL?UNCHECK.  Including a category in the URL will make it longer – shorter is better.
    • Enable Enhanced Javascript Redirect on FrontendCHECK.  This option will use Javascript to redirect links rather than from server side.
    • Link Redirect Type (server side redirects) – 301 PERMANENT.  Links are permanently redirected to a different URL.
    • Use No Follow on Links? (server side redirects) – YES.  Google recommends that affiliate or sponsored links should have a rel=”nofollow” attribute – Google will not index these links in search.
    • Open Links in New Window?YES.  Affiliate link pages will open a new browser tab.  This prevents visitors from bouncing off your website.
    • Pass Query String to Destination URL?NO.  This will keep your affiliate link cloaked even after your visitor is redirected to your destination URL.
    • Additional Rel Attribute TagsNONE.  This field allows you to add additional rel tags if needed.  You can more learn about other rel attribute values at w3schools.
    • Additional CSS ClassesNONE.  Used for adding extra CSS classes to links.
    • Disable ThirstyAffiliates CSS Classes?UNCHECK.  For disabling the native CSS classes of thirstylink and thirstylinkimg.
    • Disable Title Attribute on Link Insertion?UNCHECKCHECK this if you want to disable the title of the affiliate link in the URL.
    • thirstyaffiliates link appearance settings


    • StatisticsCHECK.  Used for collecting click statistics for reports.
    • Link FixerCHECK.  Fixes outdated or broken links detected.
    • Uncloak LinksUNCHECKCHECK if you need certain links to be uncloaked.  Can be useful for compliance with Amazon Associates terms of service.  Checking this field will only reveal a new checkbox for uncloaking links so each link will still need to be manually checked off from the affiliate link edit page for this to take effect.
    • thirstyaffiliates module settings


    • Import Global Settings – Can be used when importing settings of this plugin from a different website by pasting the settings code in the box.
    • Export Global Settings –  This is the code for the settings of this plugin that can be copied and pasted into another site using ThirstyAffiliates.





  • 1. Navigate to New Affiliate Link from the left sidebar.thirstyaffiliate new link sidebar
  • 2. Create a title for the affiliate link.  Short titles are better – the name of this title will appear in the cloaked affiliate link URL after the word that was chosen for the Link Prefix.thirstyaffiliate add link title
  • 3. Input your affiliate link destination URL.  This is the URL of your affiliate link that will be shortened and cloaked.thirstyaffiliate link destination url
  • 4. Choose a category for your affiliate link.  By default, it should be listed under Uncategorized so you would have to create a new category appropriate for the link.
  • The category is for your own reference to better organize all your affiliate links.  Categories can also be setup from Link Categories from the left sidebar.thirstyaffiliate add link category
  • 5. Check the link options.  This section should already be setup from the settings page but it can be changed for specific links based on your needs.thirstyaffiliate link options
  • 6. Link Inserted Scanner is used to check which pages or posts have this specific affiliate link embedded.  This is very useful to identify where links are beings used when you eventually have them scattered all throughout your website.thirstyaffiliate link inserted scanner
  • 7. Save Link.  All your cloaked links will be accessible in Affiliate Links from the left sidebar.





  • 1. Navigate to Affiliate Links from the left sidebar to see your entire list of cloaked affiliate links.thirstyaffiliate affiliate links sidebar
  • 2. Copy the link from the Cloaked URL column.
  • 3. Insert the link as you normally would by pasting it to any text or image.
  • 4. It isn’t necessary to check off Open link in new tab every time you insert an affiliate link as this setting should have been already saved during the setup process.





  • 1. Navigate to Reports from the left sidebar.thirstyaffiliate report sidebar
  • 2. Filter results based a specific time frame.  From here you can check the number of times your visitors clicked on your affiliate links.thirstyaffiliate report time frame
  • 3. To check the number of clicks based on a specific affiliate link, search for the title of your cloaked affiliate link and click Fetch Report.thirstyaffiliate fetch report
  • 4. Upgrade to the Pro version if you need to identify advanced statistics like peak click times and clicks based on geographic locations.





All sites with embedded affiliate links should utilize some sort of link manager and ThirstyAffiliates is the best plugin for the task.

ThirstyAffiliates shortens and organizes links from affiliate partners while enabling rel attributes without any code.  It is an essential tool for every WordPress website or blog that promotes affiliate products.


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