Referrer confidentiality using Addue: Protecting the source of your traffic
Prerequisites: Getting Started: Links And Linksets
Note: Links and linksets used to be called rules and rulesets. The images in this post still refer to them as rules and rulesets but the software has been updated.
Referrer confidentiality refers to the practice of hiding your referrer data from the destination website it’s being sent to. Normally the server handling the destination website has access to the referrer data of each visitor as passed along by the web browser that visitor is using. The referrer data is the website where the click is originating from. For example, if you place a link on http://jollyniceflowers.com pointing to http://cnn.com, and somebody clicks that link, the webmaster for cnn.com would be able to check their website logs and see that that click originated from http://jollyniceflowers.com, since the referrer field for that click would be set that way.
(Referrer data is not always passed along by the browser. In some cases it’s left blank. One common example is Google searches – Google doesn’t pass along the referrer data anymore, so it’s not possible to figure out the keywords which led somebody to find your website in a Google search by looking at the referrer data).
Although it may sound somewhat shady, there may in fact be very legitimate reasons for not wanting to pass along referrer data to the destination site. Internet marketers and affiliate marketers working for a client owning the destination site may not wish their client to have access to the refering websites the traffic is coming from. Typically a large amount of work and research goes into finding well-converting ad placements and simply passing the referrer to the client would result in giving away the internet marketer’s intellectual property for free. Such a client could presumably look at the referrer, figure out the websites where the converting traffic is coming from, and then place ads themselves on those websites. If so they would then no longer need the services of the internet marketer, which is obviously not very fair to the latter.
If you are in such a situation and would like to protect your referrer information from client websites you’re sending your traffic to, you can use the link cloaking link type on Addue to accomplish this purpose. Let’s set up such a link. From your Addue account interface,click “Insert New Link” in the left sidebar and then choose “CL – Cloaking Link” to enter a cloaking link:
If you enter the link as above and hit Submit, you’d have setup a cloaking link which would route all traffic to http://cnn.com, stripping away its referrer data in the process, and replacing it with a referrer coming from the addue.com domain. To get the link to use, go to List/Edit/Delete links, find the link you just entered, and click on the linkset ID (“tutorial6” in this example):
The link will be at the top of the linkset as usual:
Try it out and you’ll be directed to cnn.com. Since this is a cloaking link, the CNN webmaster would always get addue.com as the referrer when this link is placed on other websites and clicked from there.
We suggest you try this out yourself with a destination website you control and where you can see the referrer data of any incoming clicks in your website logs. Place the Addue link on another website and you’ll see that the referrer is always set to addue.com, irrespective of the website where you place the link.
Note that the referrer will be blank if you simply copy and paste the Addue link in your browser. For the referrer to be set, the link must be placed on a website. Copying and pasting the link directly into a browser counts as direct navigation and no referrer field is set for direct navigation clicks.
Like conversation tracking (TR) links, cloaking links are solitary links. In other words, every linkset containing a cloaking link should just have that one link. There should be no other links, including any other CL links or DR links. When a click hits the cloaking link, it is cloaked and redirected to the destination URL specified in the cloaking link.
A final note: Addue uses a powerful proprietary algorithm to cloak links, and we have tested this to work across all web browsers we are aware of, including all the versions of all the major web browsers (Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, Opera, Chrome, etc.). We believe it works in all cases owing to the way it is coded, even with any uncommon exotic web browsers we may not be aware of. If you ever come across a case where you think a cloaked link is passing along the referrer data, or if you have any other questions about the link cloaking functionality on Addue, please feel free to drop us a line.