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I currently include affiliate links on my pages. The links go to PHP files that in turn redirect to the affiliate pages using the following header code:
<?php header('Location: http://www.affiliate-site.com/track/12345678/'); ?>
When the page visitor clicks on the link they get redirected to the affiliate page with the tracking code in the title bar.

  • Is there any risk of someone abusing my tracking number or ill purposes?
  • Is it possible/ recommended that I hide the tracking number from being displayed?
  • Should I dissallow robots from indexing my redirect PHP files?

I am concerned about stats and clicks tampering and getting banned for inappropriate usage of my affiliate tracking code.

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    What could a hacker do to an affiliate link? Are you trying to prevent some kind of attribution fraud? Please elaborate. – tshimkus Dec 9 '19 at 21:45
  • What kind of hacks are you worried about? – Stephen Ostermiller Dec 9 '19 at 23:27
  • It looks like you changed "hack" to "ill purposes". I'm still not sure what type of ill purpose you are worried about. Messing up your stats? Getting credit for you clicks instead of you? Getting you banned from an affiliate program? – Stephen Ostermiller Dec 10 '19 at 10:33
  • Yes, Stephen Ostermiller, I am concerned about stats and clicks tampering and getting banned for inappropriate usage of my affiliate tracking code. – Michael Moriarty Dec 11 '19 at 0:12
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Practice of redirecting to your own page has been started long time for 2 main reasons:

  1. Adding link click counter in your own PHP code so you can track how many people clicked on the link
  2. Preventing your domain from having too many outbound links

If your website has too many outbound links directly on the page it may affect your SEO although Google algorithm is much better than 10 years ago and if you have 1 link per article or so I don't think it will have any negative impact.

There is also psychological factor and not many people speak about it, a visitor of the page seeing ?ref=122345, if he knows it's am affiliate link he may suspect that your article is not genuine and that you are doing this only for money. For that reason people preferred to hide the fact that article is sponsored or that they have any advantage of recommending a product or service.

There is nothing bad an attacker could do if he saw your affiliate link.

  • In light of the responses received it would seem that there is little to be concerned about. I am open about my usage of affiliate links with my website visitors so they know if they click on the links and end up purchasing something, I receive a modest commission. They also should not be thrown off by the affiliate tracking info in the title bar as a result. It also seems that I do not need to block the affiliate redirect files from being indexed. I will remove the affiliate links from the footer and group them under one colophon file for my registrar and hosting affiliate links. Thank you. – Michael Moriarty Dec 12 '19 at 2:44

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