Monday, January 7th, 2008

Sneaky Links – Meta Refresh Vs. PhP Redirect

This is pretty basic and is used often by many spammers bulk emailers. It was actually a godsend back in my heavy Myspace spamming commenting days. The whole idea to most people is simply to redirect their traffic thru their own domains and servers. Most CPA networks actually encourage this. Do you know why? Yea, you guessed…spammola. Now I won’t say that CPA networks DONT want to know where your traffic is coming from because most of the time this is untrue. However, sometimes YOU may not want certain people knowing where your traffic is coming from.

Case in point…

Have you ever seen a CPA Network that has some kind of bullshit sentence like "Affiliates caught promoting on Myspace or Facebook will be banned"? Your probably thinking to yourself that the network just told you NOT to promote on these sites. This in most cases and with a lot of networks is actually FAR from the truth. They are in it to make money people and behind the scenes I can tell you personally that it is sometimes a VERY fugly business. It actually says "if your caught", it does not say to NOT promote there.

So I won’t get into specifics here, nor will I name any specific networks (hell, that may incriminate me), but reading between the lines and knowing how and what to do can actually keep you making money somewhere where you thought your glory days had ended.

Another case in point is with Yahoo Answers. Have you posted a link from a CPA Network and been banned? I know of affiliates that got the hammer from Maxbounty for posting links on Yahoo Answers. Answers explicitly prohibits any commercial traffic in their terms of service and Maxbounty will have none of it. Keep what I am about to tell you in mind, it will save your tail in the long run (or at least allow you to concoct some bullshit to tell your AM).

The difference between a PhP Redirect and a Meta Refresh is that a redirect can still log referrer information. What this means is that your Affiliate Managers can and will see exactly where your traffic is coming from. A redirect simply *redirects* thru one of your domains and can still display information that will let people know who are looking, as to where you been dropping your links.

It’s time to get smart because frankly I am sick of people griping about lost network accounts. A smart way to hide your referrer information is to use a the Meta Refresh. Here’s the code:

<!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Transitional//EN" "">
<html xmlns="">
<meta http-equiv="Refresh" content="0;URL=AFFILIATE URL HERE">
<title>SITE TITLE HERE</title>

Just load this into a text file and name it whatever you want with a .html extension.

With this code you will have people passing your site and refreshing immediately. There are other ways you can do this and even set the count to a few more seconds. However in doing so you will clearly be showing that your passing thru and this may turn off potential WHATEVERS. The moment they hit your domain, it will get refreshed allowing you to display that your traffic is coming from your domain. Of course when this happens you are armed with a whole slew of ways to keep jabbering should you encounter problems.

In case you wanted the PhP Redirect code as well here you go:

<?php header("Location: Your AFFILIATE LINK HERE"); ?>

Save in a text file, load up to your server and rename it whatever you want with a .php extension

Of course there are a number of ways to modify this as well I just wanted to give a quick rundown and explanation as to what to do to hide that referrer information. I would never suggest you go out and do anything that breaks a site’s TOS or get yourself in trouble but the fact of the matter remains that a lot of people do it anyway. So take it for what’s it worth.


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28 Responses

January 7, 2008

Does an .htaccess redirect disclose the referrer information? I prefer to use the .htaccess redirect because you don’t have to build a bunch of blank index pages.

January 7, 2008

I think that’s his point, it’s the 301 redirect that causes the problems

January 7, 2008

Hi, Ruck!

Two questions about redirecting:

1. Which referer shows if php is in a frame:
traffic source or

2. Which is better: a frame or a refresh redirect?

Thanks for the info.

January 7, 2008

No idea.

Gave up framing a long time ago and the only time I did was with Adwords until I started doing my own landing pages and preselling.

January 7, 2008

I use to cloak my affiliate links. It creates links with meta refreshes.

January 7, 2008


That seems like a slick service and would actually save me a lot of time. Is this service yours?

January 7, 2008

Yeah, it’s mine. I made it to save myself some time when creating such links. Feel free to use it as much as you want. Or if you’re interested in the code so you can host it yourself, let me know.

January 7, 2008

Pryda, that is a great tool. One question, will my cpa network see your domain as the referrer?

Ruck, posted a comment on here last night but don’t see it. If it was coz I used my site link, apologies.

January 7, 2008

I am interested in the code if you can share it.


January 7, 2008

Nice post.

If you direct link a CPA offer via Google’s content network do you always set up a redirect? I’m assuming if the merchant sees your converting, they will just outbid you and site target the sites that are converting.

I prob should be doing this, but its such a pain to set up sub ids for each redirect when testing.

January 7, 2008

Okay, here it is:

January 7, 2008

@ Mike — Caught you in my Askimet for some reason so you should be fine for commenting now on.

January 8, 2008

If anybody wants a solution that they can host themselves, check out

It does a bit more than just simple redirection, it also track your keywords. Plus it is free.

January 8, 2008

@Mike: No, the referrer information is not displayed.

I must say that I haven’t tried it in all browsers. I read somewhere that Opera (or was it another browser?) sometimes still shows referrer information, even on meta refreshes.

January 8, 2008

Yo ruck great post!

Pryda – thanks for sharing.
Emilian – thanks for sharing.

January 8, 2008

Ruck what about PHP Refresh? Does it work the same way with meta refresh

January 8, 2008

@pryda, thanks buddy. gonna bookmark the site

January 8, 2008

@ Terrence – Never used PhP refresh. I just stick to what I KNOW I can get away with. I’m no techy so I just stick to the Meta.

Pryda’s tool looks awesome so I am going to check it out.

January 8, 2008

PHP Redirects using the will show up in CJ as a Google referring URL if you are using them in your AdWords target URL. Trust me from experience. :)

January 8, 2008

So it cut out my code… but the way Ruck showed you will show up in CJ if it’s your target URL in AdWords.

January 8, 2008

Umm yea,

Which is why I don’t really mess with it on Adwords. A simple redirect will do there. This is more focused on not showing that traffic is coming from Myspace, Facebook, Yahoo Answers.

I been making money for over a year with CJ using this and I have had zero problems. I watch my referrers in my CPA accounts too. No probs.

Does it have to be an html file? Will it work if you save it as a php file?

October 26, 2009

“Double meta refresh” can guarantee that the original source is hidden. The link goes to page1, which meta-refreshes to page2 which meta-refreshes to affiliate link. The key difference is that page2 has php code to detect whether the referrer is blanked or not, and if by some chance it’s not blanked (for whatever reason) the second refresh doesn’t happen. So even if a browser retains the referrer on meta-refresh, your original source isn’t given away.

November 24, 2009

Kris, when I first encountered your blog I read it from beginning to end. Ironically I totally forgot about this page when I started making a PHP redirect entry on my newbie affiliate marketing blog until I re-discovered it through Google (I guess your SEO works ;)

Anyway I just wanted to give you props for the good work! I also linked this post from my blog for anyone on my site that might want to read a bit more on the subject.

– Niko

May 4, 2010

Link cloaking is very important. Keep up the good work, Rob(The Cash Code)

June 22, 2010

There is so much grey area that it’s hard to tell where the line is actually drawn anymore.