There is no need to give away valuable Page Rank to affiliate programs. You signed up to make money, not to increase their search engine rankings.
Most Internet Marketers today add affiliate links to their sites in order to generate additional revenue which helps offset the cost of running the site.
It has now become necessary to cloak affiliate links because some web savvy surfers seem to have a sour taste in their mouth at the thought of some webmaster making money as a result of their purchase.
There is a number of ways to cloak affiliate links. The most popular include displaying affiliate pages in an encrypted frame and the very simple "mouse-over" technique. While displaying affiliate sales pages in a frame is a good way to cloak the link, it is not reliable because some, (not all) affiliate programs cannot track correctly if the affiliate URL is displayed in a frame.
The mouse-over technique will display a URL of your choice so that the affiliate URL is hidden. This is done by adding information to the status bar. This too in not reliable because the right mouse menu can reveal the real URL in an instant. This technique will also drain your valuable Page-Rank (PR) because the link points directly to the affiliate sales page.
Not cloaking your affiliate links will also drain your PR and reduce your click-through rates. So because it has become necessary to cloak affiliate links, I have decided that I may as well keep all the PR at the same time.
The redirection page is no secret but still many Internet Marketers do not set this up and yet it involves about the same amount of effort as cloaking the link into an encrypted frame.
There is a couple of places Online where you can create a redirect page instantly for free and you need not upload the page to your own site. This is an excellent way to cloak links within the body of emails but if you use this on your web pages, it will still drain your PR. It will pass the PR along to the redirection service.
http://www.compacturl.com and http://www.tinyurl.com are two sites that I know of that provide this free service.
How to create your OWN redirection page and keep all the PR!
2. Add the following line of code to the "head" of the document:
<meta http-equiv="refresh" content="0; url=http//www.youraffiliateURL?yourIDnumber">
3. Replace "http//www.youraffiliateURL?yourIDnumber" with your affiliate URL.
4. Name the page to reflect the affiliate program and upload this page to your site and point that particular affiliate link to this page.
I have set this system up at my site and then one day discovered that some of these pages had a Page Rank of 3 or 4 with no outbound links. This is a waste. So now I have added a link back to my home page on these pages. This now serves to direct all my valuable PR to pages that I choose. I do this with all outbound affiliate links.
1. The Affiliate Link is not displayed.
2. Keep all the PR.
3. Target different keywords with the outbound links.
More about how tinyURL.com came into being: http://tinyurl.com/yuq6b
There is more info about how Page Rank works here: http://www.google.com/corporate/tech.html
To discover how much Page Rank a particular page is, you'll need the Google Toolbar: http://toolbar.google.com/
The author, Ed Zivkovic is a self taught webmaster. His website contains many free downloads and all sorts of tips for work at home webmasters.