URL Masking: What it is & How it Works

Table of Contents

In the vast landscape of web development and digital marketing, terms like “URL masking” often emerge, accompanied by a myriad of questions. What exactly is URL masking? How does it function? What purposes does it serve? If you’re asking these questions, you’ve landed on the right page.

What is URL Masking?

URL masking, also known as URL cloaking or URL hiding, refers to the practice of presenting one URL in the browser’s address bar while directing users to a different destination URL.

Essentially, it conceals the actual URL of a webpage and replaces it with another, offering a seamless browsing experience to users.

How Does URL Masking Work?

When a user clicks on a masked URL, the web server receives the request and processes it.

Instead of revealing the actual destination URL to the user, the server serves content from the masked URL, all the while maintaining the masked URL in the address bar.

Link masking works through an HTML snippet that produces a frame (iframe) redirection.

This method involves embedding the target webpage within a frame or an iframe of the masking website.

As a result, the user sees the content from the target site but the URL of the masking site in the browser’s address bar.

Here’s an example of URL masking HTML iframe:

<iframe src="https://click.ly" style="border:0px #ffffff none;" name="myiFrame" scrolling="no" frameborder="1" marginheight="0px" marginwidth="0px" height="400px" width="600px" allowfullscreen></iframe>

URL Masking Use Cases

When is link masking used? Here are some common scenarios where masked URLs are used:

Affiliate Marketing

URL masking is widely employed in affiliate marketing endeavors.

Affiliate marketers often use masked URLs to promote products or services while concealing the lengthy, complex affiliate links.

This not only enhances the aesthetics of the promotional material but also boosts click-through rates.

Branding and Aesthetics

Businesses frequently utilize URL masking to reinforce their branding efforts.

By masking URLs with their own domain name or a vanity URL, companies can maintain consistency across their online presence, thereby enhancing brand recognition and credibility.

Link Shortening

In the age of character-limited platforms like Twitter, long URLs can be a hindrance.

URL masking serves as an effective solution by shortening URLs and making them more shareable. It can also be effective for hiding a Rick Roll link, if that’s your thing.

Content Syndication

Content creators and publishers often engage in content syndication across various platforms.

URL masking enables them to distribute content seamlessly while preserving their brand identity and directing traffic back to their own website.

How to Mask a URL

Masking a URL can be done directly through your Clickly dashboard. Our free plans allow masked short URLs, while paid plans include the use of a custom domain.

Here’s how to use our link masking shortener:

  1. Enter your destination link into the URL field.
  2. Change the redirection type to “Frame.”
  3. Generate the short link.
  4. Test the link in your browser.


In conclusion, URL masking is a versatile technique with diverse applications in digital marketing, branding, and content distribution.

By understanding its fundamentals and implementation methods, you can leverage URL masking to enhance user experience, optimize marketing efforts, and bolster your online presence.