I recently got the chance to speak on Whiteboard Friday over at SEOmoz, it was a quick session whereby a few SEO’s just give up a couple of tricks that the general population may not be aware of, i chose to talk about cookie stuffing.
Cookie stuffing is not new and has been blogged about a few times so i am not pretending to have actually come up with the method. I wanted to talk about it because i have been doing it slightly different using .htaccess and i have also been getting some really good results.
Basically, Cookie stuffing is a method in which you place cookies on users computers without them nessecerally knowing about it. It can be used on your affiliate sites to auto drop a cookie without the user actually clicking through your banner and converting on the retailers site. This allows you to get a much better conversion rate for visitors of your site because even if they hit your page, bounce, and then goto the retailers page at a later date (within the cookie length) you still get the sale.
It can also be used off site, whereby you would drop a cookie for a large affiliate site (such as ebay or amazon) by simply having a reference to your image. You can use this trick anywhere which allows you to use image code.
So here are the steps to do it…
1) Create a directory on your server with an inconspicuous name such as /stats
2) In that directory create a .htaccess file with the following code…
RewriteRule yourfakeimage.jpg http://www.cookiedroppingurl.com [R,L]
3) Place the /stats/yourfakeimage.jpg code in the footer of your site and then when the browser requests the image the .htaccess will return them the url which drops the cookie, this is all done in the background so unless someone is specifically looking out for it then you should get away with doing it
Obviously, you can use /stats/yourfakeimage.jpg in any other site that allows you to reference an image, aslong as the site doesnt cache the image locally on their server then you will be able to serve up as many cookies as you like.
I just want to add that you should be careful doing this, obviously if your affiliate see’s that you are generating a 100% clickthrough rate then they are going to start asking questions and can even ban you from the program.
Edit: Reader El Bueno has come up with a method for doing this on Windows IIS, you can see his solution in his comment