Amazon Affiliates is a great way to make extra moolah as long as you don’t make these mistakes:
As bloggers and affiliate marketers, the Amazon Associate program is a godsend, a way to make some serious extra money and a great way to support our websites.
But for some bloggers and niche site builders, making money from Amazon can become a nightmare if you don’t live by their rules. I know many people that don’t even bother to read the Amazon Affiliate TOS ( terms of service ) never mind follow them. Like every ad network or affiliate program, Amazon has rules that they take very seriously and they reserve the right to ban your affiliate account at any time …. and they do.
It takes a lot of time and hard work to design & write a blog or build a website, so why jeopardize it? I have seen Amazon take down accounts for no reason at all, so why actively give them a reason? If you break Amazon’s Terms of Service (TOS), all of the hard work you’ve put into your niche site could fly right out the window, and your niche site investment could take a serious hit.
If you are already an Amazon affiliate, or are planning to sign-up, I highly advise that you read these major No – No’s that WILL get you banned from the program.
1. Sending Amazon Affiliate Links Via Email
I see people doing this one all the time. Very simple: You MUST have a landing page. Amazon explicitly bans any use of affiliate links in “offline promotion or in any other offline manner,” and it can surprise some new users that that applies to email too.
After all, email users use the internet to check their accounts, right?
While that may be true, most email platforms also allow users to access their emails offline once they have been read on a mobile device or downloaded on a desktop email client.
That means that using Amazon Affiliate Links in email can quickly land you in hot water. If you still want to make money from Amazon using email marketing, instead of sending traffic to Amazon, link to a page on your site that includes your Affiliate Links.
Some niche site builders allow readers to subscribe to site which results subscribers getting new post notification directly on their email inbox. If you use your Amazon link on the first paragraph, users will get a clickable link on their email inbox.
Clicking on the link later can get you banned. It is always advised not to use these kind of automatic email newsletter service.
2. Affiliate Link Shortening or Link Cloaking
Amazon requires that it is clear that their links are, in fact, affiliate links. You MUST make your customers fully aware that they are clocking an affiliate link . Amazon takes great concerned with affiliates misguiding their audience, as the reputation of Amazon depends on how affiliates are presenting their site to visitors.
For this reason, Amazon bans link shortening that doesn’t make it obvious that you are sending users to Amazon.
“You will not cloak, hide, spoof, or otherwise obscure the URL of your site containing Special Links (including by use of a redirecting page) such that we cannot reasonably determine the site from which a customer clicks through such Special Link to the Amazon Site.”
Amazon explicitly states under their 30th Participation Requirement
* However, you can use Amazon’s default link shortening service, Amzn.to. Amazon also offers a link shortening tool in their Amazon Affiliate tool bar. These are OK to use.
3. Including links in eBooks or PDF documents *
This is another one that I see all of the time. Just like email, eBooks and PDF’s are easy to access OFFLINE. They can also be printed, which changes their format into a document. Some e-books are also available in printed version directly on Amazons site. This is where this would come in.
This requirement has been somewhat ambiguous in the past, with some users pointing out that Amazon expressly bans emailing links but never mentions eBooks. However, according to the Amazon account agreement, in any PRINTED material, mailing, SMS, MMS, email or attachment to email, or other document, or any oral solicitation.
So be careful when including Amazon affiliate links in your E-Book or any other PDF documents. A quick rule of thumb: If it’s able to be printed, it’s best to omit the affiliate links.
4. Using Your Affiliate Link for Your Own Purchases
It’d be a pretty sweet deal if you could do all of your shopping online via Amazon using your affiliate link, and earn some Affiliates commission while you do, wouldn’t it? Well, it’s not. It’s the FASTEST and most popular way to get your account banned. NEVER, and I do mean NEVER click your own links. And never have you friends click your links either.
It’s unfortunate for those trying to save a few bucks, Amazon has expressly forbidden this practice. Rule #29 of the Participation Requirements states:
“You will not purchase any Product(s) through Special Links for use by you or for resale or commercial use of any kind.”
5. Operating More than One Account
In an effort to eliminate spam and make sure that their bans carry weight, Amazon only allows one account per individual.
If you create more than one account, expect to get banned tout suite. Some business owners may qualify for an exception depending on the nature and scale of their business, so feel free to contact Amazon and ask for permission to open another account.
This is a mistake made often by new affiliates. You can create up to 100 tracking I.D.’s which point to several different websites for analytical purposes from your main account. Check the help section to learn how to do this. It’s very easy.
6. Using Amazon User Reviews as Your Own
Never use an Amazon customer review or rating on your own site. Don’t copy & paste it, don’t type it. Period. Feel free to use what others say to craft your own opinion, but never copy or use Amazon review verbatum.
Don’t ever copy and paste those user reviews to your own site, or pass them off as your own. It might seem like an easy way to generate copy and bulk up the content on your site.
“You will not display or otherwise use any of our customer reviews or star ratings, in part or in whole.”
7. Linking from Sexually Explicit and/or Violent Sites
Item #2 of the operating agreement, Amazon clearly forbids using affiliate links on site that contain certain materials.
One example is: “a) promote or contain sexually explicit materials;. (b) promote violence or contain violent materials;. (c) promote or contain libelous or defamatory materials; … (g) include any trademark of Amazon or its affiliates, or a variant or … that your site is unsuitable, we may terminate this Operating Agreement.”
If in doubt, check with Amazon before posting your links on a site that could be on the border line of explicit or violent.
8. Cookie Stuffing
Amazon by default stores cookie information for users who click on your links, saving your affiliate information in case a user buys your linked product. Amazon’s cookie lasts 24 hour. This means once a customer clicks your link, and IF they can make a purchase within a 24 hour period, you get paid. Once the 24 hours has expired you will not be paid a commission
A few savvy Amazon Affiliates have figured out ways to take advantage of this practice, and auto-tag users to make it look like a lot more clicks are coming in. This is called cookie stuffing. This activity was much more prevalent in the early years of internet marketing than it is now. The FCC and other major internet players made sure of that.
One example, in 2008 one prominent affiliate marketer followed a similar practice with eBay affiliate program,. At the time he was one of the top marketers at eBay. In those days eBay offered expensive perks to their top sellers. They offered him a Private Jet! He made a miraculous $28 Million for eBay with this new found ‘system’.
However, once discovered, eBay later sued him. The FBI arrested him and he was later taken to court.
If Amazon thinks you are engaging in this practice your account will be banned immediately. Best practice is not to do anything that will trigger an investigation into your account. Amazon has a pretty short rope when it comes to this activity.
9. Buying Paid Search Placements
Amazon defines paid search placements as follows in their Associates Operating Agreement:
“Prohibited Paid Search Placement” means an advertisement that you purchased through bidding on keywords, search terms, or other identifiers (including Proprietary Terms) or other participation in keyword auctions.”
This means Google, Bing, Yahoo, Facebook or any other site that offers paid advertising.
While paid placement of this kind can do a lot to make your site more successful, it can also lead directly to an affiliate ban. So DO NOT generate traffic to your website site using paid ads.
10. Violating Amazon’s Trademark Policy
To clarify, Amazon owns a ton of trademarks, not all of which have anything to do with the phrase “Amazon.”
No matter how big your Affiliate site is, Amazon can make things miserable quickly if they believe you are in violation of their trademark rights.
Amazon’s proprietary products such as ‘Kindle’ are trademarked too. You can quickly violate these trademarks by including trademark information in your site’s Domain name.
However, you may use trademarked names in your blog article titles and permalinks. Click HERE to access.Amazon’s exhaustive list of trademarks.
11. Mentioning Prices on Your Website
It can be tempting to blather on about how great your price is & what a huge deal your customers are getting in your content directly, but doing so runs afoul of Amazon’s good graces. The same goes for ecommerce sites.
Rule #1 : The price MUST MATCH when the customer clicks through to the product. This is one of the biggest reasons why ecommerce & product sites get banned.
Because Amazon does price changes a zillions of times per hour on their site, putting price information right in your content means that your site will look obsolete when changes do occur. And worse than that, discussing prices in your content directly could result in a ban.
Also, for certain products, Amazon show both ‘New’ and ‘Used’ Pricing. Sites that show pricing must follow this same format.
“ Product prices and availability may vary from time to time. Because prices for and availability of Products that you have listed on your site may change, your site may only show prices and availability if: (a) we serve the link in which that price and availability data are displayed; or (b) you obtain Product pricing and availability data via the Product Advertising API and you comply with the requirements set forth in the License Agreement that are applicable to that data. In addition, if you choose to display prices for any Product on your site in any “comparison” format (including through the use of any price-comparison tool or engine) together with prices for the same or similar products offered through any web site or other means other than the Amazon Site, you must display both the lowest “new” price and, if we provide it to you, the lowest “used” price at which the Product is available on the Amazon Site. You may not otherwise include price information on your site.”
So it’s always best to be clear on how to display pricing correctly.
12. Using Social Media Promotion without Knowing The Rules
While Amazon generally does not allow you to share affiliate links on sites other than your own, social network sites like Facebook and Pinterest are somewhat an exception. However, there are a few important rules that govern sharing links on social media.
In general, avoid all of the frowned upon offenses above, like sharing links on sexually explicit or violent Social Media page or using any of Amazon’s trademarks in your page titles .
Amazon offers their Amazon Affiliate ‘stripe’ which is a toolbar. This toolbar includes product linking options as well as share options. In order to make sure that you are sharing acceptable links on your social media, best policy is to click the “share” buttons directly from the Amazon Affiliate Stripe. Once installed, the Affiliate Stripe will appear in the upper left hand corner of the page whenever you are on Amazon.
Here is a link to the Amazon Afilliate TOS