Making money from Amazon can become a nightmare if you do any of these mistakes!
For many bloggers and niche site builders, Amazon’s Affiliate program is a saving grace, a way to make serious money to support their writing and niche site investment.
But for some bloggers and niche site builders, making money from Amazon can become a nightmare. Like every ads network or affiliate programs, Amazon reserves the right to ban you any time.
If you break any of Amazon’s long list of Terms of Service (ToS), all of the hard work you’ve put into your niche site could fly out the window, and your niche site investment could take a serious hit.
If you are an Amazon affiliate, or planning to sign-up, read about these big mistakes that will get you banned from the program.
1. Send Amazon Affiliate Links In Email
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 / Hiding
Amazon is very concerned with affiliates misdirecting audience, as the reputation of the Amazon depends on how affiliates are referring the site to visitors. The e-commerce giant wants users to know where they are being directed to.
For this reason, Amazon bans link shortening that doesn’t make it obvious that you are sending users to Amazon.
[pullquote align=”normal”]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[/pullquote]
Amazon explicitly states under their 30th Participation Requirement.
However, you can use Amazon’s default link shortener service, Amzn.to.
3. Including links in eBooks or PDF documents
Just like email, these two mediums are easy to access offline, which is a big no-no for placement of Amazon Affiliate links.
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,
[pullquote align=”normal”]In any printed material, mailing, SMS, MMS, email or attachment to email, or other document, or any oral solicitation[/pullquote]
Document is specific here, so it’s assumed that the policy for any E-book will be same. So include Amazon affiliate links on your E-Book or any other PDF documents only if you want to get banned.
4. Using Your Affiliate Link for Items You Purchase
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.
Unfortunately for thrifty shoppers, Amazon has expressly forbidden this practice. Rule #29 of the Participation Requirements states
[pullquote align=”normal”]You will not purchase any Product(s) through Special Links for use by you or for resale or commercial use of any kind. [/pullquote]
That’s pretty clear cut language (not just the legal jargon), and an easy way to find yourself with a ban!
5. Operate More than One Account
In an effort to limit 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 promptly. 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 some leniency.
If you go ahead and create another account without reaching out first though, a ban is coming your way.
Some new affiliates do this mistake often. They think of new accounts for new sites to keep track of the site’s earning.
For this purpose, you don’t need new accounts. You can create upto 100 tracking ID from a single account and use 1 Tracking ID for new sites.
You can avail tracking ID wise report from the report section.
6. Use Amazon User Reviews as Your Own
Feel free to base your potential endorsement of a product based on how well that product is reviewed. In fact, relying on the user generated reviews on Amazon to determine the quality of products is a good idea overall.
I use user’s opinion and develop content accordingly. But I don’t copy them directly. I just take the opinion, and write of my own. I make sure to publish high quality contents that both Amazon and Google loves!
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. Warn your freelancer about it before you hire them on freelance marketplace. Just copy-paste will land you with a banned account quickly.
Again, the language on this one is very upfront in participation requirement #28:
[pullquote align=”normal”]You will not display or otherwise use any of our customer reviews or star ratings, in part or in whole.[/pullquote]
I have seen so many affiliates’ showing customer reviews on their site using WordPress plugins. This is a policy violation and any time can lead those marketers to ban.
[thrive_text_block color=”note” headline=”Special Note”] Some affiliates mention Amazon user rating on their site manually. Don’t do this. For rating, you can rate something similar to Amazon user rating naming ‘Editor Rating’ or something similar on your site.[/thrive_text_block]
7. Forget to Mention You Are an Amazon Affiliate
Every page of your website that sells an Amazon product needs to have a disclaimer explaining that you are an Affiliate, and will earn a small commission from sold products.
Every. Single. Page.
Leave out this information, and you’ll land in banned territory quickly. An easy way to include this information is on the footer of each page that sells a product.
From now on, put the following disclaimer to all of your niche sites.
[code]YourNicheSite.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to (“your website name” (amazon.com, or endless.com, MYHABIT.com, SmallParts.com, or AmazonWireless.com).[/code]
You can also announce however you want. Whatever disclaimer you draw up, make sure you have something announcing you are an affiliate.
For all of my niche websites, I also publish an ‘Affiliate Disclosure’ where I mention everything. You can also do the same to be in safe side.
8. Link from Sexually Explicit and/or Violent Sites
Under item 2 of the operating agreement, Amazon clearly forbids using affiliate links on site that contain certain materials.
[pullquote align=”normal”] One example of an unsuitable site “include those that: promote or contain sexually explicit materials. [/pullquote]
While this can be a vague term, it’s better to err on the safe side. Or, check in with Amazon before posting your links on a site that could be on the border line of explicit or violent.
9. Auto-Tag Amazon Sessions (iFrame, Automatic Cookie install)
Amazon by default stores cookie information for users who click on your links, saving your affiliate information in case that user buys your linked product within a 24 hour period.
But some 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.
I want to share an interesting story I read a couple years ago.
Digital Point Solution founder Shawn Hogan followed a similar practice with eBay affiliate program, and he was the top marketer at eBay in terms of making money! eBay didn’t know the insight, so they offered Shawn a Private Jet! He made $28 Million with this system he found.
If Amazon thinks you are engaging in this practice your account will be banned (and possibility of being taken to court 😉 ). To make sure you don’t trigger any false flags, avoid using iFrame’s on your site all together, as that’s how shady sellers use this trick.
10. Buy Paid Search Placements
Amazon defines paid search placements as follows in their Associates Operating Agreement
[pullquote align=”normal”]“Prohibited Paid Search Placement” means an advertisement that you purchased through bidding on keywords, search terms, or other identifiers[/pullquote]
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 be careful while generating traffic for your niche site using paid ads.
11. Violate Amazon’s Trademark Policy
No matter how big your Affiliate site is, Amazon can shut down things quickly if they believe you are in violation of their trademark rights. To clarify, Amazon owns a ton of trademarks, not all of which have anything to do with the phrase “Amazon.”
Proprietary products like Kindle are trademarked too, and you can quickly violate these trademarks by including trademark information in your site’s Domain name.
However, you can use trademarked name in your post permalink, as keyword in permalink is one of the on-Page SEO factors that help getting ranked in Google.
OK – Abc.com/amazon-kindle-ebook-reader-review
Not OK – KindleReviews.com
12. Mentioning Price in Niche Site Contents Manually
It might be tempting to discuss things like price and how great of a deal certain items are in your content directly, but doing so runs afoul of Amazon’s good graces.
Amazon changes the prices of items regularly, and 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.
I’m an affiliate marketer with Amazon for more than 2 years now. I didn’t even know there is any policy that might lead me to ban.
I learned this from Joseph Magnotti from EmpireFlippers while I listed one of my niche sites for sell recently. Here is the email screenshot Joe sent me.
Amazon affiliate accounts are getting banned for mentioning product price in content. An example how I was breaking Amazon’s term.
How to comply with this term? Well, this is what I did in a different post.
Here is what mentioned about price display in Amazon Operating Agreement
[pullquote align=”normal”]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. [/pullquote]
So it’s clear that we can’t mention price manually, and the only option to show price is using theme like AuthorityAzon (the theme automatically update price from Amazon using product advertising API) or plugin like EasyAzon.
13. Avoid Social Media Promotion without Knowing The Rules
While Amazon generally does not allow you to share affiliate links on sites you do not own, social network sites are something of an exception. However, there are a few important rules that govern sharing links on social media.
In general, avoid all of the bannable offenses above, like sharing links on a sexually explicit or violent Social Media page or using Amazon trademark info in your page titles (like creating a Facebook page named – Amazon Discount and posting affiliate links of product with discount).
In order to make sure that you are sharing acceptable links on your social media, be sure to click the “share” buttons from the Amazon Affiliates Stripe when you are logged into your affiliate account.
Note that, you will only get the option once you are login to your Amazon affiliate account, and your ‘Display Setting’ is on from ‘Associates Site Stripe Options’ which can be found in Account Setting.
14. Promote Amazon with Copy Content
In general, Amazon wants to be sure that Affiliates are sharing links on high quality sites only. That means that if your site is all advertising copy, or totally devoid of content, Amazon won’t look at you favorably.
When you first join as an Amazon Affiliate, you will need to meet quality guidelines on your site as far as content is concerned.
And as long as you maintain that high level of quality, and make sure that your site contains genuine content and not entirely copy content, you should be fine.
With copy content, not only Amazon will ban you as an affiliate, you will get a penalty from Google as well.
15. Offering Rebate
Offering rebate is one of the tricky ways marketers use to increase sales. While this works for digital product marketplaces like Clickbank, there is no way to apply the same technique for Amazon affiliate program.
[pullquote align=”normal”]You will not offer any person or entity any consideration or incentive (including any money, rebate, discount, points, donation to charity or other organization, or other benefit) [/pullquote]
The agreement clears it all. Offer rebate only if you want to get banned.
16. No Sales In 90 Days
According to the email, once you sign up for Amazon Affiliate program, you need to sell at least 1 product within 90 days, else you will no longer be an Amazon affiliate.
However, the good news is, you can re-apply to become Amazon affiliate anytime later only on this circumstances.
It’s Your Turn
For more information about all of these common pitfalls, and all of the other things that Amazon wants you to know about being an Affiliate, make sure to check out the full Amazon Affiliate’s agreement.
Have questions about any of the bannable offenses above?
The best thing to do is to contact Amazon.
Don’t risk it: your status as an Amazon Affiliate hangs in the balance.