banned in red box

How Not To Get Banned From Amazon Affiliate Program

banned in red boxAs I am preparing to scale my online business with Amazon affiliate program, I am determined not to repeat the same mistakes that got me kicked out of Amazon affiliate account.

So I decided to do a bit of research to make sure I am up to date with the operation agreement and see if there are other commonly known issues I should be aware of.

Do not put these content on the site

It is listed in “Enrollment” section of the Associates Program Operating Agreement.

(a) promote or contain sexually explicit materials;

(b) promote violence or contain violent materials;

(c) promote or contain libelous or defamatory materials;

(d) promote discrimination, or employ discriminatory practices, based on race, sex, religion, nationality, disability, sexual orientation, or age;

(e) promote or undertake illegal activities;

(f) are directed toward children under 13 years of age, as defined by the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (15 U.S.C. §§ 6501-6506) and any regulations promulgated thereunder;

(g) include any trademark of Amazon or its affiliates, or a variant or misspelling of a trademark of Amazon or its affiliates, in any domain name, subdomain name, or in any username, group name, or other identifier on any social networking site (see the Trademark Guidelines for examples); or

(h) otherwise violate intellectual property rights.

Pretty straight forward here. keep it legal, no porn, no discrimination, no underage, and no illegal stuff.

As for don’t link to Amazon from non-Products, it is repeated in a couple of places (as far as I can see).

This one was in the linking requirements document.

You may add or delete Products (and related links) from your site at any time without our approval. However, you may not use links to link to the Amazon Site from references to products on your site that are not “Products” as defined in the Operating Agreement.

This one was in the participation requirements document.

19. You will not use Special Links to link to the Amazon Site from references to items on your site that are not Products.

Don’t trademark infringe Amazon!

This is repeated again and again in many different ways. Amazon also gives a list of Trademarks that we should not infringe.

This means don’t use Amazon logo in the buy button (example below). If you want to have a button, use text like “check it out on Amazon.com” instead.

don't put amazon logo in the buy button

State you are an Amazon affiliate

This was listed in the operating agreement doc.

10. Identifying Yourself as an Associate

You will not issue any press release or make any other public communication with respect to this Operating Agreement, your use of the Content, or your participation in the Program. You will not misrepresent or embellish the relationship between us and you (including by expressing or implying that we support, sponsor, endorse, or contribute to any charity or other cause), or express or imply any relationship or affiliation between us and you or any other person or entity except as expressly permitted by this Operating Agreement. You must, however, clearly state the following on your site: “[Insert your name] 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 [insert the applicable site name (amazon.com or myhabit.com)].”

So ideally, you should have an “Affiliate Disclosure” page on the site.

Do not display Amazon’s review on your site (…..unless you obtain the link through API)

This one was in the participation requirements document.

28. You will not display or otherwise use any of our customer reviews or star ratings, in part or in whole, on your site unless you have obtained a link to that customer review or star rating through the Product Advertising API and you comply with the requirements set forth in the License Agreement.

Basically don’t copy and paste the review. If you do use API, there seems to be an exception but that probably doesn’t apply to most of us.

Don’t cloak Amazon links

This one was in the participation requirements document.

30. You will not cloak, hide, spoof, or otherwise obscure the URL of your site containing Special Links (including by use of a redirecting page) or the user agent of the application in which Content is displayed or used such that we cannot reasonably determine the site or application from which a customer clicks through such Special Link to the Amazon Site.

Here is another paragraph from “link formatting” document.

Can I use a link shortening service for my links?

While you are welcome to use link shortening services, the link checker will not be able to verify that these links are functioning as intended. Please remember that you must clearly state that the link in question will take the user to the Amazon site when clicked and ensure that the site on which you are posting the links includes the required statement to identify yourself as an Associate. You must also be able to provide detailed information about the site(s) on which your links have been posted if we request it.

We do offer our own link shortening tool that can be used with Product Links. To shorten your links, search for a product from the Associates homepage under “Quickly Add Links” and choose the down arrow next to the item you want to advertise. A message box will appear and you can select “Shorten URL with amzn.to” and copy the short code for your site.

For more details, you should review the Operating Agreement

After doing extensive research on this (a lot of Google search and reading blogs), I am actually getting mixed feedback on this one.

Some say it is ok as long as the link shows “Amazon” in it – example.com/go/amazonlink1

Based on my previous experience, I would just avoid it completely.

Side note: I came across to Geniuslink while doing this research and apparently it is useful for capturing international traffic. The idea is to basically show local Amazon affiliate link by cloaking it with Geniuslink.

My thinking was if a site is getting such substantial traffic internationally, why not create a country specific site for that? All it takes is to do a bit of international SEO.

This will also allow you to put products from the local country Amazon and make it even more relevant for the users, since some products offered in the US are not available in other countries.

Don’t live in certain States

This one was listed in “Enrollment” section of the Associates Program Operating Agreement.

In addition, if at any time following your enrollment in the Program you become a resident of Arkansas, Colorado, Maine, Missouri, Rhode Island, or Vermont, you will become ineligible to participate in the Program, and this Operating Agreement will automatically terminate, on the date you establish residency in that state. In addition, you must promptly notify us in writing of your Arkansas, Colorado, Maine, Missouri, Rhode Island, or Vermont residency, which you may do via the Contact Associates Customer Service form available here.

Don’t put the affiliate link in e-books

Apparently, this one is governed by this paragraph in the participation requirements document.

6. You will not engage in any promotional, marketing, or other advertising activities on behalf of us or our affiliates, or in connection with the Amazon Site or the Program, that are not expressly permitted under the Operating Agreement.  For example, you will not engage in any promotional, marketing, or other advertising activities in any offline manner, including by using any of our or our affiliates’ trademarks or logos (including any Amazon Mark), any Content, or any Special Link in connection with an offline promotion or in any other offline manner (e.g., in any printed material, mailing, SMS, MMS, email or attachment to email, or other document, or any oral solicitation).  Upon our request, you will provide us with written certification that you have complied with this Section 6.  We will specify the form of, and content required in, that certification in our request.  Any failure by you to provide the certification in accordance with our request will constitute a material breach of this Operating Agreement.

More in depth discussion about this can be found on these blogs.

http://www.icanteachmychild.com/blogger-beware-3-ways-you-could-be-breaking-amazons-affiliate-program-rules/comment-page-5/#comment-212046

http://amylynnandrews.com/do-not-put-amazon-associates-links-in-emails/

Don’t artificially increase your advertising fees

This one was in the participation requirements document.

25. You will not attempt to circumvent the Associates Program Advertising Fee Schedule or artificially increase your advertising fees (e.g., by intentionally featuring, purchasing, or requesting or encouraging any other person or entity to purchase, low-price items offered on the Amazon Site (as determined by us) for the purpose of exceeding any advertising fee threshold, or by causing any page of the Amazon Site to open in a customer’s browser other than as a result of the customer clicking on a Special Link on your site).

Based on the mistake I made, it seems Amazon is actively monitoring the clicks so for whatever reasons, if the clicks increased unnaturally (for example, jumped from 100 to 1,000 overnight), you bet Amazon will be knocking your door (figuratively speaking…).

Other considerations

Obviously these agreement / requirement documents prepared by Amazon cover pretty much everything we should do and not do, but occasionally, we hear rumours.

For example, this forum recently discussed about having too many return orders could get your affiliate account banned.

Then there are tricky questions like “can I add my Amazon affiliate links NOT on my site?”

Apparently the general answer to that is “NO” (you cannot add it to forums for example). But, you could actually add your affiliate link to Twitter and Facebook Page.

So, I guess we will need to do some digging as we come across to more questions.

As of now though, I would definitely add an affiliate disclosure page on your site if you don’t have one yet.

19 replies
  1. Alex
    Alex says:

    Thank you very much for your advise. I didn’t understand if Geniuslink is compliant or not in your opinion?
    Alex

    Reply
  2. Amish Bhagwagar
    Amish Bhagwagar says:

    Hello Tony,

    Thanks for writing this article, i am into same situation you were once before, my account got closed without paying ads fees to me, no way i already created new account and following your article and making it compliant with amazon policy.
    can you go though my website one time and let me know if any other mistake i am doing in this ? it’s kalafabrics.com, and this time i don’t want to closed my account, so please guide me.

    Reply
    • Tony
      Tony says:

      Amish,
      Thanks for reaching out.
      Amazon actually closed down my account again. See update – https://digitalreadymarketing.com/amazon-affiliate-account-shut-recover/
      so at this point I may not be the most qualified person to give you an answer. Based on my experience, Amazon is closing down accounts that they feel are not beneficial to their business DISREGARD to whether the site is in compliance with their policy or not.
      The reason they gave me for shutting down my account was so vague and based on what I have done, I believe I did not violate their policy, or at least not the one they pointed out.
      My advice would be don’t rely 100% on Amazon. Look into other income streams as well because Amazon can and will shut your associate account down if they don’t like your site by giving you nonsense reasons.

      Reply
  3. Levy
    Levy says:

    are sellers / vendors on amazon able to drive affiliate traffic, from their manufacturer domains? I don’t see anything in the policy either way.

    Reply
  4. adwaith madhav v s
    adwaith madhav v s says:

    hi tony m an amazon affiliate and i run this spinner site. they said i should have soem content in my website and not jsut products for sale. so how many blog posts should i be havign in ym website .

    Reply
  5. Arman
    Arman says:

    Hi,
    I have a question. Now I am using EasyAzon plugin for my website and I am using link cloaking which this plugin provides. Should I stop cloaking my links as it violates the rules? When I connected with EasyAzon help center they said that it is Ok to cloack links with this plugin as they use Amazons API.

    What sould I do?

    Reply
  6. Peter
    Peter says:

    Hi Tony,
    Tn the product reviews, I’d like to use a button with the text “Check price and opinions”

    You think it’s ok to use?

    Thanks

    Reply
  7. Alex
    Alex says:

    Hi Tony,

    I have a question about product description/review received via Amazon Product Advertising API. Is it safe to use such kind of text on my website?

    Thanks,
    Alex

    Reply
    • Tony
      Tony says:

      As far as I know, it used to be OK to display pricing if it’s pulled through API. I am not sure about review though. I have not checked the agreement recently so that would be the first place to checked.

      Reply

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