I’m not a fan of reading pages after pages of terms and conditions of any affiliate network I sign up for. In your initial stages, conversion is difficult, especially for newbies. But you know what? The worst nightmare for any Amazon affiliate can be getting their Associates account banned due to the violation of Amazon Associates Agreement. Recently, one of my student’s Associates account got banned which led me to write this guide after days of research in understanding their policies.
Amazon aims at becoming the universe’s most customer-centric company and therefore, it’s obvious, that they’ll have strict guidelines for their affiliates as their reputation might greatly be determined on how their affiliates refer visitors to their site.
1. Affiliate Link Cloaking/Shortening/Obsfucating
Seeing the loooong, ugly links of Amazon, it’s obvious that any newbie who hasn’t read the Amazon Associates terms may indulge in shortening links before embedding them into their content. Right? Wrong! Amazon wants its customers to know where they’re being directed to upon clicking on a link and therefore, their terms clearly state that you can’t indulge in redirecting links or cloaking links in any way; not even shortening links by any third party.
Section 2 (e) Associates Program Policies states: –
(e) any Product purchased by a customer who is referred to an Amazon Site by a link that sends users indirectly to the Amazon Site via an intermediate site, without requiring the customer to click on a link or take some other affirmative action on that intermediate site (a “Redirecting Link”),
Additionally, Section 8 (v) and (w) also state
(v) You will not cloak, hide, spoof, or otherwise obscure the URL of your Site containing Special Links (including by use of Redirecting Links) 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.
(w) You will not use a link shortening service in a manner that makes it unclear that you are linking to an Amazon Site.
Solution? You are free to use the link shortening service amzn.to provided at your affiliate dashboard
2. Including Affiliate Links in E-mails, eBooks, PDFs or Freebies
Distributing freebies, in the form of PDFs and eBooks are one of the most lucrative marketing tactics used by internet marketers. Secondly, we say, “Money lies in the list.” But it’s not exactly the same case here with Amazon Affiliate Program. The E-commerce giant forbids you from including direct affiliate links in your eBooks, mails or any other document that you might publish.
The section 5 of Associates Program Policies states
5. 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 Associates Program, that are not expressly permitted under the Associates 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).
3. Purchasing Items From Your Own Affiliate Links
This is one of the most obvious things that one tries to do and I was no exception. I tried it once as it was pretty lucrative. 😛
Not surprisingly, the sale wasn’t tracked as the customer email and associates account were one and the same. On a serious note, this is distinctly forbidden in Section 8 (u) of Associates Program Policies states: –
(u) You will not directly or indirectly purchase any Product(s) through Special Links, whether for your use of for the use of any other person or entity, and you will not permit, request or encourage any of your friends, relatives, employees, contractors, or business relations to directly or indirectly purchase any Product(s) through Special Links, whether for their use, your use or the use of any other person or entity. Further, you will not purchase any Product(s) through Special Links for resale or commercial use (of any kind) or offer any Products on your Site for resale or commercial use of any kind.
4. Creating And Operating More Than One Amazon Associates Account
This is another obvious mistake that many of the affiliates might make. I distinctly remember thinking of creating multiple Associates Accounts for each of my niche sites to keep a track of each site’s earning. Luckily, I looked up the Amazon’s terms and found out that this wasn’t permitted. Why? To make sure that their Ban carries a serious weight and to limit Spam, Amazon’s terms allow a single account for an individual.
Solution? You don’t need to create multiple accounts to track each site’s earnings. You can add upto 100 tracking IDs in one account.
Hover over the top-centre of the Amazon Navigation menu and click Manage Your Tracking IDs to Add more tracking IDs for each Site you want.
5. Cookie stuffing(dropping)/iFrame
Cookie Stuffing/Dropping is obviously a clearly blackhat, but you might be doing it unintentionally as well, using iFrames.
6. Using Amazon’s Proprietary Terms
Buying an EMD including the trademark terms of Amazon might seem a great idea as Google might seem to be favouring sites containing the target keyword. Amazon is very strict with its affiliates using their Proprietary Terms. Terms like “Amazon” and “Kindle” are trademarked and Amazon defies you to use them on your site as it might disillusion the user’s interpretation with your relationship with Amazon.
Using our logos and other trademarked content on your profile may cause confusion by those accessing your profile and also misrepresents the relationship between us and you. For more information, please review the Associates Operating Agreement found here:
Solution? You can’t use Amazon’s Proprietary Terms in domain names, usernames; like KindleFireReview.com.
But, you may include them in permalinks; like Domain.com/kindle-fire-review/
7. Buying Paid Search Placement
Section 8(f) of Associates Program Policies states: –
(f) You will not bid on or purchase keywords, search terms, or other identifiers (including Proprietary Terms) or otherwise participate in keyword auctions on any Search Engine if the resulting paid search advertisement is a Prohibited Paid Search Placement (as defined in the Fee Statement). You may purchase paid search advertisements and submit links to Search Engines to appear in response to a general Internet search query or keyword (i.e., in natural, free, organic, or unpaid search results), so long as you comply with the Associates Operating Agreement and those paid or unpaid search results send users to your site and not directly, or indirectly via a Redirecting Link (as defined in the Fee Statement), to the Amazon Site.