Affiliate Beware: 11 Things NOT-To-Do With Amazon's Associate Program

Vector lightning symbolThis is a guest submission by Karl Kangur...

If you’re at all active in the Niche Hacks Private Mastermind Group, you’ll probably know me as the website monetization guy.

What most people don’t know is that I’ve also done Amazon Affiliates for over five years and have actually sold quite a few successful websites.

Over at MonetizePros, my team and I have been teaching people how to create a blog and as a part of that, I’ve built up a huge list of Amazon Affiliate niches that we’ll soon be sharing with our readers (and Niche Hacks readers).

During the process of finding those 1,000+ niches and keywords, I manually visited and inspected over 2,500 different Amazon Affiliate websites and the majority of them repeat the same mistakes over and over again.

 

 

What You'll Learn

  • The common mistakes Amazon affiliates make
  • How to avoid being banned from Amazons Associates program
  • Branding yourself to look more credible and trustworthy

 

(P.S. If you'd like to download a free list of 1244 expensive Amazon products click here or the image below)

 

Here’s a NOT-To-Do List for Amazon Affiliates

 

1. Listing Prices

This is a big one.

There’s two reasons you should avoid this.

First of all, it can get you banned from Amazon Associates.

They change their prices very often and most affiliate marketers don’t update old posts on their niche sites as often, so products get misrepresented.

That’s why Amazon has made it a rule that you’re not allowed to state exact prices in your content.

It’s tempting, because they sometimes offer crazy discounts – but it’s not worth the risk.

Secondly, one of the best ways to get click-throughs is through curiosity.

The majority of my Amazon Affiliate clicks come from review posts, where I’ve added a button after listing all of the pro’s of the product, asking to “check the price on Amazon.com”.

If you mention the price right away, they’ve lost one reason to click to Amazon and you’ve lost a potential 24-hour cookie that might lead to a sale.

 

2. Not Linking to Amazon

I cannot even believe I’ve got to list this but it’s an extremely common problem.

We’ve all started to write “skyscraper” content as our homepages but many marketers seem to forget to link from the products listed on that page.

Every time you mention a product name, every time you have a picture of a product and every time you’ve said something amazing about it – include a call to action and a link to Amazon.

I know some people are afraid of getting penalized for having too many affiliate links but it’s really not that big of a problem, especially if you nofollow the links.

In an average product review I tend to have at least one link to Amazon per 100 words and that’s fine with Google.

 

3. Not Nofollowing Affiliate Links

Doing SEO for niche sites is pretty tough (unless you’ve read this post) because links tend to be harder to obtain.

That’s why it’s critical to have your on-page SEO in perfect order.

Even though we really can’t take this guy seriously, Google’s Matt Cutts has stated again and again that all of the affiliate links on your website should be nofollow.

Well, screw him, that’s not the main reason why we’re doing it.

The problem is that in Amazon niches you’re often competing with Amazon product pages themselves and as you probably know – there’s nothing worse than linking to your competitors!

Nofollow your links and stop making Amazon’s product pages more powerful than your own site.

 

4. Not Investing In Design

Just because we have this amazing opportunity of starting a business for only fifty dollars a year, doesn’t mean that it’s the smartest way of doing it.

Amazon affiliate websites have been popular among marketers for 7-8 years now and trust me, the average person is starting to recognize them.

Stop using the default WordPress theme and text-headers or Fiverr logos.

Stop copy pasting your iWriter articles in the editor and hitting publish.

Think about the design of your website, the design of your content and the “image” of your site.

Whether this means investing in a good, premium WordPress theme or hiring an actual designer is up to you, but something needs to change.

Having a professional-looking affiliate site will help you:

  • Get higher conversion rates
  • Attract more backlinks
  • Give you more opportunities for link-building

 

5. Leaving Dates On your Articles

This is a much bigger deal than you may think.

You should hide the dates on all of your reviews and articles.

Most of the stuff you’ll post on the site is evergreen, but that’s not the way the customer will see it.

If you’re looking to buy a new keyboard and read a glowing review from 2013, that’s not going to convince you.

In those three years, hundreds and hundreds of better, upgraded keyboards have come out and your stuff is irrelevant.

Delete the dates and most people will not even question it.

Your content is taken seriously.

 

6. Posting Too Short Content

Back in 2012, affiliate marketing was super easy.

You order a 500 word article for $5, add a picture and your affiliate link and with a little bit of effort, you’ll be ranking for your super-secret longtail keyword.

In 2016 this doesn’t really work anymore, yet so many people are still doing it.

Why are pillar articles as homepages so popular? Because it works?

Just look at The Wirecutter, likely one of the biggest Amazon Affiliate websites. Every single review and post they write is upwards of 4,000 words, sometimes even over 10,000.

Put your longtail keywords into groups and write one big 2,000 word article on the subject and do some link-building.

Your traffic will increase substantially. (See Stuart's 101 traffic hacks for more traffic)

No post should be under 1,000 words and when you do a content audit on your site, you’ll see that it probably makes sense to go in and delete a lot of the crap you posted a few years ago.

 

7. EMD Instead of Brand

Exact match domain names still work in 2016, there’s no doubt about that.

Even after Google devalued them, when you look at the top results for low competition keywords, the benefits are still obvious.

In spite of that, it’s still a short-sighted approach to creating an Amazon Affiliate business.

First of all, it makes it super obvious to a customer in 2016 that you’re just doing it for the affiliate commission and your content cannot be trusted.

Combine it with a few other mistakes from this post and you’ll be seeing a conversion rate around 2-5%.

Secondly, it heavily limits the potential of your website.

An EMD locks you down in one niche and there’s not much you can do about it.

Go with a brand name and once you’ve dominated your initial niche, you’ve got plenty of room (and authority) to tackle other markets.

For example, if your initial niche is electric guitars, don’t start with “electricguitarjudge.com” but go for something like “Musicious.com”

 

8. No Social Proof

Social proof is huge when you’re doing research on something.

If you see that other people trust a resource, you’re more likely to trust them as well.

When you’ve created a Facebook fan page for your niche site and have three likes on it (you, your mom and your dog) then please don’t add it to the sidebar of your website.

It’s basically screaming to the reader that they’re one of the first people to ever listen to you and it makes them insecure.

The second social proof aspect is comments.

A lot of niche sites show their most recent posts in the sidebar and there’s a little bubble showing the amount of comments – it tends to be zero.

Getting legitimate comments on niche sites is pretty hard until you’ve hit #1 for your main keywords.

There’s an easy work-around for this.

Go to your WordPress comments manager, click edit on any spam comment that someone has left and delete their website link, change the comment, add a new name and write your own comment!

Try to add at least 3-4 fake comments for each post you publish and people will not only trust the site a little more, they’ll also be more likely to leave a comment themselves.

 

9. Keyword Stuffing

Yes, it’s great for SEO to have your big pages named with keywords and it’s even better to have them in the menu with keywords as internal links.

But it’s not worth it.

Sure you may get a little better rankings from this little “trick” but it kills the user experience of the site in most cases and makes it look spammy for a visitor. (Stop users from bouncing off with this copywriting technique)

Stick to the basics and use categories like “Start Here” “Price Ranges” “Brands” “Reviews” “How-To” “Accessories” and so on and so forth.

Getting more visitors is great but there’s no point in it if your site is impossible to navigate and looks spammy – we’re after sales not traffic numbers, after all.

 

10. Not Having Affiliate Disclosure

This is another easy way to get your Amazon Affiliate account banned.

Every single website that promotes even one product from Amazon has to have the affiliate disclosure.

I usually add it to the footer of my website in a small font, but it’s also okay to create a separate “disclosure” page.

Here’s the text you have to add:

[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)].”

 

(P.S. If you'd like to download a free list of 1244 expensive Amazon products click here or the image below)

 

11. Only Having Reviews

If your website looks like one long sales page instead of a resource for buyers, most people are going to hit the back button immediately.

Make sure that you’ve also got educational content about your niche.

For most of these, you still have the option to monetize the post but through other methods (i.e. Clickbank).

If you’ve got a website about digital pianos, write a few posts about how to play the piano.

Explain it as much as possible and in the end you can promote a piano playing course through Clickbank.

This makes your site look like a legitimate resource, shows Google that you’re an authority and not just posting about products and it’s an opportunity to generate more traffic in your niche.

Although these visitors will not have high buyer intent, a lot of them will still end up reading your other articles and getting your Amazon cookie.

 

Final Words

While it may be easy to break these rules, it's definitely not worth risking your associates account over.

Many have gone through the horror of reading that email from Amazon "We regret to inform you..." (You can imagine the rest).

These are simple to follow, but yet common mistakes that many affiliates make.

Leave your questions, comments and what you plan to do after reading this post...

 

karl
Karl Kangur runs MonetizePros.com, the biggest resource on website monetization and display advertising. He has over 8 years of experience in the game and loves playing with Google.

 

 

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Nader Qudimat
Forged by the iron and cold steel, Nader takes his knowledge and hulk smashes it into his bodybuilding blog, FitFrek.

He is Stuart's right hand man as a VA, and is dedicated to make a empire online and he's doing so while studying for his MBA.
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Comments (37)

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  1. Msgsnd says:

    Thanks for this epic post.

  2. Macdonalds says:

    Great stuff, Karl. im humbled whenever i get such cool stuff for free and it fires me on to do same when i acquire enough experience to type anything relevant 😉 Thanks.
    im in the process of developing content for my affiliate website. my first. .My question; how many product links are permitted by amazon. didn't know there was a ceiling.
    Please explain the following paragraph and also educate me on what longtail mean too."Put your longtail keywords into groups and write one big 2,000 word article on the subject and do some link-building'.
    thank you so much in anticipation of your response.

    • Karl Kangur says:

      There is no ceiling on the number of links by Amazon but Google is known for penalizing sites for having "too many" affiliate links.

      There's no specific number but it's not something you'd have to worry about.

      Just stay reasonable and try to put yourself in the users shoes.

      Don't link out with every single word and link to other sources too, not just Amazon.

  3. Macdonalds says:

    just tried to get on your mailing list but got this response. Oops! It looks like there was an error: No email provider integration has been set for this campaign.

    • Did you try that with the 1244 amazon products optin?

      Sorry about that, it seems to be working fine though. It may have been a temporary glitch, a browser problem or the email address you've typed in was incorrect.

      Can you try again? Or shoot an email to contact nichehacks.com and I'll sign you up manually?

  4. This was very helpful thank you.

  5. Vishnu Puran says:

    Very much helpful post. Thank you very much for sharing

  6. Vishwajeet says:

    Great Post. Amazon have some strict terms for their publishers. Mots the publishers loses their account due to lack of knowledge of their publisher requirements. This post really help them.

  7. I enjoyed this article. I would love an update of this for publishers. There are some (constantly changing) rules for them, but it is essential for publishers to put amazon affiliate links on their books. It is allowed and it is very interesting to see "what else" your readers buy.

    Very helpful in advertising. 🙂

  8. Interview iq says:

    Thanks for the post. it is very detailed. when i joined amazon marketing a also made many mistakes. Now i will remember those points

  9. Mozie says:

    Thanks for this Nader, starting a little affiliate site as we speak, going to be using the affiliate disclosure, did not know not having it can lead to account closure. My site has the listing prices problem too, it's a mini store which automatically pulls prices, but I doubt they auto-update those prices. A bit worried about that now. Thanks for the helpful post, very useful for the amazon newbies like myself 🙂

  10. Leslie says:

    Great article, definitely something to read when you're starting out with Amazon affiliate marketing, or even if you've been doing it for a while. You never know the mistakes you might be making.

    I do have one remarkt though. In your first listed mistake you mention not being allowed to mention the price. You are allowed to mention the price IF you are using the API they made available to pull it in. That way the price will change if the price on the site changes and Amazon will not have an issue with it. I just figured I'd put that out there in case anyone was using that kind of set up and got worried.

    Thanks again for article, loved it!

    • Karl Kangur says:

      Thanks Leslie, a solid point!

      How many of your competitors are using the API? I've almost never seen one do it - most people do it wrong and then say look at my competitors, they're not banned!

  11. Hung Pham says:

    If I read this article sooner, I wouldn't be closed by Amazon. When my site has a big income from Amazon Affiliate, it closed mine.

    After reading this article, I saw that my site had a lot errors. I will avoid wrong way after reading this post.

    thank you

    • What was the biggest rule you were breaking?

      You'd think they'd give you a second chance if you were bringing them big income!

      • Hung Pham says:

        Amazon opened me the second chance, he did not show the fault from my site, I did not know how to fix, edit site... After 03 days, Amazon closed my account forever.

        Then I searched on the Internet why Amazon closed mine.... I saw a lot of error from my website...

  12. Hishersa says:

    I am cleared of everything except #1 and I need to correct this asap. Even with adjusting price plugins, sometimes, it best to leave off not listing the price and let curiosity increase click through rates. Great post... one that I have bookmarked and will make into a checklist. Thanks.

    • NicheHacks says:

      Exactly, you'll likely get MORE clicks to Amazon if you don't list price but instead have a call to action like "Click here to see the latest price...". Curiosity works.

  13. Nancy says:

    I wonder if they let you slide on #1 (no manual posting of prices) if you're a huge Amazon affiliate. ThisIsWhyImBroke.com has dozens of manually priced items all over their pages.

    Thanks for pointing that Amazon policy out to me.

  14. Ubai says:

    Great post. Thanks for putting all these issues into one article. This will be a good reference for me. I will start applying these right away!
    Keep up the good work...

  15. Dan says:

    Many thanks for this very useful article,
    one question though - how do you nofollow the links to Amazon?

  16. ethan moore says:

    And while we’re at it, why not talk about a free (as in free beer, but also as in freedom) entire operating system: GNU/Linux?

  17. Hi there!

    Great list! Loved the wonderful suggestions. I'm into blogging niche with a branded domain. My site mainly focuses on blogging and vlogging, besides that it also offers monetary and frugal tips to netizens. The site is new and building authority gradually.
    I would be pleased if you could suggest me whether I can promote amazon affiliate products NOT related to these fields something like girly stuff on this blog or should I build another one?
    Thanks in Advance!

    • NicheHacks says:

      If your blog is about blogging and saving money (which are both 2 totally different topics already) then you shouldn't be promoting "girly stuff" on the blog.

  18. Shoaib AHmad says:

    Best article i learn many new things so at same time this one for newbies and also for experts..thanx

  19. Hi,

    I have read 5-7 article about amazon affiliate guideline and this is the best.My account has almost 3-4 times for violating amazon rules.

    After reading the post, i am trying to maintain all amazon associate rules.Now my account is fully approved and my earnings growing well.

    Thanks Niche Hacks for sharing an awesome content.

  20. Gemma says:

    Hey! Thanks for the tips, I recently became an Amazon affiliate and I'm trying not to mess it up haha! What are your thoughts on the rule about not cloaking links?

    I'm using pro-urls for geolocalised linking but I'm concerned that they violate cloaking rules.

    Do you think changing them to my own thirsty links including 'get-Amazon xyz' in the URL will be enough to ensure the reader knows they are going to Amazon through the link to fix this issue?

    Amazon say it should be clear the reader is clicking a link to Amazon and not misleading so I'm hoping that changing them in this way will work out well. Would love to hear your thoughts!

  21. Aqib Nazir says:

    Hi Karl,
    This is such an informative post. I started my first niche site few weeks ago and I am glad I came across this post of yours before I launched.
    I made my first sale, and my account went under a review. Disapproved!!!

    "We do not allow the use of URLs, trademarks, logos, etc. that include words that are trademarked by Amazon.com LLC. This includes variations or misspellings of any trademarked words. We are therefore unable to approve your application."

    What I think I did Wrong:

    To add "Buy Now" buttons or "Check price on Amazon" buttons, I did a simple Google search and used the buttons from there. They had Amazon logo on it which I think is the reason my account was rejected. Considering this was my first niche site, I was not aware of this and if you could add this in the above list, it would be a great help for newbies and will save them from frustration.

    I am going to fix the issues first and then re-apply. I will have to fix all of my links, once I am approved. This is going to take some decent time.

    Keep up the good work.
    Aqib

  22. I like your list of things to consider. I am an affiliate marketer new to this whole thing, so appreciate all the help and direction I can get. Even as an affiliate for other companies we need to be savvy to rank and make money.