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Top 7 Reasons Why Your Amazon Associate Account Might Be Closed – How to Avoid

A couple weeks ago I shared my story about my Amazon Affiliate Account getting closed and costing me a painful $100k! Read the full story here – Amazon Associate Account Closed!

After that post and sharing the very detailed affiliate site compliance audit procedure one of my employees had developed we completed audits on many readers sites (ironically the audit procedure was completed the same week I got suspended!). Building Amazon Affiliate Sites was/is a big part of my business and getting back into their program and staying approved once I am in is a high priority for me.

This post and additional research has led us to create this list of the 7 most common mistakes we are all making with our Amazon Affiliate sites that could lead to our accounts getting suspended or closed!

 

Concerned About Your Sites and If You are Compliant with Amazon?

Option 1 – Use my teams procedure and audit your site for free – Click Here

Option 2 – Have my team complete a site audit on one of your sites – Click Here

start-your-audit-now
start-your-audit-now

In this post we have tried to stay on the conservative side, however, I fully realize people may choose to dial up the risk in order to generate more clicks/sales. I understand the need to try and find the right balance between risk/reward and in this post have tried to present the “ideal” scenario.

start-your-audit-nowNow that we’ve had the Amazon audit process up and running for a little while, we are able to analyze the data and see the biggest problems with our sites and the sites we have reviewed. I hope this post provides you with 7 actionable items to consider regarding your sites and Amazon Associates…

See below for the 7 most frequently failed Amazon Audit questions…that could result in your associate account being suspended.

 

  1. The first and most common issue the first question – It reads “Are there any affiliate disclaimer links that do not include this disclaimer “Amazon and the Amazon logo are trademarks of Amazon.com, Inc. or its affiliates.” ?”

Your Amazon Affiliate Account can get shut down pretty fast if they think you’re violating their Trademark and Logo policy. The tricky thing with Amazon is that they actually own the rights to other Trademarks and logos such as Kindle. They are also very vigilant about Amazon logo colors and design schemes and will shut you down if you attempt to alter them in any way.

The disclaimer link on your site is going to look something like this:

1-amazon-associate-disclaimer

This question comes from probably the most clear requirement on the Amazon Affiliate Program Trademark Guidelines. You can find them here, or see the snapshot below.

2-amazon-associate-toc

So basically if you have anything that looks like this on your site:

3-amazon-logos

*Amazon and the Amazon logo are trademarks of Amazon.com, Inc, or its affiliates

Which you probably will since it’s an Amazon Affiliate site- then amazon could shut you down if you don’t add in that disclaimer.

  • TIP – Most people have the earnings disclaimer on their site but people (myself included) seem to miss having the trademark disclaimer
  • TIP – Although it looks ugly if you want to be on the very safe side include Amazon Associates Earnings and the logo disclaimer in the footer so it is on every page!

 

  1. The second most common issue is the following question “Does the site offer incentive (including any money, rebate, discount, points, donation to charity or other organization) for using Affiliate Links on the site?”.

We have been finding that a lot of the sites that we have audited provide incentives, especially in the form of money rebates for using their link. Most of the offers we found were clearly only to incentivize the click and had no substance to people looking to claim the “rebate” or “save addition x%”.

The clean and simple rule around this – DON’T do it! Incentivizing people to click on a link to Amazon is a slippery slope! It’s a very easy way to get your account in trouble with Amazon. Including text like “ Click here to get 10 dollars off this product” are no good.

See images of what NOT to do (not images from any sites we have reviewed):

4-dont-use-rebates

 

  1. The third most common issue that people have with their sites is the following question “ Are there any links on the site that are related to limited time promotions that are now expired?” .

Here is the general rule of thumb – Just don’t include pricing on your site at all. Comparison tables are great but don’t include the price on your site because Amazon products change their price all the time. Including an old promotion price without realizing that the promotion has expired could also be seen as “inaccurate or misleading advertising” which will also get your account shut down.

Example: You still have this on your site on September 20th

5-dont-be-out-of-date

The Amazon Affiliate Bootcamp guys  (go here for a really great step by step guide to having a successful Amazon Affiliate Website ) show a really good strategy where you can allude to pricing without actually putting a price down.

6-be-careful-with-stars

 

  1. The fourth most common issue with Amazon Affiliate sites is the question “Are any links on the site using a shortening service in a manner that makes it unclear that we are linking to an Amazon Site?”.

A lot of people do this! I’ve done it. Basically, Amazon doesn’t want you to make it unclear that you are sending a user to Amazon so they have words in their TOC’s that make it questionable to use link shortening/cloaking services.

So can you use PrettyLinkPro or Geni.us Link? The truth is it is not 100% clear! Many many people do and Amazon knows that so it is likely lower risk but still not 100% compliant with Amazon. 

 

  1. The fifth most common issue with Amazon Affiliate sites is the question “Does the site engage in any promotional, marketing such as printed material, mailing, SMS, MMS, email or attachment to email, advertising activities on behalf of Amazon or their affiliate sites?”.

This one gets a lot of people because it is very easy for Amazon to check! It is tricky because this essentially makes it impossible to do any kind of email marketing with a link in it.

Even if you are emailing just one friend be sure to not include a link in that email.

One solution if you want to make money from Amazon Associates from your email list is to funnel them through a squeeze page (for example a review post for the product on your site).

7-dont-have-links-in-email

  • TIP – If you send out the content of your post in an email newsletter automatically make sure links are turned off just in case you have an affiliate link in the first paragraph of the article.

 

  1. The sixth most common issue with Amazon Affiliate sites is the question “Does the site display or otherwise use any of Amazon’s customer reviews or star ratings, in part or in whole?”.

This is something we see A LOT (and did a lot!).

We see a lot of people using reviews as testimonials, which makes a lot of sense since it gives pretty true and accurate reviews on a particular product. It also seems tempting because it can add really valuable content to your site which helps your reader.

Another thing that people really like to do is use “Star Ratings’. Using star ratings on your site that look like Amazons can be perceived by Amazon as using “their” star ratings and yet another way to get your account closed.

The key if you are using any star ratings (or reviews) is to use the API from Amazon and not just pull the star rating at one moment in time.

You shouldn’t display anything that looks like this (unless it is pulled from the API) to be safe:
8-be-extra-careful-with-stars

 

  1. The seventh and last most common issue is the question “Are any amazon Affiliate Links shared on other social platforms/networks such as Twitter or Facebook?”.

This is a tough one because there are some instances where you CAN share your links on social pages and some where you cannot. Personally, I recommend just to stay away from all of it.

If you really want to do it, I would go here to learn more about what is acceptable and what isn’t in terms of social sharing.

 

BONUS TIP

Don’t associate yourself with anyone who has had their account banned. If you associate yourself with someone who has had their account banned it can result in you becoming banned. This is what got me in trouble!

 

Concerned About Your Sites and If You are Compliant with Amazon?

Option 1 – Use my teams procedure and audit your site for free – Click Here

Option 2 – Have my team complete a site audit on one of your sites – Click Here

 

This post was written to provide you with some tips and knowledge about the most common Amazon Affiliate site compliance offenses. Have a look at your site and see if you’re in violation of any of these! If you have any questions feel free to reach out!

 

About the Author Jon Haver

I am a 31 year old husband, father of 2, engineer and a huge fan of developing systems to build useful and profitable websites. The reason I build online businesses is to provide financial independence for my family and yours. I am not a GURU but just a regular guy who is grinding out 12+hr days to build a life for my family on terms.
Jon Haver, Online Entrepreneur

Leave a Comment:

16 comments
Mike says October 24, 2016

I am not sure that the 6 is entirely true. By the manner they are saying it, sounds more like “don’t use our reviews or our ratings” not ” don’t use any stars to indicate your opinion” ? Can you find more information about this one please?

Reply
    Jon Haver says October 24, 2016

    Hi Mike, you bring up a good point… there is nothing wrong with you including a star rating with your own review… as long as Amazon doesn’t think you are using their star rating. So using stars that look like Amazons or any words that could lead people to think it is Amazons ratings could be a problem. I have used them extensively and it hasn’t been flagged as an issue but what I am trying to present is a VERY conservative approach here.

    Reply
MIke says October 24, 2016

Thank you for the clarificaiton. I am using a plugin that shows stars as the post’s author rating. The rating has stars in it but it’s 5/5 not like amazon’s and the rating is based on author’s opinion not copyied from amazon. I guess it still not 100% clear that this is not their rating? So you suggest that I change the ratings (stars) to something like let’s say thumbs up or something?

Reply
    Mike says October 24, 2016

    PS:It actually says that it is the author’s rating (Author rating : number of stars) I guess that might be a little bit more clear that it is not based on amazon’s stars? What do you think? 🙂

    Reply
    Jon Haver says October 24, 2016

    You would be in compliance in my opinion now… but the concern is someone from Amazon could disagree. I think the solution of using thumbs up would be a great solution to still get the benefit you are after and be on the conservative side ensuring Amazon doesn’t incorrectly think you used their review/rankings.

    Reply
Constance k says October 24, 2016

Whow thanks, I feel like amazon is becoming adsense by banning left right and centre. Personally i’ve never been great with amazon associate to begin.

Reply
Atif says October 24, 2016

Hi Jon,

Thank you for the clarification.

What about using “click here for lowest price”. Do you think sentences like that are in compliance with amazon affiliate TOS ?

Reply
Matthew Allen says October 24, 2016

Concerning the Bonus Tip at the very end… You have had your account banned!! Nice knowin’ ya buddy! Good luck with everything. I can no longer associate myself with you… 😉

Reply
    Jon Haver says November 2, 2016

    Its been great knowing you 😉

    Reply
Meen says October 25, 2016

Thanks for the nice information. I was really unknown of few of the points you mentioned here. Hopefully it will help us out.

I have a question regarding the disclaimer page you mentioned. Since i am using the Azon plugin for getting extra earnings from UK and CA traffic is it essential to mention amazon.ca and amazon.co.uk in the disclaimer page, along with amazon.com?

I am really concerned about my account and do not want to take any chance so Please let me know about it.

Thanks

Reply
david says October 25, 2016

Your affiliate link to Amazon Affiliate Bootcamp is not working.

Site error: the file /home/cloudli/domains/amzaffiliatebootcamp.com/public_html/affiliates/ref.php requires the ionCube PHP Loader ioncube_loader_lin_7.0.so to be installed by the website operator. If you are the website operator please use the ionCube Loader Wizard to assist with installation.

Reply
Gemma says October 25, 2016

Hey Jon,

Sorry to hear about your affiliate account suspension :/

I recently became an Amazon affiliate and I had concerns with the cloaking section, I use geolocalised links in order to send readers to the right Amazon page no matter where they are in the world, the problem is that these links are cloaked.

That made me a little nervous about being banned so I set up a system where when I create a geolocalised link I add it to thirsty affiliates and create a specific URL that is very obvious that the reader is going to /get/XYZ-Product-On-Amazon.

I hope that will be enough to stop me getting in any trouble, because they really just say it needs to be clear the customer is going to Amazon, not that it can’t be cloaked at all….. right?

Reply
brian says October 25, 2016

Does it matter if I use slightly smaller font size than my main text size in my footer for my amazon disclaimer so the disclaimer doesn’t’ take up so much room

Reply
Nate Alger says October 28, 2016

Hi Jon, one thing I have done with the link cloaking which seems to be allowed by Amazon is using Bitly’s short links which look great.

Reply
David says October 29, 2016

I’ve spent the last 2 days fixing up my niche sites. I never realized just how many rules I was potentially breaking! After reading this guide, if something is even slightly questionable, I remove it. Don’t want to take any chances.

Thanks for the tips Jon.

Reply
    Jon Haver says November 2, 2016

    Glad the article was helpful!

    Reply
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