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Small mistakes that can get your amazon associates account banned

Discussion in 'Affiliate Programs' started by oblivion19, Oct 14, 2016.

  1. oblivion19

    oblivion19 Senior Member

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    Hey guys,

    I have been experimenting with amazon for a bit. There are two swords that hang over your head all the time if you make an amazon site.

    1. Getting a google penalty
    2. Getting your amazon account banned.

    Amazon seems to be trigger happy with banning associates and many of their policies are ambiguous at best.

    I decided to read around and found that I was making several minor mistakes that would put my account at jeopardy. It is important to familiarise with these rules. I am going to list out few of the lesser talked about things that could get you banned. I will also list out things that I am not sure about so people with more experience can clear them.


    1. Using Prices
    Don't use product prices on your website. These prices change all the time and if there is a difference between the price you quote on the website and the actual product, you can get banned for showing wrong information.

    What amazon asks you to do is to show their prices correctly which you can do using their API

    Also, having articles such as "best toasters under $100" seems to be a gray area that should be avoided.

    2.Using content from amazon
    You cannot copy content from amazon and put it on your page. I thought using part of the reviews in quotes and linking to amazon to read the full review was a great idea. But, I am almost certain that we are not allowed to do this or at the very least this seems to be a gray area.

    Also, we are not allowed to use customer submitted images.

    3. Image policies
    This seems to be the most confusing part. Some people suggest hotlinking product images while others say to download on your own server. Also, I have read on amazon that any images used should link back to amazon and should credit amazon as the source of images. I am not certain of any of these.

    4. Cloaking
    You cannot cloak your links i.e obscure where your clicks are coming from. You are allowed to shorten your links as long as it is clear to the customer that the link leads to amazon.

    Again, this is ambiguous. I am concerned whether I should continue using the wordpress plugin "pretty links" as it creates a redirect. I am not sure if this complies with amazon policies. I feel using amazons own url shortener and no following all the links should be the best option.

    5. Email Subscription

    This is something many people unknowingly infringe upon. If you have email subscribers who get email updates on new posts on your website, you need to be very careful. Amazon does not allow use of their affiliate links in emails. So, you might get terminated for this.

    I haven't talked about the main stream things like having an affiliate disclosure, having misleading information, having thin affiliate site etc.

    Would love additional insights from other members
     
  2. KHer0

    KHer0 Supreme Member

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    I guess you are talking from reading not experience.

    Number 1 : This is definitely a gray area. I see people using prices and getting paid but I know others who got banned !

    Number 2 : I believe amazon allows you to copy from it. However, if you do, you aren't allowed to use any affiliate links other than theirs.

    Number 3 : Amazon product descriptions and Images aren't their own. I don't know how can they ban you from that. Their product images are taken from the product supplier main page. It's all over the internet. It's not theirs to punish you for using it. If they did, say you got it from the product company website !

    Number 4 : There are a lot of discussions about this. But it always ends with you can't cloak links to mislead users. As long as users know they are going to amazon you should be fine

    In Conclusion, If you are making a lot of money for amazon they might be forgiving. Moreover, as long as you aren't using misleading techniques to send visitors, you should be Okay
     
  3. ppaizon217

    ppaizon217 Regular Member

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    I thought there was some API for images.
     
  4. MisterF

    MisterF Jr. VIP Jr. VIP

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    There's been a couple of biggish names banned recently Jon Havers and seo guy Harry Bloom both put blogs out about losing Amazon accounts.
     
  5. judaculla

    judaculla Regular Member

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    RE: Cloaking,

    I think your use of pretty links is fine, assuming you're doing something like mysite.com/trackable-url/name-of-link-to-be-shown/ which would redirect to amazon.com/product

    I think they would likely take action based more on context.

    For example, if you write a product review, and at the end have text such as " Overall, the [product name] is the best [niche] [product type] around." There could be a case made that you didn't explicitly state you were linking to Amazon. That being said, I think they target much more malicious attempts on such practices.

    The Pricing issues with Amazon still scare me. It's really hard to be useful when discussing a product without at least hinting at the price range that it falls in. API integration can be tricky, and it would be useful if that allowed affiliates to simply hard-code prices @ dates checked if there were a disclaimer regarding potential to be inaccurate.

    All in all, I think Amazon swoops down and destroys a lot of affiliate accounts with very little justification. I've hear horror stories from people making LOTS of money through Amazon, and still not even being able to get in contact with someone to explain the circumstances. There's a YouTube channel, LinusTechTips, that has 3 Million+ subscribers. The owner of that channel was discussing their Amazon account being suspended at one point, and having trouble getting into contact with someone. Now, they were likely referring a serious amount of sales to Amazon, and were still thrown under the bus. I think the issue stemmed with some of their older YouTube videos, which had product promotions hard-encoded into the videos, not complying with updates policy. So, to comply TONS of old videos had to be re-done and reuploaded. Amazon didn't give them any warning, didn't give them a period of compliance, nothing—they just pulled the cord and suspended their account. LinusTechTips worked something out in the end, but only after being suspended.

    It's not like Amazon cuts your last check to you when you get suspended either. It's to their advantage to suspend accounts that are profitable, and even more to their advantage to have the power of legal ambiguity on their side.
     
  6. oblivion19

    oblivion19 Senior Member

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    Thank you for the clarification. I use pretty links and my text states clearly "click here to buy it on amazon." But, I am still concerned with how silly amazon can get when banning accounts. Shall we err on the side of caution?
     
  7. judaculla

    judaculla Regular Member

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    It's a dance between Google and Amazon in these types of cases.

    If Google interprets your page as full of amazon affiliate links, it could potentially hurt your ranking. So you should use nofollow redirects (cloaked links)

    If Amazon interprets your pages as full of 'cloaked' links, it could get your account banned. So you should use the fully qualified amazon link, or ama.zn short link.

    Personally, I mask my amazon links for ease of tracking, centralized adjustments for final link destinations (not having to go into every article), and for looking more like it's just a link to a page with more info on my site. That last part, would be Amazons reasoning (if they ever bothered to give any) on the banning for cloaked links most-likely.

    I'd say keep using pretty links, but I've never had an amazon account with enough money in it to make me crazy get suspended for such practices.
     
  8. Nut-Nights

    Nut-Nights Jr. VIP Jr. VIP

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    I am cloaking my amazon affiliates links from long time and never get a single issue.
     
  9. KHer0

    KHer0 Supreme Member

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    I totally disagree. You are taking 4 - 8% affiliation fee. This means you are making them 95% of their profits. If you lose this affiliate, you are losing his traffic for the upcoming months. I don't know about the cases you are talking about, but I believe everyone tells his side of the story.
     
  10. judaculla

    judaculla Regular Member

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    That means your are making 4-8% of their cut of the profits, on only 40% (rough % of amazon sales from affiliate traffic), which is widely known to be the thinnest margins in retail.

    While that is still a huge percentage, and of even more gravity considering the source, they can still err on the side of caution and not impact sales to an unwanted degree.

    That being said, most anyone ive ever heard of thats been driving millions in sales to amazon, and had their account suspended, has managed to work something out. I was drawing attention to the fact that ALL of them were still suspended without reasonable (imo) notice.

    Nearly 2% of ALL websites on the internet are amazon affiliates, and losing a couple grand from a couple thousand sites to help ensure happy customers aint shit.
     
  11. conrulez

    conrulez Power Member

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    On the cloaking of links...They are clear about it. You simply MUST show the user that they are going to an AMazon page/product. I cloak my links BUT what the user is clicking on is an image that ALWAYS has a button saying something like "Click here to see this product on Amazon" or whatever. Of course you can NOT use their logo either. I use PLAIN LETTERING for the word "Amazon". IF you do that, I see no issue with cloaking. Their rules do NOT mention cloaking links but rather the rule about a user having to know where they are going when they click on the link.

    As for prices, I personally wouldn't do it. This is the #1 reason I've heard of peeps losing accounts. Just me but I'd rather just get them to Amazon and leave them be to do whatever the fuck they want. If they buy "something" within 24 hours, I get paid. But that's just me...