The Ultimate Guide To Amazon Associates

A Practical Guide To Starting Well With The World's #1 Affiliate Program

Perrin Carrell - September 25th 2017

It was the email no one wants to get...

We were just sitting there having coffee talking about our plans to take over the world, when a notification appeared in Mark’s inbox.

This time, it wasn’t from his mom.

It was from Amazon...

More...

Hello from the Amazon Associates Program,

While reviewing your account, we have been unable to verify that the means through which you are referring customers to the Amazon Site are in compliance with the terms of the Associates Program Operating Agreement.  Therefore, we request that you provide us with a detailed description of the methods you are using to refer customers to the Amazon Site in accordance with the Operating Agreement, which states: You must provide us with any information that we request to verify your compliance with this Operating Agreement.

The description you send should include, for example, identification of the websites on which your banner ads are posted, advertising services you are using, screenshots of your Site’s analytics tools that show your Site traffic and its sources, the keywords you are using to drive referrals, any plugins or browser add-ons you use, live links to your Sites, a sequence of links that allows us to duplicate the clicks the majority of your customers make to get to the Amazon Site via your special links, and any other information that would be relevant to confirming the your compliance with the Operating Agreement, which can be found here: https://affiliate-program.amazon.com/gp/associates/agreement.

Also, take this time to update your account information, including all the domains you own that you are sending traffic from.

Please send the requested information to us within 5 business days by using the Contact Us form available here:

https://affiliate-program.amazon.com/gp/associates/contact

If we do not hear from you regarding the above, or, based on your response, we will be unable to verify that your methods are compliant with the Operating Agreement, we will close your Associates Account and may withhold fees.

We appreciate your understanding and hope to hear from you soon.

Warmest Regards,

Amazon.com

http://www.amazon.com/associates

...we were being audited.

Something was wrong with our account, and we had five days to not only fix that one thing--but to make sure every page on every one of our sites complied with Amazon’s Terms of service.

It didn’t help that their email was characteristically vague, which meant that we didn’t know exactly what had triggered the audit.

The next 5 days were a frenzy. Before we could even fix anything, we had to reread the Amazon Terms of Service to make doubly sure we actually understood the documents. Then we had to apply to all of our sites, which were all set up in different ways.

Did we survive?

I tell you exactly what happened below.

But here’s why it was scary: for us, like for many of you, Amazon Associates had become a pretty big part of our business.

Aside from forcing us to do a vigorous deep-dive into compliance, it made us want to put together a comprehensive guide on the program in general.

That’s what this is: a guide to Amazon Associates.

Of course, we can’t cover every nook and cranny, but we do try to provide an overview of pretty much everything an Amazon affiliate needs to know:

So You Prefer Podcasts? No Worries, we got you covered

In other words, if you’re an affiliate at any level, this should apply to you, and, hopefully, will be worth reading. Of course, if you’re a veteran, feel free to jump to the more advanced sections.

Let’s get started.

PART 1:

General Program Information


Amazon Associates is an affiliate program.

Because Amazon is one of the biggest retailers in the world, it shouldn’t surprise you that their affiliate program is also one of the biggest in the world.

At the time of writing, Amazon Associates is used on 1% of all websites (a huge number). That represents a 5% total market share of all sites monetizing with advertising or affiliate networks and is second only to Google (16% of websites and an 85% market share).

According to the meta tag on the Amazon Associates page (these statistics don’t seem to be listed anywhere in their content), which, as far as I can tell, reads exactly the same as it did in 2008, they have nearly a million associates (a number I expect is much bigger now).

It’s at the core of the business model of some absolutely massive businesses, and I’ve personally used the program as my primary (although not only) monetization method for nearly all the sites I’ve started for most of my career, including one that now now earns six figures per year.

Here’s a sample earnings screenshot from that site.

How does it work?

Like all affiliate programs, Amazon Associates is, at its core, a referral commission program: if you refer customers to Amazon, you get a commission for everything they buy.

Here’s the customer journey in a nutshell.

When a customer lands on your site (through Google or social media or however), they click on one of your affiliate links, which takes them to Amazon and tags them as your referral.

After that, you get a % of anything they buy on Amazon for the next 24 hours.

Of course, this is the quick and dirty version.

There are, for example, lots of ways to get people to your site. There are also lots of ways to encourage people to click on affiliate links. And so on.

But the general customer journey is almost always the same: reader > your site > amazon.

Why do so many people use Amazon Associates?

We’re going to dive into the details of why people like Amazon (along with some of its weaknesses) in a bit, but mostly, people like Amazon Associates mostly because it’s ubiquitous, which creates lots of tangential benefits:

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    You can use it in the vast majority of markets. If you are in a market in which there are physical goods to be sold, you can probably use Amazon, and there’s a good chance Amazon is one of the best affiliate options for your.
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    There’s lots of information. Because so many people use it, it’s easy to find information about promotional tactics, technical questions, etc.
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    Big platform = tangential sales. You don’t just get a commission for the product you recommend; you get a commission for anything your reader buys, and people tend to buy lots of stuff on Amazon.

All in all, Amazon Associates is a big, easy-to-use program, and there are thousands and thousands of people making money with it. 

Amazon vs Other Programs

Of course, Amazon is not the only affiliate program out there.

In fact, after “Amazongeddon,” which caused a lot of (probably melodramatic) panic, we put together a gigantic list of 55 other affiliate programs.

Long story short: in almost every industry, you’ll be able to find lots of different affiliate programs you can use to monetize your site. It’s always good to test, but it’s also good to understand the general strengths and weaknesses of Amazon.

We’ll dive into each of these in detail, but here’s a quick rundown of the pros and cons.

PROS

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    Great for physical niches
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    Amazon is a conversion monster
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    Lots of ways to promote
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    Possibility of transitioning to FBA

CONS

  • ban
    Commissions are crap in some niches
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    Difficult ToS + Ruthless Bans
  • ban
    Not many infoproducts

Pros

1​​​​

Great for most physical goods niches.

If you are in a physical hobby niche -- any hobby in which people are buying physical goods -- Amazon is usually a good affiliate program.

The commissions aren’t as good as they used to be in a few of the broader hobby categories, like outdoors or sports…

...but hobbyists and passion buyers on Amazon tend to be ravenous. They buy tons of stuff. In the dog space, which I’d consider a strong hobby and passion niche, it wasn’t uncommon for me to see greater than 7% of my total clicks to amazon convert to sales.
And that brings me to my next point…

quote-right

Gael's Note

Despite the recent decrease in commission rates, Amazon has also remained a strong earner for Health Ambition and our other sites and it only took 3 to 4 months to recover most of the numbers we had prior to the commission rate drop.

2

The folks at Amazon are masters of conversion.

There are very, very few companies (none that I know of) who convert customers better than Amazon does.

According to a 2012 comment by former Amazon senior product manager Sonia Nagar, Amazon converts customers at a baseline of 4%, and conversion rates double during the holidays. This is significantly higher than the 2017 industry average of about 3%.

Nagar’s comment, of course, is a bit dated.

In addition to Amazon’s clear commitment to conversion rates (read: probable sh*tloads of testing), the extreme growth of Amazon Prime. Estimates from top firms calculated Amazon has between 65 and 80 million prime subscribers in early 2017, which is up from about 54 million just a year earlier. The huge boost in Prime subscriptions has apparently had a massive impact on conversions.

It’s so crazy, in fact, that I’m still not sure I believe it.

According to a study by Millward Brown Digital (couldn’t find the original source, but I did find plenty of people citing it), Amazon converts an astounding 74% of its visitors.

That’s not a typo.

Ecommerce analysis firms actually report that the conversion rate among Prime members is about 22x higher than the industry benchmark.

There could be lots of reasons for that, but, as far as I can tell, the consensus among experts is that people who sign up for Amazon Prime tend to use Amazon as their primarily online shopping platform.

Even if they aren’t Prime members, though, people tend to trust the Amazon brand anyway.

For you, that means that conversions on Amazon will typically be much higher than conversions on other platforms.

3

People will buy other stuff after clicking on your link.

This is one of the truly brilliant aspects of being an Amazon affiliate.

Amazon is what I’d classify as a general online retailer. They sell pretty much everything.

As an affiliate, you don’t just get a commission on the product you recommend; instead, you get a commission on everything your referral buys for the next 24 hours.

It’s one of the reasons the holidays are so incredibly profitable for us: we might refer someone to Amazon to buy dog food, and while they’re there, they might a box of 20 fidget spinners and a plasma TV.

This is a benefit that is more or less exclusive to Amazon.

There are other general retailers that offer affiliate programs, but they often either don’t offer commissions on other products, or they simply don’t convert and upsell as well as Amazon does.

4

Amazon provides lots of ways to promote offers.

The easiest way to promote products on your site is to simply use the site stripe or product link function in the Amazon Associates back end to simply hyperlink to the product you recommend.

Regular ol’ product links are usually the bread and butter. However…

Amazon also provides lots of other ways to monetize your blog with their affiliate program, and they’re typically more advanced than most other programs.

For instance, you can create “native ads,” which basically look like little product carousels.

The good thing about these ads is that you can create them individually and plop them into specific posts, or you can create category-based ads and insert them with an ad code manager like you would a display ad.

They’ve never been wildly profitable for me, but they do contribute to the “revenue stack” we advocate here (multiple revenue streams stacked on top of each other).

Another cool one, especially if you get a lot of mobile traffic, is their mobile popover.

I haven’t tested this much personally, but I do see a greater percentage of my traffic coming from mobile these days, and I’ll be testing them extensively soon.

In other words, they’re constantly creating and testing new ways to help you get people to Amazon, which is a win-win, and it’s not something every affiliate platform does (and if they do, lots just half-ass it).

5

You can leverage your affiliate media to transition to FBA.

Being an affiliate requires you to own some media. Usually, that means a blog, but people also use social media, etc. to promote Amazon affiliate products.

In fact, the media is the hard part.

Media = eyeballs. If you can get the right eyeballs on your content, it’s generally pretty easy to get those people to click on affiliate links.

And if you already own media and have people clicking on your affiliate links, one move you could make is to leverage that media to launch your own products.

In other words, instead of referring readers to other people’s products, you could refer them to your own.

Amazon has a program set up to help people easily sell products on Amazon. It’s called Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA).

The basic idea is that you can purchase products wholesale from a manufacturer and use both Amazon’s fulfillment centers and their online store to sell your stuff.

There has been something of an FBA gold rush (salesy link, but captures the excitement) in the last several years. Because of that, lots of niches have started to become saturated. As as the markets started to become saturated, the FBA bloggers were scrambling to come up with ways to stand out and drive sales.

What do almost none of them have? Media.

Likewise, there are plenty of successful Amazon affiliates out there, but very few of them have launched their own products.

Here’s the kicker, having touched both worlds, I can say it’s much easier to learn to sell on Amazon than it is to build an authority site. This is especially true if you already have media.

People have started to realize this, but, because building authority sites is pretty tough, not many have actually done it.

Cons

1

The legalese in the terms of service & ruthless bans for ToS violations can be a bit much.

The Amazon Associates Operating Agreement (ToS) is shockingly difficult to understand. It’s a dense, legal document, and there’s no human-friendly version (which is why we wrote one, which you’ll find below).

And that’s super annoying, since they ban the sh*t out of people who abuse it (the following image is one of many examples out on the web, but the source for this particular email is from Digital Ready Marketing).

In recent months, they’ve started issuing more warnings, but the bans still seem to be frequent and ruthless if you’re not following the rules.

Even more annoyingly, they update their operating agreement regularly, so if you don’t go back and read it from time to time, you could be missing something; indeed, this is where a good chunk of the “horror stories” I hear come from--people becoming noncompliant without knowing it.

I don’t think that should necessarily dissuade you from using Amazon as a part of your business model, but it does mean that it’s very important to understand the operating agreement completely and to stay on top of changes

2

Commissions are crap in some niches.

I posted this image early, but for reference, let’s post it again, only this time, look at the niches that have crap commission rates.

Are those really crap?

Maybe, maybe not. Some of those commission rates still flirt with the industry benchmark for their respective categories, but when you consider that the commission rates used to be standardized across the entire site on a tiered commission structure (the more you sold, the higher commission “tier” you could unlock), some people’s businesses got completely shellacked by this change.

It also means that if you want to use Amazon Associates as one of your primary revenue streams, your niche selection might be a bit limited.

The point here is mostly just this: Amazon may not be the best affiliate program for every niche.

It often felt that way in the past, and it’s still a great default choice for a lot of niches, but it’s simply no longer a given.

In practice, this typically means you should be thinking about both (1) other affiliate programs that might be available in your niche or (2) other ways to monetize outside of affiliate sales.

3

Not many info products or digital products.

Yes, obviously Amazon sells books.

But you’re going to find cloud-based software or video courses on Amazon. That’s still the realm of other major affiliate marketplaces like ClickBank.

This isn’t a good thing or a bad thing necessarily; it mostly just means that the bulk of affiliate marketers typically exist in these weird little bubbles: Amazon affiliates and ClickBank affiliates (there are other bubbles, of course, and these aren’t rules; I’m just making a point).

That tends to happen naturally, I think, because there’s often just not much overlap in buyers looking for, say, a comprehensive course on dating (something you’d find on ClickBank) and the guy looking for the best Christmas tree stand (something you’d find on Amazon).

PART 2:

How To Promote Amazon Products


There are, of course, lots of ways to promote Amazon products as an affiliate. People promote products directly on social media. People do it with YouTube channels. You get the idea. There are hundreds of ways to do it.

Most people (including us) do it by blogging.

When blogging to promote products, however, not all content is created equal. In this section, we’ll cover some of the best ways to use content on your blog to generate affiliate commissions.

Traditional Roundup Posts

Traditional roundup posts = posts targeting “best” keywords that give both good, well-researched advice as well as miniature reviews about the product.

Why it works: Grouping links up top creates a highly clickable piece of real estate, and the high value of the research section really does help people make a decision.

People do these in many different ways, but here’s the structure most people seem to have landed on:

Traditional roundups usually start with a short introduction and then include a group of affiliate links.

Lots of people like to use tables here, so they can include product information (and because the hivemind tells them to). They usually look like this:

Did You Know : Amazon has recently been warning or even banning people for using stars--usually if they look too much like Amazon’s stars (I think), so it’s best to exercise caution if you want to use them, and you should make it clear the rating is yours.

Tables tend to convert well, and simpler tables tend to convert better than more complicated tables (believe me: I’ve tried both, and the table that took me a week to create and had tons of bells and whistles perfect way worse than the simple ones).

That said, a common misconception amongst Amazon affiliates is that tables are somehow necessary. They are not.

I’ve found success with simple bullet lists. And I mean really simple ones--something that looks like this (these links just go to the Amazon homepage and are not affiliate links; they’re just for demo purposes):

Bullets lists have the added benefit of being extremely easy to outsource. Most of the time, though, most affiliates still prefer tables.

Next, is a research and advice section.

For traditional roundups, this section is meant to be a buying guide. The idea is to provide as much well-researched information as possible about how to make the best buying decision. This could include features to look out for, safety concerns, lifestyle considerations, recalls, product categories, etc.

This section should be research-dense. It should help readers prepare to buy.

It typically does NOT discuss specific product information, which is usually saved for the last section

...mini reviews of specific products.

The last section of a traditional roundup talks specifically about individual products. It digs into the specific features of the products recommended in the link group.

Warning : this section should NOT simply rehash product information found on Amazon. It should instead use that information to tell readers why you are recommending it.

In traditional roundups, there are typically 3-5 mini reviews. They usually look something like this:

Pros & Cons of Traditional Roundups

PROS

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    Good mix of research and product info
  • check
    Actually helps people make buying decisions
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    Lots of added value

CONS

  • ban
    No deep dives into any one product
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    Typically fewer products than other methods
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    Not great for non-SEO traffic

Examples

Roundup Listicles

Roundup listicles = articles targeting “best” keywords that are structured as lists of recommended products with short descriptions and (sometimes) links to full reviews.

Why it works: It’s great for people who like to browse products--people who like to shop.

This is from one of our favorite affiliate sites, runnerclick.com. They  do a great job of putting together solid listicles, like this one. It’s important to note, though, that one of the reasons their listicles are so good is that they aren’t just sloppily curated products; they’re curated reviews.

If they did not link to full reviews of some (or, in many cases, all of the products in the list), this could very easily feel like an empty post, which brings me to...

Warning : If you are a small site that publishes mostly affiliate content, I wouldn’t recommend roundup listicles unless you have full reviews of some of the products on the list; otherwise, it could look like thin content in a manual Google review.

For the same reason, it’s also important not to simply rehash product information in for each item. Write a good, unique blurb and maybe add a little analysis for each.

Pros & Cons of Roundup Listicles

PROS

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    Highly browse-able
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    Great for social
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    Can serve as a hub for single product reviews

CONS

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    Can easily be “thin” (or at least look “thin”)
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    Not much room for value-added research

Examples

The “Clear Winner” Roundup

“Clear winner” roundups = Single product reviews “disguised” as a roundup, or a roundup that picks a winner and spends most of its time talking about that one product.

Why it works: It essentially makes a decision for people and gives you room to gush over a great product.

Here, an article might target the same “best [product]” keyword as other types of roundups, but instead of actually writing about a bunch of different products, the “clear winner” roundup will briefly mention them but spend most of its time reviewing a single product.

I like to think of it as a detailed single product review disguised as a product roundup (which you would do, of course, because those roundup keywords can be so profitable).

I’ve found this strategy to be most common with blogs who actually buy products and do hands-on testing, since it probably saves them quite a bit of money.

The Sweet Home does it a lot. Here’s an example:

Rather than writing about the top 5 folding bikes (or whatever), they briefly mention other folding bikes but spend most of the time talking about the “winner,” the Dahon Mariner D8.

Pros & Cons of Roundup Listicles

PROS

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    Saves money if buying product
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    Can give a super strong recommendation
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    Great if you actually use a product

CONS

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    Doesn’t give readers much choice
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    Might be too in-the-weeds for browsing shoppers

Examples

Single Product Reviews

Single product reviews = Targeting “review” keywords and writing mostly about one specific product.

Why it works: People looking for reviews are usually very ready to buy. They just need a last push.

Pretty straightforward here. We’ve all seen single product reviews. They’re a mainstay of affiliate marketers, mostly because looking for reviews of a product is one of the last things people do before they actually buy it.

In other words, reviewing a single product can usually give people the last bit of information they need to pull the trigger on a purchase.

Unlike roundups, single reviews don’t have much of a rigid structure--mostly because different products require different information.

Generally, though, a good single product review will include stuff like:

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    Features and specs of the product
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    User experience considerations
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    Pros and cons
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    Good alternative
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    Etc.

Here’s an example from a treadmill review site.

With reviews, it’s perhaps even more important to be careful not to just rehash product information than it is with a roundup review, since single product reviews are more product-centric by nature.

In this format, it’s certainly okay to list and discuss features, you just want to be sure to add commentary and analysis at the same time.

Pros & Cons of Single Product Reviews

PROS

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    People looking for reviews are usually very far along in the buying process
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    It’s a good way to deep dive into good products
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    Great for SEO

CONS

  • ban
    Search volume can be lower
  • ban
    Easy to rehash product info

Examples

Tutorials & Problem Solving Content

Tutorials and problem solving content = content that shows people how to do something and offers products as part of that solution.

Why it works: Tutorials and problem solving content usually have an inherent sense of urgency, which leads to good conversions.

Sometimes, you don’t even need to write about products to promote them.

Content that explains how to do something--how to make something, how to solve a problem, how to do something better, etc.--can be a great way to promote products.

Usually, they work because people are either excited to do something (in the case of, say, a DIY tutorial), or they want a problem to go away right now (in the case of, say, a blog post about how to remedy back pain).

Often, these sorts of articles take a form like the following:

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    “Benefits of…”
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    “How to…”
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    “Get Rid of…”
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    “7 Ways to…”

In almost all of these, there’s a progressional formula for people to follow in order to achieve a result. Products can be part of that solution.

For example, you could write the article, “How to Fix Your Posture While Sitting At Your Desk,” and one of the steps in that process might be to consider buying an ergonomic office chair, which you could refer people to Amazon to buy.

Here’s a real life example. It’s an article on Health Ambition about the benefits of drinking lemon water.

And in the article, we mention that a good way to start doing this is to buy a juicer, and we recommend a good one.

Lots of people like these sorts of articles because you can actually help people solve problems, which means you’re adding value, which is what we want to be doing as bloggers anyway. 

Pros & Cons of Tutorials & Problem-Solving Content

PROS

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    Creates a strong sense of urgency
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    Actually helps people
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    Can find super low-hanging-fruit keywords to target

CONS

  • ban
    Can be easy to sound like a used car salesman if your content is sub-par or gets too pushy
  • ban
    Need to actually help people

Examples

Product X vs Product Y

Product X vs Product Y = comparing 2 or more popular products for people that are looking to pick the best alternative.

Why it works: Tutorials and problem solving content usually have an inherent sense of urgency, which leads to good conversions.

Often, when people are on the verge of buying a product, they are left with 2 or more alternatives. That's when they start Googling franticly for differences between the different alternatives they have and that's where you come in!

Vs type posts should focus mostly on user intents and goals and highlight how each product fulfils that duty.

After you have listed those goals and declared a winner in each of them, you can either declare a clear winner OR give the contexts in which each product wins.

Here is an example of such post on a blender review site:

These keywords tend to be particularly low competition if you can find some with search volume in your niche and they're a great way for brand new sites to generate quick revenue.

PROS

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    Very high buyer intent
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    Actually helps people if done properly
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    Tends to be very low competition

CONS

  • ban
    Tends to be low search volume
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    Doesn't work in every niche

Examples

PART 3:

How To Link To Amazon Products


In this section, we’re going to talk about the technical aspects of adding Amazon affiliate links to your website.

There are a few different ways you can do it, and there are a few supplemental tools Amazon provides to make it a bit easier and a bit more profitable. 

Product Link Tool

The product link tool is the most “standard” way to add links to a blog.

To get to it, click Product Linking > Product Links.

You’ll see a screen where you can search for a product.

Type the kind of product you’re looking for, and you’ll be taken to a page where you can pick the individual product.

Pro Tip : You can search for specific brands and models here, too.

Find the product you want to promote and click Get Link.

A light box will popup that has your full affiliate link, which you can either copy and paste or shorten.

You can copy and paste either one and put it on your blog.

Site Stripe

The site stripe is a tool that allows you grab a link from any product page on the Amazon store.

For my money, this is probably the easiest way to add links, and it’s certainly the one I use most often.

The first thing you want to do is navigate to any product page (make sure you’re logged into your account, or the site stripe won’t show up). When you get there, the site stripe should appear as a bar-style widget at the top of the page.

You’ll notice there are three different options for the types of links you can get here:

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    Text: a plain text link.
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    Image: an image with an embedded hyperlink.
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    Text + image: both.

The text option will give you a raw URL. The image option will give you a bit of HTML, and the text + image option will give you an iFrame you can embed on your blog.

To grab a link from the site stripe, make sure you’re on the page of the product you want to promote, and click the link option you want.

In this example, I just want a plain text link to promote this tent, so I click “Text.”

Note that you have a few different options here.

You can opt for either a full or shortened link, and you can also select which store ID and tracking ID to apply to the link.

quote-right

Gael's Note

While the shortened links may feel cleaner, I recommend you always opt for the full link on your site. This allows you to swap Affiliate ID's easily with a couple of PHP functions which comes handy if you ever sell your site and the buyer wants to swap commissions all at once.

If everything looks kosher, copy the link and add it to your blog.

Publisher Studio

Publisher Studio is a Chrome extension that integrates with the backends of the major blogging platforms as well as a couple big social media platforms: 

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    WordPress
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    Blogger
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    Typepad
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    Facebook
  • hashtag
    Twitter

To find it, from the Amazon Associates back end, go to Tools > Publisher Studio

Then, click “Install Extension for Chrome.”

You’ll be taken to the Amazon Publisher Studio page on the Chrome extension store. Click Add to Chrome.

After it’s installed, open your blog editor.

For blogging, we recommend WordPress exclusively, so our examples will cover only that platform (if you use a different platform, however, it should be relatively easy to figure out and very similar to the process below).

Open WordPress and navigate to the editor of the post where you’ll be putting your affiliate link.

Click the Publisher Studio icon, and you’ll be prompted to sign into your Amazon Associates account.

Next, head back to Publisher Studio in the Amazon Associates backend, and scroll down to the bottom of the page to find your JavaScript snippet. You’ll need this to activate Publisher Studio on your site.

When you find it, copy it to your clipboard.

Now, we want to put the code on our site. By far the easiest way to do this is to just slap it in a simple footer widget.

In WordPress, go to Appearance > Widgets and drag a simple text widget to the footer widget section.

Open the text widget and change the editor you find there to Text.

If you don’t have a Text option, you’re probably not on the latest version of WordPress (I believe this editor change was in a recent update).

In the Text editor of your text widget, paste the JavaScript snippet you copied from the Publisher Studio.

Click Save.

This should activate Publisher Studio across your site. To use it, you need to go into a post editor.

Publisher Studio says you can only use it on live posts, but it also works on WordPress drafts, so what I like to do is just start a post and save it as a draft.

To use the tool, highlight any text in the editor, and you’ll see a little popup that says Create Link.

If you click it, you’ll be able to search for products. When you find one you like, click Add Link.

Pro Tip : You have to have ad blockers disabled on your site for Publisher Studio to work.

OneLink

OneLink is Amazon’s in-house link localizer.

It allows you to redirect people from the UK and Canada to the Amazon stores in their respective countries, so they can actually buy the products.

Without link localization, you essentially don’t get commissions from anyone in Canada or the UK.

To use it, navigate to Tools > OneLink.

Scroll down until you see the Getting Started section.

Click Click here to link under Link your accounts (or just click here).

Here, you’ll be able to see the US store you’ll be linking, and you’ll be able to put your store ID from your Amazon UK and Amazon Canada associates accounts (if you don’t have accounts, you’ll have to sign up).

Just plop the store IDs in the respective sections and save.

Next, navigate back to the Getting Started section and click through to the oneTag page (or just click here).

Copy the code you find there.

You can install this in exactly the same way we installed the Publisher Studio code.

After this, you should be good to go, and you can view your OneLink reports in the regular reporting section.

One quick note…

Not every product available on the US store is going to be available on the UK and Canada stores. To manage this, you’ll need to set redirect preferences.

You’ll find them under the Getting Started section.

Here, you’ll find toggle mentions for Redirect Preferences and a Check Matching Products section.

The Redirect Preferences settings allow you to choose how your various US tracking IDs are redirected. Choosing “Exact Match” means that your links will only be redirected to the exact same product is listed on the user’s local Amazon store, and if it isn’t it will still go to Amazon.com.

“Close Match,” on the other hand, will redirect to similar products if the exact product isn’t available, which is generally what we recommend, since it’s still easier for a user to buy a similar a product from his or her local store.

In the Check Matching Products section, you can check the availability of specific products; just plop in the US URL.

PART 4:

Complying to Amazon Terms of Services


The Amazon Associates Operating Agreement and their Program Policies (what together we refer to as the Terms of Service, or ToS) are, in a word, complicated.

They change frequently, and they are very dense. Amazon is also not very helpful when it comes to helping their affiliates make sense of all the legalese therein.

What follows is a human-friendly breakdown.

I want to make absolutely clear, however, that this is my own interpretation of the document and does not constitute legal advice. If you have any questions about it, ask their support or hire a lawyer to give it a read.

This also is not a good substitute for reading the ToS yourself. Go read it. Use this to help you understand.

Lastly, I’m going to skip the obvious stuff (e.g. you can promote Amazon products on porn sites) and stuff that does not pertain to blogging (e.g. rules about mobile apps).

This is basically just a list of the major rules you should know so you don’t get banned.

1​​​​

You need to have the Amazon Associates disclaimer on your site.

You have to clearly identify yourself as an Amazon associate. They actually give you a sentence you need to copy and paste directly onto you site:

You can theoretically put it anywhere. I asked the Amazon Associates support about, and here’s what they said.

Most folks put it on an affiliate disclosure page, but I just slap it in my footer most of the time. Even though support says it doesn’t need to be on every page, I feel just a smidge safer if it is.

There used to be a requirement that stated you need to link to Amazon, but I couldn’t find it in this version of the ToS; I still do it just to be safe.

2​​​​

You can’t download images from Amazon.

This is probably the one people get wrong most often, and I honestly can’t find it spelled out explicitly in the terms of service.

The language around images is actually pretty confusing. This is from Section 1 of the Associates Program IP License portion of the Program Policies.

But then they say stuff like…

So it’s confusing; however, people have been warned about it, and their support consistently agrees: you cannot download images from Amazon.com for use on your site--even if you are promoting their products.

Of course, lots of us still want to use images on our sites.

So, the best way to do it is just to use the site stripe (see the section on technical linking above).

3​​​​

If you use images from Amazon, they must link to Amazon.

This would be difficult to do if you’re not downloading images from Amazon anyway, but it’s worth mentioning because I’ve seen it cited in several warnings issued to affiliates.

I think it comes from this portion of their ToS;

And since images are part of their content, it qualifies.

4​​​​

You can’t promote Amazon products via email.

This is another one that might seem to contract some of the language in the ToS when read in isolation.

Check it out.

This seems to indicate that you can email affiliate links as long as people opted into your email list willingly; however, their support consistently says you cannot.

So, if there’s a conflict between agents and the ToS, it’s always a safe bet to simply not do it.

Even if you can’t promote affiliate links via email, though, it is, of course, perfectly okay to promote your own blog posts to your email lists, and those blog posts can, of course, contain affiliate links, which is how most bloggers work around this problem.

5​​​​

You can’t promote affiliate links in pop-ups.

This is an old rule that’s been around forever, but folks who are new to the Amazon game but have been around internet marketing for a while might not know.

You can’t promote affiliate links in any pop-up ad. They can only go directly on an approved website.

6​​​​

You can’t talk about price (unless you pull it from the API directly).

This always seems a little weird to people (which is probably why it’s also a common mistake), but you can’t talk about prices of products.

This is what Amazon has to say about it:

So you can’t just copy and paste prices because prices change, and Amazon doesn’t want any information you publish about any product to be in anyway misleading.

However, you can use their API to pull in price information dynamically.

There are tools for this, or you could build your own, but we usually just don’t mention price at all.

Lots of affiliates include vague, symbolic, ballpark price estimates in product tables (e.g. putting “$$” next to an inexpensive product and “$$$$” next to an expensive product). I’ve gotten conflicting reports about whether or not this is okay from Amazon’s support, so I don’t do it .

Lastly, we don’t recommend you talk about price in any call to action.

You’ll see affiliates whose links say stuff like “check the best price on Amazon.” This, too, is a grey area, and there have been conflicting reports about whether or not this violates the ToS, so we don’t do it.

Warning : You based on the same section of the ToS highlighted in this section, you should also avoid using  any language that might be in any way misleading in your CTAs.

7​​​​

You CAN share affiliate links on social media.

Amazon views your social media channels as part of your digital property, and they recognize that not all affiliates are bloggers.

So, they allow you to share links on major social channels. The catch is that you need to make sure to add them to your approved website list.

Here’s their support.

It’s worth noting that Instagram and other large networks are not on that list, so I’d avoid those unless you get permission specifically from Amazon.

My General Rule of Thumb…

Amazon has a rather annoying problem of their lower-level support associates sometimes contracting both each other and the ToS.

So here’s my rule of thumb: if there is ever any doubt about whether or not I am allowed to use an affiliate link a certain way, I do not do it.

There is pretty much no reason I need to push the limits of the terms of service, and I’d rather play it safe than lose a big chunk of my business by getting banned.

So, What happened with our audit?

We survived.

Here’s what we did.

Well, first we freaked out a bit, but here’s what we did after we all had a good cry.

1​​​​

Removed a few old references to specific prices

2

Changed all our uploaded product images for proper amazon image links

3​​​​

added another above the fold (sidebar) Amazon disclosure statement

4

Removed Geni.us (it's supposedly fine to use Geni.us but you have to disclose next to every link, that it goes to Amazon, usually by putting the text "Amazon" after each link, which is just impossible to do.

5​​​​

An old version of Thrive Content Builder replaced some raw Amazon links with geni.us, meaning that after cutting the plugin, some geni.us links were still there. We manually replaced those.

Then, Mark sent to Amazon which included screenshots of analytics, some explanatory steps and even a full video screencast. He said that we may have fucked up, but that we fixed / were in the process of fixing it.

Amazon replied with the following:

Hello again from the Associates Program.

Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter. We appreciate your cooperation.

Please do not hesitate to contact us should you have any further questions or concerns. Thank you for your continued participation in the Associates Program.

We'd appreciate your feedback. Please use the buttons below to vote about your experience today.

Best regards,

D.A.

Amazon.com

quote-right

Mark's Note

The following is a real story about Authority Hacker Pro member Winston Cruz who got banned from the Amazon associates. Following some fixes which I coached him through, he successfully had his account reinstated.

I’ll reveal why he was banned and how he went about fixing his site, which eventually lead to Amazon reversing their decision. It took Winston less than a week to get unbanned.

1​​​​

Initial warning Email

Amazon initially sent Winston a warning email. The language of the warning email was similar to the subsequent “you’re banned” email below. Unfortunately, this email went to Winston’s spam box. 

Pro Tip : Create a gmail filter for [email protected] and check the box which says ‘Never Send It to Spam’. This could all have been avoided had the first email come through properly.

The good news is that as of 2017, Amazon seems to be giving some warning when you are in breach of their operating agreement. Five days isn’t a long time to respond, but at least it’s something. In the past they have often banned affiliates with no warning at all.

2

Getting Banned from the Amazon Asscoiates Program

Since Winston missed the initial email, he didn’t take any action to fix his site. Not long afterwards, Amazon banned him:


"Your Site makes inaccurate, overbroad, deceptive or otherwise misleading claims about Products, the Amazon Site, our policies, promotions, or prices.

As of today’s date, Amazon is terminating your Associates account. Under the terms of the Operating Agreement, we may terminate your account at any time, with or without cause. This decision is final and not subject to appeal.

It is important that you immediately remove all Amazon Content from your Site(s). Please be aware that any other Associates accounts you have, or may open in the future, may be closed without payment of any fees. Amazon reserves all other rights and claims.

Because you are not in compliance with the Operating Agreement, Amazon will not pay you any outstanding advertising fees related to your account.

Please be aware that any other accounts you have, or may open in the future, may be closed without payment of any fees. Amazon reserves all other rights and claims.

Thank you for your participation in the Amazon Associates Program."


Note the main reason at the top which indicates inaccurate claims about pricing. We’ll look into this in point 3 below.


From the language of the email, it would initially appear that there is no recourse and it may not be appealed. This ultimately proved to be incorrect. So if you have been banned and are reading this, then there is hope still.


At this point Winston posted in the AH Pro Facebook group, asking for help.

3

Problems identified and fixed

The timing of this was quite a coincidence since a) Perrin was writing this article about the Amazon Associate program and b) Health Ambition had recently received a request for information email from Amazon. We were quite well versed in the rules at this point.


I PMed Winston on Facebook and he shared his site with me. I instantly spotted problems in that he was mentioning pricing details in his CTA buttons. He used language similar to “get the cheapest price”.


The reason Amazon doesn’t like this is because this can be a false statement. If another company starts selling the product for cheaper, then Amazon cannot be seen to be encouraging is affiliates to deceive people by endorsing such language.


You cannot make a statement which is untrue or one which may become untrue at any point. I told winston to fix this.


Winston was also downloading product images and uploading them to his site. This is also against the ToS. I told Winston to use the SiteStripe bar to generate image URLs from the API.


Finally, I told Winston to put his affiliate disclaimer above the fold on his page, rather than in the footer.


It’s possible that all 3 of these steps were not necessary, but when trying to get unbanned, I wanted him to be “whiter than white”.

4

Getting unbanned from Amazon Associates

I told Winston to make the above changes then write to Amazon. I suggested that he should a) be completely transparent in admitting his mistake and b) demonstrate how he fixed these across his site.


Amazon are a business at the end of the day, and they understand that small affiliates can and will make mistakes. Amazon don’t want to ban you, but they are subject to far higher legal scrutiny than most affiliate programs.


Therefore, if you cooperate with them and are reasonable, it’s very likely to play out in your favor.


A couple of days later, Winston received the following email:

The downside was that Winston lost around a month and a half of fees, but at least he has his account reinstated and in full working order.

If you get banned from Amazon:

  1. Read their email to learn why you were banned

  2. Work hard to fix these issues on your site, and any others that you encounter

  3. Contact Amazon and let them know you have fixed everything. Apologize and ask to be reinstated.

PART 5:

Tracking & Optimising Your Sales


Every affiliate link you create will have a tracking ID.

Tracking IDs are loaded into the system when a user clicks on one of your links, and they’re visible in the URL bar.

When you open your account, you’ll have one tracking ID, but you can create more.

Why would you create more?

Because you can use them to optimize.

You can generate a report for every tracking ID you have, which means you can test them against each other.

You can split test pages. You can split test products. You can do all kinds of cool stuff that allows you to maximize your clicks, earnings, or both.

Here’s how to do it.

1​​​​

Create tracking IDs for testing

In the Amazon Associates backend, click on your account email

When you do, you’ll get a menu. Select Manage Tracking IDs.

That’ll take you to a page that looks like this (you can see the tracking IDs I’ve created for myself).

Click on Add Tracking ID.

You’ll get a lightbox where you can create (just make up) a new tracking ID. 

Generally, you want to keep in mind that you’re going to be using tracking IDs for tracking different things, so it’s usually a good idea to name them accordingly.

I just set aside two or three IDs for tracking (I’ve never needed more than a couple to do everything I need).

2

Decide what you want to test

The general rule of A/B testing is to test one thing at a time, find a winner, and then test the next thing.

For example, you might test two page layouts to see which generates more clicks from your blog to Amazon (i.e. which has the higher CTR).

You can test anything you want, really, but as an Amazon affiliate, the biggest-impact stuff is usually the following:

  • hashtag
    Products
  • hashtag
    Page layout (especially tables vs other stuff)
  • hashtag
    Ad/link copy

When you decide what you want to optimize, you then need to set up a split test.

There are lots of ways to do this. You could, for example, use a paid tool like Optimizely. We’ve found, however, that just doing it for free using Google Analytics works just fine and saves a bit of money.

Split testing in Google Analytics essentially works by creating different versions of a page and then splitting traffic between them, allowing you to measure whatever goal you’re tracking.

Here’s a detailed video guide:

Here’s the important thing to remember: use a different tracking ID on each version of the page you want to test.

So, if you are testing two pages, you’ll need two different tracking IDs.

There’s no trick to doing this. Just create links for each of the products using different tracking IDs (there’s an option to switch between IDs which creating links in any of the methods listed above except Publisher Studio, which embeds a single tracking code in the JavaScript snippet, so you’ll have to use either the Product Link tool or Site Stripe).

quote-right

Gael's Note

In this case, Analytics really is only used to alternate the pages, don't worry too much about the goal, just set it to a pageview and analyse your results using your tracking IDs to see which page generates more revenue directly on Amazon Associates.

3

Run the test & analyze.

Let the test run long enough to get a good sample of visitors. If you’re using goals in Google Analytics to split test, it will tell you when it’s statistically confident in a winner.

In some cases, however, like testing total earnings from Amazon, you won’t be able to integrate your test directly with Google Analytics, and you’ll mostly have to rely on your gut. In these cases, I usually just wait until I have several thousand clicks to look at.

In almost all cases, the most metric we’ll be tracking is total earnings on Amazon, which means we’ll need to compare the performance of  tracking IDs against each other.

We’ll talk in detail about the reports you can general in the Amazon backend in the next section, but in the reports, here’s where you can look at each tracking ID individually.

After the test runs, look at the reports to pick a winner.

Make the winner the “live” version of your page and replace the tracking ID you used for the test with your standard tracking ID.

Start planning another test!

How to Read Reports in Amazon

As you start to earn some money, you’re going to want to be able to understand the reports in Amazon--and this is especially true if you’re doing heavy testing.

So let’s run through the reports as they are now and talk about how to interpret them.

The first thing we’ll need to do is navigate to Reports

When you get there, you’ll see a summary like this:

In the top, left-hand corner, you’ll see the date range for the summary. By default, it’s set to show the last 30 days, but you can also set custom date ranges, like I have above, if you want to look at historical data, which can be useful for measuring YoY growth, checking seasonality, or running experiments.

Just to the right, you’ll see which tracking IDs are currently being shown in the summary. By default, the report will show all of them, but you can turn up to 10 on and off, which, again, is useful for experiments.

In summary view, the earnings graph shows fees and bounties.

Fees are commissions you earn from the purchases your referrals make on Amazon.com.

Bounties are prizes awarded for getting people to take advantage of special offers (you can see current bounties here). For most bloggers, the bulk of their earnings will come from fees, although some people who have highly engaged audiences do make good money by promoting bounties.

Below the earnings graph, you can see the fees summary, which shows you:
  • hashtag
    Clicks
  • hashtag
    Fees
  • hashtag
    Items ordered
  • hashtag
    Items shipped
  • hashtag
    Conversion rate

This little box is what I usually consider my best little window into my business. Since the default fees summar is the last 30 days, it’s like a running total of my performance, and if I see those numbers going up, I know I’m doing well.

If you click on the Fees tab of the earnings summary, you can get detailed information about the the performance of the money you’ve earned by generating referral commissions.

It’s basically an expanded view of the fees summary.

In the graph, not only can you see the fees earned each day, you can also see the clicks you generated and the number of items ordered.

At the bottom of the graph, you can see the same data you saw in the fees summary as well as the total revenue you generated for Amazon and the number of returned items.

This view is most useful to check for anomalies.

My earnings are up. Why? Did my clicks go up? Or did they say the same, but people ordered more items? You get the idea; it’s usually the first place you’re going to look when you want to figure something out.

If the fees tab is selected in the earnings graph, you’ll be able to see a complete list of items ordered below.

The default view here is just a simple list of stuff people bought--sorted by the total number of items ordered.

It’s a great way to see which product sells the most.

In my ordered items report, you can see that waterproof pet seat covers are were super hot. People ordered more of them than anything else by far.

In that same table, you can select the earnings tab.

This view shows you all the items people bought as well, but it also shows you how much you earned.

This is especially useful if you have an item that might not be selling many units but is making a lot of money. You can sometimes pick those diamonds-in-the-rough out of the list, build some content around them, and promote them.

In both of these lists, you can group items by date, tracking ID, or product category, which can give you some great additional insights into the buying behaviors of your readers.

I can see, for example, that while this site clearly sells more pet products than anything, readers also tend to buy lots of health and personal care items, which tells me a bit about my audience and might give me some good ideas for what to write about or what to promote.

The last tab here is the Link Type Performance tab.

This tab shows you the money earned from each type of link you use as an affiliate.

It’s kind of a bummer that this tab groups text, image, and image+text links together, since it’d be an interesting thing to compare, but you can’t win ‘em all.

Mostly, it’s a good way to see how your affiliate links are performing compared to your native ads.

If you’re a number cruncher and want to do some more detailed analysis, you can also download reports.

You’ll find the option in the top right corner of the earnings graph.

If you click it, you’ll get a lightbox that gives you a bunch of options that will allow you to customize your report.

I don’t use this very often, if I’m being totally honest.

I find simply visiting the dashboard is enough, and I enjoy being able to play around with dates, tracking IDs, link groups and the like dynamically. But they’re there if you need them.

PART 6:

Tips & Tricks To Make More Sales


Alright.

You know what Amazon Associates is. You’ve got it set up. You’ve got the terms of service licked. You’re making a bit of money. You’ve run a split test or two, and you know how to read the reports to find a winner.

Now let’s talk about some tips to boost those earnings--a few last little golden nuggets of wisdom we can bequeath unto you so you can buy that neon pink yacht you’ve always dreamed of.

Truthfully, though, if you’ve got a working site that makes a bit of money, a lot of maximizing your profits as an Amazon affiliate comes down to publishing more content, growing your site, and cultivating an audience.  

It’s just sweat equity. Hard work. Consistency.

That said, what’s a good guide without at least a few juicy tidbits to take away nudge the ol’ bank account up a dollar or two?

1​​​​

Group your links & set them apart.

We talked about link grouping earlier.

But you don’t have to be writing a traditional review to do it. In fact, in my view, you should be grouping your links and setting them apart from other text whenever humanly possible.

You can do it with a table.

You can do it with a simple bullet list.

But it can also be a simple link set apart just by being on its own line without any other text (this counts as a group; just a group of one!):

Finally, you can also set your links apart by making them buttons. This is pretty easy to do if you use something like Thrive Architect. We especially like to put these in our single product reviews.

Here’s the long and short of it: set your links apart.

It absolutely does not have to be fancy.

In fact, plain text links have converted better for me than anything else by far. The trick is just to set them apart.

2

Format your articles nicely.

Formatting goes a really, really long way toward conversion.

I don’t have any data to back up this specific example, but if I was going to guess, I’d say good formatting (not to mention really solid design) is a major reason RunnerClick does so well.

Good formatting makes it apparent to your user that you’ve put a lot of effort into the piece, which means you likely care more than the other rinky dink blogs writing about the same thing, and you’re probably more of an expert.

In other words, good formatting = trust.

It’s also a way to guide people’s eyes to where you want them to go.

This could, of course, be an entire blog post on its own. That’s why we wrote one.

3

Build an email list

You can’t promote Amazon affiliate links via email, but you can promote your own blog posts, which can then contain Amazon affiliate links.

Most internet marketers are familiar with email marketing, but for some weird reason, a huge chunk of people in the Amazon affiliate space are oddly averse to even trying it.

And it’s crazy. Not only can an email list help you promote blog posts that can generate Amazon affiliate commissions, but it can also help you sell anything else.

Do it. If you’re new to email marketing, we recommend Active Campaign.

You can also read our content on email marketing.

4

Try native ads (and combine them with text links)

In addition to text and image links, Amazon also lets you create what they call native ads.

The aren’t native ads in the traditional “advertorial” sense. They’re basically little ad units that display products wherever you put them.

To find them in the Amazon Associate backend, click on Product Linking > Native Ads.

Then click Create Unit.

You’ll see a dropdown menu where you can choose the unit type. For our purposes, we almost always want to choose the recommendation ad.

You’ll then be able to create ads.

By default, the ads will dynamically display products related to the page content, but you can also select categories and “fallback keywords” (products to show based on that keyword if there is no “product match”).

There are two main ad types. The first is a grid ad.

It shows related products along with an image, rating, and price. However, you can also create list ads, which look like this.

Full disclosure: I have not experimented with list ads, but based on my experience in marketing elsewhere, my gut tells me they would probably perform better than grid ads--certainly worth testing.

Here’s the good thing about these ads: you can implement them site wide.

I usually put my affiliate links in my affiliate content manually, and then I’ll slap one of these in the footer.

Do they work? Yes.

Do they earn as much money as other affiliate links? Not usually.

However, they were good incremental revenue for me until other ad networks started to earn more. If you don’t have much experience with other ad networks, and you’re already using the Amazon Associates program, these would be a great place to start.

quote-right

Gael's Note

Actually, from our experiments on Health Ambition and other sites, Amazon CPM ads tend to earn more than native ads per thousand visitor. I'd recommend you try both if you're considering native ads. I guess that's another blog post to add to our stack >.<.

Tip #5: Target “gifts” keywords (and crush the holidays).

I’m shocked that keywords with the “gifts” modify are virtually untapped by nearly every single authority site I come across.

I’m talking about niche-specific ones like:

  • hashtag
    Gifts for runners
  • hashtag
    Gifts for dog lovers
  • hashtag
    Gifts for geeks

Whatever your niche is, there’s probably a few of these laying around for the taking.

They’re great keywords, and some sites, like This Is Why I’m Broke, make an absolute killing off of them.

Not only are these a great way to bring in more traffic in general, but they are also a good way to snag a chunk of that juicy holiday traffic without having to do a bunch of social media promotion.

Wrapping it up…

I love the Amazon Associates program.

It’s been a major part of my professional success over the last couple of years, and I’ve seen the same with lots of my colleagues.

Because of this, and because we help our students and members achieve their own success -- relying heavily on the program -- it pays to understand how to stay compliant and optimize profits.

What do you think?

What has your experience been with Amazon Associates? What am I missing?

Drop me a note in the comments!

Perrin Carrell
 

Hey there :) I’m Perrin, part of the Authority Hacker team. When I’m not blogging about Internet Marketing here, I help businesses improve their online presence, and, of course, I run a couple profitable blogs of my own.

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 92 comments
Brady - September 25, 2017

Amazing article, as always :D

Reply
Nate - September 25, 2017

What if you write a “best elf tonic under $100” article & one of those tonics ends up being raised above $100 eventually (you don’t notice & still live that item on said article).

The under $100 being the only mentioned in title & in first part of the article, not mentioning it about each item ever in the article.

Any idea if that conflicts with anything?

Reply
    Gael Breton - September 26, 2017

    Actually, Amazon doesn’t like the “under $x” type articles so I’d recommend avoiding them plainly and simply.

    Reply
      Nate - September 26, 2017

      I did contact amazon after I sent my comment to see if this was Ok to do & they said, “This was fine to do”.

      Just wanted to gives a heads up on that.

      Reply
Richard Patey - September 25, 2017

First up I feel sorry for anyone trying to rank first for amazon associates after this one! Amazing work.

I got a recent ‘ban’ from Amazon for an international account which I thought had been approved and was using but in fact was just a temporary approval which they subsequently didn’t approve.

I contacted Amazon to ask why this had happened and found out the reason was I was using an image that had the amazon “a” and swoosh in (but not actually the amazon logo) downloaded from a random site (not from Amazon).

There was no heads up, no warning email, just one email saying your account was now not approved.

After deleting the image I tried to appeal but was told they could not reinstate, that I had to reapply.

Done with that game, I’m sticking to promoting software and courses :)

Reply
Larry - September 26, 2017

Great post guys!

I wanted to clarify something about the images.

It is okay to use the site stripe to “grab” an image with a link to use on your site (or do you need to do this some other way?)

And, it isn’t okay to save image as… then upload in wordpress?

Thanks.

Reply
Ryan Nelson - September 26, 2017

1. After you warned against using Amazon images awhile ago, I did a major cleanse of all my featured images that were Amazon product images on multiple sites. Across hundreds of posts- used a VA for it. Definitely worth it.

2. I also use EasyAzon (convenient if you work with Virtual Assistants + it internationalizes Amazon affiliate links), which the developers have assured me is kosher with Amazon, but I’m dreading the day when/if Amazon decides to ‘criminalize’ it, because that would be link management armageddon.

3. Though I do very well with Amazon, I’ve conditioned myself to expect that it will eventually terminate. Could be tomorrow or in a year, who knows.

Reply
    Eddie - September 30, 2017

    Gael said they had to remove the geni.us links to Amazon because under Amazon terms you have to disclose next to every link that it goes to Amazon which looks akwkard if you have many links. My guess is that EasyAzon doesn’t disclose it’s a link to Amazon on every link?

    Reply
      Qamar - October 1, 2017

      Indeed Eddie, however from my understanding Amazon thinks it’s okay to use easyazon as it uses the Amazon API.

      I’d be keen to know if my instinct is correct on this though.

      Reply
        Perrin Carrell - October 1, 2017

        No harm in asking them, I suppose. :)

        Reply
        Ryan Nelson - October 17, 2017

        I’ve talked to the EasyAzon developer and they’ve assured me Amazon is good with them. They do have a ‘cloaking’ option- THAT will get you into trouble. All EasyAzon links generated from shortcodes, when you hover over them, indicate the Amazon URL- so it’s pretty transparent for both the users and for Amazon.

        Reply
Gary - September 26, 2017

Thanks for another awesome article, guys. I have bookmarked this one in my Amazon folder.

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Steve - September 26, 2017

Great! Thanks for sharing this. I am still a bit confused about images though.Is it okay to use a plugin like WP Zon Builder that uses the API to pull images? I usually download them from the product page because I like to use large images in my posts and not the iframe images from the site stripe. So this is not OK? Is there a simple plugin to pull images via API that you would recommend?

Thanks
Steve

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    Perrin Carrell - September 29, 2017

    These plugins will tell you’re compliant. I’ve heard mixed things from Amazon support. We do not use them because it’s an unnecessary risk and because we think Geni.us triggered our audit. It’s always good to ask their support about your specific case, though.

    Reply
Terry - September 26, 2017

Thanks for the great breakdown! One part that is confusing to me is the use of images and other content. In the section on “you can’t download images from Amazon” and after you say “but then they say stuff like…”, that excerpt sounds like they are saying you can’t use any data other than images from Amazon or published from Amazon?

In other words, if you review a product, you couldn’t put your results from that review? You also can’t use your own product images of the product?

If that’s the case, it seems like they would be encouraging people not to truly review the products, which Google (or humans), would consider thin/duplicate content.

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    Perrin Carrell - September 29, 2017

    Not sure what you mean here, but about the images, correct — as far as we understand, you cannot download them.

    Reply
Olivia - September 26, 2017

First off, thanks for sharing this great content, I’ve learned a lot. And I have questions that if I can have several websites with one Amazon account? And Must I add all them to my associate account? I’m using different tracking ID for each site in one account. Please clear this up for me, thanks in advance.

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    Perrin Carrell - September 29, 2017

    You need to add them all to the website list in the Amazon Associates back end, yes, but you can use your tracking IDs however you want.

    Reply
Rui - September 26, 2017

Awesome read as always. This is a great reminder to all of us that in some part use Amazon as a monetization method (even in my case is a very small part).

Thanks!

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Vinsensius Arthur Gonzales - September 26, 2017

Amazing Article, Especially for the one who need the Re-Submission like me ( after being rejected for the branding ),
I Guess the main problem because I didn’t linked the Image back to amazon, now I think using the Site Strip Image link is the Safest method ( as explained in this article )

One Thing Still not clear for me though about Call to Action Button, I saw on many sites that people use Pure Text Colored CSS Button with the Call to action like ( Learn more; see details; Shop at Amazon.com; Check the Price; Check the Price at Amazon; Check the Best price, etc ) the problem is the “Amazon” wording, should we use the word “Amazon” on the button? some says that Using the Word is against the terms and the Amazon EU state that one should Say where the button will take the visitor to ( indirectly said that we must say we direct visitor to amazon with that button) Very Confusing ( this is what this Post lacking )

moreover, after having a chat with an Amazon Associate support Staff, the support said that it will be the best to use everything provide from the Amazon Associate Central, and the best for the call to action is to use the Graphical Button.

Not sure, but since healthambition pass the audit, logically the css pure text button link should be fine,

However, I guess playing safe is the best option for they who undergo the first submission or re-submission

what do you think guys?

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Adam - September 26, 2017

Hey
When using site stripe for images the link is not set as nofollow – what should I do?

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    Perrin Carrell - September 29, 2017

    It’s probably worth asking an account rep if you can add “nofollow” to those links and stay compliant. For SEO, it’s not worth worrying about probably. Google has said before that they handle things like this for affiliate programs on their end if the program is big enough (i.e. they have enough data to understand what is going on), and Amazon is the biggest in the world. That’s just my gut, though.

    Reply
Michael - September 26, 2017

Outstanding, I thought it was going to be a horrible read full of major changes we all need to make, instead it’s a perfect blueprint for starting and optimising an amazon site! Great job.

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Noline - September 26, 2017

Great article thank you.

Has Amazon not recently changed their terms to say that a button has to state that it is going to Amazon?

Do you use EasyAzon or similar plugins?

Thank you…

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    Perrin Carrell - September 29, 2017

    Not sure; I read all the updates but haven’t seen that one. Doesn’t mean it’s not in there; I just don’t remember it.

    We don’t use any plugins at the moment.

    Reply
Steve Reed - September 26, 2017

Great article!!!! I searched the Amazon TOS about the images, couldn’t find anything that explicitly says you can’t use them. It’s a shame, but I often think their support is a little wishy-washy.

As an example, when I was publishing Kindle books, a ton of people, and articles online were adamant you could not include affiliate links in Kindle books. Support told me I could in writing when I emailed them, but the TOS was somewhat non-committal.

On the affiliate links in emails. I was working for a pretty well know and large site that promoted kindle books to around 100k subscribers.

The site got a manual review from Amazon, we were emailing 5 x week with links in emails via Aweber.

The site owner actually had a telephone conversation with an Amazon account manager who said that, if the email service provider was located in certain states and the emails went from there, it was fine to use them in emails…so we continued. Bookbub still do it I believe, although they have a shit-ton of subscribers so maybe have some special deal.

One thing, on the images via API, I got some code and pulled it into Thrive Architect, but didn’t seem to be able to center them. I noticed you have centred images on Health Ambition. How do you do that, or am I just being dumb :-)

Great article, gonna listen to it in podcast form right now!!!

Steve

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    Perrin Carrell - September 29, 2017

    Yea, in the ToS, in my reading, images are lumped in with their definition of “Content,” so it’s not easy to understand for sure. Always worth REreading :)

    To center, just

    HTML tags is I think how we do it :)

    Reply
    Noline - October 2, 2017

    Hi Steve

    Try putting the image or the html blog in a content blog and then center the content blog.

    Reply
Jennifer - September 26, 2017

Great article Perrin! :)

You’ve shared a lot of fantastic information so huge thanks for that. Great that all your sites passed the Amazon audit and are in good standing with them.

I have a couple of questions if that’s ok, and they might be helpful to other readers too:

1) You mentioned that for articles targeting the “best x” style keywords, that highlight the top product in detail and then mentioning the other 4 is one of the ways to go.

I was wondering if you think 5 is the sweet spot to hit in terms of the number of products or do you think it depends on the niche?

If I look at my competitor who are ranking for all the big keywords on page 1, they have 20 products or more on their lists.

2) Sticking with the “best x” style posts, do you think the amount of content written about each product should be a maximum number of words? For example, do you think it’s not a good thing to do fairly detailed reviews of each product that comes to a few hundred words?

Thanks in advance for your guidance Perrin and for the brilliant Amazon guide and sharing what happened. A lesson to us all to be vigilant in following Amazon’s guidelines and not get sloppy.

Jennifer

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    Perrin Carrell - September 29, 2017

    1. If you look at the SERPs for lots of different products, you’ll see lots of different kinds of articles. I don’t think there’s a sweet spot really. It’s just the way we built this particular system.

    2. Depends on the niche :) Emulate and beat the competition :)

    Reply
Eddie - September 27, 2017

Thanks for the epic post!

Question about the images.

I use lots of images from the Amazon product page.

For example if a product has 5 high rez images from Amazon I download them and use them on my site. I ALWAYS link them to Amazon.

Previously Amazon said that as long as you do not alter the images and link to Amazon it should be fine.

Now I understand they changed their mind?

How can you use the Amazon sitestrip to take an image? I only found a way to embed their small product image via their site stripe but I need the full sized images because in my reviews I use them to detail a product features.

What to do? Can I just right click an Amazon image, get it’s “img src=” and link to the image on my site?

Does that qualify as legitimate?

Help. Don’t want to get banned.

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    Perrin Carrell - September 29, 2017

    This is based on our reading of the ToS and questions asked to their support. Their support, however, has a bit of a reputation for not providing consistent answers across all their associates, so while we settled on it not being okay to download images, you can always ask their support about your specific case.

    Reply
Sharon - September 27, 2017

Hi,

I’ve been an Amazon Affiliate for 12 months now, and although I strictly followed the Amazon ToS rules initially, I may have strayed from the squeaky-clean path ever-so-slightly. Time to go back and clean everything up.

This is a great article, and I really appreciate the detail you’ve included here. You’ve given me lots of ideas to implement. Thanks!

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Eddie - September 27, 2017

I think a lot of Amazon Affiliate should start panic about images because I think 90% of them download images from Amazon.

Using Amazon SiteStripe do you just copy the big HTML chunk that site stripe give you into a Customer HTML Thrive element?

I tried selecting a Large Image type under SiteStripe and the image is still very small, much smaller and look pretty bad on my post, at least as a Customer HTML Thrive Element it looks bad.

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Neil - September 27, 2017

Yep, I’ve got a LOT of work to do! I’m sure we could download and use their images in 2009. Maybe I was misled back then and only just found out about it. lol.

As usual, you guys have excelled yourselves with this article. Awesome, actionable info. Cheers!

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    Perrin Carrell - September 29, 2017

    Yea the image thing seemed to come out of nowhere for me as well; I remember being able to download them — but I also remember not reading the ToS all that thoroughly back then lol.

    Reply
Dan - September 27, 2017

Wow!

That was my initial reaction when I heard the news here. Gael , Mark and Perrin of Authority Hacker company involved in a stringent audit By Amazon Associates with risk of getting banned! The legalities of potential lawsuit liability against a huge online retailer, aka “Amazon” actually forces Amazon to go after a big fish in the Affiliate Marketing game, namely “Authority Hacker”.

To think you guys scrambled and re-invented the wheel in 5 days is absolutely amazing too! I am glad you produced this thorough resource on how to hopefully abide by the Amazon TOS; play it on the conservative/safe side is the message here. You people are so knowledgeable in your business, and even you guys got a knock on the door from Amazon Associates.

Thank you again for the stunning news, the in-depth article on the subject and the thorough do’s and don’ts to avoid issues with “King Amazon” and their confusing “TOS”

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    Perrin Carrell - September 29, 2017

    Thanks, man :) Gael & co handled most of the scramble, and they crushed it. I could feel the stress across the Atlantic :)

    Reply
Brian - September 27, 2017

What do u think of easyazon which shows the entire amazon link and automatically creates no follow tag for us. Do you manually go into your page source code every time to add no follow link if you use the amazon provided link…also, my issue with amazon images is they can break sometimes and you can’t create the image size that you want exactly. Are all your images on healthambition.com hosted on amazon/created from the associates console? I assume the big issue with using images from amazon is if the images you use doesn’t match the image shown for the product when they get to amazon creating bad user experience

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    Perrin Carrell - September 29, 2017

    The creators of these plugins swear up and down that they are compliant. For our part, having been audited, we decided not to risk it. If you’re unsure about a specific circumstance, I’d ask Amazon’s support.

    Reply
Joe Watson - September 27, 2017

Hi Gael

At last a guide which covers everything connected with Amazon Associates (AA). I find Associates Program Operating Agreement difficult to understand and keep up with.

I think your answer to Nate “Actually, Amazon doesn’t like the “under $x” type articles so I’d recommend avoiding them plainly and simply.” is an excellent suggestion. I really think there are only two options to have 1. Keep to the rules 2. If your not sure, DON’T DO IT.

Thanks a mill Gael

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    Gael Breton - September 27, 2017

    Hey Joe,

    Glad you found value in the post. Yeah, better safe than sorry when it comes to your big earners. While there is search volume for price based queries, I find enough opportunities outside of it for it not to be worth the risk.

    Good luck with your business!

    Reply
Sreenivas - September 27, 2017

Excellent guide.

Getting approved from Amazon after the ban seems to be lucky as most of times they don’t seem to be convinced with whatever we say.

I Have seen it myself as well as other people..

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    Gael Breton - September 27, 2017

    Hey there,

    While there’s probably a part of luck, the way you present yourself also counts. I just corrected a bunch of mistakes in your comment before approving it and I can imagine if your email to Amazon looked the same, they did not take you seriously. Consider using the free version of Grammarly when you write online. That will do a lot for your credibility (and that’s coming from a non-native speaker that also makes a bunch of mistakes and has to spellcheck a lot of what he writes).

    Reply
Bhuboy - September 27, 2017

Thanks for this, this would be very helpful since I am still building my stage 1 authority site. I noticed you haven’t mention Geni.us , is it still safe to use?

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Brian - September 27, 2017

Thanks for sharing such a useful article, Geal! I’m also trying to replace all my images which downloaded directly from amazon with API images. But it’s kind of annoying, the API images are quite small. Is there any way I can get bigger images without blur, like runnerclick?

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Jimmy - September 27, 2017

Awesome article Gael!

So much values as usual.

One quick question, I just tried using SiteStripe bar to generate image but the it becomes really low res on my site though. Am I doing it wrong?

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    Perrin Carrell - September 29, 2017

    That’s definitely one of the drawbacks of the Site Stripe: images are smaller and often (in my experience) lower-res.

    Reply
Pascal - September 27, 2017

Hey Perrin / Gael,

nice article you saved our asses. Quick question tho:

What about stuff like “best xy under 50$” etc. Could / Would you write stuff like that or completely avoid it?

Looking forward to your feedback!

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    Perrin Carrell - September 29, 2017

    I asked support about this, and they said it was fine, since it’s not a quantitative claim about Amazon’s prices specifically. I’d ask them yourself just to make sure, though.

    Reply
Sam - September 27, 2017

Excellent article. I don’t think I will look to Amazon Associates at any other place after reading this.
Good job Perrin + Gael (y)
I have one question: I use in my review articles, words like, expensive, cheap, affordable… but without mentioning the price!
Is this also violating Amazon policies, because some companies (in my case dog niche), are known for cheap dog food compared to the others, so I think it’s necessary to mention that on the review, and also some products are cheaper, and so on…
So what do you think about that?
Thanks in advance.

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    Perrin Carrell - September 29, 2017

    I think that’s fine, since it’s not a specific price declaration. As always, check with support if you’ve got any doubts.

    Reply
      Sam - September 29, 2017

      Thanks Perrin for your response.
      I have one more question: For all my review articles, I download Amazon product images and upload them to my website, and I put my affiliate link on the image to the product page on Amazon.
      Is this also violating Amazon Policies (I know you mentioned it above, but I did not understand this part)!
      If it’s violating Amazon Policies, what do you mean by API, can I just copy the link of the images directly from Amazon or I have to apply to have access to some API or something like that?

      Reply
        Perrin Carrell - October 1, 2017

        In my reading of the ToS, you cannot download images. There’s a whole section above about how you can get images, though.

        Reply
          Sam - October 1, 2017

          The problem with the SiteStripe is that the quality of the images is terrible.
          Can I copy directly the link of the image from Amazon and insert it in my article without using the SiteStripe.
          And if there is any other solution to this problem please let me know Perrin.
          Thanks.

          Reply
          Perrin Carrell - October 1, 2017

          They way I understand it, Amazon says no. But you can always ask them :)

          Reply
Elaine - September 28, 2017

Wow! Thank you so much for this. I have taken a break from serious affiliate marketing for the last couple of years, so am working hard at catching up with all the changes and developments.

This guide is exactly what I need as far as Amazon is concerned and should stop me making mistakes.

My traffic is very good, but my conversions are crap, so hoping the sections on linking will also help 😀

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    Perrin Carrell - September 29, 2017

    Thanks!

    (to increase conversions, try make sure you are recommending products that have lots of very good ratings)

    Reply
Dan - September 28, 2017

Very good article. Thank you. There is stuff I need to work on.

What about when talking about prices, if the product is lets say $55, when you review it, you talk about it being in a price range like between $50-$60 or you say something like around $50. Is that still conflicting with the policy. If that is so, then what do you do, you don’t talk about the price at all, just review the features and such?

Thanks again,
Dan

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Ajay - September 28, 2017

Hey Gael
Fantastic post. A quick question:
1) Amazon wants that it should be clear to the visitor that you are linking to Amazon.
2) Amazon doesn’t allow to use word “Amazon”, “Amazon.com”, its logo etc. anywhere, except in the disclaimer.

So, based on the above terms, what should be the exact CTA???
1) “Shop Now at Amazon.com” = fulfilling the first term.
or
2) “Shop Now” = fulfilling the second term.
Thanks in advance!

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    Perrin Carrell - September 29, 2017

    They’ve told us and other users to include, for example, “(Amazon)” after links, but if you’re not using a shortener like Genius, it’s usually okay, since the link itself clearly goes to Amazon.

    Reply
Tessah - September 29, 2017

I use Easy Azon for some if my sites. I’ve noticed that although they use API, the images are downloaded on my server. What is your opinion on this Gael? Looking forward to hearing from you.

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Adam - September 29, 2017

Hi guys,

Great write up!

One small thing that I’m unsure about.

1) Amazon affiliate links don’t come with – rel=”nofollow” – in their links but I checked on HealthAmbition and you have it there so I assume you must add this yourself and that it’s allowed within the policy?

2) Do you add rel=”nofollow” manually for each affiliate link or is there a tool that can do this?

Thanks,
Adam

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Justin - September 29, 2017

Amazing post! Perrin, just a heads up. You have a crutch in your writing. I noticed it so obviously that I control+f’d–you used the term “of course” 12 times in this article! Not only that, you use it in your bio too! Just something to be mindful of :)

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Eddie - September 30, 2017

The images issue with Amazon is bad joke.

1) The images taken from the SiteStrip through the API are very small. For vitamins or small items that can work. But I am talking about large products with details. For large detailed, products this is RIDICULOUS. I used to have 700 pixels products to show the features. The so called large images through Amazon API are 250 pixels! Not only do these look absolutely ludicrous design-wise, they actually make the reviews less appealing, less beneficial for the user and potentially less converting. Everybody knows images are everything.

2) Using the SiteStrip they only let me pick THE FIRST PRODUCT IMAGE. Some products on Amazon have 15 images or more to show off various features and close-ups of features. So in some of my reviews I use 3 images. Now I am limited to only using 1 (REALLY??) product image which is the first one.

This is stupid and almost unbelievable.

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Jeph - October 1, 2017

Amazing work.

Just one one question on images. How about using the snipping tool in windows to get images from amazon?. Will it be against the TOS on your view?

Many Thanks

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    Perrin Carrell - October 1, 2017

    While I’m not sure if this protects you legally, this seems like it’s a technicality that would piss off an Amazon employee, which is kind of the opposite of what we want to do isn’t it? Why go to such great lengths to poke a sleeping bear?

    Reply
Sam - October 1, 2017

I do upload images of products to my website and make them clickable (using my affiliate link of course).
Is that violating Amazon Policies also. Because I did not understand the part of Amazon images!
If it’s violating Amazon Associates policies, should I just go the images and copy their links from Amazon, or there is some kind of API that I have to apply for or something like that.
Thanks in advance.

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Theodore Nwangene - October 1, 2017

This is a massive guide man,

And I must confess that it’s very useful. However, one thing I still find confusing is the image usage.

How do you use product images from Amazon? Each time I want to get an image via the site strap, It’ll be very small when I post it on my site.

Or, is there a better way of resizing the product images?

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Tyler - October 13, 2017

Hey nice write up. Do you guys do anything with redirecting to various locations? Unless you use a plugin, visitors from Canada the UK and so on will head to Amazon.com and potentially not order. Do you just take a loss with those clicks? Thanks

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Jack - October 25, 2017

Great article, as always!

I have one question about images: what about to use products images without downloading them from Amazon.com? A quick Google search will come with tons of product images. Regardless the right to use them or not, in this case no Amazon images are used. This break the TOS too?

And what about to download the same image used on Amazon from another source? How Amazon can determine the source of an image?

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Jesper - November 3, 2017

Great guide, Perrin!
What is the best way to proceed if you want to use a virtual assistant to do the links for you?
Is it safe to add a user to Publisher Studio without them seeing all your personal info and payment details?
Have your tried the Amazon Associates Link Builder Plugin? The official plugin by Amazon.

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Adam - November 4, 2017

Hi Perrin,
Thank you so much for the comprehensive article.
I built a site, but have not applied yet to become an Amazon associate.
I read the articles and the comments about images… but have a question…

If you are not an associate yet, how would you find images?
1. I contacted all product owners of the products that I reviewed and asked for images, but only 5% replied. Also this is a very time consuming process.
2. I can’t use images from amazon right?

Is it better to
1. Not use images? (the site would not look that nice without images)
2. Use alternative products where manufacturers can give images

Would be very grateful for any advice :)
Adam

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Dileep indla - November 10, 2017

Excellent article. Bookmarked it.

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Canberk - November 15, 2017

Amazing article. Before I ask you my question, I want you to know your articles are a huge inspiration for me and they keep me going!

So I am going to be publishing my first post. I pulled the amazon link URL’s using “Text” button in SiteStripe section which are at the top of each page. Then I embedded those URL’s into texts of product names in my post.
Now, is there a format that I should follow as to what to exactly name those products in my post? I’m asking because I’m writing the product names manually. For example, if I am promoting the product “MegaFood – Women Over 40 One Daily, Multivitamin to Support Immune Health, 90 Tablets”. Should I use this full name in my article or can I use “Mega Food 40+” or something else? It just feels like I might go wrong and violate the ToS there.

PS: The “Why it works” bar of “Product X vs Product Y” section is the same as “Tutorials & Problem Solving Content” section in this post. Maybe you would like to fix it 😊

Reply

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