This is one of those “how-can-you-know-what-you-don’t-know” moments.
If you’re a member of AMAZON’S ASSOCIATES PROGRAM take note: there are rules you’re probably not aware of and they could be leaving you exposed to an Amazon slap on the wrists for abuse of its policies.
- Your site must be “suitable” according to clause #2 of Amazon’s Associates Program Operating Agreement. Basically this means no sexually explicit content, no violent or libelous/defamatory content, and no discriminatory practices. You also must not market to children under the age of 13.
- Be careful of how you use Amazon’s trademark and logo. For example, you cannot use the trademarked word “Amazon” in your domain name, ex. “Amazonbooksareawesome.com” (which I completely made up).
- Do not use Bit.ly or Tiny Url to shorten those super long Amazon website links on your website or on Facebook to promote your affiliate products. You are only allowed to display Amazon “Special Links” that make it clear you are linking to the Amazon website from an authorized online site. According to Amazon… “Special Links” are links to the Amazon Site that you place on your site in accordance with this Operating Agreement, that properly utilize the special “tagged” link formats we provide, and that comply with theAssociates Program Linking Requirements. Special Links permit accurate tracking, reporting, and accrual of advertising fees. Special Links displayed in Approved Mobile Applications may be served by the Amazon Mobile Associates API (“AMA API”), or the Product Advertising API, including any Special Links displayed within an integrated web browser, and must use the Associates ID we have assigned to you expressly for your Approved Mobile Applications. In other words, the only way to earn commission is to use Amazon’s “Special Links”… Amazon wants to know exactly where the clicks are coming from.
- You cannot use your affiliate link in “offline programs” including your PDFs, ebooks, digital programs, or, as Amazon states, “in any printed material, mailing, email or attachment to email, or other document, or any oral solicitation.” You heard that right: Amazon does not allow you to use your affiliate link in an email/newsletter to your subscribers. Amazon wants you to link from the web, whether directly on your website, or elsewhere on the web (Facebook, for example). Again, it wants to be able to identify the source of the incoming affiliate links.
- THIS ALSO MEANS you cannot use affiliate links in an RSS feed that sends email notifications of your blog posts. The workaround is to truncate your feed, i.e., use a shortened feed of your blog posts with links to the full post on your website. You’ll have to make sure the links don’t appear near the top of your posts. In order to switch to a truncated feed in WordPress, do the following: From your DASHBOARD, select SETTINGS, select READING, and where it says “FOR EACH ARTICLE IN FEED SHOW” select SUMMARY. Click SAVE.
- Disclose your affiliate relationship. It’s the law. Amazon requires that you display the following on your website:
“[Insert your name] is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to [insert the applicable site name (amazon.com)].”
NOTE: These rules apply to members of Amazon’s Associates Program. If you’re not part of the program, most of the foregoing does not apply to you (except for item #2, above, which applies to everyone).