You May Be Violating Amazon Associates Program TOS Without Even Knowing
If you’re part of Amazon’s Associates Program (Affiliate Marketing Program) or are considering signing up for their affiliate program, you may want to read on as I highlight some key items you may be used to doing that is actually against their terms of service.
Before I get into the various items which you may have overlooked (which I certainly did!), let me just tell you my quick story and how my Amazon Associates Program account got shut down.
I’ve been an Amazon affiliate since 2009 and it was just one of the many affiliate programs I was signed up for. I signed up because I wanted different options for affiliate programs and they’re one of the biggest companies in the world.
The fact that they’re one of the biggest companies out there with tons of products to promote leads to a very trusted source for people to purchase items from. But with being one of the biggest companies, comes very strict guidelines (which I’ll get to in a minute).
Now I wasn’t an active affiliate, like most. I casually posted some of their affiliate links here and there on some smaller sites. I casually made money from them but eventually, I casually got rid of my smaller sites that contained their affiliate links.
If you guys read my Starting Fresh post, you would know I took some time away from working online. So a lot of affiliate programs I was signed up with made lots of changes while I was away.
Amazon was no different.
The time I was gone, Amazon probably updated their policies multiple times and one of the big items was the fact that you cannot put their links (or any affiliate programs links) on sites directed towards anyone under the age of 13.
Time passed. Then when I logged into my account this past fall when I was starting fresh, I see this:
Well, that sucks. Apparently I was supposed to agree to the new terms by a specific date, which I obviously did not.
Bam! Account closed.
The good news, they allowed me to create a new account. Unfortunately, I could not use the old account anymore and any revenue generated would not cash out either. Luckily, I didn’t have a balance that wasn’t cashed out already.
So, I don’t want my account closed… again. And I don’t want you guys to have your accounts at all. So, with that said, here are some items you may currently do that may be against their TOS that you may or may not be aware of.
They Do NOT Allow Cloaked Links
I almost found this out the hard way. If you’re like me, you’re so used to cloaking your affiliate links you don’t even think twice about it. On a new project I’m working on, I cloaked a handful of Amazon affiliate links, but when I went to check to see if they were working correctly, I noticed it was just pulling up a blank screen.
Initially, I thought it was the plugin I was using to cloak them. It wasn’t. Then I did research and found out it’s against their TOS.
Luckily, I caught it right away. If you’re so used to cloaking your links like it’s a natural reaction, make sure you’re not doing it with Amazon links!
They Do NOT Allow Affiliate Links In Emails
Yes, that includes RSS feed emails. This one was crazy to me. If you have a blog, include your Amazon affiliate link in your post and it gets delivered to your email subscribers, that’s against their TOS.
Basically, it’s fine if you use the affiliate links in your posts on your blog/website but the posts containing the links cannot be delivered via email.
Amy Lynn Andrews wrote an informative post about it and even contacted them directly regarding it to confirm it. She also lists some options so it doesn’t get delivered to your email subscribers but stays on your posts.
I also want to say thanks to our friend, Edie, for bringing this to my attention and having this discussion with me!
You Must Identify Yourself As An Associate
You cannot misrepresent or embellish your relationship with their program and you must state this on every site you use Amazon affiliate links on:
“[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 or myhabit.com)].”
Make Sure Your Information Is Up-To-Date
If they need to get in touch with you, it’ll be through email. Part of the reason why my account was closed was the fact that they couldn’t get in touch with me after numerous attempts. The email I had on file wasn’t working anymore.
Speaking of keeping your information up-to-date…
You Are Ineligible For Their Program If You Live Or Move To…
If you move to Arkansas, Maine, Missouri, Rhode Island or Vermont, you become ineligible to participate in Amazon’s affiliate program. Not only that, you have to inform them in writing promptly to let them know that.
Yep, you have to keep your information updated at all times.
A way around that is you can always sign up for a Virtual Office. If you get in contact with me, I may be able to refer you.
No Misleading Claims, Promotions, Review Ratings And Prices
This may seem like a given but keep in mind prices do change so it’s your responsibility to change it.
For instance, if you wrote “These products are all under $50” and then one of the products later increases in price, you have to change the text or remove that item from your site.
You should always read every TOS, policies and anything you sign up for. This applies to everything, not just Amazon.
I admit, I’m definitely guilty of skimming through them but it’s the fine print that can and will get you in trouble. Learn from my mistakes, so you don’t have to go through them firsthand.
Did I overlook anything else? Let me know in the comments!
You would think that they would at least make those things clear up-front rather than hide them in a mountain of legal words.