Amazon’s affiliate agreement is long and it gets changed and updated pretty often, so it can be easy to accidentally miss something.
Just in general there are some common ways of using an affiliate link that are not allowed by the Amazon affiliate program.
For example, you’re not allowed to use your affiliate link in an email or email attachment.
You’re also not allowed to use your affiliate link in PDF reports, ebooks, and other documents.
This is probably the set of violations most often seen, because we’re all so used to just linking to things that we’re talking about. “Hey, I just read this great book, here’s the link…” and it’s so easy to generate a link from any page using the Amazon Site Stripe and throw it out there for people to click that we don’t always think about where we’re putting that link.
There has been a lot of talk recently about using redirects and people getting banned. From what I can tell so far the bans happened to people who were using redirects that landed in a frame, not a standard boring redirect. A framed page would have the specified URL in the browser toolbar instead of the Amazon URL that should be there. That being said, I’ve been changing all my links back to plain ugly old links just in case. Pretty Links and PHP redirects don’t frame the page, but I really just don’t want to chance anything with my affiliate status.
Link shorteners are another rule breaker. This change was made awhile back when Amazon decided to stop allowing use of bit.ly, ow.ly, goog, tinyurl, and similar URL shorteners. You might be looking for tracking numbers or just using them because they’re fast and easy, but it could earn a smack on the knuckles and loss of your affiliate account. To make this more confusing, Amazon has gone and partnered with bit.ly to create the amzn.to shortened URLs that you can use if you just need it to be short for the sake of space of if you just want a link that doesn’t look a mile long. What’s funny there is those are generated from bit.ly by entering any Amazon link. I know, that’s all kind of confusing. Basically it just has to be clear to anyone clicking the link that it goes to Amazon and not some mysterious unknown place on the internet.
Being an Amazon affiliate can be confusing, it can be difficult, and it can require a lot of upkeep if you’re linking to a lot of products. Yet it remains one of the most popular and frequently used affilite programs on the internet – because it pays, it’s reliable, and they still the most products. I’d say it’s worth the extra effort to stay a part of the program for the long term, even if it means going back and changing or updating links that you may not have formatted properly or not being able to use your affiliate link in emails.
Never Fear, There’s Always a Way
If you want to recommend a product as an Amazon affiliate in an email, document, PDF, ebook, or other documents but you don’t want to break the rules, you could simply set up a review page on your website or blog about the product and then link to Amazon in the content of that review. Then in your emails and PDFs you link to the review page on your site where people can read more details about the product and click through to Amazon with your raw affiliate link. It’s an extra click for the user, but if the product you’re recommending is something they are truly interested or something that they need, they’ll still make that click.