When you think of AI, the first thing that comes to mind probably isn’t an automated content creator. Yet, as digital marketers well know, this has become a reality in recent times. From auto-generated blog posts to algorithmically created tweets and Instagram posts, AI content creation is becoming more common. Even websites like Reddit now have entire sub-forums dedicated to AI-generated content. And companies like Narrative create a dedicated platform for users to share automated stories with one another – a sort of “robo-TGIF” if you will. This rising trend raises an important question: how can we detect if someone is using AI to generate content? After all, when anyone can generate text documents or even entire books with just a click of a button, how will we know when someone isn’t human?
Detecting Automated Content Generation
The first step in detecting automated content is simply knowing what to look for. In order to do this, we have to understand how automated content generation works. In general, there are two main ways in which automated content can be generated. The first way is through natural language generation. In this process, an algorithm is fed human language which it then uses as a “seed” to create new content with similar stylistic and linguistic properties. This is often used for simple blog posts and similar types of content, where the goal is simply to create large amounts of relatively low-quality but easily digestible content. The second way is through artificial intelligence. In this case, algorithms are fed large amounts of data and used to “train” a program to think and write like a human. This is more commonly used for longer pieces of content like books or academic papers, where the goal is to produce high-quality content that would normally be difficult to produce manually.
AI Detection Strategies
When trying to detect if an article or other piece of content was generated by an AI program, there are a few telltale signs to look for. Typically, if you see that an article has little to no human emotion or other stylistic nuances and seems to have a robotic “flow” to it, it’s a likely candidate for being generated by a computer rather than written by a human. Another common technique is to look at the numbers. Human-written content is more likely to contain certain patterns or numbers – such as numbers that correspond to data points or statistics being discussed in the article. For example, if you see a sentence in an article about the economy that ends with “(data for this is sourced from…”, there’s a good chance that this sentence was generated by an algorithm. This is because such a sentence would be extremely unusual for a human to write naturally but is a common feature of automated content.
The Rise of Generated Content and Why It Matters
While generated content may seem like a harmless novelty, it does have serious implications for the way we consume information online. As mentioned, one of the primary uses of generated content is to create large amounts of content that is relatively low quality but easily digestible. This sort of automated content may be helpful for online publishers looking to scale their business rapidly, but isn’t very useful to readers. Even the best AI programs can’t compete with the creativity and nuance of a human writer. They lack the ability to think outside the box, to create unexpected metaphors and similes, and to weave together a narrative that is both intellectually stimulating and emotionally engaging. More importantly, the rise of this generated content will likely make us more suspicious of information on the web. When we can’t trust that an article or a blog post or even a book review is genuine, it becomes harder to discern what is real and what is false.
Detecting AI Bloggers
When it comes to spotting AI-generated blog posts, the best way to tell is by looking at the numbers. As mentioned, one of the telltale signs of generated content is that it often contains numbers that correspond to data points mentioned in the article. When spotting automated blog posts, then, you can try searching the article for numbers and statistics and see if the numbers seem to be “sourced” from an arbitrary source or if they make any logical sense. If you see that the numbers don’t seem to make any sense or if they appear to have been pulled out of thin air, there’s a good chance that the article was generated by a computer program.
Detecting AI on Twitter
When it comes to detecting AI on Twitter, one of the easiest ways to tell is by examining the profile of the account. If the person or company running the account has a hilariously low number of followers for how long they’ve been tweeting but goes on a posting spree all at once, you should probably raise an eyebrow. If this account suddenly starts posting links to articles with a “source” that links to some random webpage with a bunch of gibberish, you should definitely be suspicious. If you notice that a “person” on Twitter is only retweeting other bots and never human beings, you should definitely be suspicious.
Detecting AI on Instagram
When it comes to detecting AI on Instagram, you can look at a couple of different things. First, you can examine the account’s follower-following ratio. If you see that the account has a ton of followers but only follows a few people (or no one at all), that’s a pretty good sign that the account is automated. Another thing to look for is the account’s posting frequency. AI Instagram accounts tend to post extremely frequently – some even post as much as 10 or 20 times per day. If you notice that an account posts this frequently and doesn’t seem to have any sort of “personality” or followers, there’s a good chance that the account is automated.
As AI technology continues to advance and more people find ways to use it, it will become increasingly important to be able to tell the difference between true human-generated content and the artificially generated kind. Having the ability to spot the signs of automated content will allow us to avoid being fooled by false information and being tricked into believing that a computer program has some sort of insight or creativity it simply doesn’t have. It will also help us to avoid being swindled by unscrupulous online content creators who use AI to generate large amounts of low-quality content in order to scale their business quickly and cheaply.
Specifically, I'm going to go over the updated disclosure recommendations for 2020, how the free plugin makes it easier then ever to be compliant, and a detailed audit process that we can execute as affiliate marketers.
If you have had your Amazon Associate account closed we will get into how to appeal to get it re-opened, and if all else fails, the critical steps to open a brand new one.
Think about this post as covering 2 parts…
First: Prevention (what to do to not get your account closed)
Second: Recovery (how to get your account re-opened or create a new one)
My $100k Loss Backstory & Why I Care So Much About This Topic
Very shortly after I left my day job and had planned (in part) on my Amazon Associate earnings as being one of my main sources of income to support my family, I received the dreaded email saying I was no longer welcome to participate in the Amazon Associate program. Yikes!!! I had just made the entrepreneurial jump and then immediately took a HUGE hit. No longer being able to run my Amazon Affiliate websites was going to be an issue for my business. I needed to figure out a way to fix this.
The reason... myself and a partner had just purchased an Amazon Affiliate niche site and one of his other partners was doing some sketchy things with Amazon.
This impact was PAINFUL and wiped out well over six figures in value very shortly after I left my day job. The silver lining is I'm now able to help other Amazon Affiliate store owners by sharing details about the process on this blog post.
This is what Amazon said in both their emails ...
During our research, we have determined that an account belonging to you (or a person affiliated with you) has previously been closed for violations of the Operating Agreement or one of the other Associates Programs operated by our affiliates.
Based on the analysis I was able to identify that the bad actor was a partner of one of my partners resulting in 3 accounts I was associated with (and all connected) getting suspended.
From that, the process and tools shared in this post were born.
This post, as well as additional research, has led us to create this list of the 7 most common mistakes that people are making with their Amazon Affiliate sites that could lead to their accounts getting suspended or closed!
But what I am most proud of is the best, fastest and completely free wordpress plugin dedicated to helping ensure you stay compliant with Amazon - check it out!
7 Most Common Reasons an Amazon Associate Account is Closed
In this post I have tried to stay on the conservative side, however, I fully realize people may choose to dial up the risk in order to generate more clicks/sales since this is affiliate marketing. I understand the need to try and find the right balance between risk and reward, and in this post have tried to present the “ideal” low risk plan.
Now that we’ve had the Amazon audit process up and running for a little while, we are able to analyze the data and see the biggest problems with our sites and the sites we have reviewed. I hope this post provides you with 7 actionable items to consider regarding your Amazon Affiliate website and the Amazon associates program.
See below for the 7 most frequently failed Amazon Audit questions that could result in your associate account being suspended.
ONE - Use of Logo at all or Trademark without Disclosure Statement
Update - Thanks to Matt Allen AMALinksPro for providing feedback and based on his research and interpretation of the Operating Agreement this section has been updated.
Everyone knows to include an earnings disclosure but what about a trademark ownership disclaimer?
Amazon Logo and Trademark Disclosure Template:
The correct disclosure to use on every page of your site that has Amazon or an Amazon.com logo is “Amazon and the Amazon logo are trademarks of Amazon.com, Inc. or its affiliates.”
Your Amazon Affiliate Account can get shut down pretty fast if Amazon thinks you’re violating their Trademark and Logo policy. The tricky thing with Amazon is that they actually own the rights to other Trademarks and logos, such as Kindle.
This question comes from probably the most clear requirement on the Amazon Affiliate Program Rules and Trademark Guidelines. You can find them here, or see the snapshot below.
So basically if you have anything that looks like this on your site then Amazon could shut you down:
Amazon and the Amazon logo are trademarks of Amazon.com, Inc, or its affiliates
TIP – Most people have the earnings disclaimer on their site but people (myself included) usually miss having the trademark disclaimer on the required pages.
TIP – Although it looks ugly, if you want to be on the very safe side don't include images and do include the Amazon trademark disclaimer on every page and not just the disclaimer page! This free affiliate plugin gets you setup properly in seconds!
So to answer the question ...
Can I use Amazon logo on my affiliate website?
No, although the operating agreement contradicts itself and there is an argument for being able to use it. I would recommend to NOT use any image for Amazon OTHER than the ones provided and only if you are using an Affiliate link. So what are the images provided by Amazon? Just these beautiful ones from 1994 when Amazon got founded 🙂 ...
To read a much deeper analysis of this and an interesting chat transcript with an Amazon customer support checkout this great post...
The second most common issue is the following question:
“Does the site offer affiliate advertising incentives (including any money, rebate, discount, points, donation to charity or other organization) for using Affiliate Links on the site?”
Many of the niche website affiliate marketing tricks need to be dialled back when it comes to staying compliant with the Amazon Affiliate Program Rules.
We have been finding that some of the sites that we have audited provide incentives, especially in the form of money rebates for using their link. Most of the offers we found were clearly only to incentivize the click and had no substance to people looking to claim the “rebate” or “save an additional x%”.
The clean and simple rule is DON’T do it! Incentivizing people to click on a link to Amazon is a slippery slope and a very easy way to get your account shut down. Including text like “ Click here to get 10 dollars off this product” are no good.
Here are some images of what NOT to do (not images from any sites we have reviewed):
THREE - Incorrect Use of Pricing or Product Images
The third most common issue that people have with their sites is incorrectly using product images and/or prices.
Here is the general rule of thumb – don’t include images from Amazon or pricing UNLESS you are pulling them with the Amazon API.
Comparison tables are great but don’t include the price on your site because Amazon products change their prices all the time. Including an old promotion price without realizing that the promotion has expired could also be seen as “inaccurate or misleading advertising” which will also get your account shut down.
Tools such as AMALinks Pro and AAWP will use the Amazon Associates API to automatically pull the price and images.
Below are a couple examples of what not to do ...
Example: You still have this on your site after the promotion ends
Remember: ONLY pull the price or product image using the Amazon API.
FOUR - Link Cloaking
You will not cloak, hide, spoof, or otherwise obscure the URL of your Site containing Special Links (including by use of Redirecting Links) or the user agent of the application in which Content is displayed or used such that we cannot reasonably determine the site or application from which a customer clicks through such Special Link to the Amazon Site.
– Program Participation Requirements, Section 6. (v) “Content on your Site"
The fourth most common issue with Amazon Affiliate sites is the question “Are any links on the site using a link shortener in a manner that makes it unclear that we are linking to an Amazon Site?”. This is listed as 4th but is certainly the most debated issue when it comes to Amazon.
A lot of people do this! I’ve done it. Basically, Amazon doesn’t want you to make it unclear that you are sending a user to Amazon so they have words in their TOC’s that make it questionable to use link shortening/cloaking services.
So can you use Bitly, PrettyLinkPro or Geni.us Link? The truth is it is not 100% clear! Many many people do and Amazon knows they do so it is likely a lower risk (if you take some additional steps), but still not 100% compliant with Amazon.
If you do use one of these URL shorteners you need to take an extra step to ensure that it is clear the link will direct people to Amazon. Here & here is how Geni.us links discusses the use of its tool to stay compliant with Amazon Associates.
The short version is DO NOT use link shorteners like Bitly and PrettyLinksPro. If you are going to use tools like Geni.us links, then use your judgement based on how they recommend you use it.
FIVE - Off Page Promotion (social, email, print, etc)
The fifth most common issue with Amazon Affiliate sites is the question “Does the site engage in any promotional, marketing such as printed material, mailing, SMS, Facebook Ads, Youtube videos, MMS, email or attachment to email, advertising activities on behalf of Amazon or their affiliate sites?”.
This one gets a lot of people flagged because it is very easy for Amazon to check! It is tricky because this essentially makes it impossible to do any kind of email marketing with a link in it.
Even if you are emailing just one friend, be sure to not include an affiliate link in that email.
One solution if you want to make money from Amazon Associates from your email list is to funnel them through a squeeze page (for example a review post for the product on your site).
TIP – If you send out the content of your post in an email newsletter automatically, make sure links are turned off just in case you have an affiliate link in the first paragraph of the article.
“Are any amazon Affiliate Links shared on other social platforms/networks such as Twitter or Facebook?”.
This is a tough one because there are some instances where you CAN share your links on social pages and some where you cannot.
Personally, I recommend just to stay away from all of it.
Many bloggers and influencers get this one wrong trying to generate passive income from their audience.
If you really want to do it, I would go here to learn more about what is acceptable and what isn’t in terms of social sharing.
SIX - Use Star Rating and Reviews
The sixth most common issue with Amazon Affiliate sites is the question “Does the site display or otherwise use any of Amazon’s customer reviews or star ratings, in part or in whole?”.
This is something we see A LOT (and did a lot!).
We see many people using reviews as testimonials, which makes a lot of sense since it gives honest and accurate reviews on a particular product. It also seems tempting because it can add really valuable content to your site which helps your reader.
Another thing that people like to do is use “Star Ratings’. Using star ratings on your site that look like Amazons can be perceived by Amazon as using “their” star ratings and yet another way to get your account closed.
SEVEN - Associate Yourself With Someone Whose Account was Banned
Another tough one to avoid and one we see a lot of sites doing. People will be added as a user to an account and then when that account gets banned, so does theirs.
Here is what the email from Amazon will say:
An account belonging to you (or a person or entity connected or affiliated with you) has previously been closed for violations of the Operating Agreement or one of the other Amazon marketing programs.
The best way to avoid this is simple: DON'T associate yourself with anyone who has had their account banned. If you associate yourself with someone who has had their account banned, it can result in you becoming banned.
Amazon Affiliate Disclosure Template and How to Install
The simplest and fastest way to get the correct disclosure in the proper spot on your website is this free Amazon plugin I had created.
The most commonly discussed topic in terms of staying compliant with the Amazon Associates Agreement is the need for showing you are part of the Amazon Associates program.
It is a critical part of staying compliant and therefore I would not be doing you justice if I did not include the current thoughts on how to maintain compliance.
For an in depth analysis on what Amazon Associate Disclaimer to use, check out Doug form NicheSiteProjects' post here or what Dom Wells wrote at Onfolio here.
There is a surprising amount of debate on how best to handle the Amazon Disclosure requirements.
The Amazon Agreement States:
You must clearly state the following, or any substantially similar statement previously allowed under this Agreement, on your Site or any other location where Amazon may authorize your display or other use of Program Content: “As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.” (Section 5).
Most people therefore include some version of this in the footer or a disclaimer page and think they are good.
Then… Amazon shared an email in 2019 stating:
This is a reminder of your disclosure obligations under the Operating Agreement. Any time you share an affiliate link, it’s important to disclose that to your audience. They will trust you more if you are transparent about where you are directing them and why. To meet the Associate Program's requirements, you must (1) include a legally compliant disclosure with your links and (2) identify yourself on your Site as an Amazon Associate with the language required by the Operating Agreement.
To comply with Federal Trade Commission FTC regulations, your link-level disclosure must be:
Clear. A clear disclosure could be as simple as “(paid link)”, “#ad” or “#CommissionsEarned”.
Conspicuous. It should be placed near any affiliate link or product review in a location that customers will notice easily. They shouldn’t have to hunt for it.
In addition, the Operating Agreement requires that the following statement clearly and conspicuously appears on your Site: “As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.” For social media user-generated content, this statement must be associated with your account.
(Amazon email Oct 2019)
Associates should also consider the relevant social media platform’s guidelines. For example, Associates may use Facebook's Branded Content tool.
So what are you to do now? Where do you place the FTC and Amazon required affiliate earnings disclosure?
The options on where to include the disclosure are shown below along with our recommendation.
Footer Only - Not enough since it won't be above the first affiliate link
Top of Sidebar - Not enough since it won't be above your first affiliate link on mobile
Hello Bar - One solution, but likely overkill as again, it may not show on all mobile and impact user experience.
Identify Each Link - This seems to be what they are after but I would think this HAS to be overkill. Anytime you link to Amazon you include “Commissions Earned”... seems excessive!
Top of Each Page - Safest, but be careful to not end up with your search result showing the disclaimer text instead of your first paragraph or meta description.
How to include your affiliate disclosure but not have Google index it?
Over the last few months I have seen several search results with the top part of the page indexed with the affiliate disclosure. This hurts SEO and provides a poor user experience. The solution to this is to use Google On/Off flags
<!--googleoff: all-->As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.<!--googleon: all-->
Make sure to not end up with this as your search result:
Below is the tool I had created to install the affiliate disclaimer as well as the trademark disclaimer.
Option 1 - Install Disclosure for Amazon Affiliate Plugin
Under 30 seconds to be compliant (free plugin)
This plugin was developed to help us ensure all of our Amazon Affiliate sites are 100% compliant with the FTC disclosure and Amazon earnings disclosure requirements.
The Amazon Associate Disclosure plugin is the fastest and easiest way to get your Amazon Affiliate site fully compliant with both the:
FTC and Amazon required Affiliate Disclosure
Amazon Trademark disclaimer
It places the pre-loaded disclosure text from Amazon in the right locations on your website with the bonus of tagging it so search engines will ignore the disclaimer and rank your content.
Benefits of the Amazon Associate Disclosure Plugin
ONE - Simple Fast and No Setting Changes Required
It is rare that you can use a tool that achieves everything you need it to with so little effort on your end.
With this wordpress plugin in seconds you can have a compliant disclosure properly setup on your site. Simply...
Done - You are compliant
TWO - Proper Google On Off Tags
Many people have recently and correctly moved their affiliate disclosure to the top of their articles. This affiliate disclosure text is incorrectly now being picked up by Google as the page description. This is a large problem for both search rankings and click through rate.
The solution is that using this plugin the Google Off / On tags are properly placed so that the disclosure text will be ignored by Google and your great content will be why they rank your page.
THREE - Fully Editable Text and Customizable Appearance
Although it is not needed and comes installed following your sites design with the text provided by Amazon you can both…
Change the text to add additional disclosures or modify the words however you see fit
Fully customize the section however you see fit
FOUR - Control Globally or on the Page/Post Level
Not every one of your posts/pages likely need the disclosure and you may not want them on every website.
You can easily and efficiently control which of the posts & pages see the disclosure text blocks.
Both global and local level controls are available.
Option 2 - How To Easily Install Affiliate Disclosure on Your WordPress Site with Ad Inserter
Another popular option to ensure each page has the right disclaimer, which takes a little more work but gives you more flexibility, is shown below. This process uses one of the most popular WordPress plugins Ad Inserter. Like the method above it should work with any existing plugins like Yoast SEO, RankMath or Woocomerce plugins.
Ad Inserter plugin is originally developed to inject ads to any pages/posts on WordPress sites. It can also be used to automatically add affiliate disclosures to every post. That's what I am going to walk you through belwo.
Step 1: Log in to your WordPress dashboard and go to Plugins > Add New and search for "Ad Inserter" then click the "Install Now" button.
Step 2: Click the "Activate" button.
You will be directly taken to your Installed Plugins page
Step 3: Click "Settings"
The Ad Inserter settings page will be opened
Step 4: Copy the following HTML code and paste it in the block editor
TIP: a lot of sites are currently having their Amazon Associate disclosure appear in the description within search results. The Google Off/Google On tag solves this problem.
<!--googleoff: all--> <p>As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.</p> <!--googleon: all-->
The two Google off and Google on tags are to prevent Google from indexing the text or the code in between.
Optional: If you would like to change the space around the disclaimer text or to change the font size. So it looks different from the post content. You can select "Custom CSS" from the "Alignment" dropdown box, then click the "Show" button and scroll down until you see the CSS box. Then paste the following CSS code:
margin: -10px 0px 20px 0px; font-size: 80%;
Step 5: Click "Save Settings"
Adding text in the site footer
We can also use the Ad Inserter plugin to add this text to be compliant with Amazon trademark terms.
Step 1: In the Ad Inserter plugin settings page, click on a new Tab. In our case here, Tab #2
Step 2: Paste the following code in the block editor:
<!--googleoff: all--> <p>Amazon and the Amazon logo are trademarks of Amazon.com, Inc, or its affiliates</p> <!--googleon: all-->
Step 3: Select all checkboxes here to display the text in ALL site pages. Then select "Footer" and in alignment dropdown list select "Center"
Step 4: Click "Save Settings"
Complete 35 Question Amazon Affiliate Requirements List (Updated 2021)
Now that you have some context on what Amazon is looking for in terms of compliance, here is a step-by-step procedure you can use to ensure you are staying compliant with Amazon.
If you want to go deeper than the most common issues and be as fully compliant as possible, here is our attempt at turning the Amazon Associates agreements into an actionable list.
To make this process even easier I have had my team turn this into a 100% free to use Google Sheet that you can make a copy of and edit.
After reading every word several times and having my team update the procedure we have been using for the last few years to ensure our sites are staying compliant with the amazon associate program, we were able to come up with some actionable steps.
Here is the complete list of 35 questions to turn the Amazon Associates Operating agreement into an actionable questions list.
There is a service that can complete this task for you here - brandbuilders.io/amazon-associate-audit/
Are there any affiliate disclaimer links that do not include this disclaimer: “Amazon and the Amazon logo are trademarks of Amazon.com, Inc. or its affiliates"?
Has the site displayed or used any trademark or logo of any third party seller on the Amazon Site in connection with any of our Affiliate Links without permission from the seller?
Have any privacy links/affiliates’ trademarks or logos that are included in a Special Link been removed, obscured, altered, or made invisible, illegible, or indecipherable to visitors of the site?
As the user of this site, will you be linked or redirected to any other forms of monetization that include Amazon Affiliate Links other than the Amazon site?
Does the site engage in any promotional, marketing such as printed material, mailing, SMS, MMS, email or attachment to email, advertising activities on behalf of Amazon or their affiliate sites?
Does this site display content that requires us (the website owners) to sublicense or otherwise give any rights in or to any content to any other person or entity?
Do any pages on the site get redirected to a different URL that are not an Amazon Associate IDs or Tags?
Are any Amazon Affiliate Links shared on other social platforms/networks such as Twitter or Facebook?
Within the site’s content, are there any names used within that content, in a manner that implies a person’s or company’s endorsement or sponsorship of, or commercial tie-in with, any product, service?
Have any keywords, search terms, or other identifiers that include the word “Amazon,” or “Kindle,” or any other trademark of Amazon or its affiliates been purchased or registered or used in domain or subdomain, Associate ID’s or Tags?
Does the site offer incentives to increase the conversion rate (including any money, rebate, discount, points, donation to charity or other organization) for using Affiliate Links on the site?
Is the operation of any buttons, links, or other features of the Amazon Site modified, redirected, suppressed, or substituted?
Are there any Affiliate Links used to link to the Amazon Site from references to items on the site that are not products?
Does the site take any action that could reasonably cause any customer confusion as to our relationship with Amazon or as to the site on which any transactions (e.g., search, browse, or order) are occurring?
Are any Affiliate Links or content used in connection with any spyware, malware, virus, worm, Trojan horse, or other malicious or harmful code, or any software application not expressly and knowingly authorized by users?
Does the site frame the Amazon Site, or any part of it, including by display within an integrated web browser (e.g., WebView) within a Mobile Application?
Does the site post any Affiliate Links or other content promoting the Amazon Site within any pop-up or pop-under windows, transitional page ads, or layer ads around or with the display of any site that does not belong to us?
Does the site include any Affiliate Links in any content that you place on the Amazon Site?
Does the site contain functions that might artificially increase advertising fees?
Does the site request, collect, obtain, store, cache, or otherwise use any account information used by customers in connection with any Amazon Site (including any usernames or passwords of Amazon Site customers)?
Does the site have functions that will attempt to intercept or redirect traffic from or on, or divert advertising fees from, any site that participates in the Program.
Does the site artificially generate clicks or impressions or create sessions on the Amazon Site, whether by way of a robot or software program or otherwise?
Does the site display or otherwise use any of Amazon's customer reviews or star ratings, in part or in whole?
Does your site hide, cloak, spoof or otherwise obscure the URL of your site containing Affiliate Links (including by use of a redirecting page)?
Does your site knowingly collect, use, or disclose personal information from children under 13 years of age.
Is the link used on the site missing an Associate ID or “tag”?
Are any links on the site using a shortening service in a manner that makes it unclear that we are linking to an Amazon Site?
Are there any links on the site that are related to limited time promotions that are now expired?
Is there any content that could be perceived as overly promotional or inaccurate advertising?
Do you clearly state the following, or any substantially similar statement previously allowed under this Agreement, on your Site or any other location where Amazon may authorize your display or other use of Program Content: “As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.”?
Does the site have any content relating to products offered on any site other than the Amazon Site, in accordance with the Associates Program Policies?
Within the site’s content, are there any names used in a manner that implies a persona’s or company’s endorsement or sponsorship of, or commercial tie-in with, any product or service?
Does the site state any testimonials from Amazon or third-parties?
Does the site contain functions that cause any page of the Amazon site to open in a customer’s browser other than as a result of the customer clicking on an affiliate link on the site?
How to Recover Your Account
Sometimes despite your best efforts, there is a misunderstanding with Amazon. In those cases, here is an approach to re-open your Amazon affiliate account.
Below is a story shared with me by a reader (and with permission sharing). It is the most in-depth process I have seen.
Make sure to check out his site with more details shared on the steps he took here.
Great post Matjaz and congrats on getting your account re-opened
13.2.2020: email from Amazon that my account was terminated. Reason: -The sources of your traffic are obscured in such a way that we cannot reasonably determine on what Site(s) your Special Links are displayed.
13.2.2020: my first email to email@example.com with the list of my affiliate ids and websites where I’m using them plus my findings of noreferrer attribute.13.2.2020: my second email to firstname.lastname@example.org with two screen recordings showing my two biggest websites and data of clicks/traffic from Google Analytics plus how I’ve fixed noreferrer attribute.
13.2.2020: combined these two emails in an appeal through Associates Customer Service Support page
17.2.2020: got an email from Amazon: We received your appeal regarding the termination of your Associates account. A specialist has reviewed your account, and the decision to terminate your account was found to be correct. As stated previously, under the terms of the Operating Agreement (https://affiliate-program.amazon.com/help/operating/agreement), we may terminate your account at any time, with or without cause. This termination is final and not subject to appeal.
17.2.2020: been on the phone with Amazon Customer Support regarding my problem. No help at all. We don’t have details, and the team that does works only through email. Write to them or appeal again.
17.2.2020: tried to send an appeal through Associates Customer Service Support page only to find out that the Subject option of “Associates account terminated option” now returns not valid or something similar when you want to submit the form
17.2.2020: wrote my combined two emails to the boss himself 🙂 email@example.com … with the subject “Not an appeal, but additional information, please read”
18.2.2020: reapplied to Amazon associates with the same email and data as before, fixed links to new affiliate ids on my biggest website only to find my account closed with no email a few hours later
18.2.2020: wrote my combined two emails to the boss again 🙂
19.2.2020: got a reply with the subject “Your E-mail to Jeff Bezos BC – Re: Not an appeal, but additional information, please read” and message: Thank you for reaching out regarding your concern. We’re currently looking into this issue to make sure the matter is taken care of properly. Please expect a response within two business days.
19.2.2020: got an email from Amazon Associates 1 hour later: This message is to advise you that your Associate account and your previous Advertising Fees have been reinstated. Please accept our apologies for the closure error. We appreciate your patience and understanding in this matter.
To see each step broken down in more detail checkout his post
How to Start a New Amazon Associate Account
So you tried your best not to get banned, you got the nasty letter from Amazon, and even after attempting to plead your innocence, you still are not able to get back into the advertising program.
So time for the last resort … start a new account!
This is not what you need to do if you are opening an Amazon Affiliate account for the first time. It's only something you want to consider if you are starting a new one after your account got closed.
Here are the recommended steps when all else fails:
1. New Computer
Tracking the Mac address of a computer that logs in to Amazon Associates is possible. Having a dedicated Chromebook ONLY for logging into Amazon is a reasonable risk mitigation step.
2. New Internet Connection & VPN using the Incognito/Privacy Browser Tab
A dedicated internet connection for checking your affiliate account is a great option. Instead of needing to “buy” another internet connection, use a coffee shop wifi that is not one of your usual work locations.
3. New Entity, Email, Address, Name, Bank Details
Having all new details when you sign up is obviously critical. Having a new entity, email, address, name, phone number and bank details along with any other information is critical.
4. New Websites and Cross Domain Rel=Canonical Link (don’t 301 redirect)
Sometimes people choose to dial up the risk and 301 redirect a website that has been burned to a new website. Obviously, the 301 redirect can be followed, but isn’t ideal. To be safer and still get the traffic benefit of the old site I recommend a safer approach of using rel=canonical cross domain linking. This process tells the search engine the page that should be ranked is on the new domains BUT if (I think unlikely) someone from Amazon were to visit the burned/banned website it would still appear as normal since it was still live. Here's a great tutorial on cross domain rel=canonical link by Moz here.
This is a last resort ... the recommended path is to be compliant, appeal if you have an issue, and then as a very last resort create a new account for a new entity with new URLs.
This post was written to provide you with some tips and knowledge about the most common Amazon Affiliate site compliance offences. Have a look at your site and see if you’re in violation of any of these! If you have any questions feel free to reach out!
AMALinksPro & a breakdown of what 7 successful affiliate sites are doing wrong. Special thanks to Matt Allen from AMALinksPro for reviewing this guide and providing some recommended changes to stay safer. He has definitely thought A LOT about the Amazon Associates Operating Agreement! His level of knowledge definitely gives me more confidence using AMALinksPro!
In this article, we’re reviewing another content writing service for you to consider – Compose.ly. Compose.ly boasts high-quality written content for your business, written by experienced writers, along with comprehensive SEO optimization. But can they back up these claims? Let’s check it out.
What is Compose.ly?
First thing’s first, what does Compose.ly offer? Compose.ly doesn’t have a service offering that is all that different from most freelance writing services. Their product description is what you’d expect from a custom writing service. Essentially, they work with a vast network of experienced writers to provide all sorts of writing services depending on your business’s needs. Everything from copywriting, to ghostwriting, to blogging, to eBooks, Content.ly can handle it. They offer competitive subscription rates, with the option to be as hands-on or hands-off as you want. They also offer dedicated SEO services, although these services cost extra.
Now that we’ve run through the basics of Compose.ly’s platform, let’s get to the real deal. What do we think of Compose.ly?
The Writing Team: As you can imagine, the quality of the writing you’ll receive from a content writing service is dependent on the quality of the writers, or content specialists. Compose.ly offers fair rates to its writers when stacked against its competition, which helps them attract quality writers. In fact, Compose.ly boasts that they accept less than 1% of the writers who apply for their service.
They also employ writers with a wide range of specializations. They have writers who have experience in just about any topic, from sports to tech to finance and more.
SEO Focus: Unlike many competing content specialists, Compose.ly has a designated focus on delivering SEO friendly content. This was refreshing to see, as many competing content services have a noticeable lack of emphasis on the essential marketing tool. Compose.ly is vague about their SEO techniques, but they claim all their content is SEO edited, with an emphasis on keyword research and optimization. It’s not what you’d expect from a dedicated SEO agency, but it’s pretty good for the price point.
Competitive Pricing: Compared to competing content writing services, Compose.ly’s pricing is competitive. It’s not the cheapest service out there, but it’s not the most expensive either. Regardless, it’s a fair price for what you get from the service. In-House Team of Managers: Unlike many other content services which are fully remote or fully automated, Compose.ly actually has an in-house team of project managers to handle the day-to-day operations of the business. Their in-house team of “content marketing pros” are responsible for working with businesses to establish a content plan, to match projects to writers, customer service, and more. This team ensures that the workflow is smooth and consistent, so you can expect your projects to be completed on-time and up-to-standard.
SEO is Lacking Compared to An Agency: On its home page, Compose.ly brags they are 5 times cheaper than an SEO agency. We think this is an unfair comparison, because an SEO agency offers SEO services which are much more in-depth than what you can expect from Compose.ly. While Compose.ly does produce reliable, high-quality content, their SEO practices pale in comparison to an in-depth agency service.
We think Compose.ly would be better to have not made this comparison in the first place, because they are setting unrealistic expectations for what they actually offer. They do offer basic SEO optimization and keyword research for their content, but it’s not what you’d find at an agency. Writer Quality Varies: As with any content writing service, some writers are better than others. It’s a simple fact of the industry. While Compose.ly does vet their writers extensively, you can still expect quality to vary from project to project. Luckily, Compose.ly offers free edits and re-writes for all of their content.
What Did We Think of Compose.ly?
Overall, we liked Compose.ly. It’s a pretty standard service offering in this competitive industry, but it’s definitely one of the “higher tier” content writing services. Their SEO focus, combined with their intensive vetting process for their writers, means you can expect consistent, high-quality content from each order. On top of this, their in-house team keeps everything running smoothly, and works with you to make a clear, actionable content marketing plan. Turnaround is quick and prices are competitive.
We do think that Compose.ly overplays their SEO techniques a bit, and the choice to compare themselves with SEO agencies seems extreme. Regardless, they do perform simple SEO optimizations on any piece of content they put out, which is more than you can say about a lot of competing content services. Overall, we liked Compose.ly. They’re a standardized content writing service. They didn’t necessarily blow us away in any area, but what they do, they do well, and the emphasis on quality is real.
In this article, we’re running down the top alternatives to one of the most popular content writing services – Textbroker. Textbroker advertises itself as an affordable writing website that offers quality content, but it’s developed a reputation for a somewhat shaky level of quality. For this reason, we’ve created a list of alternatives for you to consider.
What is Textbroker?
If you aren’t familiar with Textbroker, we’ll quickly explain the service.
Textbroker is one of the oldest “content mills” around. Textbroker is a content writing service that offers custom content for business and website owners. Through a freelance platform, the Textbroker team assigns writers to create website content, like blogging, newsletters, products reviews, etc. However, the fact of the matter is that Textbroker works with thousands of writers, which means there is constant content without much supervision or quality assurance. As a result, some have found it increasingly difficult to depend on the quality of written content they receive from Textbroker.
It also doesn’t help that Textbroker consistently positions themselves as one of the “most affordable” content creation services. In other words, a freelance job on Textbroker won’t pay an experienced writer as much as their competing services, which makes it difficult for Textbroker to attract quality writers. And as a business owner looking for quality writers to create website content, you get what you pay for, as the saying goes. For these reasons, many are starting to look elsewhere for content creation. Here are some of our top picks:
Websites Like Textbroker
Writer Access is very similar to Textbroker in many ways. They have a large pool of writers with complex expertise, and they are able to match these writers with your business’s content requirements. Articles are written with your business’s goals in mind, and optimized for SEO. So far, it sounds a lot like your typical content service. The difference with Writer Access is the quality of their writers. Simply put, Writer Access pays better than many competing content services. Writers are paid based on experience level, but it typically is much more than competing content services. Additionally, Writer Access takes a smaller portion of the profits themselves. The result is higher quality writing for competitive prices. Definitely one of our top recommendations.
If you’re looking for a more personalized content creation experience, there’s Content Refined. Content Refined offers personalized content services tailored to your business, and each piece is optimized for SEO – including keyword optimization and relevance. Content Refined provides more individualized service than Textbroker. Content Refined pairs you with a project manager who will work with you to define your business’s goals, and help you create a custom content plan for meeting these goals. From there, they’ll assign the work to a writer well-versed in the subject matter. Content Refined has an extensive editing process, which ensures that the work is relevant, readable, and optimized for SEO.
Upwork is more of a “general freelance marketplace” than a standard content service. You can find all sorts of talent on Upwork, but you’ll have to be specific about it. There are many content writers of various disciplines, and each writer can set their own hourly rate.
If you’re looking to get a writing project completed on Upwork, you’ll submit a proposal, with a detailed explanation of what you want done. Then, freelance professionals can submit an application.
Our recommendation is to be prepared to pay if you want quality. There are many fantastic writers on Upwork, but they won’t come cheap. If you want a serious professional, you need to pay professional rates. Freelance professionals on Upwork are given “ratings” by past clients, so it’s not difficult to tell who the most reliable writers are. Upwork is also ideal for other sorts of freelance projects, including design, artwork, marketing materials, ad copy, and much more.
Scripted is another site that seems to be (no surprise here) quite similar to most of the other sites on this list. Once again, the difference comes down to the quality of writers. Scripted carefully vets its writers, and pays them very competitive rates. The result is a group of writers who are capable of writing quality stuff. As a client, all you need to do is join Scripted, tell them what you’re looking for (goals, CTAs, etc.), and they’ll use their SmartMatch system to pair you up with a writer to handle your work. It’s all pretty streamlined and intuitive, and we’ve been happy with the results. They’re trusted by some pretty major brands, including Adidas, LinkedIn, and IBM.
Verblio has a rather unique setup in that, once a writer is “vetted” by the service, they are free to take on just about any proposal submitted by a client. However, other writers can also choose to handle the same proposals, and the client only needs to accept one. In essence, writers “compete” for your business on Verblio. You review the submissions, and choose the ones you like best. If you particularly like the work of a certain writer, you can get in touch and work on more projects going forward. There’s a lot of quality writing to be found on Verblio if you’re willing to dig for it. So long as you don’t mind reviewing multiple submissions at a time, you’ll be happy with the quality of the work you get.
Making Your Choice
As you can see, there are many options at your disposal. Our top recommendation is to fully outline your content needs and business goals before you begin. You can’t buy proper content for your business if you’re unsure the type of content you are looking for. You need to know your business’s target market, what you’re trying to achieve with your content, and how you want these messages communicated. You won’t be satisfied with any content service if you are unable to communicate what you are looking for.
And remember, quality doesn’t come cheap. If a service looks too good to be true, it likely is. If the content service isn’t offering fair compensation, then the content you receive will be lacking in quality. That being said, we hope we’ve made this process easier for you going forward! There are many great choices out there for quality content, you just need to know where to look.
In this article, we’re examining two popular content writing services – Crowd Content and TextBroker. Both services have developed a presence in the content marketing world, and we’ll look at the quality level of both, to help you decide what custom content works best for you as a business owner.
Crowd Content Overview
First up, we have Crowd Content. Crowd Content has a streamlined business model, allowing clients to purchase content of varying types, written by expert writers. Crowd Content specializes in blog post and article content, website content, SEO content, press releases, and other content of that nature.
Crowd Content boasts an extremely simple user interface, and clients can order content in a matter of minutes. There is a one-page order form which prods clients with a few key questions about their content requirements – making sure the content matches their branding, tone, and target audience. From there, a content brief is sent to a freelance writer with the relevant expertise, who finishes the writing assignment in a matter of days. Clients are free to message the writer with revisions, touch-ups, or anything they forgot to include in the brief. While we do appreciate Crowd Content’s simplistic approach, some clients might find it too simplistic. The one-page order form doesn’t leave a lot of room for custom content requirements, or to go fully in-depth about certain content needs. Additionally, Crowd Content’s content writing procedure is very straightforward, and lacks the SEO optimization that we’ve seen with competing services.
Quality of Content
Crowd Content’s quality assurance is impressive, but not the most stringent we’ve come across. Crowd Content claims to accept under 10% of freelance writers who apply. This guarantees a certain level of quality, but it’s also far from the 1% or 2% standard we’ve seen at content services such as Compose.ly, Scripted, and Verblio. It also costs less than most of those services, so you’ll have to balance quality expectations against the amount you want to shell out.
TextBroker, upon first examination, appears to have a strikingly similar business model to Crowd Content. TextBroker offers content of various types, including blogs, web content, press releases, and more. Clients sign up for TextBroker, and use their intuitive platform to outline their content needs. From there, the work is shipped off to a writer that handles the content, usually delivering the content within a few days. It’s standard stuff as far as content writing services are concerned.
When you did a little deeper, you might notice one major difference about TextBroker, it’s very cheap. Content starts at 1.5 cents/word, depending on the plan you choose. Even with more “expensive” plans, it hovers around 2.5 cents/word. So even at their “high-end” pricing rate of 2.5 cents/word, 1000 words of content will cost about $25 (plus a small processing fee). Compare this to Crowd Content’s rate of $80/1000 words, and you start to see how inexpensive TextBroker is.
And while this may sound great at first, you have to consider that someone is behind the scenes, writing your content. If you’re paying so little, you can assume they are being paid even less. It’s not to say that TextBroker employs bad writers, just that it seems very difficult to maintain a motivated workforce while paying pennies on the dollar. With content services, you have to do some digging to find a service that matches your business needs. But at a certain point, you get what you pay for. You can’t expect top-quality content at rock bottom prices. You might luck out and be matched with a fantastic writer, but you can’t be surprised if the opposite occurs.
Which Do We Prefer?
For us, the choice is obvious. Quality content is a bare minimum expectation from a content writing service, and there’s only one option that meets this requirement. TextBroker costs significantly more, but there’s a much higher likelihood you’ll be satisfied with what’s delivered.
Remember that there’s an onus on you, the client, during this process as well. Before you hire a content writing service, you need to know what you want. You need to have in-depth knowledge of your business goals, target market, and brand voice. This knowledge needs to be communicated from the outset, so that content can be created which satisfies these stipulations. With this in mind, shop around and find the service that works best for you. Thanks for reading our head-to-head comparison of Crowd Content vs. TextBroker. Good luck meeting your content goals!