Interested in a Legal Amazon Link Shortener?
I was curious to know what was legal and what wasn't when it came to using an Amazon Link Shortener. Many affiliate and advertising programs have rules, and some enforce them strictly. Google AdSense, for example, has very little sense of humor if they feel you've violated their program policies. Like Google, Amazon doesn't give its associates much breathing room when it comes to their Operating Agreement. It's pretty just one strike and you're out, banned for life. So I traded emails with the staff for the Amazon Associates program in an effort to sort it all out.
Language to go on any site which has Amazon affiliate links on it
The first response I got from Amazon didn't actually speak to an Amazon link shortener. Instead, Amazon emphasized the need to have specific language to meet the terms of their Operating agreement. More specifically, their response stated:
You need to clearly state the following on your sites: “[name of site] 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 Amazon.com.“
This statement should be placed on a main page that includes links that refer your visitors to Amazon.com. You only need to post this information once within the same website.
Is Pretty Links an acceptable Amazon link shortener?
Pretty links is a WordPress plugin that seems to be just the ticket to use as an Amazon link shortener, so I asked about it in my next email to Amazon. The answer I got was a bit of good news and a bit of bad news:
The Associates Program Operating Agreement doesn't prohibit the use of shortening services provided that the service doesn’t use methods which violate the Associates Program Operating Agreement, such as framing the Amazon site or automatically tagging sessions with your Associates ID.
You must clearly state that the link in question will take the user to the Amazon site when clicked and ensure that the site on which you are posting the links includes the required statement to identify yourself as an Associate. You must also be able to provide detailed information about the site(s) on which your links have been posted if we request it.
Unfortunately, Dave C. went on to write that
Additionally, Associates links shouldn't be cloaked. “Pretty Link” would be considered a cloaking tool. For more information, please view Participation Requirement 30 at:
Dave C. (continued)
So… the good news is that it is possible to use an Amazon link shortener. Manually shortening every link with a service such as Bit.ly would be a pain. In addition, you wouldn't realize the other benefits that Pretty Links can provide, such as tracking. I know Pretty Links can be used in a variety of ways to shorten Amazon links, and I know that some of those methods violate the Operating Agreement. The burning question in my mind is – are all Pretty Links' methods illegal in Amazon's eyes?
Approved at Last
It was time to send another email to the good folks at the Amazon Associates program. I didn't call off Pretty Links by name, but instead addressed the mechanism I intended to use. My final email to Amazon Associates read as follows:
I take this to mean that it is acceptable to send a visitor to Amazon using a link such as mysite.com/GoProHero4 – if certain conditions are met:
– The anchor text must clearly inform the visitor that they will be sent to Amazon
– The link must clearly inform Amazon that the visitor came from my web site.
For example, rather than <a href=”http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00NIYJF6U/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B00NIYJF6U&linkCode=as2&tag=lifeslargech-20&linkId=3ZZ7XLL7RCJS5FHH”>GoPro HERO4 SILVER</a> the link I'm proposing would simply appear as <a href=”http://mysite.com/GoProHero4″>best price at Amazon</a> by using a 307 redirect.
To break down that last bit of code, the Amazon link (shown in brown) would have anchor text reading “GoPro HERO4 SILVER“. When you hover your mouse over that anchor text, you'd see the link in the corner of the browser – http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00NIYJF6U/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B00NIYJF6U&linkCode=as2&tag=lifeslargech-20&linkId=3ZZ7XLL7RCJS5FHH. Yech!
Making the link easy on the eyes
My proposed link (shown in blue, to be made with Pretty Link) would have anchor text which reads “best price at Amazon“. The link which appears when you hover over that anchor text would read simply http://mysite.com/GoProHero4. Yeah!
The staff at the Amazon Associate program agreed with me:
Yes, you would be able to link the “GoPro” (as example) in the manner you indicated as it would be within the rules of our operating agreement.
I hope this helps! Have a great day!
Zac W. agreed that by using anchor text which clearly indicated I was sending my site visitor to Amazon, I'd meet the first requirement for Participation Requirement 30. He also agreed with me that by using a 307 redirect, Amazon would have no trouble recognizing that the visitor to Amazon had come from my site.
The Bottom Line – Success!!
My correspondence with the staff at Amazon Associates clearly indicated that you can shorten your Amazon affiliate links using Pretty Links, under the following conditions:
- You must have the appropriate language indicated above on at least one page of your site – a main page that includes links that refer your visitors to Amazon.com. My suggestion is that you simply include the language in your footer to ensure compliance.
- You must use anchor text for your link that clearly indicates to your site visitor that they are being sent to Amazon.com if they click the link. The actual language can vary, but you should have the word “Amazon” in it somewhere.
- You must use an accepted redirect method to send the visitor to Amazon, for example a 307 (temporary) redirect. When the visitor arrives at Amazon, it must be apparent to Amazon that the visitor came from your site. Pretty Link is capable of fulfilling this last requirement. Note that you can also set Pretty Link to create a redirect which VIOLATES the Amazon Operating Agreement. It's up to you to ensure you create a 307 redirect with Pretty Link.
So there you have it. You can use Pretty Link as an Amazon Link shortener – but you have to ensure you've met all three conditions listed above.
Now go forth and sell!
Comments or Questions?
Do you have a question or comment about how to use Pretty Link as an Amazon link shortener? Spell it out in the comment box below and let it fly!