The Amazon Associate affiliate program remains one of the most popular affiliate programs to date.
There are over 95 million Amazon Prime members and and an average of $1.4k spent by each member annually according to Statista. There’s a greater chance of affiliates to earn commissions, as a result.
If you plan on becoming an Amazon Associate, you must learn how successful marketers use affiliate links to great effect.
In this post, we’ll look into how you can tell if a website is using an Amazon affiliate link. Aside from learning how you can maximize your earnings, you also get to see what goes against Amazon’s policy.
Regular Amazon Affiliate Link
For starters, affiliate links are URLs that contain a unique affiliate ID. Using these links, the affiliate program can detect which affiliate is sending the sales.
Amazon affiliate links work the same way. Each affiliate link generated from the platform will contain the affiliate ID, among other elements.
Here’s the standard structure of an Amazon product link: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00Q70RCW6/
- dp – detail product
- B00Q70RCW6 – product ID/ASIN number
Here’s an Amazon affiliate link for the same product: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00Q70RCW6?tag=xxxxxxx-20
The structure is the same but with the addition of “?tag=xxxxxxx-20” at the end. The “xxxxxxx-20” after the “=” sign is your affiliate ID.
The simplest way to create your Amazon affiliate links is by appending your tag ID at the end of Amazon product links, as discussed above. However, you can also use SiteStripe to create Amazon affiliate links.
To create one, log in to your Amazon Associates Central account and visit a product page you want to promote. On the top part of the page, you will see the SiteStripe menu. Click on the Get Link: Text and select the Full Link radio button.
Using your Amazon affiliate link is the only way you can earn commission from every successful customer you refer. However, the links don’t look appealing and memorable at all. Both are important because some users can type the URL of the link in case they weren’t able to click on it the first time.
This is where shortened links come in handy.
Aside from making your links easier to remember, using URL shorteners like Bit.ly allows you to track and monitor the number of clicks each link has. This allows marketers to see how effective their campaign of promoting the links was.
Over time, however, shortened links have become associated with spam. Some people use URL shorteners to hide their malicious links and get more people to click on them.
Even if you’re using shortened links legitimately for affiliate marketing, users would avoid clicking on your link. Even browsers and tools are barring users to visit the page from certain URL shortening services.
More importantly, Amazon forbids the use of URL shorteners to promote their links. Its Associate Program Policies states that:
You will not use a link shortening service, button, hyperlink or other ad placement in a manner that makes it unclear that you are linking to an Amazon Site.
If you want to shorten Amazon affiliate links, use its built-in URL shortener from SiteStripe instead. Make sure you are logged into your Associates Central dashboard. Now open any product on Amazon and click on Get Link: Text on the SiteStripe bar and select the Short Link radio button.
To know if the shortened link is an affiliate link, you must click on it, which redirects you to the regular Amazon affiliate link like the one we discussed above.
And regarding tracking the number of clicks the links generate, you can go to your Earnings Overview from your Amazon Associates Central dashboard.
A different form of link shortening is link cloaking. This is a common practice among affiliate marketers who want to make their links shorter without the hassle that URL shorteners bring.
To do this, you must have a self-hosted website (ideally built on WordPress) and use link management plugins like ThirstyAffiliates and Pretty Link.
One of the primary functions of these plugins is to shorten your link using your domain name. Therefore, instead of using an affiliate link with a long URL, you can create affiliate links that look like these:
The beauty of link cloaking is you can brand the URL using your domain name. This way, users will treat the link as an extension of your brand. If they trust your website, there’s a high likelihood that they will click on your link as well.
Also, web browsers won’t flag your links unless you have a spammy website.
However, Amazon’s stand regarding the use of link cloaking on its affiliate links is firm. From its Associate Program Policies again:
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 Program 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 an Amazon Site.
Therefore, you can’t cloak Amazon affiliate links unless you want to risk losing your associates account.
However, this won’t stop some people from cloaking their Amazon affiliate links anyway, whether it’s from not knowing about the policy or just ignoring it.
Regardless, you can find out if the cloaked link if an Amazon affiliate link or not by clicking on it or entering the URL on your browser. It will redirect you to the Amazon page, where you can analyze the final target link – if it has a tag ID, it means it’s an Amazno affiliate link.