Amazon Affiliates can be a great way of monetizing a website because of the huge product range and customer’s familiarity with Amazon, but unfortunately not all applications to the program are accepted.
What usually happens is that you do get access to the links as soon as you sign up, but once you refer a couple of sales through your links within the first 6 months, someone from Amazon will come and review your site and decide whether to fully approve your application more permanently.
If they decide, for whatever reason, that your website doesn’t meet their requirements, they can choose to reject your application. Here is a letter I got a few years ago for one of my sites:
Getting rejected by Amazon Affiliates is not the end of the world. Unless you have broken some serious rules, you’ll always be allowed to reapply at a later date.
More often that not, it’s simply due to the quality of your website and content.
Here are the main reasons Amazon Affiliates may have rejected your application:
- Poor website design
- Not enough content (aim for minimum 10 articles)
- Not enough sales (need minimum 3 in first 180 days)
- Poor quality, thin content
- Over-monetization (too many ads/affiliate links)
- Not following the Amazon Operating Agreement for affiliates.
We’ll go through each of these points in more detail, but also make concrete suggestions for readers to improve their site so it can get accepted to the program.
Reason #1 – Poor Website Design
This is a major reason for rejection – they don’t like the look of your site. When you initially sign up to the program, they usually don’t come and look at your site. They wait until you drive 3 or more sales as per their agreement, and then they come and take a look and decide whether to approve your site or not.
If your site just looks old, or messy, or doesn’t work properly, they may reject your application. As a first hurdle, make sure your site is actually up and running.
Then here are some other boxes to check:
- Make sure the site looks good, with a nice, clean, modern looking theme. See our Themes page for some good options (Acabado from Income School is terrific).
- Make sure it loads reasonably fast and works properly on mobile and tablet as well as desktop.
- Make sure you actually submitted a website in your initial application. Amazon generally don’t like you applying to their program with just social media accounts and no website at all.
- For site speed, make sure you are using proper hosting from a reputable provider. Don’t use hosting that is bundled in by domain providers, because it’s often slow.
- Make sure the user experience is generally clean and uncluttered. We’ll cover this in more detail further below.
Make sure your website has a nice, clean design that looks good on all devices
Reason #2 – Not Enough Content
This is another reason – not enough content. If you only have a few posts on your site, then it may get rejected. Maybe you sign up straight away, but get a few friends and family to use the links to get you to the 3 minimum sales to trigger the review (this is against the rules, but does happen).
But if you’ve not even got enough content on your site, then they not want you onboard yet.
There isn’t a hard and fast number Amazon give, but I’d recommend having at least 10 articles on your site before applying to Amazon Affiliates. Make sure it’s good quality content as well; we’ll cover this in more detail below.
Reason #3 – Not Enough Sales
I’ve been caught with this a few times. I signed up too early to the program initially, and it took me longer than expected to start driving traffic.
The rule on this is that you must drive a minimum of 3 sales to Amazon within the first 180 days of signing up. These must be 3 separate sales from 3 separate people as well.
Only once you hit this minimum do they come and look at your site. If you don’t then you just get rejected right away after 180 days.
This isn’t the end of the world – you can reapply, although you’ll be given a new affiliate ID and so you’ll have to go back and change all your links.
This goes back to having enough content to drive clicks and sales, and also being aware that it does take a while to build traffic on a new site.
In this regard, make sure you produce at least 30 articles in your initial batch of content. Just having a few posts here and there likely won’t drive enough sales.
Also be sure to do proper keyword research to make sure you are writing article in topics you can rank for, not on super-competitive keywords that you’ll never rank for on a new site.
If you have got a lot of content and traffic, but are either not getting clicks or conversions, then here are some other things to consider:
- Make sure your links clearly tell the reader they are going to Amazon.
- Make sure you are being fair and balanced in your writing, promoting both the pros and cons of products.
- Make sure that you are not promoting products that don’t offer commissions. Check the commissions structure page for more details. Wine and vouchers are two notable ones.
- Be sure to sell your links well, giving the reader a clear reason to click and buy the product. Let then know how it’s helping them solve a problem.
- Be aware that the customer must purchase something within 24 hours of clicking one of your links for you to be credited.
- Related to this, make sure the products you are promoting are in the right price range and not too expensive that they are rarely going to buy within 24 hours. From $20 to a few hundred dollar is a good range.
More generally, it is also important to be aware of how the general process of ranking works on new websites.
Typically, it will take an article on a new site around 9 months to reach the peak of it’s ranking. Sometimes it’s less time, sometimes it’s more time, but in general driving traffic to blogs does require a lot of patience.
This should factor into your decision of how soon to apply to the program. If you are confident you can keep turning out content and drive at least a few sales in the first 6 months, then apply straight away; otherwise wait 3-6 months before applying if you like.
Reason #4 – Poor Content
This is another reason you can be rejected. If the content is thin and of poor quality, and isn’t created with the user in mind, Amazon will not like this and may reject your site.
Here are some best practices here:
- Make sure you’ve got plenty of content up there.
- Make sure it’s good quality, original content, lengthy and well written and formatted.
- Make sure it’s primary focus is on helping the reader and not on relentlessly selling products at every opportunity.
- Have some articles on your site that are purely informative as well, with no affiliate links at all.
- Avoid short, thin content that isn’t really a complete answer to a query.
- See our article on creating good content for more on this.
Reason # 5 – Over-monetization
This links a little bit to the last point in that poor quality content is often over-monetized and not focused on the user.
Here are some things to avoid here:
- Dont put too many affiliate links in articles. Use them sparingly and where it makes sense.
- See our article on the appropriate use of affiliate links in blog posts.
- It is a good idea also to create Resources/Recommended Gear pages with all your favorite affiliate products, and link over to these instead to reduce the number of affiliate links in your actual posts.
- Make sure you are only linking to products relevant to the niche of your website, and not to completely unrelated products just to try and get a commission.
- Also make sure your site isn’t overly monetized with ads and popups that clutter up the page and lead to slow load times, content being blocked and a bad user experience in general.
Reason # 6 – Not Following the Operating Agreement
This is another thing to make sure of. The Amazon Affiliate Operating Agreement is long and complex, and if you are obviously in violation of a certain term in this agreement, they may reject your site.
In fairness, much of the rules are just common sense, but there are a lot of them!
Here are just some (not all) of the things you need to do (or avoid doing) with Amazon Affiliates:
- Link to specific, in stock products relevant to your website.
- Don’t link to too many out of stock products. Amend any long term out of stock links.
- Be honest and balanced in the way you promote products.
- Do not download images off Amazon and then reupload them to your site. Use the image Sitestripe to pull images off their site, copying and pasting the image code over to your site.
- Do NOT mention specific review scores or specific customers by name.
- Do not list prices unless using the live API, because they are subject to change. Just put something like “check price on Amazon”. I believe the API is also being phased out.
- Clearly tell the reader that every link goes to Amazon (eg. “click here to view on Amazon)
- Make sure you have clear affiliate disclaimers in the sidebar and footer of your blog (“As an Amazon Affiliate, I earn from qualifying purchases”)
- Only put Amazon links on publicly available platforms like blogs and not password protected forums or such like.
- Do not put affiliate links in emails; only in blog posts/pages.
- Do not use link cloakers like bit.ly links.
- Do not place affiliate links within content primarily aimed at children under 13 years of age.
- Do not get friends and family to use your links.
- See the full operating agreement for the amazon.com program for more details and also for other storefronts if relevant.
This list is NOT exhaustive, as the operating agreement is very complex; see our full detailed article on how to avoid getting banned from the Amazon Affiliates program for more on this.
Hopefully, if you do get rejected because you broke one of their rules, then you’d hope they would tell you why in their rejection email, but unfortunately they don’t always.
Let’s summarize what we’ve said so far and give a few quick bullet points of the main boxes to check to get approved by the Amazon Affiliate program.
It’s best not to apply to the program until:
- You have a nice looking, fast loading, clean site.
- You have a decent batch of content.
- This content is high quality and produced with the user in mind.
- Your site is not overly monetized.
- You are aware of the Operating Agreement and are following the rules.
You don’t need to give up on this if you get rejected by Amazon Affiliates; plenty of bloggers have had to apply two, three or even four times before they were accepted. I’ve been rejected a couple of times for not meeting the minimum sales, simply because I underestimated how long it takes to drive traffic to a website.
Keep working on your site and your content and you’ll get accepted eventually.
See the video below for some more suggestions on this topic.