Amazon Changes Affiliate Program Eliminating Higher Commissions for Successful Affiliates

Amazon just announced a huge change to its affiliate program and you need to know what is happening.

It is one of the biggest changes I’ve see, and my first Amazon commission was paid in October 2000.

The tiered affiliate program where you make more the more you refer is going away.

Instead, it will be flat fees for categories.

Worse, the fees are down and the default flat fee is only 4% – what Amazon used to pay a brand new affiliate referring only one sale.

Here is the current fee agreement:

amazon affiliate commission rate

Tiered commissions range from 4 to 8.5%.

Here is the new fee agreement effective March 1, 2-17:

amazon affilliate payment

4% is the default commission for products no matter how many you refer.

3.0% – Toys
4.5% – Health, kitchen auto
5.5% – Outdoor, tools
6.0% – Beauty, business, industrial (industrial was 8 and used to be 12)
7.0% – Apparel and accessories
8.0% – Furniture, home, garden, pets

Who benefits and who loses?

If you were a small affiliate you can now make more by promoting the 6%+ categories.

If you were a large affiliate you will be making less.

Many large and successful affiliates will be clobbered with up to a 56% decrease in income depending on what they were promoting.

Expect to see ramifications throughout the industry. Ebay and major merchants now have a green light to further decrease their commissions in the name of “being competitive”.

Expect to see affiliates abandoning promotions for many Amazon products and focusing narrowly on only certain categories, or seeking out different affiliate opportunities.

A few Amazon sellers will be wondering what happened to their traffic and sales.

Now is the time to re-evaluate your Amazon participation and what products you are promoting.

Gazing into my crystal ball, expect to see the 8% furniture category go down to 6-7% in the future.

Posted in Affiliate Marketing, Amazon

How to Cloak Affiliate Links

When someone talks about “cloaking” affiliate links there are two possible issues:

First, that they do not want visitors to see their affiliate link.

Let’s face it – many affiliate links are long, ugly, and a visual turn-off.

Worse, someone may be concerned about being scammed if they can see the link.

This issue is common with ClickBank affiliate links, and some other affiliate programs with long links having plenty of variables and options.

This situation of “customer satisfaction” is easily resolved by creating a redirect link.

What happens is you create a nice looking link, such as and that page then redirects to the desired destination with your affiliate link. This is accomplished by using html or php as you prefer and is quick and easy to setup.

Second, a more important issue is the affiliate marketer does not want Google to see their affiliate link.

Why, because Google hates affiliate sites. Some of Google’s webmaster guidelines have special rules just for affiliates. Merchants can get away with “thin” content. Not affiliates.

Just how does Google know you are an affiliate? By seeing your affiliate link.

If you are using a redirect as previously discussed the Googlebot simply follows the redirect and gets your affiliate link.

Just like that your site is toast.

So how do you cloak affiliate links where you have an affiliate link that works, but Google does not see it?

Traditional “cloaking” involves showing Content A on your website to human visitors to get conversions, but Content B on your website for SEO purposes. This has long been a disfavored practice leading to Google bans if discovered. That is traditional cloaking.

What what is often referred to today is a practice where the same content is shown to the Googlebot and human visitors, but Google does not “see” a link and human visitors do. Perfectly “legal” per Google’s rules, these practices take advantage of differences between how bots and human interact with and display a site.

There are two main scripts which do this “cloaking” – both of which have been around for years and have been thoroughly used.

Squeeze Links is for html sites. This is the oldest script and still works great today. You will need some basic experience modifying a couple files and uploading them to your website.

Elf Links is a fantastic WordPress plugin. It works as a link manager, has an “Autobot” option for automatically converting links, and another advanced option that doesn’t even create links until someone clicks on your Elf Code. Yeah, its a bit mindboggling, which is why million dollar affiliates use this plugin.

Depending on your needs either of these options will show you how to cloak affiliate links for the most important purpose: keeping your site from being tagged as an affiliate site.

Your search rankings, and pocketbook, depend on it.

Posted in Affiliate Marketing, Google

Affiliate Suicide

I love affiliate marketing, but always thought about the long term implication of promoting just one merchant as being the best. Basically, telling visitors to go visit that merchant instead of the affiliate site – unless there was something really compelling on the affiliate site.

Well … millions of affiliate marketers have been doing that for years. Putting up “review” sites telling people over and over and over to go shop at Amazon.

And here we are …

Most consumers now use Amazon as the starting point for their product shopping. (See references at

I’ve read the referenced reports. The one least favorable to Amazon found:

38% start with Amazon

35% head to a search engine

21% go to a retailer website

6% start with other (ebay, etsy, jet, etc. are mentioned)

So where does that leave affiliates relying on search rankings for traffic? Which is where most affiliates are. Even the “build a list” suggestion requires initial traffic from somewhere.

Affiliates are battling for the 35% of visitors using search engines.

Within that 35% is the battle for search listings with:

1. Google Adwords

2. Google Products

3. Amazon listings

4. Retailer listings

5. Ebay

6. Pinterest and social sites

7. Other affiliates

Looks bleak.


- Don’t be looking to do the minimum of putting up thin content, or spinning the merchant’s product review and putting up a link to Amazon. Do some real research and analysis comparing products, features, prices and sites.

- Don’t let Amazon be your only affiliate program. Fact is, long gone are the days when Amazon was the low priced option. It’s not. You can save your customers some money by recommending alternatives where you also have an affiliate relationship. And get a higher commission rate. And get a longer cookie period too. Does Amazon convert well? Yes. But you need to actually test to see what makes you the most money.

- Don’t just target generic keywords. The more specific you can get the more likely you are to get visitors who are closer to the end of their pre-buying analysis. Example: “Toaster” versus “Best 4 Slot Silver Toaster”. The key factor to remember – which many affiliates forget – is your goal is not traffic. Your goal is making money. 10 visitors making you $50 for longtail, well thought out keywords are worth more than 1000 visitors making you $0.

Consider 2nd Option Traffic

While most now start their shopping with Amazon that doesn’t mean that is the beginning and end of their shopping. For a good percentage that is true. But some of Amazon’s 38% will then do a second search on search engines looking to validate whether to (1) buy that product, and (2) buy on Amazon or not. They will be looking for best prices and in-depth reviews providing information not found on Amazon.

This would be a good focus for affiliates.

You can use Amazon reviews as a starting point for questions people have about a product. Other sites also have reviews. You should also brainstorm questions you would have if you were looking to buy. Having the most extensive question and answer page about a product, which then helps guide people to the right product to buy for them, makes for a nice, valuable, money-making page.

Amazon has only a one-day referral cookie anyway, so targeting people just starting their shopping may get traffic but fewer paid conversions compared to writing your content for someone who has already done some due diligence and knows what they want to buy, and is now looking for a best price, or best warranty, or answer to a questions, etc.

You can refer this traffic back to Amazon with your affiliate link. You can refer it to other merchants.

Note: You may want to not tell visitors on your web page you are linking to Amazon. If the person has already visited Amazon and sees you are simply saying go buy on Amazon, they are less likely to click your link. Why should they?

Other Helpful Ideas and Reports

Add your own products to your website. Sure, being an affiliate is great, but if you can add the right product to your site and sell directly – thus making money from every sale and not only when a purchase is made within your referral period – why not? Your own product could be a downloadable report. It could be a simple but related product. Be creative.

This old but good report reviews buying low and selling for profit. A lot of affiliates could increase their bottom line by adding a second profit stream to their sites:

Lost Niche Profits is the ultimate guide to minimizing the competition problem. Get niches with little to no competition from Google Adwords, Google Products, social sites and other websites. Not just little to no competition, but the buyers are rabid. Its perfect: high conversions and low competition:

Product Review Formula helps affiliates write product reviews that are useful, informative, answer buyers questions, direct people to the right product for them, and which can add a ton of unique words to your pages that search engines love –

SEO for Amazon Affiliate Sites has specific information for Amazon affiliates to make their pages better so they rank higher for free search traffic –

Posted in Affiliate Marketing, Google, SEO
Free Money Making Tips!

Enter Your Email Below to Subscribe to the Kick Butt Newsletter

We hate spam as much as you do!