During my online “career” I have built several sites monetized with Amazon Associates. In fact, 3 of the largest case studies I've done on my site here (Niche Site Project 1, Niche Site Project 2, and NSP 3 ) all involved building Amazon affiliate sites from scratch.
During my years of building these sites, I've picked up a few tactics and techniques to help me earn more in affiliate commissions from the Amazon affiliate program. Some of these strategies are simple on-page “hacks”, while other are bigger pictures ways of thinking about your business.
I originally published this list near the beginning of 2015, and while many things haven't changed I thought I should share some additional strategies that are working in 2018 and beyond.
First Things First
I've heard stories of different marketers who have had their Amazon Associates accounts banned because of violating terms of service. While I've done my best to ensure this guide is up to date and all of my tips are in compliance with their latest requirements for the Amazon affiliate program, here are a couple of excellent articles to check out that help clear up some of the mistakes people make (sometimes unknowingly) that result in a banned account:
Now that we've moved past the disclaimer portion of the article, let's talk about how you can maximize your Amazon Associates earnings:
Use Eye-Catching Comparison Charts
When I first started my survival knife site (from Niche Site Project 1), I wanted to make my site better than the others that were ranking at the top of Google. One of the ways that I decided to make my site stand out was by creating a comparison chart of the top survival knives on the market.
This produced great results for me not only in terms of quality content, but I found that more people starting buying as they compared using the chart I had created. Since then, I don't know if I started a bit of a trend, but nearly every Amazon affiliate site I see now uses many of the same comparison chart tactics.
I've written an in-depth guide on how to create your own Amazon product comparison charts right here.
Update: I was so tired of how long it took to create Amazon comparison charts that I created my own tool to make it super fast & simple. It's called Table Labs and you can click here to check it out.
Personalize Your Recommendations
One strategy we've implemented this year on a site that currently makes over $3,000 per month is actually “quizzing” our visitors to find out what kind of product would suit them best.
By using Thrive Leads (made by one of our favorite theme developers) we set up a multi-step pop-up box that starts by asking a question about a problem that we know many of our visitors have. If they say “yes” we then ask a couple more clarifying questions about their personal preferences, and then at the end we drop them on a landing page that delivers a personalized product recommendation (Amazon affiliate link) based on their answers.
While it sounds complicated, setting up a multi-step opt in is actually fairly simple with Thrive Leads. The beautiful part about it is that you're also giving yourself a chance to not only get a click, but also convert better since you really are delivering value to the reader by showing them a product that can help.
Follow-up via Email
While adding Amazon affiliate links directly into an email is a no-no, that doesn't mean you can't and shouldn't follow-up with your readers and drive them back to your blog (where you do have affiliate links).
We actually use this in tandem with the first strategy of quizzing our visitors and delivering personalized recommendations.
So at the end of our 3 question quiz, we ask people to put in their email address in order to see their results. When they do, we take them straight to a landing page, but we also use an email auto-responder to deliver an email.
The great thing is, you don't have to deliver a generic email because you do actually know a few things about your visitor and what they want. So you can send an email that says something like “Thanks for sharing what your needs are in a gas grill! We hope our personal recommendation was a winner, but if not click here to read our full guide to buying the right gas grill.”
By doing that, you've got another opportunity to show products to that person who is a very targeted visitor.
If you don't already have an email service, click here to check out one of my favorites, Aweber.
Target “Buying” Keywords
When people shop online, they go through a process of general queries to more specific queries. You want to target phrases that people are searching for when they are closer to that buying stage.
For example, let's say you have a site about sleeping bags. Instead of targeting phrases that are more general like, “sleeping bags” or “what is a sleeping bag”, you should target phrases where you know people are likely shopping…such as “best sleeping bags” or “sleeping bags under $100”.
These searchers are clearly looking for more information in order to make a purchase decision. You will get a much higher conversion rate (commissions!) when you get this kind of traffic on your site.
Another great buying keyword is one that compares one product to another.
For example, “iphone camera vs. samsung galaxy.”
As a member of the Amazon affiliate program, you could put together a really in-depth comparison of the camera features on each of these leading smartphones and then simply link over to Amazon for whichever one they choose to buy.
Again, if a searcher has already narrowed it down between a couple of different products – that usually means they are ready to make a purchase.
If you can get them on your website to compare the key features, that might just end up with some more money in your pocket!
Target Long Tail Keywords…Even with Low Search Volume
Yes, this is similar to the first point; however, it's important to take this one step further. Don't just stop at “best sleeping bags” or “sleeping bag reviews”! You should target phrases that are even longer tailed, which could mean going after keywords with very low search volume. I do that here on Niche Pursuits and every blog or website I've built.
That's okay! Even though you may get less traffic per article/keyword, these are HIGH conversion type keywords.
For example, we could be targeting “best sleeping bags under $100” or “cheap sleeping bags for toddlers”. These are some excellent long tail phrases that people would be using that are close to a buying decisions.
Also, if you listened to my podcast with Claire Smith recently, you will know that she does VERY well (over $10k per month) by targeting these very long tail, very low volume type of keywords. These keywords takes less links to rank for because there is just so much less competition.
As an FYI, I used Long Tail Pro to find these long tail phrases in this sleeping bag example.
Don't Miss International Commissions
If you are using only the standard Amazon US affiliate link, then you're missing out on potential commissions when you get clicks from international visitors from countries like Canada, the U.K, and many more.
Also, the Amazon affiliate program has their own free version of this link localization called “Amazon One Link.” While it’s pretty straightforward to install, I know of some people who question how well the official Amazon plugin actually works.
Either way, it’s certainly something you could try and then go with a paid option like GeniusLinks if it isn’t working well on your blog.
By using these services, your affiliate links will automatically change based on the location of your visitor. So a Canadian reader will click your link and end up on Amazon.ca, and you can still earn a commission if they purchase.
Jake actually used this for one of his sites when he discovered that he was getting about 14% of his visits from the UK and Canada:
I know Jake uses the aforementioned Genius Link on his site and just by signing up for Amazon Associates UK and Canada he has made hundreds of dollars that would have been completely missed.
Note: You do have to sign up for each country's Associates program individually, so it might not make sense to do every single country/region you get visits from. However, check out your Geo Location report in Google Analytics and you just might find that you are leaving big money on the table.
Affiliate Link to Images
A simple but often overlooked tactic to improve you Amazon affiliate sales is to link to Amazon using all the images in your post.
When people are reading your product review articles, they will very often click on the image. If the image link simply pulls up the image file on your site, that's potentially one less visitor you could have sent to Amazon.
However, if your image is actually an Amazon affiliate link, you increase the chances that more people will end up on Amazon looking for products to buy. The more clicks you send to Amazon, the more buyers you will end up with.
If you have ever tried to upload images, position them, label them, and then add an Amazon affiliate link, you know how time consuming this can be. It's worth it. However, luckily there is a tool that makes adding Amazon affiliate image links much easier.
I have been using EasyAzon for a few years now, and it honestly just makes building an Amazon affiliate site much easier.
So, if you want to add images that already have your affiliate link in-place, I highly recommend that you check out EasyAzon 4 right here.
Use In-Content Links
Similar to using affiliate links for your images, you can send more people to Amazon by using in-content links on your niche site. In fact, these in-content links are the most likely links to get clicked!
Unfortunately, many people think that just inserting an amazon banner or an image link will be enough to make decent sales; however, this is not the case. If you are writing useful content, then people will actually read it and will click on your links within your content.
All I mean is this: If I was talking about sleeping bags, I might simply say…”And to see the my top recommendation of a [easyazon_link identifier=”B001VGLSZ8″ locale=”US” tag=”nichepursuits-20″]sleeping bag for a toddler under $50 click here.[/easyazon_link] The link in that previous sentence is an “in-content” link.
I also use EasyAzon 4 to make inserting these types of in-content links much faster. (The above link was inserted with EasyAzon).
Rather than going over to Amazon, finding the product I want to link to, going through the process of finding the affiliate links on Amazon, and then pasting into my website; I can just stay in my WordPress backend and pull up the product and add the link using EasyAzon.
I really like the fact that I don't have to leave my blog post to find and insert product links.
Use Heat Maps To See Where People Click
Heat maps are a tool that show you very clearly where people click when they are on your website. Something that stuck with me from a conference I attended last year was a speaker who was talking about heat maps and said “I guarantee people are clicking on things that aren't clickable.”
Your heat map will start tracking clicks on a given page and then you can check out the results like this:
Whether it's making your images clickable like I mentioned earlier, or even just getting a sense of what might be the best place to put your ads and comparison tables, it certainly won't hurt to have this knowledge.
There are a number of solutions out there, but an easy one I've used is from SumoMe. (They also have some other cool tools for your website.)
Test Using “Add to Cart” Option….Longer Cookie
Did you know that you can get a 90 day cookie when you send someone to Amazon through your affiliate link? When you use a regular affiliate link, the cookie is just 24 hours.
However, if you create a special link that automatically adds the product to someone's Amazon cart when they go through your affiliate link, Amazon will lengthen your cookie to 90 days! (If they buy in 90 days, you still get the commission).
Now, I would like to clarify that I think you should test this option. It may or may not work better in your niche. Each market and website is different, so this option may or may not be the best for you.
To be honest, I don't know how to create an affiliate link that auto-adds a product to someone's cart without using a tool. This is just a simple option in EasyAzon that you can turn on or off.
Here's a screenshot of several of the options in EasyAzon; including the Add to Cart Option:
Produce Quality Content
I would be remiss if I didn't mention the fact that if you produce great content for your niche site, not only will you rank better in Google, but more people will actually buy from you.
This is an entire process in and of itself. Luckily, Perrin has written a few ideas on creating content that engages and converts right here.
A big part of creating “great” content is just understanding what your audience is really looking for and meeting those needs. Some of this can be done through highly targeted content and research; but part of it also just comes with seeing what your competitors are doing and deciding what you can do better.
A couple of simple areas that you can often do better than your competitors is creating comparison charts and best seller lists.
Create Fair Comparisons
Another long tail keyword we like to use is Brand A vs. Brand B or doing articles on which type of product you should choose. When you write those, do your best to be very fair and honest with your readers.
Trust is a big part of conversion, so the more people feel like they can believe what you say, the better your chances are that they'll actually make a purchase based on a recommendation.
Most people understand that products aren't perfect, so don't be afraid to make a list of “cons” or things that could be improved about a product when you're review it or comparing to another model.
The odds are, if you write about every product like it's the best thing since sliced bread, readers will tune you out because you just sound like someone who really wants them to buy something.
Don't be that person!
Create Best Seller Lists
Another way to increase your amazon affiliate earnings is to create best seller lists within your blog posts. This is a bit different than a comparison chart. A comparison chart might only focus on survival knives under a certain price point for example.
A best seller list will focus on the products that sell the most in your given category.
For example, let's say I wanted to create a list of the top 5 selling point and shoot digital cameras on Amazon. One option is to go to Amazon.com/BestSellers and select the correct category to start creating your best seller list. This is the current list of best selling point and shoot digital cameras:
You would then have to take the information from each of those products and insert some kind of list on your site. This could get time consuming.
Or you can use the BestSeller Azon extension for EasyAzon 4 (it's sold as an upgrade after initial purchase). I don't know of any other simple ways to create these best seller lists.
I could create a much more comprehensive best sellers list or change up how the links act. But overall, I was able to quickly create a list of the best selling products on Amazon for my chosen category, and they are immediately inserted into the post with my affiliate link.
Cash in on Competition
As you may know, one of my affiliate sites makes some of its money by promoting my own brand of products sold via Amazon FBA. However, we don't hesitate to talk about and even recommend some of our top competitors on Amazon.
Because people aren't going to buy my product 100% of the time.
So in addition to having articles that feature our own products, we also have articles where our product really isn't a good fit based on the topic. In those cases, we don't hesitate to recommend different products on Amazon via our affiliate link. Hey, if someone wants to buy from a competitor I'd rather get 7 or 8% of that money than 0%.
So if you also sell products on Amazon in addition to using Amazon Associates, don't get stuck only writing about/promoting your own products.
There are some big time sites out there like Dealnews.com that pretty much do nothing other than scour the internet for discounts and deals and then list them out for their readers. In most cases, they are affiliates of those sites so when people purchase, they make money as well.
This model works because we all love getting a good deal!
So you can do a smaller version of the same thing by checking out Amazon on a weekly or monthly basis and finding products that fit your niche which are being sold below retail price.
You can even have a dedicated “deals” page on your website in your navigation menu so visitors can easily find it. Plus, sending a regular deal alert email using an auto-responder service like Aweber to make sure the people on your list get used to coming back to your site on a regular basis to find the best deals on products they're interested in.
Don't Forget the Small Fish
While most people spend their time focusing on higher dollar products, it's also important to not forget about the ‘smaller fish' low dollar products that people buy.
It's true that Amazon changed its commission structure awhile back and instead of basing your commision rate on the quantity of items you sell, it's now based on the category of the item sold – selling small items still makes sense.
If you think about it, most of the big competitors are targeting people who are buying expensive things like electronics, appliances, etc. – so you might find some really easy wins in terms of traffic by just creating some content that's focused on a low dollar item.
While the individual commission on an $8 product isn't much, if you sell a few hundred $5 – $10 products per month in addition to the big money items, your overall commission goes up.
So be sure to have a nice mix of products, both low dollar and high so you can maximize both volume and commissions.
Know Thy Category
Amazon shook up the affiliate world in a big way in 2017 when they changed their commision rate structure. Virtually every affiliate was affected in a negative way – some much worse than others.
Here's the current Amazon Affiliate commission rate chart as of today:
As you can see, if you're an affiliate focused on furniture then you can earn a healthy 8% commission on your sales.
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However, if you're selling toys then you're only bringing in a 3% commission.
Under the old structure, those toy bloggers were still able to get 8%+ commission – so their earnings were more than cut in half overnight.
What's the solution?
Quite simply, the quickest solution is to now think about the category of your product before you decide to create content. If you already have a blog, then it might be a matter of pivoting slightly to add a category of content that you didn't have before.
For example, a toy blogger could starting blogging about toy storage & organization products which would likely fall under the “home” category and earn the 8% commission rate.
A site about PC's and computers getting 2.5% commission could do some posts about the best headphones for PC gaming and earn that 6% rate on headphones.
The possibilities are really endless, it just takes a little creative thinking and perhaps evaluating competitors to get fresh ideas for your content.
What If I'm Brand New?
If you’re just picking a niche and about to start a website, then how does the Amazon affiliate commission structure affect you?
Clearly, you’re better off going in a direction where you can still earn a higher commission.
That doesn’t mean you should completely rule out lower tier categories if that’s really what you know and are passionate about.
So don’t let a low Amazon advertising fee be the sole reason you move away from a particular niche.
Focus On High Converting Products
In the Amazon associates program, you only get paid actual money when you make sales – not just drive traffic.
That’s a somewhat obvious, but very important distinction.
While you don’t want to be overly salesy on your website and really push people into purchasing, you can control which products you give the prime real estate to on your website.
Ideally, the products you highlight should be the best converting and best selling products on Amazon for their category.
If an item is a best seller, you know that it’s popular and people are more likely to buy it than a product that has a very low sales rank on Amazon (meaning it doesn’t sell well)
How Do I Find High Converting Products?
There’s a browser extension you can add called Jungle Scout which will show you approximate sales data for any product on Amazon.
Let’s say for some strange reason you decided to compare the best fidget spinners on your website.
You could go search “fidget spinners” on Amazon, click the Jungle Scout button in your browser and see this:
Notice that Jungle Scout takes the sales rank in the category and shows you which products are currently selling the best, and even gives you an approximate sales revenue number.
All else being equal, you want to send your visitors to the products that are performing best on Amazon so you can make sure that when they arrive at Amazon, they are viewing a top product that they are most likely to buy.
Other Signs Of High Converting Products
While Jungle Scout gives you some estimated numbers to go on, there are some other things you should look for when deciding which Amazon products to feature on your affiliate website:
- High Quality Images. Images sell. That's on Amazon and just about every other ecommerce website. So if you see a product that only has one or two images and they are low quality, that is typically going to hurt their conversion rate. Look for competitors who have professional photography.
- Prime Shipping. Amazon Prime members spend almost double of what non-Prime customers do in a given year. They also love and prefer to buy things with Prime shipping, so use that to your advantage and avoid seller fulfilled items as an affiliate when possible.
- Review History. Amazon reviews matter to buyers. So if you're featuring products that have no reviews, or worse – really poor reviews – you're losing out on affiliate commissions. Stick to products that have lots of reviews, that are mostly positive when at all possible.
Amazon Affiliate FAQ
While we’ve talked about some strategies for boosting your Amazon affiliate earnings, I want to start wrapping up by covering some common questions we hear from members of the Amazon associates program (both new and old).
Are Amazon Associates and Amazon Affiliates the same thing?
Yes. The program is officially called “Amazon Associates” but when people refer to the Amazon affiliate program – they are talking about the same thing.
What is an Amazon affiliate?
If this is all new to you, then I’ll simplify by saying that an Amazon affiliate is someone who earns money from Amazon by referring people to Amazon who buy end up buying stuff.
What is the Amazon affiliate commission rate now?
The commission rate is based on category – so there isn’t a single rate for all affiliates. The range is from 0% – 10% depending on what people actually buy. Click here to see a chart and explanation on Amazon.com
Can you put Amazon affiliate links on Facebook?
This is a little complicated, because you’ve got 2 different terms of service to deal with: Facebook and Amazon. Generally speaking you CAN use your Amazon affiliate link on Facebook as long as it’s not a paid ad/boosted post.
For example, if you have a page for your brand and you want to recommend a product that sells on Amazon, you can post your affiliate link to that product.
That said, you should be disclosing that your link is an affiliate link, so people know you could be compensated when they buy something. Read more about affiliate marketing on Facebook here.
Can you put Amazon Affiliate links on YouTube?
Yes, again using the same disclosure rules we mentioned for Facebook where you tell people that the link is an affiliate link. As long as you disclose it, you should be in the clear for adding an Amazon affiliate link on YouTube. Click here to read more.
Amazon affiliate cookie – how long does it last?
The Amazon affiliate cookie means how long do I have after a person clicks my link to earn a commission? The simple answer is 24 hours. So anything that person buys on Amazon in the next 24 hours you are eligible to earn a commission on.
The one exception to this is the 90 day cookie we discussed earlier when you use the “add to cart” link as your affiliate link. This doesn’t mean you get a commission on everything that person buys in the next 90 days, just a 90 day cookie on that particular product.
For myself, I usually just stick to the normal Amazon affiliate link that comes with a 24 hour cookie.
Can Amazon affiliates make money from the Amazon Bounty Program?
Yes! The bounty program can be an interesting revenue source for niches where people consume a lot of books and music.
Amazon’s Bounty Program will pay you a flat rate for getting people to sign up for all kinds of Amazon services like a free trial of Kindle Unlimited, Prime Unlimited Music, and many, many others.
Usually you can earn $3 for each person that takes the free trial, but certain actions can earn you even more. Click here to see the full bounty program breakdown.
A Few Closing Thoughts…
Overall, hopefully some of these tips that I've shared can help you increase your affiliate commissions on Amazon. These little tactics can ensure that you send the greatest number of people to Amazon.
Amazon has such huge brand awareness and trust that once you get people to the Amazon page, you just let Amazon do the rest.
In addition to the tactics and strategies I've mentioned, I do think a tool like EasyAzon can be quite valuable in speeding up the process of implementing lots of these strategies. Just so you know, I have been using EasyAzon for over 3 years now, and I've never had an issues.
Version 4 of EasyAzon is just being released for the first time this week. Chris Guthrie (the creator) has given me an advanced copy of v4 and I've been very happy with the updates I've seen.
In addition, the 2 extensions I mentioned (TableZon and Best Seller Azon) are only available to buyers of EasyAzon 4. These 2 extensions are some great upgrades that can just further streamline the process of managing your affiliate links.
As always, I'd love to hear any comments or questions that you might have in regards to increasing affiliate commissions on Amazon. Do you have any other tactics that you use that I haven't mentioned here? Let us all know!