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Amazon stops paying for search engine referrals

More than a few of us hale and hearty Web entrepreneurs pay for our daily dose of McDonalds coffee by selling Amazon referrals, the most lucrative being the SEO whizzes who game the paid search engine listings to direct traffic at Amazon. Well, as of today, the paid search engine listings trick is worth absolutely nothing, as Amazon has just announced on their Associates page:

As of May 1, 2009, Associates will not be paid referral fees for paid search traffic. Also, in connection with this change, as of May 1, 2009, Amazon will no longer make data feeds available to Associates for the purpose of sending users to the Amazon websites in the US or Canada via paid search.

Don’t worry. If you still do Amazon referrals the old-fashioned way — from your Web site — you’re still in the money (or the pennies, really), as Amazon has added this new FAQ to their Associate’s FAQ:

Q: If my paid search advertisement directs a user first to an interstitial page, then to,, or, will I earn referral fees?

A: No. However, if you place paid search advertisements to send users to your own website, and then your website displays links to,, or in accordance with the Operating Agreement, you may earn referral fees for qualifying purchases made by users who click on your paid search ad, click through to your site, then click through to an Amazon site.

For anyone who uses paid search to direct traffic to Amazon products, this is what you no longer can do on your paid search ads:

Buy this book!
It’s the greatest! (display URL) (destination URL)

Now, the above ad will still work. It just won’t generate any income if you’re directing traffic to Amazon U.S. or Canada.

You must now do this:

Buy this book!
It’s the greatest! (display URL) (destination URL)

Frankly, I’m on Amazon’s side on this. It’s not good to have your associates competing against you in paid search ads.

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