One of the most popular topics in our Facebook group and forum is on image use. Not just about the rights to use Amazon images, but also common questions about attributions, royalties, and optimization. Questions like:
Can I use an Amazon product image in my review or should I use the manufacturers?
How do you optimize an image?
Can I just take images from Google?
There's quite a bit more, but let's start with the easy stuff and then move into the grey areas. As with most things surrounding Amazon's rules, it's confusing to say the least.
Recently there was a blog post put out by Amazon EU on a few best practices, but those rules don't apply automatically to Amazon US.
But I do want to be clear that many of the aspects about concerning Amazon images isn't clear because the alignment between the different Amazon countries affiliate programs are not directly linked. This article is simply a collection of what we've found from speaking to other affiliates, our own experiences, and Amazons associate's US support.
Spacing Out Your Images
Let's start by defining the two types of images you'll likely come across when building a niche site: featured images and in-content images.
The featured image is the one you see at the top of each blog post. In-content images are the ones you see added into the paragraphs. Generally, you'll have one featured image per post and at least one in-content image every 500-1500 words. Neil Patel likes to add an image every 350 words.
To Attribute or Not to Attribute?
For featured images you should use images that do not need an attribution link. There are plenty of sites like Pixabay.com and Unsplash.com to find images where you don't have to make an attribution. You can also buy commercial images from sites like Fotolia or DepositPhotos where you'll purchase the rights to use them.
However, for photos under a creative commons license from places like Flickr.com - you need to add a link out to the artist, the source, and the title of the image. The artist deserves the link, plus depending on the context of the image - most people won't click to find out who created it as they're more interested in the content you've written.
What about for those times when you want to use an image that you found cruising around the web? Either from a favorite blog or Google images itself?
Whenever you're in doubt, don't use it. There are are plenty of places where you can buy photos for commercial use and avoid the risk of being sued. Even with Flickr, there's no guarantee that the photo was actually taken by the person you're attributing to it. So the best thing you can do is signup to a royalty free stock photo service and use those images.
How To Optimize An Image for SEO?
One of the most overlooked aspects of your site might be optimizing your images. If you have lots of big high-quality images on your site, it'll take time for a new visitor to download them from your server so that they can view your site properly.
Unoptimized images on a site can lead to higher bounce rates because they just take too long to load and people will press the back button. No matter how good your content is, you need to optimize images because people are growing ever more impatient.
Image Formats: Most of the time you'll be using JPEG's or PNG's. Jpeg is a lesser quality of compression and a PNG retains all of the image quality. Most of the time a Jpeg will be fine, but I like to use Png's for featured images since they are big. GIF's are also appropriate but only images that are animated.
Here are 4 simple steps to optimizing your images for speed and rankings:
1. Find the appropriate featured image and in-content image sizes from your sites theme's demo. The demo will have everything optimized, at least it should.
2. Create or crop your images to be exactly the same size as your theme's demo. You can use Pixlr.com to crop images to the right size.
3. Compress the images using Tinypng.com. This is where your image size gets considerably smaller while reducing it's quality only by a little bit.
4. Upload them and fill out the alt-tags and descriptions. These are used in helping blind people navigate the internet, but it's also what Google images uses to rank them. As a rule of thumb, add your main keyword into the alt-tag of the featured image. The rest of the in-content images can include your secondary keywords. For the description, make sure to write something that is coherent and not a bunch of keywords stuffed together.
Simple right? You don't have to do this with every single image on your site, however, it's good practice to do it with the bigger images you upload.
Common Questions About Amazon Images
"Can I use Amazon's product images in my content?"
Yes, but only through the API. This means you need a plugin that takes the image directly from Amazon (this also applies to showing prices.) There are 2 WordPress plugins that have this capability right now. One is the official Amazon EU plugin. The other is AAWP.
EasyAzon isn't setup exactly how Amazon would like it. It does grab the image directly from Amazon's API the first time, but ends up storing the image on your servers later on. This is something they have mentioned they are fixing. It's still the most popular affiliate plugin available though.
"Can I use a manufacturer's images instead of amazon's product images?"
No, although we know that some people do use the manufacturers images. However, it's best to avoid this at first. If you are keen on using their images, reach out to them first and ask for permission. Make sure you're talking to the right person in charge as well. A marketing manager or higher. Save the email too.
Be aware that even if you are granted rights by the manufacturer, Amazon can still claim that you broke their terms of service if the images are the exact same. It's best to avoid this all-together and use royalty photos of the product type OR take some photos yourself by purchasing the product.
"Can I edit Amazon's product images? I want it for my featured image."
No, since the featured image is not being pulled from Amazon's API. It's against Amazon's terms of service for you to download an image and it's likely that your featured image's dimensions would not match correctly.
You might argue that the image was taken from the manufacturer but I would steer clear of this as well. Every manufacturer is going to have different rules on image rights so it's best to just use stock images.
Best Practices for Navigating Amazon's Grey Area
There's plenty of rules that most associates just aren't sure about. It doesn't help either that Amazon's support staff will tell you different things depending on who you talk to. But that's what happens with many of the big companies, so we'll have to get used to it and keep our ears to the ground.
Here are a few rules that we stick to in order to stay compliant across the board.
Try not to say the price. As I said before, the images and prices must be pulled from the API directly. Even though the plugins do this, I'd rather leave the option off. Not only does it help you stay in line with both the US and EU affiliate programs, but it sparks curiosity from the reader as well. Leading them to click and giving you the chance to drop your cookie! If you have to add in some sort of cost, we like to add '$' signs in our comparison charts.
Tell the reader you're directing them to Amazon. In the Amazon EU best practices, it states that you shouldn't mislead people as to where they are going when they click your affiliate link. Even though they can see it at the bottom of their browser, it's best to use something like "Check Amazon for Pricing"
Don't use anything that resembles Amazon's marketplace. This includes buttons, logos, stars, etc. This is a big deal for them as Amazon is a huge company and their branding is very important to them. Anyone, especially their own affiliates, mistreating their trademarks is a big no-no. Don't try and create anything that looks like Amazon's branding, it's just not worth it.
It's pretty clear that Amazon is very particular about how their affiliates promote their products. Even though Amazon's commissions aren't the best around, they have the highest conversions and is the number one e-commerce store in the entire world. They're playing a volume game and so are we.
Hopefully, this article has helped dispel many of the mysteries surrounding image use for your Amazon affiliate site. If you're at the stage where you're ready to build and grow your own site, I encourage you to check out and join our early bird email list.
It's where we give away our best niche ideas to you for free. In turn, if you like any of the niches, we'll build the site for you. We've already built over 500 sites with plenty of success stories to go along.
If you have any other questions about Amazon and image use, leave us a comment below.