With all the attention given among the Indie community to the removal of book reviews by Amazon, I’m amazed at the number of authors who still post dirty links to their books on social media. This is a rookie-level mistake that can actually do more harm than good.
A dirty link helps the algorithm at Amazon to determine if there are connections between author and reader that might suggest collusion or partiality.. Even if a review is from a verified purchase, a simple connection via a shared link can be enough to make them suspect that it’s not unbiased or from an unrelated party.
If the link used by multiple customers can be traced directly back to the author, that’s one of the reasons they will start flagging and eventually removing reviews.
The simple solution is to ensure your links are clean before you post them.
A dirty link occurs when one copies and pastes a URL without removing all the extra information that gets tacked onto it by searching for a product, copying links from a website, linking from another product, or using a bookmark created from a searched item.For example, if I search for one of my books on Google and click on the Amazon link, I get this as the URL:
This is more information than is needed to actually find my book. In the image below, I’ve denoted the “dirty” part of the link by making it red.
The highlighted part of this link is the “dirty” part. If I were to give this link to someone else to use, it tells Amazon how they got the link.
All you need to post is the part of the link that directly goes to your book page. In the link above, that’s the part that is still black. Once the link identifies which display page your book has, no further information is necessary.
You can check the clean link you want to post by pasting it into a new browser window and seeing that it goes directly to your book product page.
Even if you use a link shortening service like bit.ly or buff.ly, or a customised branded link, you must ensure that the links you provide are clean. Just because you and your audience don’t see the extra information on a shortened or customised link doesn’t mean it isn’t there.
That way, stores will have no reason to suspect you or your readers’ integrity, and your verified purchase reviews will remain proudly on your book page.