10 Well-Known Amazon Black Hat Tactics: How to Protect Your Business
Venturing eCommerce is one of the most thrilling business moves one can make. It gives way to endless opportunities for growth. The adventure even becomes more exhilarating if you sell products on Amazon, the world’s largest platform for online selling. Imagine reaching millions of sellers worldwide, the possibility of increased sales, and higher profits. More than the money, succeeding on Amazon is a feat worth celebrating.
Nonetheless, to fully succeed on Amazon, sellers should not only look at the blessings they can reap, but also look into the platform’s possible challenges, and one of these is the black hat tactics of many sellers, which are very rampant on Amazon.
With millions of sellers aiming to be on the first pages of the search results, some are willing to do everything even if it means practicing dirty tricks. We have compiled here the ten well-known Amazon black hat tactics. Knowledge is power. Know what these practices are and protect your business.
1. Getting confidential data and information from Amazon insiders or ex-Amazon workers
Manipulation of Amazon algorithm – A10 is Amazon’s algorithm. It has all the codes to determine the ranking of all product listings. A10 is one of the top factors being studied by any Amazon entrepreneur and expert because the key to success is to understand how listings are being ranked. The thing is, there are no clear and established indications released by Amazon on how product pages are being ranked. Hence, businesses and agencies spend their time and effort, creating strategies and monitoring whether their game plans are effective or not.
The black hat tactic comes in when individuals or groups offer access to confidential Amazon data like the figures coming from A10. Even more, they also offer manipulation of A10 done by an Amazon insider. As a result, the listing can rank higher in the search results with minimal effort.
Divulging confidential buyer information – Inside Amazon, some individuals are leaking critical information to help some sellers rank quickly. This tactic does not stop and even gets bigger through legitimate Amazon ex-employees who do not abide by the company’s confidentiality clause or pretend-Amazon employees.
Beware of messages and offers from groups and individuals telling you that they are former or current Amazon workers. They will tell you that they can provide you with buyers’ internal contact information, which you can use to generate feedback and reviews. Do not fall prey to these dirty tactics as the boost of increased reviews may help you at first, but if Amazon detects that they are fake, your account can be suspended or even terminated.
2. Hiring workers or creating bots for clicks and artificial impressions
Fake clicks and impressions – Clicks on Amazon are powerful. They are a measurement of how appealing and sellable your products are. Hence, sellers would do anything to have more clicks. Enter the dirty tactic of fake clicks and impressions, also called “click farming.” This easy job of clicking is delegated to bots or hired clickers. The more clicks, the higher the chance to boost ranking on the listing.
Quick ranking on search results through Super URLs – Contrary to the previous scheme of getting more clicks. The strategy of using super URLs is more straightforward because it only takes one click to rank. Hackers will provide a super URL, and once you click them, your listing will automatically rank on the keywords related to your product.
How can you protect your business?
- Invest in SEO. Amazon store optimization, the legal and clean way, is a sure way to succeed without fearing detection for manipulation. It may be a quick and easy road, but once you understand the process or you seek help from professionals, the job is easier than you think.
- Seek help from legitimate experts. If you get advice from experts, make sure to ask help from honest Amazon experts and registered agencies to avoid posers. If you are offered packages that are too good to be true like getting to the first three pages of the ranking in a few days, treat this as a red flag.
- Report unusual offers. When you receive malicious emails and messages from groups or individuals saying they are from Amazon, verify first before divulging any information. If found illegitimate, send a report to Amazon so that they can stop the practice.
3. Sellers posting fake positive reviews
Reviews, positive or negative, are an essential part of a product page. Lack thereof could mean low sales and unreliability of the product. More positive reviews suggest that the merchandise is quality, the transaction was seamless, and buyers are satisfied with what they got. More importantly, statistics show that 82% of consumers are more likely to buy when they see positive reviews of a product. With this, some buyers go as far as doing shady practices to look reliable.
Here are the three ways of how fake positive reviews are generated:
Getting reviews from different channels – Family and friends’ reviews despite not buying your products are a quick source of positive reviews. Still, when these connections are maximized, black hat tactics branch out to other media to get more feedback.
For instance, they are soliciting positive reviews specifically from buyers’ social media sites or emails. Moreover, black hats can use the same means to ask buyers to remove the negative reviews they left. More than this, the next dirty strategy is giving buyers something in exchange for a review.
Giving incentives to people who will leave positive reviews – The bottom line on Amazon reviews and every platform that allows people to provide product feedback is that they should be genuine. They should be done because the product proved to be of quality and the service delivered is just as what was promised. Hence, giving incentives to get positive reviews is a dirty tactic.
Manipulating parent-child pairing – Parent-child listing is a function available on Amazon, but it becomes a breeding ground for policy-breaking schemes when the products paired are not related to each other. Some sellers use this tactic to combine the reviews received by the parent listing and the child listing. With this, the boost in ranking will be quicker.
4. Leaving negative reviews on the competitor’s product page
If positive reviews boost ranking, negative feedback from customers undoubtedly pulls your product listing down. Instead of ensuring buyers will not leave negative comments on their listing, other sellers go as far as leaving fake negative reviews to their competitors. Also, the obstructive words are clicked as “helpful” by people hired by competitive sellers. As a result, buyers are not enticed to buy the product.
5. Filing fake infringement claims against competitors
To make the negative feedback look more admissible, and to quicken the suspension of a competitor’s account, the black hats of Amazon go as far as filing fake infringement claims against their competitors. Claims of crooks include violation of patent laws, or they report that the products do not abide by Amazon regulations on dangerous and prohibited products.
On Amazon, accounts are suspended during the investigation process, so when complaints like this reach Amazon, seller accounts are prohibited from selling until proven innocent of the claims, thus putting you behind your competition in sales during this time
How can you protect your business?
- Be well-versed in Amazon’s customer review policies. If you think you are a victim of any of the violations enumerated by Amazon, report it immediately. Amazon claims zero tolerance for these dirty tactics, so you can expect quick action after reporting.
- Invest in giving quality products and services. When customers feel their expectations are met or even exceeded, reviews and feedback are sure to come. Trust that you will get those positive reviews because of your excellent merchandise and customer service.
- Be open to feedback and criticism. Negative reviews are an eyesore, but instead of being dismayed by them, see them as honest feedback from customers, and listen to what they say. Listen and improve what needs to be improved. Eventually, when you develop your products, there will be more constructive feedback than dire ones.
6. Buying from competitors then switching original purchase to counterfeit products, then reporting competitor’s account
You have perfected your products and gave outstanding customer service, but your competitors still find a way to destroy you for some reason. Other sellers can hire someone or pretend to be buyers so they can purchase your products. In the process, they alter the product you sent them to a low-quality duplicate. They will file a complaint against you or leave a negative comment asserting that you sent a defective item.
7. Counterfeiting products by reproducing replicas
Product counterfeits can spell an end of a business because of all the lost profit the original seller can suffer. Data shows that $1.2 trillion was lost in the U.S. due to counterfeiting in 2017. Losses occur every day as long as counterfeiters are freely selling on Amazon.
Counterfeiting can occur by sellers creating replicas of the original product and selling it at a lower price. For buyers who are looking for cheaper alternatives, this is a welcome opportunity. Nonetheless, getting the same quality as the original products is often not satisfactory. As a result, the brand itself is damaged, not the counterfeit seller. Big brands’ products are the ones usually counterfeited, but even smaller enterprises can be victims.
8. Reselling counterfeit products bought from a sale the original seller held
Sales are opportunities to create awareness about your brand and your products while generating profit. Nonetheless, be wary of the red flags when someone buys too many of your products. These purchases may not be for personal use. Worse, the buyers may resell your products under their brand at a lower cost. Consequently, the likelihood of them getting the sale instead of you will increase because of the lower price and sameness in quality.
How can you protect your business?
- Know your rights and be well-versed in the Amazon Anti-Counterfeiting policy.
- Constant checking and monitoring of your and your competitors’ listing. Sellers who will counterfeit your product will eventually be your competitors. Check listings once in a while to check if there are copycats and duplicates.
- Contact the counterfeiters once you discover them. Let them know that you are aware of the counterfeiting happening through a formal email. Let Amazon know through a formal report if the counterfeiter does not positively respond to your email.
- Increase protection to your brand and products. Know how buyers can identify if they are buying your product or a counterfeit and educate them about it through your product description or images. For instance, you can establish a trademark that is difficult to copy, and let buyers look for that sign to know if they are purchasing a legitimate product.
9. Sending fake purchases ghost addresses and people
Amazon has more than 300 million customers, but for the black hats, there are more! One dirty scheme of sellers who want to rank higher on Amazon is to boost their sales by sending empty envelopes and packages to random addresses and people and count them as a sale. One of the factors measured by the Amazon algorithm is the number of sales and conversion rate. If you receive an empty package from Amazon, or you know of any sellers doing this practice, report them to Amazon.
10. Listing hijacking
When you do not keep an eye on your product listing, it becomes more prone to hijackers. Hijackers mainly target inactive accounts that have rich reviews and comments. Aside from hijacking dormant accounts, hijackers can also target competitors’ accounts by sabotaging the content.
Here are some indications that an account is hijacked:
- Reviews are not related to the product being sold.
- The product title is different from the actual product sold.
- Details and content of the listing are altered.
How can you protect your business?
- Always check your listings. If you sell many products on Amazon, monitoring all of them is impossible, hire account managers who will do the job for you. Checking persistently will allow you to immediately detect hijackers and report them before they ruin your listing.
- Report hijackers to Amazon directly, and be persistent on sending follow-ups until you get the result you want–holding hijackers accountable.
- Maximize Amazon’s Brand Registry for protection. Amazon claims that once registered; you could be protected immediately from bad actors, and those dirty tactics will be checked by Amazon 24/7.
Amazon has a pool of opportunities for every seller, so it is worth venturing. While you enjoy the successes on Amazon, make sure to keep an eye on the badly behaved sellers. Note the ten well-known black hat tactics we have listed above, so you can proactively protect your account. In case you become a victim, look back on the tips we listed on how you can protect your business. Like a game of chess, when doing business on Amazon, you should have your offense and defense ready to make your enterprise succeed.