first off, show visitors that you have a great site by getting a better theme! You did not get a penalty because of affiliate content, nor have I ever heard of, however, I have heard of sites in the past getting penalty for having do follow links to affiliate programs such as amazon, remember, google does not like you giving credit to a site in exchange for receiving paid compensation, so ask yourself, are your external links nofollow? this may also include any buttons/graphics that link to affiliate sites that do not have a no follow attribute, not going to go to much into this, so I am going to assume your content is ok, if it is, then you need to check your link portfolio; maybe you have too many low quality links and/or you may have over-optimized anchor/text in your link building efforts; bad links, over optimization are common link issues that could cause your site to get a penalty, as it is not about what you are writing about, if all else fails, then hire seo consultant for an entire site autdit, they will go through your site tooth and nail, and see why you have lost your rankings. good luck.
This is my first comment on your blog and I am really impressed by the quality of the content! You said that Amazon is famous but it’s complex and I agree with you upon that. As a beginner, I don’t think it’s a good idea to join complex affiliate programs. I recently published an infographic about affiliate marketing sats (https://www.earnyfy.com/affiliate-marketing-stats-2016) amazon was not the list of top affiliate networks used by affiliate marketers. I think Clickbank is good for the beginner. And another I think liked is that telling people that it’s not as easy as it sounds. Most people think making money is really and when they know the truth they call it a scam and give up.
I once persuaded my mum to buy all my Christmas presents using my affiliate links on Amazon, and then found out that Amazon won’t pay out to anyone with the same surname as you (as they assume them to be family; luckily I have an unusual surname!) or anyone who lives at the same address. However one of my friends has ordered through one of my affiliate links and the commission has tracked for that. It’s my ONLY commission, mind. And my account hasn’t been shut down yet (touch wood, fingers crossed etc etc…)
For Tracy E. Robey, who runs the beauty blog Fanserviced-b, the impact was more stark: a pay cut. With the affiliate cut for a typical purchase dropping from 8 to 6 percent, she anticipates that her checks from Amazon will go down by as much as 20 percent. For Robey, her blog is still more of a sideline than a job, but as she looks to expand her growing business, she says that drop could have real consequences.
At MoreNiche, our commissions are some of the highest found on any affiliate network selling physical products. We actually turn away potential advertisers who we believe don’t offer a fair deal. In fact, none of our advertisers’ commission rates fall below 30% per sale and the most they pay is 80%! That means for every sale you generate with a value of £100, you could potentially earn between £30 and £80 in commission. Not bad, we think you’ll agree!
I’m in the process of creating a new blog now and have decided on a niche to focus on. I’d like to implement affiliate marketing as soon as the blog launches. Was wondering if affiliate networks require those requesting to become affiliate marketers to have a certain number of followers before approving the request to join the affiliate program? Generally, what types of requirements have to be met when applying to join an affiliate network? I’d hate to apply then get rejected because I haven’t met the minimum requirements, if those exist. Thanks!

Being in Australia, I’m not required to do anything by the law (although I hear talk that there may be changes around this). I don’t disclose every single Amazon link on my photography blog in a direct way but do I have a disclaimer/disclosure page on the blog. When I’m doing a ‘best seller list’ always include a disclaimer on those posts as the whole page is filled with affiliate links. I have also written numerous times on DPS about how the links to Amazon earn us money and help the site to keep growing and be free.

“When we started working with Brick Marketing, we had just been subjected to a Google algorithm update and our websites both took substantial hits to traffic. Within a few months, Brick has taken both of our websites to pre-algorithm traffic and conversion levels, and for the CallFinder site, the traffic has increased over 80% year-over-year. Their expertise in SEO, responsive design, and content marketing helped us turn the situation around, and we could not be happier with the results we’ve seen in just our first four months of working with them. The team we work with at Brick Marketing is always available for off-the-cuff consultations and are at the ready to provide recommendations and suggestions to improve our site’s appearance and performance. They are truly a hands-on partner, which is immensely valuable to our business.​”
I did a lot of research to find the right one, and so I chose Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing by Michelle Schroeder-Gardner (as I mentioned earlier). I figured it made sense to learn from the best, and with a 30 day satisfaction guarantee, I had nothing to lose. I chat WAY more in-depth about it in my review here, but this course was definitely a gamechanger for me.

Hiding content on a webpage or hiding affiliate tracking code in links. Hiding content on a webpage is bad as it is against the guidelines of the mainstream search engines such as Google. Hiding affiliate tracking in a link is an acceptable and widely used practice. If you'd like more information, I wrote an article on why and how I cloak affiliate links.

Affiliates are most successful when the products they promote match the interests of their followers and subscribers. In addition, many successful affiliate marketers advise recommending and promoting only products that the affiliate is personally familiar with. That’s because familiarity with the product, program, or service helps build trust between the affiliate and end-user.
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