In the last few years, Amazon has begun a serious crackdown on fraudulent reviews on its platform. This is in part due to pressure from the U.S. Federal Trade Commission. However, it is also because review manipulation damages the credibility of their platform.
Many buyers use Amazon reviews to consider products regardless if they intend to purchase through the platform. This gives importance to their reliability.
However, Amazon is now addressing review manipulation in a new, less severe way: reduced discoverability.
What is Review Manipulation?
Amazon has very strict rules on what sort of reviews it allows on its platform.
This includes forbidding third-party sellers from providing incentives to their buyers in exchange for positive reviews. They also cannot purchase fake reviews, or request positive reviews from friends or family.
- Sellers posting reviews on their products or that of their competitors
- Offering third-party rewards or other compensation for positive reviews.
- Offering refunds after a buyer writes a review.
- Diverting negative reviews
- Using Seller accounts to write or change reviews.
And this is by no means the whole list. Morally dubious sellers are constantly finding new ways to manipulate their reviews, and sometimes the reviews of their direct competitors.
Due to the importance reviews have in a listing, it is easy to see why many sellers have turned to these questionable methods.
Amazon’s history of dealing with these reviews has varied, ranging from:
- Warning the seller to stop
- Warning the seller and demanding action within a period of time.
- Suspending accounts with an option to appeal
- Suspending repeat offenders with no option to appeal
All of which seemed to do little to prevent review manipulation. Manipulation which harms customers’ ability to reliably find quality products on the platform. However, Amazon has found a new way to punish these accounts.
What is Reduced Discoverability?
Rather than targeting the accounts responsible for review manipulation, Amazon has begun reducing the discoverability of ASINs with fake reviews.
This means products that Amazon determines affected by review manipulation are no longer visible in search results. Additionally, their advertising campaigns are effectively shut down.
According to Amazon, they will continue to reduce discoverability on these products until they identify and remove said reviews. Amazon alerts these account owners and offers a chance for appeal.
Why Reduce Discoverability?
So, why reduce discoverability over account suspension? During a time when Amazon is facing pressure from the U.S. Federal Trade Commission to crack down on fake online reviews, this seems like a half-measure.
This is a matter of speculation. However, Amazon is likely looking to add degrees of severity to review rule violations. It also gives Amazon room to make a decision when a violation appears unclear.
This includes circumstances in which the sources of reviews are unclear whether they’re potentially purchased, solicited, or deliberate competitor sabotage.
Regardless of the reasoning. Sellers should familiarize themselves with this policy in the event they face such restrictions.
What to Do if You Receive This Penalty
Should this happen, you will know by the “reduce discoverability” notification from Amazon Seller Performance. You must take action to protect your account. Otherwise, you risk additional penalties up to the suspension.
Take these actions when faced with reduced discoverability.
- Stop the behavior. – This is the most important step you can take. Even if you assume your account is innocent, consider investigating any others with access to your account or any services which you may employ.
- Stop services that act on your behalf. – The source of the violation could be from anywhere. This includes services you’ve employed to help promote your products. Remember to collect evidence of the cancelation as Amazon may request it when you appeal.
- Create a Plan of Action. – This is a detailed plan telling exactly how you intend to address the violation. It will need to be comprehensive and convincing. Even if you feel certain that you didn’t commit said violation, you must explain how you intend to avoid violating the rules going forward.
Any delay in responding to this penalty will only hurt your chances of appealing and your profit margin.
Need Help Navigating Amazon?
Amazon is a massive platform. Therefore, so are the terms of service. It is easy to violate rules that you aren’t aware of. What’s more, it is hard to defend yourself from incurring penalties when you’re not familiar with them.
That’s why Anata offers education on Amazon’s platform to help you know what you need to succeed.
Contact us today for help managing your Amazon Marketplace and getting the edge you need to compete. We help with everything from education to the total handling of your Amazon profile. Free yourself to work on the big picture.
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