Amazon has many rules for what a listing can and cannot include, but one area they’re increasingly enforcing is the use of words. We’re not just talking about trademarked words, but words that may misrepresent a product or mislead a customer.
The most common words that will get your listing flagged are antimicrobial/antibacterial, environmental, and cure/treatment claims, but there are many others you might not consider.
Although Amazon has a few webpage guides on words and claims to avoid, they don’t provide a comprehensive list, which means if they don’t tell you why they removed your listing, you may have to do some guessing.
In today’s article, we’re going to cover some of the most common words and phrases that cause Amazon to block or suppress your listing.
Product marketing laws are regulated by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The FTC exists to protect consumers from deceptive marketing that can create health or safety hazards.
Many of Amazon’s guidelines, while not comprehensive, follow the standard FTC rules. In addition to those, you’ll also find rules around words that are inconvenient for Amazon to regulate. Some of these words/claims aren’t banned by the FTC, but validating each one would be too much of a hassle.
If you refuse to follow Amazon guidelines, your listing may be suppressed, so it doesn’t show up as readily on searches, or worse, removed.
In most cases, your violation isn’t detected by a human. Instead, Amazon bots scrub the website and flag or remove listings that contain prohibited words and phrases.
These bots can’t always detect the context the word is used in, which is why you have to be careful with using certain phrases, and in some instances, you’re better off avoiding them altogether.
Amazon guidelines say you must provide proof when you make claims, especially ones related to safety, performance, or health.
You don’t have to post this proof on your listing, but you must be able to provide proof when asked.
Amazon says your proof should include, “scientific evidence such as the results of tests or other research carried out by experts in the proper field.”
Does Amazon catch every violation? No.
But, before you put a lot of effort and time into launching a fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) business, you want to make sure you know the legal bounds.
Separate from Amazon guidelines, you should review FTC guidelines yourself because Amazon holds you responsible for ensuring your claims are compliant.
Amazon’s rules around environmental benefits closely follow the FTC Green Guides.
You want to avoid making broad/general claims. Amazon says, “All claims about a product’s environmental benefits or qualities should be specific, and all qualifications (or limitations) to environmental claims must be specific, clear and prominently displayed (ex., “product is made from 20% recycled materials”).”
You’ll also want to distinguish what parts of the product match the environmental claim. (e.g., is it the bottle cap that’s recyclable or the whole thing?)
Additionally, you’ll want to review state laws for what environmental-related claims are allowed. For example, plastic products going in California can’t be labeled as “biodegradable, degradable, or decomposable.” Amazon says they will restrict sellers from selling those products in California. Of course, we don’t know how much they enforce that, but it’s important to know the possible implications.
Amazon has become pretty strict with making sure that any pesticide-related terms are verified. The increased enforcement is likely due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Some of these terms are regulated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), for others, your product must comply with the US Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). Some states have unique laws on the use of these words on products as well.
Bacteria / Bacterial
Fungus / Fungal
In general, you’ll want to avoid directly labeling your product as safe. This one should be more self-explanatory, but you can’t guarantee that your product is safe for individual people; you don’t know their unique situation (e.g., allergies) and you don’t know how they’ll use the product.
Sure, your product may be non-injurious out of the packaging, but maybe when it sits in hot temperatures, it becomes injurious.
Amazon bots scrub for these safety-related words too. For the most part, with the exception of BPA-Free, these words should be avoided no matter what your product is.
Made in the U.S.A. – Amazon says you should only use this phrase on your listing if most or all of your product is made in the U.S. If only a small part of your product is made in the U.S., skip it.
Guarantees – Amazon follows the federal guidelines on advertising warranties and guarantees. In summary, you must be willing to back up the claims you make. If you include copy that says “Satisfaction Guaranteed” or “Money-Back Guarantee” on your listing, be sure you’re willing to give a complete refund.
Native American / Indian – You can’t imply that a product is related to Indians if it was not.
FDA Approved/FDA Cleared – These claims must be valid and require proof.
Product Names – This one is not a claim, but referencing prohibited products can get your listing flagged. (e.g., CBD)
Time-Sensitive Language – e.g., “Buy 1 Get 1 Free, This Weekend Only”
Reviews, Quotes, or Testimonials
Obscene or Offensive Language (Including profanity)
As Amazon continues to crack down on misleading product claims, when you’re doing your routine listing optimization, you want to do an audit of all your product listings (both the front end and back end) to make sure you don’t have any words that may pose an issue.
If you do, be sure you have proof that is substantial enough to satisfy Amazon’s requirements. When auditing words on your listing, the most important thing to keep in mind is that your listing may be suppressed or removed even if you’re just using these words descriptively, and not applying them to your product.
The Page.One Team
You’ll have to weigh the pros and cons of using a word or phrase on your Amazon listing. If your listing is flagged or removed, you may be able to provide proof to support your claim, but it may take a while for Amazon to validate—leading to loss of sales momentum—and they might still deny you. Depending on your product and the value proposition, it may be best to just skip some words or phrases altogether.