Do Review Sites Really Work?

Updated on | By | Under the Category Affiliate Marketing

Even if you are a complete newbie to an affiliate marketing, you are probably aware of the many different affiliate review sites out there. Affiliate marketers love review sites. They love it so much that it seem that the internet is filled with half baked, half conceptualized and poorly executed review sites. They are extremely popular. The main reason they are so popular is because they are very effective. People will not abuse a specific online content forum if that content forum is not effective.

The sad reality is that due to the popularity of the review format, review sites are also badly abused. If you want to build a review site that is worth its salt and is effective, you need to pay close attention to the discussion below. The discussion below not only analyzes why review sites are effective, but also helps you identify best practices that will help you get more results from your review sites.

Why Review Sites Work

Make no mistake about it. The main reason review sites are so numerous online is the fact that they work. That is it. Plain and simple. They work because people do not have the time to hunt down information and distribute it all over the place. Review sites gather all these information and help people make an informed decision. At least this is how review sites are supposed to work in theory. This is how people would like to think of review sites.

People are looking for reviews that help them figure out the right judgment criteria or factors so they can make a decision. People are busy, people are often not experts at any one body of information, they need a credible looking sites that give them enough information so they can size up the products based on credible judgment criteria. Finally, the format of review sites set people at ease psychologically. When people look at a review site, something clicks in their minds and they let down their guard.

Normally, people are skeptical. Normally, people are suspicious. There is something about the review site format that lets people let down their guard so they can help the review site help them. There are elements that consumers recognize that could help them. Typically, a review site would have a product overview, product description, review criteria, ratings and recommendation. This is a very powerful format because it disarms people’s natural skepticism and suspicions. Unfortunately, this formula is also prone to abuse.

Why do Most Review Sites Suck?

The main reason most review sites are sub standard and flt out suck, is because they suffer from one or all of the following structural weaknesses.

Conflict of interest. Too many review sites out there exist solely to sell products. They would recommend the product only because the person writing the review gets a commission when the review reader buys that product. This is a classic example of conflict of interest. Obviously, when you are going to get paid for a product that you recommend, you are less concerned with recommending the best product than making the most amount of money with your recommendation. Your interest does not line up with the interest of your reader. Your reader is looking for the best product possible, you are looking to make a sale. See what is wrong with this picture?

Weak Selection

Another common identifying feature of low quality review sites is that they have a weak selection. Instead of offering a broad cross section of representative products in a niche, they cherry pick products that are actually mismatched. The main reason they do this, is because they want to make their recommended products stand out. It is like trying to compare Manny Pacquiao with a third rate boxer.

Obviously, you are going to pick out Manny Paquiao because he is the best boxer out of the bunch. However, if you want to truly produce high quality review, you would have to mention Floyd Mayweather, Jr. in your review selection. This is the big difference between a cross section of representative products and a review that is stacked up to manipulate the reader into making a bad choice.

False Comparisons

As mentioned above, many review websites use false comparisons by pairing up irrelevant products with each other so as to force the reader to make the wrong choice. They do this by comparing apples to oranges. The only way somebody would make a truly informed decision, it to select among similar products with similar features, this way the user will pick out the best product.

Review Site Best Practices

If you want your review website to truly stand out and become credible in a market that is flooded with low quality review sites, you only need to follow the following best practices. By following all these quality standards, you rise head and shoulders above your competition. Most of your competition’s websites suck. They know it. The only reason they are making money is because their target audience do not have a choice. If you build a high quality review site, you give your target audience in your niche a real choice and guess what, creme rises to the top. People will seek you out, and your website will become the undisputed authority review site in your niche. Pay close attention to the following factors.

Wide selection of product within the same class. You should not stack your review so that it favors only the product that you are going to get an affiliate commission from. Instead, feature products that you are not going to make money from. When you do this, you clearly communicate to your reader that you are more interested in providing solid value to that reader than making a buck off that reader. Subconsciously, your reader will appreciate this, and this move builds loyalty. Compare apples to apples.

Exhaustive description of features. Too many review sites are very shallow. They do not even properly describe the products that they are reviewing. They just mention certain criteria and they go straight to the “review”. This review is a disgrace because it is really analyzes just a fraction of what they should be reviewing. Stand out from your competition by offering a full length, highly detailed, highly exhaustive description of the features that you are analyzing for your review.

Wide range of selection criteria. Another key factor that sets apart highly credible and highly authoritative review sites from low quality spam review sites, is the fact that high quality review sites have a very thorough range of selection criteria. This means that they really pick apart the features of products that they are reviewing and arrange them based on the areas of concern consumers of that particular product are most interested in. This is what makes your review useful or useless. If you are studying selection criteria that people looking for that product do not care about, you are not really doing them a favor. However, if you feature selection criteria that fully captures what they are really interested in, you are adding real value to their lives. At the very least, your selection criteria should be focused on the needs of your readers.

Full disclosure regarding conflicts of interest. This is what truly separates high quality review sites from low quality review sites. If you have a legal disclaimer that says that the products that you are reviewing and that the products that you are recommending sometimes include affiliate products for which you will be paid commission, you stand head and shoulders above your competition. Why? A lot of your shadier or scummier competition do not bother with this. They just try to trick the reader into thinking that they have the reader’s best interest in mind when making a recommendation. By being transparent regarding your potential conflict of interest, you come off as a straight talker. Transparency builds credibility with your website’s visitors.

Lots of graphics. The more pictures of products you offer your readers, the more credible you are. Why? Your readers are looking for a lot of information. They are looking for a full range of information. They are looking for as much data as possible that which they can process to make a truly informed decision. Offering lots of pictures helps get that message across. The more product pictures you offer, the more credible your reviews become. Instructional videos. Many people are still on the fence whether they would want to buy a product or not. By offering instructional videos, you establish a lot of credibility with your target audience because offering videos clearly communicates your level of concern for your readers. By showing them how a particular type of product operates, and they can be sufficiently impressed that you have their welfare in mind.

Comprehensive list of questions. Another reason why people read review sites is because they want to cover all bases. They want to make sure, before they buy a product, that they have all their Ts crossed and their Is dotted. When you list all sorts of related questions that would normally be asked about a particular product, you increase the likelihood that your review reader will assume that you are not just credible and an expert in that particular product niche, but you have his or her needs covered.

Make no mistake about it. The review niche is very saturated. There is just so many review sites on the planet. The best way for you to stand out, is to follow the best practices list outlined above. By providing maximum value to your readers, and being very clear about it, you increase your likelihood of becoming credible. Credibility is the key to online sales. The bottom line is, people will not buy from you if they do not trust you. They will only trust you if they find you credible. That is how it works. Make sure your review website is stocked with highly credible information.

About the Author: Lewis Crutch

As the administrator of Marketing Bees, Lewis Crutch manages all of the free advice and tips available here on the Marketing Bees blog as well as spending time putting together in-depth marketing related courses covering a wide range of topics including email, content and social media marketing.

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