The 12 Essential Elements of a Highly Effective Blog Review – Make More Money

September 12, 2008 - Written by Gyutae Park  

Do you want to engage your blogging audience, satisfy your advertisers, and make more money on your blog? A highly effective blog review can easily accomplish all three. In my previous 2 posts, I described the important reasons WHY you should write blog reviews and the strategies in finding WHAT to review. Today I want continue the blog review series by going over a few guidelines I use in HOW I structure the reviews on Winning the Web.

You may have a different approach in creating your reviews that works for your own blog. If that’s the case, I ask that you write a comment below and tell us more about it. Hopefully we can get a good discussion going and come up with more useful ideas.

Below are the essential elements I use in structuring highly effective blog reviews.

1. Come up with a killer title
As with all blog posts, the title makes or breaks the success of the review. You want to describe what the review is about while at the same time intriguing readers enough to learn more from your analysis. Generally what I do is I use the following structure for my review titles: “Product X Review – Catchy Tag Line”. The “Product X Review” component is great for SEO because the keyword is commonly used in searches and the catchy tag line complements it by improving click through rates and piquing interest. As an example, I titled one of my recent reviews T3leads Review – A Unique Affiliate Network with Big Money Claims. The post now ranks #1 in Google for ‘t3leads review’, #2 for ‘t3leads reviews’, and #4 for ‘t3leads’ and brings in a fair amount of visitors interested in the affiliate network.

2. Add relevant logos and screen shots
I’m sure you’ve heard the saying that “a picture’s a worth a thousand words” and it’s true. A colorful collection of company logos and product screen shots will more easily convey your opinions and make your review stand out from the crowd. Rather than just describe why you like a feature, why not include a picture so that readers can see for themselves? A simple picture or screen shot of yourself using a product can go a long way.

3. Include an objective description of the product or service
A lot of times I see bloggers writing about how they feel about products and services without first describing what these products and services really are and what they do. Don’t make this mistake. Many visitors to your site may be first-timers and may not really have the insider knowledge that many bloggers automatically assume. By objectively describing the subjects of your reviews, you make your blog more newbie-friendly and ultimately more welcoming.

4. Your initial opinions and thoughts – do you like it?
What’s a review without your opinion right? Provide insights into your first impressions and the processes you used to form your opinions. How did you come to like Product X? Try to be as unbiased as possible and give your review a general tone of either like or dislike. The lukewarm middle is a terrible place to be and indecisiveness is not what readers are looking for in an authoritative blog.

5. Weigh the pros and cons
Let’s face it. Nothing is perfect (although Winning the Web is pretty close :P). Everything has pros and cons and you’d be lying if you said a product had nothing negative about it. With that said, your reviews should list out the pros and cons in an easy to follow format. Readers expect to see both sides of the story and they’ll thank you for clearly laying it out. Lists work best in doing this.

6. Don’t just describe features, tell a story
If you want to write highly effective reviews, you have to first make the product your own. For example, rather than just listing out features and opinions, why not elaborate to your readers how you came across the product and how you plan on using it? It’s a lot more interesting when you inject your own personality and your own unique story. Anyone can list out some specs and say they’re cool, but a great story can make the most boring product review come to life.

7. Balance advertiser expectations and reader needs
Paid reviews present an interesting dilemma. Paying advertisers want a glowing review with nothing negative and yet readers want complete honesty and value. What’s a blogger to do? Go with the readers! If you’re against the product you’re reviewing, you really shouldn’t be reviewing it to begin with. Find products you like overall and review them with your readers in mind. This will help to naturally balance advertiser expectations and reader needs. How do I know this? I learned the hard way by doing a negative paid review of a low quality make money online ebook.

8. BE HONEST!
As a blogger, your readers are your #1 priority so it’s most important to be honest. If you’re falsely hyping up a product to increase sales and commissions, your readers will be able to see right through you and give you a bad reputation in the long run. You might think that you’d able to earn more money by writing overly glowing reviews, but trust is more important to your readers than what you say. They’ll buy from you if you’re honest and they like the offering.

9. Describe the impact and application to readers
Ok, so you think a product is great. So what? How does it impact your readers? Can they apply it to their own lives? This is an important component that many bloggers leave out in their reviews. Sure it’s great to provide an opinion, but it’s more valuable to demonstrate how a product or service can be used by other people. For example, in my review of Performancing Ads, I knew that most of my readers are smaller bloggers so I provided my thoughts on how it would impact them and offered to be the first to advertise on their blogs.

10. Give feedback and suggestions for improvement
This one is mostly for the benefit of the advertising company. If you’re going to list out the negatives of the product, why not offer some constructive criticism with feedback and suggestions for improvement. Not only will advertisers appreciate this very much, but it will also cement your status as an authority and attract more advertisers looking for feedback.

11. No follow links (if Google rankings are important to you)
Google has publicly declared war on paid links and looks down upon sites that sell PageRank. This includes links in paid reviews. If your Google rankings are important to you and you would rather not risk any penalties, you should add the nofollow attribute to all links in your paid reviews.

12. Optional disclosure at the end
This is a topic that frequently stirs up a lot of debate in the industry. Do you disclose that reviews are paid for or do you slip them in with the rest of your reviews? Yes, I mentioned that honesty and transparency are key, but this situation is a little bit different because readers may wrongly brush off or think negatively of a review just because it’s been paid for. When I disclose paid reviews, I prefer to add the note at the end so that readers see it after they’ve processed all of the information first. What do you do?

Bonus tip – Do a screen cast while you review
Another great way to make your reviews more effective is to do it on camera via screen cast. There is great software out there (like Camtasia) that enables you to make videos using the actions on your screen. This is a perfect opportunity to show your readers a product and to guide them through your evaluation process as if they’re in the room with you. Try it out and see how well it does on your blog.

There you have it – the 12 essential elements of an effective review. If you incorporate all of these components into your blog reviews, you should be able to engage your readers, attain new traffic, and make more money in the process. In the next post of this blog review series, I’ll be talking about marketing your reviews for more exposure and more income. Be on the lookout for that next post!

Also, please leave a comment below with your feedback. How do you structure your blog reviews? Anything that I missed?  Let us know!

The Complete Blog Review Series – Ultimate Guide on Writing Blog Reviews

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Comments

9 Responses to “The 12 Essential Elements of a Highly Effective Blog Review – Make More Money”

shy blogger on September 12th, 2008

I just learn how to make killer title..
It is just to find the scope and prospect of the product…

Gyutae Park on September 17th, 2008

Hey shy, titles are the most important on-page factor – not only for SEO, but for getting the attention of your readers. Learning the right copywriting tactics to craft killer titles will make a huge difference for your blog. Good luck!

 
 
Angel Cuala on September 13th, 2008

While I am doing my best to follow all your tips, it is the 12th tip that is quite intriguing to me.

I have previous questions to you on your 10 Reasons why…but I have not received any response from you yet, so here they are again.

1.0 Is it really alright for a paid post that you will not disclose that it is a paid post?

2.0 Will Google be still friendly to us when we do that?

3.0 Do you think it is more helpful if advertisers?

Although honesty is the best policy, what if the advertisers do not want you to disclose that it is a paid post? Anyway, my paid posts does not really directly invite my readers to visit the link as I am doing tip # 6.

Thanks.

Gyutae Park on September 17th, 2008

Hey Angel, here are my replies to your questions.

1. That’s up to you and the standard in your niche. I’ve found that disclosing paid posts will oftentimes scare away readers even though the content itself is very useful. Because of that I usually disclose at the end of the post.

2. Google will be okay with paid posts as long as you nofollow all links contained in the post. However, if you don’t disclose then Google may or may not know… but that’s up to you.

3. Advertisers may not want you to disclose a paid post, but you should always have your readers in mind first. Would they appreciate you labeling a paid post, or would it not matter in the industry you’re in?

 
 
People You'll See In Hell on September 13th, 2008

While I completely adore reading a good blog review, I’m not sure many people or products would like a review from “People You’ll See In Hell.”

Gyutae Park on September 17th, 2008

Just checked out your blog, People You’ll See in Hell, and you make a good point. However, I think there are still opportunities for you to review related products. For example, you could review security products, Halloween costumes, and identity theft kits – all stuff that’s related to the crime stuff you write about on your blog.

 
 
Ways to earn online on September 14th, 2008 Subscribed to comments via email

I have thought of doing blog reviews and your post really does give me a guideline.

Gyutae Park on September 17th, 2008

Great! I’m glad I could help. Now that you have a guideline, it’s important to take action and get started. Which part gives you the most trouble so far?

 
 
a on October 15th, 2008

Informing the readers about the impact that the material would have on them can be quite important as the readers will like to know, without having to research, what they will be getting from the site, and how they can add to it.

 
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