If you’ve been wondering how to setup a review website and you’re using the WordPress platform you’ve come to the right guide.
Today I’m going to take you through one of the most profitable types of niche websites: the review website.
Doing reviews is something that has a high enough barrier to entry that people tend to still steer away from setting them up on a whim.
With Google cracking down on thin niche websites that have very little content, setting up a review website is a good way to pad out those sites by adding useful content that your visitors will love.
Setting Up Your Review Website With WordPress
I recommend using WordPress in a lot of cases and rather than telling you how great it is like everyone else, I’m just going to assume you know why it’s a good platform to use.
If you aren’t familiar with WordPress but you’ve been considering using it for setting up a review website then here’s some reasons why you should use it over other platforms:
- Easy to setup quickly – you don’t waste time on setting up the site which means you can get started with the important stuff like writing reviews
- Very extensible – you can extend it to more than just a blog, which is what WordPress is sometimes pigeon held as. For example, today you’ll see how to setup proper review posts with rich snippets.
- Separation of front end and functionality
Why Would You Start A Review Website
There’s two main reasons I can identify for why you would want to start a review website:
The first is if you have experience with specific types of products in a niche and you feel that there’s an audience for reviews of those products.
The second is that review websites are a great strategy for expanding the content of a niche website. So if you have a website in a particular niche already that could benefit from product reviews it’s a good way to enhance your visitor’s experience on your website so you’re not just putting out a “thin” content website.
Review websites are also a great monetization technique. If you’re into affiliate marketing like I am then you’re always looking for different ways to get products in front of visitors.
A genuine, well written review is a fantastic way to:
- Build trust leading up to asking them to click a link
- Provide pre-sale information
- Provide opinions about the quality of the product which can influence the customer’s thinking
Important Point: Be Genuine
It’s really important that your reviews are genuine. Don’t just spit out low-quality review pages that don’t add anything to the conversation of your niche.
Google has been cracking down on websites using bogus reviews to monetize their sites and it’s because these types of reviews don’t help anyone.
Your goal should be to provide a genuine, well written review that provides the customer with the necessary information to help their purchase.
Making Sure You Have Rich Snippet Information
Rich snippets are what lets Google display the little rating stars on their search results. It’s also what shows things like people’s photograph next to results.
These little rating stars really increase the click through rate of your review posts on your website. I’ve seen a massive increase in click throughs on review posts since implementing rich snippets.
For example, if you Google “bluehost pro” you’ll find my big review post on Bluehost’s Pro service. It doesn’t rank #1 all the time, but it still gets a good click through rate because of the rich snippets showing the rating stars (I gave it 5 stars by the way).
How To Make A Review Post With Rich Snippets In WordPress
The first step after you’ve setup your base WordPress installation is to install a plugin for handling the reviews.
There’s a number of plugins you can use but I recommend checking out Author hReview which is a plugin by Hesham Zebida of FamousBloggers.net.
I’ve been using the pro Author hReview plugin on a number of my review websites and also the website you’re reading now (which is what drives the rich snippets here).
It’s very easy to use and setup and once you have it setup it takes care of all the nitty gritty code bits for you.
To evaluate the plugin I recommend you check out the lite version which is in the WordPress.org plugins area.
The lite version is good for sporadic review posts, but if you’re setting up a full review website you’ll want to check out the new release that Hesham just made today which is the next step up.
Setting Up A Full Reviews Website
If you’re getting into setting up a full reviews website and you want a solution to take care of everything then you’ll probably want to check out WP Reviews (released officially today).
WP Reviews is the best way to build a rating and reviews website with WordPress, hands down.
I had a play around with it on my test website and setup a few review posts. I’ll be looking to roll this out to most of my review websites in the very near future.
Here’s a couple of screenshots of what it can do:
This is an example review that I made of a Premium Bird Cage product (a fake product). As you can see the plugin can output a nice big meta box at the start of your review containing all the vital information that people need at their finger tips.
There’s the review summary along with the editor rating, and you can even setup different criteria of how you rated the review which I thought was really cool.
As you can see, the WP Reviews handles taking user ratings as well which is a nice touch for review websites.
Users don’t have to be logged to rate, and the plugin even takes care of disallowing multiple clicks so they can only rate once. It does this by tracking IPs and also using cookie tokens.
It also puts a call to action button which you can alter the text and colour of.
When you’re adjusting the details of your review you can easily setup a Pro’s and Con’s list which is a feature many other review systems overlook.
These little pro and con boxes give your visitors a snapshot of your review without them having to read through the article straight away.
I know when I look through a review of a product for the first time I usually skip to the end to see if there is a Pro & Cons list before going back and reading through the rest of the review. The plugin lets you output this information right at the top so people can see your opinions at a glance.
Finally, at the end of your post once your visitor has finished reading through your review there’s a smaller box to sum up. This lets you remind them that they can buy the product now.
You could link this button to a product page where you sell the product itself or in many case you’ll want to hook this up to your affiliate link.
This plugin plays nicely with ThirstyAffiliates as well, my affiliate link management plugin for WordPress, I use the combo to great effect on my review websites.
Setting Up The Review Details
Actually setting up the details of your review is quite simple.
You write your review as you would any other blog post, but instead of just leaving it there there’s a new meta box underneath the main post editor that lets you fill in review information.
Once you start filling in the information it switches on the review functionality of the post and gives you all the options for outputting the review data like I’ve done for my example product above.
The interface is pretty straight forward, just go through the tabs turning on the bits you want to display for this review.
There’s a couple of extra features in WP Reviews WordPress plugin that are worth mentioning:
In the lite and other versions of the previous plugin Author hReview you don’t have a main listing of all the reviews so if you have a big site like mine where there’s hundreds and hundreds of posts they can get lost if you ever need to go back and amend things.
In WP Reviews though, because it’s made for running a site that is focused on doing reviews, there is a central listing of all the reviews in the system.
Rich Snippet Testing
Accessible from the central listing is a link directly to the rich snippet testing tool by Google which lets you verify your rich snippets and fix any mistakes so you can go back and adjust your review.
The rich snippet testing tool by Google shows you a preview of exactly how your review will show up in the search results. It’s nice to see how it will change when you adjust your review settings so you can really make your reviews pop when they come up in the SERPs.
Adding Review Content To Your Review Website
As you’ve seen with this setup it can be quite simple to add reviews to your website and have all the appropriate rich snippet data generated for you along with some pretty snazzy looking user interface boxes.
Just one final word on content quality, as you can see from the following posts people, companies and even Governments are getting serious about fake reviews:
- As Fake Reviews Rise, Yelp, Others Crack Down on Fraudsters
- Yelp Is Going To Extreme Lengths To Crack Down On Fake Reviews
- Google Warns SEO & Businesses to Avoid Fake Reviews
If you are thinking that building a review website filled with fake reviews is a great way to make quick money online then think again.
In all cases that I’ve had success with building review websites, they have been cases where the reviews have been written by me about products that I care about and have some knowledge about.
This personal touch actually makes the reviews stand out more and avoids any penalties that could be had from manufacturing dodgy reviews.
I highly recommend using the WordPress and WP Reviews plugin if you’re going to follow the strategy of adding reviews to your existing website or building a review website from scratch. It’s certainly the easiest way to get going with all the proper rich snippet code, it gives you maximum flexibility and looks great to boot.
Check out WP Reviews and get a 50% discount
For the launch of WP Reviews I’ve been speaking with the creator Hesham about it and he’s agreed to provide a discount coupon code for the launch period for 20% off.
In addition to this, the plugin itself is already 30% off the regular price at the moment on their website, so if you’re thinking about setting up a review site or adding a review portion to your website then I suggest grabbing a copy before 10th of June, 2013.
Use the coupon code “WPR20”
Do you have any experience creating review websites or do you plan to build one? Let me know in the comments about your plans. Building review websites has been incredibly rewarding for me, I would love to hear about other people’s experience with them.