With ever changing Google algorithms it is becoming very difficult to make business from affiliate marketing. So how to write high quality product reviews to make Google happy? Read more below.
Google has recently published their latest guide for product reviews. So it is best to see what they write and then to try to understand what they expect.
All the items from Google’s guide are given below and discussed. So let’s see what they say and how this all can be understood. The sub-titles are from Google, and the paragraphs are my own views for each of them.
1. Evaluate the product from a user’s perspective
I guess this should not be difficult. This is about problem solving and helping a reader finding what he or she needs. Take a backpacking tent as an example. If the manufacturer declares that it is a 3-person tent, give your opinion if this is really so.
Can 3 people really sleep inside? Do they still have enough space for their gear? Is the tent light enough to be carried on the trail?
Also, one person can exhale 200-400 grams of vapor during the night in a tent, and a part of it will condense on the ceiling. So is ventilation good enough for 3 people? Are there vents on the fly to let vapor escape. You get the idea.
2. Demonstrate that you are knowledgeable about the products reviewed – show you are an expert.
In the example above I already raised a few questions that may show expertise. But this can be expanded even more.
In the mentioned issue of ventilation, can you show some better example of a similar backpacking tent? You can compare the weight with some other tent, make an area-to-weight ratio and show which tent is more appropriate for the trail and for three users.
You can also show with arguments for what sort of climate this particular tent is most suitable. Provide alternatives for some other environment.
3. Provide evidence such as visuals, audio, or other links of your own experience with the product, to support your expertise and reinforce the authenticity of your review.
This may be tough to satisfy and here is why. If you want to have a business, you have to have many product reviews. This is all about big numbers. The formula is simple. Roughly speaking 10% of those who come to your site will follow the link, and then 10% of these will eventually buy.
So out of 100 visitors, you will have one sale. Imagine this is some outstanding brand, you will not have more than 10% commission. On Amazon this is 3% for outdoor equipment. This means you have to have many reviews if you want to create a full time income.
Now, how can you demonstrate your own experience with so many products? You probably do not have access to most of them, and you cannot afford to buy them all. See the problem?
4. Share quantitative measurements about how a product measures up in various categories of performance.
My guess is that this may imply the following. I use the tent again as an example. A tent is supposed to protect its users, this can be against rain, but also against cold.
So if it is very breathable, this may imply it is not a great option in a cold environment. But if you go for a more enclosed construction, it will be heavier and it may be less ventilated.
As mentioned above, this is about problem solving. So you do not have to sell this particular product, its review you can use to suggest some other which will perform better. Show some facts that support this.
5. Explain what sets a product apart from its competitors.
It is always good to point out unique details. This shows your expertise as well, see the items 2 and 3 above. Of course, not everybody will buy just because the product is unique, but some will love to have such items.
But there are products with a patented design, this shows that the brand behind is serious, and it is likely the product will be on the market for a long period. This also means a user can expect product support if things go wrong etc. All these details may be important for the buyer.
6. Cover comparable products to consider, or explain which products might be best for certain uses or circumstances.
I have partly answered this above. But there may be more. There are some useful plugins for product comparisons.
So choose features that are essential and put them side by side in a comparison table. This looks good visually, it adds value and it is easy to understand. Then comment what the best combination may be for certain circumstances.
7. Discuss the benefits and drawbacks of a particular product, based on your own original research.
This can be done effectively with a table that contains pros and cons. You can always elaborate a bit more under such a table.
8. Describe how a product has evolved from previous models or releases to provide improvements, address issues, or otherwise help users in making a purchase decision.
I have many examples of this type in my sites about outdoor equipment. In fact, for me this is annoying because I have to rewrite a complete post, so this is not about adding new texts to the site.
Some good products remain on the market for many years and you have to do the same every couple of years or so. Right now I have a few in the list to do for the third time.
But sometimes I write a completely new text and then make a redirect of the old one, or keep both because the previous version is usually still on the market. This can last for years.
In such cases I describe in detail what new features are, and I give my opinion if the product is really improved or not. Sometimes I suggest that modifications are not worth the extra money (such new versions are usually more expensive).
9. Identify key decision-making factors for the product’s category and how the product performs in those areas (for example, a car review might determine that fuel economy, safety, and handling are key decision-making factors and rate performance in those areas).
Frankly speaking, I am not sure that I understand why they put this separately. My feeling is that such issues are already covered in the other items here in the text.
10. Describe key choices in how a product has been designed and their effect on the users beyond what the manufacturer says.
This implies either i) expertise in the topic, or ii) reviewing a product that you actually have. The issue is related to the item 7 above and pros and cons.
In both cases its should not be difficult to properly address this issue. My view is that I do not have to sell, so it is not about convincing a reader to buy, but to present facts.
I am sure this is against teaching of many gurus but this is what I do. People are not idiots, but indeed I have read somebody’s text where the author writes “treat them like sheep”. As a buyer, I myself do not want to be sold and convinced, I want to make my own an informed decision.
11. Include links to other useful resources (your own or from other sites) to help a reader make a decision.
In some reviews I make link to my other sites. For example, I have cots in one site, and I can link such a review with some reviews about sleeping pads in my another site. This is relevant because these items are frequently used together.
It is interesting that Google here says “your own”. As I remember, in the past some people claimed that Google dislikes such interlinking between your own sites. However, Google is a schizophrenic beast and you never know what comes next.
But in most cases my links go to Wikipedia or some other org site where the reader can find explanation of a term used in the review. I normally always open the link in a new window.
12. Consider including links to multiple sellers to give the reader the option to purchase from their merchant of choice.
So Google uses the word ‘consider’. From this it may look that this is not a must. If you are a beginner, it may be difficult to have multiple options because you may not be an affiliate with many sellers. In such cases, you might add links that are not affiliate links.
But in time you will become an affiliate of many sellers and you can add multiple links. I have them several almost always, sometimes 5 in total.
This is useful for a reader because he or she can compare prices and make decision instantly. This is better than lose a potential buyer because he or she cannot decide before seeing more offers.
13. When recommending a product as the best overall or the best for a certain purpose, include why you consider that product the best, with first-hand supporting evidence.
The problem in this is the last part, ‘with the first-hand supporting evidence’. So the issue is the same as the one discussed in the item 3 above. It may be difficult to have access to products and having such an experience.
Here is what I sometimes do. I go to my local outdoor shops and try to find the product there. So imagine this is a backpack, then I can try it in the shop and even take some photos that I can use.
14. Ensure there is enough useful content in your ranked lists for them to stand on their own, even if you choose to write separate in-depth single product reviews for each recommended product.
What Google says here is what I am not really doing. So I am clearly making a mistake, but the problem is when you have a site with 1000 posts, you cannot adapt instantly to some new criterion that comes to Google’s mind.
I have individual detailed reviews with links to sellers. But I also have very long list of ‘best of’ type posts that point to those reviews. Well, in such lists posts Google want enough information about every product that is included, this is what they are saying in this item.
Thank you for reading. You might want to see more about such topics in the category Search Engine Optimization here in the site. Let me know if you have questions, there is a comment box below.