Learning how to write product reviews that rank on Google and compel visitors to make a purchase can make a major difference to the success of your affiliate marketing business.
Trust me, I’m speaking from experience here.
My early attempts to make money from blogging went nowhere. I would spend countless hours trying to write reviews for affiliate products I wanted to promote, only to find that they got buried in the search results and generated barely enough to cover my hosting and domain costs.
It wasn’t until I started to develop the techniques, strategies, and ideas I’m about to share with you today that my fortunes began to change.
Writing product reviews using the following process helped me go from $0 to months, where my website portfolio regularly generates $40,000 in monthly revenue. I hope they help you enjoy similar success.
Why Do People Read Product Reviews?
If you’re going to learn how to write anything, it pays to understand precisely why somebody would want to read in the first place. This is especially true with product reviews from which you plan to make money.
There are two main reasons why 90% of shoppers turn to online reviews before making a purchase, both of which boil down to the simple fact that eCommerce has changed the way most of us shop.
The first reason is that, unlike buying from a traditional brick-and-mortar store, there’s usually only a way for us to get a real, up-close look at a product we’re thinking of buying once we plunk down a credit card. Of course, product pictures and video demonstrations are a good start, but they still need to match physically holding a product in your hand and seeing it in action.
As such, so many people turn to product reviews to, in essence, experience the product vicariously through the reviewer.
Done right, a good review addresses customers’ questions and concerns and helps them get a solid insight into whether or not that particular item will add enough value to their lives that it’s worth paying for.
The second reason is that even when we can test out a particular product, there are so many options available to us that it can get tough to determine which one is going to give us the most bang for our proverbial buck.
Again, this is where product reviews come in useful.
To give an example, let’s say you’re in the market for a new lawnmower. You shop around online and even head to your nearest DIY store to get a better look at a couple of options.
When you’re done, you’ve got three top-quality lawnmowers to pick from. Each one looks incredible in the store and, naturally, gets a convincing, positive pitch from the salesperson, but that still doesn’t give you any guarantees of what it’s going to be like to cut your grass with one once you get home.
Providing it’s honest, a product review will.
You can go online and read reviews from people whose situation, environment, and budget are just like yours, who have purchased and tested the lawnmowers you’re thinking of buying and can tell you -perhaps even show you- what it’s like to use them, making it much easier to make that final purchasing decision.
Ultimately, what I’m talking about here are audience needs, and as any successful business owner knows, the key to making significant profits is to meet those needs. The next section of this guide will show you exactly how to do that.
How to Write an Effective Product Review for Affiliate Marketing: 12 Simple Steps
Before we go any further, I’m writing the following steps assuming that you’ve already taken care of the basic steps of affiliate marketing, such as choosing a niche, researching your audience, and setting up a blog.
If not, I recommend you check out my guide on how to start a blog, which will teach you how to do all that and more.
Once you’ve got your niche, audience, and blog all good to go, it’s time to start working on your reviews.
Here’s how it’s done.
1. Pick the Right Product
If you understand your niche well enough and have done your homework, you’ll certainly know the products relevant to your audience. Still, it pays to be selective when deciding which ones you will review.
In cases where you’ve signed up for an affiliate program via a third-party marketplace like Clickbank, you may be tempted to dive straight into the products that offer the most commission.
That’s certainly one way to do it, but if nobody is looking for that particular product or the brand has fallen out of favor with your niche audience, writing about it may not deliver the best return on your investment.
Suppose we’re talking purely about writing product reviews that rank highly in the search results. In that case, one alternative is to research and find out what types of products and which particular models people are talking about and want to know more about.
There are a few simple ways to carry out this research.
A. Follow Industry News
I can’t think of any affiliate marketing niche that wouldn’t have its news sources, whether it be actual news sites, other blogs, or even the social media accounts of well-known brands in your industry.
The Trick is to follow them and keep an eye out for hot new product launches that have a buzz around them. That buzz is a good sign that people will want to hear more about that product from a trusted source who has used it.
Sign up as an affiliate, use the product, and become that source.
B. Use Social Listening Tools
Use these to your advantage.
Set up social listening tools to keep track of what brands and products people are talking about and review them. Alternatively, you could even use it to discover your typical reader’s problems and challenges and pick products to review that solve those problems.
C. Search for Best-Selling Popular Products
If you’re making money with the Amazon Associates program, consider diving into the various best-seller lists and reviewing those currently ranking well.
The problem with this approach is that those lists are updated frequently, almost hourly, so there’s no guarantee that you’ll get much long-term traffic from your review.
A better idea is to use a tool such as AMZScout. Although the tool is primarily designed to help eCommerce retailers and drop shippers find low-competition products to sell, it can also be an excellent tool for affiliate marketing business as it allows you to track the sales data of individual products on Amazon.
This kind of data can help you make an informed decision about what to review based on long-term popularity.
D. Keyword Research
Last but not least, let’s not forget how effective keyword research can be in revealing the products, brands, and product categories people want to know about and the kind of questions and problems they want answers to.
Both can be useful for deciding what products to review on your affiliate marketing site.
Using any of the top keyword research tools can help you uncover current and historical search volume data about popular brands and products so that you can choose which ones to target for ranking and drawing traffic to your site.
Using keyword research to identify questions and problems can also be helpful.
Let’s say you run a cooking blog and discover that there are people out there searching for the term “how to make a smoothie bowl.”
You happen to know of a great product that makes creating delicious smoothie bowls that much easier, so you create a review that shows people how to do it while using that particular product.
2. Legitimately Use the Product
If you’re reviewing a popular product in a popular niche, then there’s a strong possibility that there’ll be other reviews of that product on the web.
Some less-than-reputable affiliate sites out there will simply rehash these reviews in their own words and pass off other people’s opinions as their own.
I strongly urge you not to do this. In fact, if you only do one thing I tell you today, please let it be this:
Do not copy other reviews. Get the product for yourself and give people your genuine opinion.
There are two reasons why this is so important:
A. It Doesn’t Help Anybody
Rehashing other product reviews is ultimately a waste of everybody’s time. I’ve lost count of the times I’ve been researching something I wanted to buy and found three or four reviews that all say essentially the same thing.
When you’ve been doing this for as long as I have, you can easily spot which reviewers have never actually used the thing they’re writing about.
That’s enough for me to hit the back button quickly, and if your readers spot the same tell-tale signs that I usually pick up on, they’ll be doing the same thing.
I’m not the only one. 75% of shoppers say that spotting a fake review on a website would ruin their trust in other product reviews on the same site.
B. Google Doesn’t Like It
Google is even better than me at spotting fake reviews written by cash-grabbing affiliate marketers who’ve never so much as touched the thing they’re reviewing, and, just like me, they don’t like it.
Yet, whereas all I’ll do is leave your site, Google will hit your business much harder by ranking your review so far back in the search results that it may as well not be there, meaning any time you did spend writing that review was all for naught.
Remember, Google’s mission is to give people the most valuable and relevant information to help them in their lives.
A poor quality, fake review is little help to anyone, whereas an honest review based on a genuine experience of using the product could potentially help many people; ergo, it stands a better chance of ranking highly.
3. Learn What Customers Want to Know About Your Product
Not all product reviews are created equally. What you include in yours will largely depend on what your audience wants to know.
Think about it:
Readers shopping for sports clothes may be eager to learn about the color and design, but that’s hardly going to be a pressing priority for those reading a review of a leaf blower.
So how do you determine what customers want to know?
Keyword research can once again come to the rescue here, but you also have other options available to you.
Suppose the product is available on Amazon, for example. In that case, the ‘Customer Questions & Answers’ section on the product page should give you a solid insight into what people ask before purchasing elsewhere; Google’s autofill function is another helpful method.
Try starting a few searches with terms like:
“What does Product X…”
“How does Product X…’
“Why is Product X…”
Take a look at the suggested search terms Google presents you with. These are all questions people have searched for in the past, so they should give you more ideas of things you need to address in your reviews.
That’s not to say that you can’t talk about the most important things or the features you like most. In fact, doing so will help to lend a sense of authenticity to your review that can ultimately help to build trust with your readers and, in turn, boost sales.
I’m simply saying that you need to remember the whole point of your reviews is to give people the information they’re looking for to help them make an informed purchasing decision. Do that, and you should see a sizable boost in your conversions.
4. Be Honest and Impartial
It’s no secret that people respond well to positive reviews. One academic study shows that favorable online comments can boost readers’ confidence and trust in the product, resulting in more sales.
However, that doesn’t mean that you should review your product through rose-tinted glasses and overlook any of the negative aspects of the product in question.
Because it’s probably dishonest for one thing, as much as I may love many of the products I review, I’d be lying if I said they were all without flaws, and I have no problem pointing out those flaws.
To give you an example, Aweber is a great email marketing tool, but in my Aweber review, I was completely honest about the fact that it could be more user-friendly.
But wait, doesn’t writing negative comments dissuade people from purchasing? Shouldn’t you focus only on how good a product is if your goal is to drive referrals to your affiliate merchants?
People aren’t stupid, and a review that only highlights the good qualities of a product without offering any criticism can soon lead them to suspect that you have ulterior motives for writing your review.
Evidence shows us that 30% of consumers suspect a review of being fake if it contains no negative comments.
Elsewhere, another report shows us that readers who seek out bad reviews are 67% more likely to convert than those who only look for glowing reviews.
In comparison, 68% say that they trust a review more when it offers balanced opinions covering a product’s good and bad aspects.
To sum up, by being honest and weighing up the pros and cons of the product you’re reviewing, you’ll do a better job making sales than if you only focused on the positives.
5. Outline Who Your Review is For and How the Product Can Help Them
Now that you’ve done the research and groundwork, it’s time to start writing.
Your introduction is your one and only opportunity to convince readers that your review is worth sticking around to read.
A simple-yet-effective way to do that is to establish that you empathize with the problems your readers face and outline how the product in question will help them.
For example, when I write about things such as the best email marketing software, I might draw on my experience in the early days of growing my business and how I found that most software was either too difficult or too expensive for a newcomer like I was.
That’s a problem a lot of people face when they’re new to making money online, and if it’s one a reader happens to be also dealing with, they’ll likely stick around at least long enough for me to then explain how, eventually, I found the perfect tool that’s both affordable and easy to use.
If I were reviewing a battery-powered leaf blower, I would talk about the problem of having a huge yard covered in leaves in the fall and how using a normal gas-powered leaf blower was terrible for the environment and my wallet.
Again, that’s a problem that many readers in that niche could relate to. It lets them know that there’s someone out there who understands what they’re dealing with, and when you tell them that a battery-powered version can solve that problem, they will want to know more.
7. Use Proper Review Formatting
Having hooked people in with your intro, you can start diving into the meat and potatoes of your review.
Here, you should use proper formatting, breaking down key sections of your review with subheadings.
Read any of my reviews, and you’ll notice that I use H2 headings to start each new section, with each section focusing on a different aspect of the product, such as the pricing, key features, and user experience.
Below those H2s, I’ll often break each section down with further H3, H4, and H5 subheadings, depending on the information I need to convey.
As an example, a typical review of mine may look like this:
REVIEW TITLE (H1)
PRODUCT FEATURES (H2)
- Feature 1 (H3)
- Feature 2 (H3)
- Feature 3 (H3)
PRODUCT PRICING (H2)
- Product Price Plan 1 (H3)
- Product Price Plan 2 (H3)
PRODUCT PROS & CONS (H2)
- Pros (H3)
- Cons (H3)
..And so on.
This achieves multiple things:
A. It Helps Your Review to Rank
Google likes properly structured articles, so using this kind of formatting is only going to help boost your position in search results.
B. It Helps Readers to Find Key Information
Let’s say I land on your review, and the most pressing thing I want to know about is the pricing. If you’ve talked about pricing in its clearly-labeled section, it’s much easier for me to find what I need than if I had to scroll through endless, unformatted paragraphs.
When you make it easier for me to find what I want, I’m more likely to click your link and check out the product.
You can further improve this by using a table of contents like those at the top of my reviews. This helps readers to navigate to the most important sections.
8. Link Features to Benefits
The product you’re reviewing may have the coolest features in the world, packed with next-generation technology and all the proverbial bells and whistles, but the fact is that features alone don’t sell products; benefits do.
In other words, while talking about the features is important, you’ll get the best results by explaining how readers can benefit from them.
For example, we just bought new patio chairs for our homemade from rattan with a steel frame.
That’s a feature, but it’s not something most people will care about.
So if I was writing a review of these chairs, I’d focus more on how the materials benefit us because they’re easy to clean, look great out in the garden, and can withstand the elements, meaning they’ll last us a long time.
Those are the things people care about when purchasing a new product and the things you should focus on when describing the product in your review.
9. Show, Don’t Tell
Remember earlier when I talked about how important it was to try out the product legitimately? Be sure to prove it with photos, screenshots, or videos.
I could write thousands of words telling you that I used a certain product, but why should you believe me unless I can prove it to you?
This is why when I write reviews such as this one for Sendinblue, you’ll notice that I always include a section where I show you how I used the service to show you that I’m not just making everything up.
Again, this is about proving to your readers that you’re genuine, inspiring them to trust you, and, ultimately, clicking through to your product.
10. Provide Social Proof
Keeping in mind what I said earlier about honesty and impartiality, I always include one example of a positive and negative review to provide balance.
Not only does this present a fresh perspective and show readers what other genuine customers think of the product, but it also saves them the trouble of having to read more reviews, boosting the probability that they’ll click your affiliate links and go right to the product.
11. Provide Alternatives
You could have the greatest product in the world and write a compelling, honest review full of real-life examples of how people can benefit from that product, but the truth is that it’s just not going to be right for everyone.
This is where it can pay to provide your audience with a few alternative products.
This has the double benefit of subtly telling your audience that you’re not biased towards any single product while also helping to boost your sales by including affiliate links to those alternatives.
12. Provide a Summary
The summary at the end of your review is your last chance to persuade readers to check out the product.
Reviews tend to be quite long, so by recapping all the main highlights, you’re essentially coming up with a final pitch that reminds your audience of all the ways that they could benefit from the product and motivates them to want to buy it.
At this point, don’t forget to include a Call to Action (CTA) link to the product to capitalize on that motivation and generate a sale.
I tend to take this one step further by also recapping any drawbacks and disadvantages to dissuade anyone from buying the product if it isn’t right for them. Where possible, I’ll lead on from this by linking to one of the alternatives I just talked about.
Although that may seem counterproductive if I want to make sales, the last thing I want is for a reader of mine to put their trust in me and then buy a product I’ve recommended that ultimately doesn’t meet their needs.
All that’s going to do is betray that trust, meaning they probably won’t come back to my site or trust me as much when reading other reviews of mine.
How to Write Product Reviews That Sell and Rank: A Final Word of Advice
The key to writing successful product reviews which rank and sell is, to be honest, present yourself as someone your readers can relate to and trust, and provide them with genuine, valuable information that helps them to make a purchasing decision.
Of course, that’s a lot more work than writing a fake review for a product you’ve never even laid your hands on, but it will produce much better results.
Speaking of work, there are a few additional things you’ll need to adhere to when writing your review.
The first is adhering to SEO best practices to give yourself the best possible chance of pleasing Google’s algorithms when they come to ranking your site.
If that’s something that’s new to you, you might find this step-by-step beginner’s guide to SEO helpful.
Finally, to comply with FTC rules and create the kind of transparency that can boost reader trust, you’ll also need to disclose that you stand to make money from your review. If you’re not sure how to do that, I recommend checking out my complete guide to affiliate disclosures, complete with 10 effective examples.