Can a Website Be Only Product Reviews? (in Response to Abie)

Last Update: December 16, 2021

As usual, I started replying to a question/blog post by a member (in this case Abie), and it turned into a monster-long reply.

So, as I occasionally do, I decided to turn my reply into a blog post in its own right.

I think it’s best that I include my traditional Disclaimer, as I tend to do.

What follows is merely my humble opinion.

I in no way purport to be an expert in these matters.

So, what I say may be viewed as completely wrong in some people’s eyes, whereas it may evoke a light bulb moment for others.

I am also not in any way dumping on the Wealthy Affiliate business model, it’s just not something that I would follow completely to the letter.

However, is this not what being an entrepreneur is all about?

Learning from various sources.

Trying things out.

Testing numerous ways of doing something.

Failing miserably.

Finding success (hopefully).

I know some of you love a good quote, so here’s a quote for you:

“No successful person in the history of mankind has ever achieved greatness by getting all the information they required from ONE SINGLE SOURCE” - Partha B, circa 2021 (while sitting on his couch eating cake, drinking coffee, judging people, and being a general a*s*)

Live a little people, enhance your education, challenge what you think you know to be right.

The Bootcamp Business Model

Okay, so the main crux of Abie’s question was how a product review only Affiliate Bootcamp/Make Money Online website would fare in light of Google’s recent Core and Algorithm updates.

I can’t say I’ve personally been through the Bootcamp training in its entirety, but I’ve had a quick speed read quite a few times.

So, from what I can gather the basic Bootcamp business model is to write an in-depth review of Wealthy Affiliate, sharing personal experiences and successes, failures, learning points, etc.

I’m not entirely sure how you can do this from Day 1 of joining Wealthy Affiliate, but who am I to judge? (But, I do judge, much the same as you judge me, “Where’s My Link??” Hahaha)

(Here's a quick question for you - in the same way you can’t “earn” from comments on the platform till you’ve been here for 3 months, should the same timescale be applied to Bootcamp websites? This may stop the influx of newcomers flooding the platform who believe Affiliate Marketing is the same as me on a Friday Night - FREE, EASY & ANYONE CAN DO IT!!)

Your WA review will also include the main points that you’d expect to see in a product review, e.g. product specs, price, success stories, pros, cons, recommendation, etc.

Then every article you create afterwards will be a product review of another MMO product.

Your aim is to say it’s okay, fairly decent, absolute crap, a complete scam.

You then offer a “better alternative”, i.e. Wealthy Affiliate.

This process is known as “Bait and Switch” and has been used successfully in marketing, both online and offline, for many years.

You dangle the bait - “Allow me to review this product for you, so you can make an informed purchasing decision”.

You flick the switch (BOOOOM) - “Nope, this product is about as useful as a poke in the eye with a sharp stick, plus it will make you homeless and give you irritable bowel syndrome. Here’s a MUCH BETTER alternative - Wacky Affiliate, Yaaaaayyyy!!!”

You get my meaning - perhaps a hint of sarcasm as well there.

Sarcasm???

Moi???

No, NEVER!!

Product Review Only Websites

So, the question was whether this tactic would still be successful going forward?

And this especially in light of the Google Core Updates of December 2020, April 2021, and December 2021.

As with most Google updates, in a nutshell, it’s all about enhancing the searcher’s experience.

This is what the search engines are there for.

Basically, to help people find things they’re looking for and answering any questions they may have.

Some of you will be old enough (and perhaps fluffy enough, LOL) to remember when the Internet was probably known as “The Britannica Encyclopedia, Editions A-Z”

Oh yes, in years gone by when people wanted to know something they had to make the effort to finger through a book of about 10,000 pages to find the answer to their question.

And yet, somehow, we appear to be dumber and less educated than 50 years ago (apparently, how would I know??)

Go figure.

Anyway, back to the point - Product Reviews, Google Updates, the Internet, Abie (Linkie).

Right, you can read a little more about the latest Google Product Review Update from Diane (plus, I have responded to the thread, simply with my OPINION once more, not fact, opinion).

Another Google Product Review Update

However, there was one paragraph of text that stuck out for me:

“Therefore we are introducing two new best practices for product reviews, to take effect in a future update.

  • 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.
  • Include links to multiple sellers to give the reader the option to purchase from their merchant of choice."

“TO TAKE EFFECT IN A FUTURE UPDATE” being very important in my mind.

I have mentioned in a previous reply that I expect MANY (Not ALL) purely product review websites to plummet in rankings in 2022 and onwards.

And this is purely because they don’t adhere to the two main points quoted by Google above.

So, for me, if you have product reviews that solely quote product specs, prices, etc. basically information that you could find on the vendors/merchant’s website, you’re NOT going to come out of this update very well.

How are you enhancing the searcher’s experience?

What information are you offering that can’t be found on the vendor’s website?

How are you talking from personal experience of using the product?

How are you providing additional information to support your “expertise”?

You’re not!!

You are basically riding the crest of a wave currently.

You may be ranking now.

You may be making sales now.

But, all good things (fake reviews) must come to an end.

If you’re currently ranking a huge number of product reviews using this method, unless you have some high DA websites linking to you (establishing authority), these product reviews are likely to go from page one to page 6-10, i.e. no-one is EVER going to see or read them (no commissions).

HOWEVER

There’s always a HOWEVER.

If your product reviews provide a lot more additional information, which includes personal experience OR personal opinion, you MAY fare quite well out of the recent updates.

This in effect is what WA teaches in Bootcamp.

Basically, turn your product reviews into informational articles.

What the hell do you mean by that, Partha?

What I mean is whenever you write a product review you want to provide as much information about the product as possible.

This should be both factual and opinion-based.

You don’t want a product review to sound like one massive sales pitch that merely contains marketing text.

If a consumer/searcher wants that then they can go to the vendor/merchant’s website and be sold to directly

So, in effect, a product review can be turned into an informational article by using the “People Also Ask” section of Google.

See what REAL questions are being asked by REAL people and include your WELL-RESEARCHED answer to these inside your “Review”.

As an example, type “Wealthy Affiliate Review” into Google and make your way to the People Also Ask section.

Click on a few of the questions and more will appear.

These are REAL questions asked (searched for) by REAL people.

Why Risk it?


Again, all of this is merely my humble opinion.

However, I personally don’t think you should risk it in any niche, i.e. don’t have solely product reviews on your site.

Okay, there are a few successful members who have followed this business model and done well.

But, they had ALREADY established expertise, authoritativeness, and trust (Google’s E.A.T.) before many of these recent Core updates came in.

You can get away with a lot more online once you have E.A.T.

In fact, I’m pretty sure that on my exercise website I could now write an article about how eating cake and lying on the couch for 16 hours a day can help you lose 7lbs in 7 days, and I’d probably rank for a plethora of related keywords.

Another thing to point out, and I’ve had this discussion with someone very recently, we judge WA Bootcamp success by VEGAS.

How many people do you actually think have been to Vegas since WA started over 16 years ago?

Not as many as you think.

In fact, nowhere near as many as you think.

I would say take the number you’re thinking of and divide it by 1,000, actually NO, divide it by 10,000, and you’ll probably still have too high a number.

I don’t say this to be negative or to say that the business model doesn’t work.

I’m saying that the vast majority of people never make the 300 sales per year.

Yes, there are some “success” stories whereby members are regularly making sales.

But even at 10-20 sales a month, you’re not going to hit 300 in a year.

I’m sure many people would be happy earning $2,000-$3,000 per month, but will never quite make enough sales to make it to Vegas.

But, you’re going to have to work damn hard to get to that stage.

And even more so in 2022 and beyond if you haven’t already created E.A.T with your website (at a guess, your website should be at least 2 years old by now).

I’m NOT saying it isn’t possible to create a great income from a product review ONLY website, but you will be the EXCEPTION rather than the RULE.

And this is why I think informational content is the way forward.

Do you honestly think that in about 6-9 months time Google is going to believe that a fairly new website has PERSONALLY purchased and run through with a fine-toothed comb over 100 products?

Not unless you’re someone like TechRadar.

Informational, Informational, Informational


Did you know that there are some highly successful people in the MMO niche who have NO product reviews on their website?

EVERY SINGLE ARTICLE is informational in nature.

How does that work you ask?

I’ll openly admit I’m not a great affiliate marketer.

Okay, I’ve made quite a few thousand $$$ over the years from AM, but it’s definitely not my main business model.

I’m all about the information and premium ads.

Plus, once you’re getting HUGE traffic you’ll find that people start to approach you for all sorts of things.

Companies will ask YOU to review their products and send you free supplies to try out.

People will want to advertise on your website.

Other Bloggers will be queuing up to guest post, pay for links, etc.

And you’ll even receive LEGITIMATE offers for your website (I’ve received two offers in the last 6 weeks for the exercise site, which is my newest website, both in the very high 5 figures, plus I’ve even had someone from Flippa contact me personally).

It Happens.

You’ll typically receive MORE traffic to an informational article than a product review (if your keyword research is on-point).

An informational article can be written in about half (if not less) the time that it takes to write a product review.

Plus, one of my favourite marketers, John Dykstra, (who’s main product I note has been reviewed by various bootcamp websites) has only informational content on his main MMO website.

He does all his product reviews via email marketing.

Plus, he’s honest enough to provide great information in his emails and then break up the text by saying, “The next section is my review of XXXX and the first link is an affiliate link, so I get a commission, the second link is a normal link, so I get NO commission”.

How many of you would be willing to do that?

With that being said, being honest, helpful, sincere and a good person seems to produce more sales than stuffing a badly-written, product spec heavy, no personal experience, product review down someone’s throat.

Who knew?

In Conclusion


As I’ve mentioned numerous times, all of this is simply personal opinion and speculation on my part.

However, one thing’s for sure, and that is with every Google update the aim to enhance the searcher’s experience.

So, in my mind, unless you ALREADY HAVE AUTHORITY, simply having a website with 700 product reviews, ALL slagging of the product and then offering WA as a better alternative, is not going to work going forward.

Yes, there will ALWAYS be exceptions to the rule, but why risk it?

What makes you think you’re going to be that exception?

You could be, then again you may not be.

As I’ve always said, first and foremost think about your readers, the people in your niche, etc.

Your aim is NOT to write for yourself, but to write for them.

Your aim is to find out what they want to know (try visiting the Reddit sub forums - JustStart, SEO, and Affiliate Marketing) and then provide a solution to their query via content (written, video, infographic, podcast, etc).

I don’t honestly feel that hundreds and hundreds of “fake” product reviews are going to cut it.

Another option for finding informational content - YouTube.

Check out videos from Gael @ Authority Hacker, Morten @ Passive Income Geek, Ricky @ Income School, John @ FatStacks, and find videos that ANSWER SPECIFIC QUESTIONS.

Also, check out videos by our very own WA members that do the same - Chris (Benji’s Dad), Roope, Vitally, Eric, Nathaniell, again looking for videos that have questions in the title.

Plenty of relevant and helpful informational articles, plus a splattering of product reviews that are EXTREMELY informational in content, that’s the way forward.

That’s it, I’m done.

As always, I repeat, just my opinion.

I could be right, I could be wrong.

Thank You For Reading

Partha

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Recent messages
chivs86 Premium
Thanks for sharing. I run a healthy living website and write a lot of reviews. On my MMO website, I definitely do recommend WA but honestly only because I haven't been approved for other programs. See lots of bait and witch articles - I try to be honest as possible in mine. No there are no friends in business but makes for better reading I think.
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TherapyJet Premium
...and I quote

"This may stop the influx of newcomers flooding the platform who believe Affiliate Marketing is the same as me on a Friday Night - FREE, EASY & ANYONE CAN DO IT!!"

...thanks for a great read. Good information, wise opinion (in my opinion ;)) and made me laugh out loud!

Have a great day,
Jane.
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Jesusfan Premium
Another great post, Partha. There was a lot I didn't understand, but I got the gist of it.

Do you think a person can write an honest review of a product they haven't tried? Is it okay to admit you haven't tried it? I mean, that would be honest.

I wrote a review once of a product that I had ordered but not received. After I got it and tried it, I had to go in and fix a few things, lol.

I determined it was probably better to only write reviews on products I had purchased.

Lynn
Reply
hanley Premium Plus
Yawn, however I do agree that picking the best suggestions out of the offers made is a skill that not all have.

It can be developed if they try it however the easy path is usually the winner.

Maybe it is being scared of failing that people stay on the tried and true path instead of venturing into the unknown.

However I agree with your condensed post said from someone that dislikes product reviews.

Peter H
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EdwinBernard Premium Plus
Great rant Partha! Right on point too!

I agree, that more than one training source is necessary to bridge the gap from being an average earner to a super affiliate earner.

Wealthy Affiliate is super to get rolling until one starts to earn a regular serious income. And to become savvy enough to know what one doesn't know. Only then it makes sense to seek out additional information and tools.

In my humble opinion, at least 80% of what one needs to earn enough to replace one's day job exists here. And for many, that is perfectly acceptable.

I feel certain that the Super Affiliates who make it to Vegas regularly have learned a great deal through other sources in addition to WA. If I am wrong, that's OK as I really don't know for sure.

Now that Premium Plus is here and we can listen to them directly and ask them questions, it will be possible to learn more about this question.

However, until one is earning significantly already, having that information won't really be of help as it will be premature.

One last point. I never trash a product I am reviewing. I apply tact because the person who is reading my review may have spent their hard-earned money on that product.

Instead, I offer them a golden parachute if they eventually come to their own conclusion that what they purchased was hollow. The solution I present is the importance to learn how to leverage the internet for any online business including affiliate marketing.

You can guess where I am heading. Wealthy Affiliate. What makes this feel unpressured is they can join the platform for free to see for themselves if what I tell them is true, from their perspective.

Thanks for taking the time to write this post. I love your sense of humor and it was fun to read.

Cheers.

Edwin
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