How to Write a Proper Website or Blog Review: What Elements to Include in a Paid or UnPaid Review

These days there are quite a few people out there writing reviews of other websites and blogs. Many people write these reviews primarily because they find a site that interests them. Others do so because they want to make some money and get paid; they use services like ReviewMe or PayPerPost to find sites looking for reviews. What I’ve noticed, however, is that many people are cheating their reviewees out of a proper website or blog review.

It seems that the only requirement that many of these review services have is that you meet a minimum number of words in your review. I can’t tell you how many bad reviews I’ve seen. Understand that a bad review in this context does not mean a review saying that a site isn’t very good, but one that doesn’t properly cover all the bases. For example, look at this bad review that I received recently through the ReviewMe Marketplace. The author says one good thing about my site BiggerPockets®, but the review is completely lacking. It is completely useless, and I’m actually shocked that it was approved by ReviewMe. Notice that they really don’t say anything at all about the site?

5/14/07 Update: ReviewMe refunded me for the cost of this review after I sent an email to them about the issue.

I’ve seen spectacular reviews of sites that are very harsh, but the reviews are good ones, as they help both the reader and the reviewee out. Lets look at some of the more important elements to cover when doing a review:

Elements to Cover When Writing a Paid or Unpaid Website / Blog Review

  • Design - The first thing that you see when looking at a website is its design. Is the design pleasing to the eye? Is the site cluttered or difficult to navigate? Are there any glaring design flaws or glitches, or is the site a work of art?
  • Focus – What is the focus of the site? If you can’t figure it out, then the author is doing something wrong. Focus should be apparent without hunting around too much. Typically by using design elements, or simple headlines or sub-headlines a site must convey its focus.
  • Content – The most obvious element to cover in your review is the site’s content. Does the content of the site match its focus? If not, there is a problem! Is the content easily readable? Does it make sense? What are some of the highlights? Is there a page, article or section of the site that really stands out as being fantastic?
  • Writing Style – Writing style is one element that many people often ignore. Does the author share his/her voice? Do you find yourself relating to what you read? Is the style professional or does the author blab on about their dying goldfish in every post?
  • Grammer and Punctuation – Does the site use proper grammatical elements? Are there spelling mistakes and punctuation errors all over the place?
  • Message Effectiveness – Overall, do you find that the site is effective in putting out its message?
  • Website Audience – Who is the intended audience for this site or blog? Are the intended and actual audiences different?
  • Info about the author – Is there anything interesting to note about the author? e.g. I was watching the news last night and they were talking about a blog written by a boy with cancer. Is the author an expert or do they have no idea what they are talking about? Do they have any qualifications to write what they are writing?
  • Anything else you think is important – Of course, there are other elements that you can discuss as well. Anything about the site that stands out, good or bad, should always be covered in a review.

Fear of Writing a Negative Review

Many people are afraid to write honest reviews of websites. They feel that they may hurt someone’s feelings or they may even feel guilty for writing a negative review that they are getting paid for. By not remaining completely honest when writing a review, you are cheating the reviewee! Whether or not the review is a paid one, you must always stick to your honest opinion.

Don’t go and hype a site just because everyone else is. Don’t say a site is good if it is not. Don’t ignore the problems out of fear. By doing any of these things, you deprive the author/publisher of the opportunity to learn how to improve . . . wouldn’t you want the honest truth?

Note:This post was inspired by a discussion I was reading (I’m the user bigp), and by a review I recieved from someone yesterday (mentioned earlier – worst review ever).

27 thoughts on “How to Write a Proper Website or Blog Review: What Elements to Include in a Paid or UnPaid Review”

  1. You know, it annoys me that I’ve not got a bean out of ReviewMe and yet clowns like that get paid – it wasn’t even finished!

    Have you no comeback as the review purchaser Josh? That was truly awful….

  2. I’ve just flicked back thru that blog: It’s awful, just one paid review after another + I think she’s breaking TOS on just about everyone she’s taking opps from. Does nobody review these things?

  3. I just look at the review. It’s short and does not say a thing. Plus, after the “from”, I taught there was more to come but nothing.

    Chris: Me too, I’m waiting to get a review. :(
    I’m missing something? How can I get a review if they don’t know that I exist?

  4. That is the problem with a 5 dollar review. Ugh, he should have made change…

    Of course, it led to a 100 dollar post, this one, so it pays off in the end.

  5. Totally true, Tom. On the other hand . . . he gets a quality link from me, but when anyone sees the crap he’s putting out they are highly unlikely to bokmark or go back to his site. Unfortunately I had to include the link to make my point.

  6. I done my first ReviewMe for $5 today. It was mostly a trial run for me and had much more than 200 words ;) I also check this post for tips.

    Plus, I did the reverse for my business website. The first review was mostly cut and paste from my ReviewMe description and part from my site. I paid $30 for what seem to took 5-10 minutes for him/her. I got 2 more coming and 7 free spot to come (crossing my finger for better result or at least more professional)

    I wanted to put a link but did not want to give a free trackback. ;)

  7. Great post. I think that writing a good review is a lot harder than people realize as it takes a lot of time and research before you even start typing. You’ve provided some great tips to help bloggers who may be entering the review game.

    With regard to crap reviews – you get what you pay for. Think it about on an hourly rate…for me, $5 gets you about 5 minutes of my time. You can’t expect a good review for that price. Smart advertisers also don’t use an open marketplace where anybody can write the review. The best advertisers use the marketplace to find sites they want to be promoted on and then use the marketplace to order the review from that specific site.

    Reviews aren’t easy to write and smart advertisers should look for previous review examples before purchasing a review.

    If you’re interested in promoting your site Josh, I’d love to help you and I’d give you a great discount!

  8. Kumiko – You’re absolutely right about getting what you pay for. I actually was just experimenting with the ReviewMe marketplace when I got the crap review. I had seen that Shoemoney tried it out and got a few good ones for $10 a pop and figures I’d see if I could get the same. So far, 1 of the 2 I’ve gotten have actually been fairly decent.

    Great piece of advice about seeing if reviewers have previous examples of their work.

    See you around!

  9. Pingback: Blog It and Earn It - May 15, 2007 @ Life Is Risky
  10. Yet another great post and definitely one I will reference as I write reviews. Again this will will appear in the May 15th (ok 19th) edition of the Blog It and Earn It Carnival hosted on my blog. The post will be live in just a bit but here is the link Blog It and Earn It May 15. Hope you get a chance to stop by and thanks for the submission!

  11. That’s an excellent writeup about bad reviews, Josh. I clicked the link to the “bad review” blog out of curiosity and I’m seeing some things that look odd and fishy after snooping around. It seems this person has 4 Blogspot blogs and they are fairly new. Two of the blogs have the Alexa widget which reads the ranking of one blog as 15 and the other about 143,000+. Fantastic figures! There’s no Google PR. And yet these two blogs are doing reviews for ReviewMe and SponsoredReviews.

    I’m not sure what’s going on here but it kinda smell. Take a look at the “buddies” this person links to and you’ll be wondering how these blogs could be accepted by ReviewMe and SponsoredReviews and given post opps. I know of blogs with good standing and quality content but still couldn’t get assignment approvals from SponsoredReviews. But this person’s blog has the greenlight. That leaves the unlikely question: Are ReviewMe and SponsoredReviews being gamed by some of these blogs or they accept blogs without really checking them out properly?

    Based on my observation, these blogs are usually managed by some Asian youngsters with poor English and, obviously, not matured enough to fully comprehend what they are doing.

  12. Hi Josh, I’ve to come back and place another comment. I just discovered that my site The NextPost got a crappy review from a crappy site called Blog Corner which is doing all kinds of crappy reviews of other sites. I had placed a review campaign with ReviewMe and this is what I get. Something is not right with ReviewMe if I may say so. I’d thought they were supposed to be very selective with their sign-up bloggers. I had my blog rejected twice before I got my PR4 and their approval. And I’m now seeing blogs that are just tacky, quirky and crappy doing this kind of sponsored posts. This is something to talk about.

  13. You did this on purpose, right? Spell “grammar” as “grammer” in that bullet item that discusses spelling? Just to see if we were paying attention, right?

    I am!

  14. I had to giggle a little.

    You misspelled something.

    Look up “grammar.”

    Other than that, this is really an informative article.

    Rebecca

  15. Man i’m just here to tell people who wears jordans and air force ones about this website called authenticsforall.com they’ve got some nice ass kicks. I ordered like 4 pairs of af1s from there they were nice and REAL which i wasn’t expecting because of the low prices they’ve so this is just a heads up to ppl that wear those buy from there if you want to save money. they’re located near WASHINGTON D.C.

  16. Hi there! I was given the assignment to make a review about this site: http://knowingpoe.thinkport.org/default_flash.asp.
    This is my review. Is it a good one, a bad one, you tell me. Please be honest, I don’t mind some input.
    Kuddos. =D

    A Conference with Allan

    As a part of the introduction to the Romantic Literature Era, we have begun studying famous mystery writer Edgar Allan Poe. And to help us out a little, we were given a site dedicated exclusively to this outstanding author. This site, “Knowing Poe”, had many links that would give you all the information you might ever need to know everything about Poe. But maybe not everything…
    The eye appeal was very detailed thought for; the colors, the animations, the letters, everything with some sort of attractive side was neatly chosen and applied. A very good example of this is a raven that appears flying in. This of course is from the famous poem “The Raven”. This also sets the very main point of the site. Poe is recognized by this black bird, servant of the night, therefore this is a symbol representing Poe and his peculiar taste and style.
    As mentioned, this site has various links to inform you bits and pieces of Poe’s life. Certainly, people won’t necessarily agree with the information being given. The “Point of view” section was most appealing and interesting for it explained briefly yet explicitly what a point of view was and the effects it makes on the mood and the way of readers to understand and capture the message and image the author is trying to deliver. Aside from that, it shows one great story to demonstrate this effect. “The Cask of the Amontillado” is a perfect example to explain point of view, for the story itself has three points of view. There was a bright spot, now for the downfall. Some links, like “Poe the Perfectionist” wasn’t as interesting as the rest of the whole site. Writer’s style and editing methods may vary, but they don’t just may vary, but they do vary, therefore his way of editing and making his work perfect are kind of irrelevant.
    This site fits with people who are just curious and bored and happen to be interested in this writer. But for people who are into really scrutinizing his live detail by detail, this is just the wring place. It might be good, though, to pin point the areas you might want to search, it’s kind of an organizer of thoughts; it is a list, giving you all the things you need to research to become a Poeologist. For example, if someone wants to know only about all the Poe stories, this site might give you a head start with the “Poe’s Work” section.
    In the end, whether you have nothing to do or you’re really into not sleeping at night, this site will help you organize your ideas about Edgar Allan Poe.

  17. Fantastic article. Provided me a starting point for a review of my own website. Using the headings in your example, I was able to write a small piece about the site, combine it, to create a half decent review.

  18. Excellent post Joshua. I do product and service reviews but have not had the chance yet to do website reviews. I will definitely be keeping what I have read here in mind.

    Truly an eye opener

  19. Great post, it can be so hard to put into words the reasons wny you like or dislike a website. This article makes it easy to translate what is happening in your head into quantifiable information.
    Thanks for posting, I will definitely be incorporating some of your points into my own website review blog.

Please share your thoughts.