How to Write Product Reviews Which Rank and Convert in 2023

Most product reviews on affiliate sites are puff pieces written by people who neither tested the product nor are category experts. For you as a small publisher this is good news. Writing genuine reviews can propel you to the top of Google’s rankings and – even more importantly – let you convert. In this article I’ll show you exactly how to do this.

So what are my credentials? Over the years I’ve written over 40 business software reviews. 75% of these rank on page 1 of Google and about 40% are in the top 5. But things didn’t always look this bright. When I was starting out, my reviews were just another string of empty words of the kind that makes people throw up their hands in despair and Google “reddit [name of product]” instead.

In this article I’ll show you what I did to turn things around. Plus, I’ll provide you with the template I use for my own product reviews.

Go beyond the pros and cons

Pros and cons have been a staple of product reviews since the dawn of mankind. As no product is perfect, it’s always important to balance things out and mention both the good and the bad to establish credibility.

Not all pros and cons are created equal. Most affiliate websites are savvy enough to always add at least couple of cons to an otherwise glowing review to appear more balanced. But they might fail to realize that a somewhat informed reader sees right through cons that aren’t actually cons.

Similarly, you’ll see many sites list redundant cons or cons that are vague.

The screencap below from a big website kind of does all three:

The pros and cons from a Forbes product review.

The product they’re talking about is a hosting plan which has plenty of storage compared to the cost of the plan and the use case (beginners hosting a single site). Then they neglect to mention the real cons, namely that it’s a scummy company with poor quality of service.

Of course, they’re massive and can get away with it (more on this later). But you as a fledgling upstart can’t.   

But a good product review goes beyond just listing pros and cons. It also dedicates a section to who the product is good for and who should stay away. This holds just as true for a 3-star review as it does for a 5-star review (1- and 2-star products are good for no one).

It’s always smart here to go beyond generic tropes like “this product is good for beginners.” Because what does this mean? Some beginners are technically inclined and willing to spend hours on YouTube tutorials. Other beginners are looking for a solution that solves their problem straight out of the box with little to no time investment on their part. They’re both beginners but will have very different needs.

The key here is to empathize with your audience and to understand that despite some seemingly all-important shared characteristics, their individual needs could be wildly different.


Imagine someone who wants to build their first website. Even though they are a beginner, it might be wrong to try and steer them towards a website builder like Wix. Perhaps their ambition is to grow and monetize a blog, or over time add complicated custom functionality to their site. Alternatively, even though a solution like WordPress is great for some beginners, it can be terrible for others who just need a simple digital presence and want to spend zero time on website maintenance.

Actually test the product (and add unique visuals)

Sounds like a no-brainer but it’s surprising how many people don’t do this (I’ll be the first to admit I was one of those people at some point).

Admittedly, this is easier in some niches than others. I’m predominantly writing about software which means there are loads of free trials or money-back-guarantees I can make use of. Yes, actually testing these products takes a lot more time than asking ChatGPT to regurgitate the top 5 reviews in the SERPs, but your review will stand a much better chance of actually ranking (and banking).

An added benefit is that you’ll become a product expert in your field which over time you can leverage to get more mentions and backlinks. For instance, one of my websites is naturally gaining backlinks from (semi-)competitors as I went above and beyond with my product reviews.

Things are more challenging when writing about physical products, especially expensive ones. In this case I recommend you initially focus more on round-up posts where it’s easier to add value even if you don’t own the product. As your site grows, you can start investing your earnings into products (and put them on a secondhand marketplace after) or get them straight from the manufacturer.

Adding unique visuals to your product reviews

Not only does this make your review look more appealing, but it also adds credibility. Plus, search engines have a thing for unique images.

For software reviews you can simply make screencaps (images and videos). For physical products you can take both photos and videos (a half-decent phone camera is sufficient).

Here’s how this looks like for a review I wrote about an office chair:

Product review example showcasing original photographs made by the author.

Put summary boxes on top of the page

Roughly speaking you’ll attract two types of visitors:

  • People who read a piece of content from top to bottom (a rare breed)
  • People who skim

Especially in light of Google’s helpful content update and product review updates, it’s critical to serve that second group well. Not only by breaking up your content with sub-headings, tables and imagery, but also by putting the most important information at the top of your page.

This is called the “inverted pyramid” style of writing and is borrowed from journalism and academia. It aims to deliver the most important information first, with additional details, background information, and supporting facts following in order of decreasing importance.

For product reviews you can do this by putting summary boxes on top of your page. Usually these summary boxes contain:

  • Separate ratings for different aspects of the products (e.g. price and features)
  • One overall rating
  • Pros and cons
  • Short summary of use cases
  • Call-to-action button which leads you to the website
Example of a product box in a product review
Example of a summary box from one of my own websites

You can get access to the summary boxes I’ve developed through my affiliate website templates.

Don’t just list stuff people can find on the company’s website

People read a product review to get YOUR expert insights about a product. Stuffing a review with information that can be found on the company’s website adds no value to your visitors.

Here’s an example of a popular site which dedicates nearly 50% of its Bluehost review to describing the different hosting plans:

Review about Bluehost showing lots of product specifications.

They basically lifted the specs and features from the company’s website without offering anything in the way of unique insights.

It’s fine of course to mention features and specifications but do only in the context of your own unique experience. Here’s an example of an affiliate website that does list product specs but compares them with competing providers and tells you how they stack up:

Product comparison table on online media masters.

That’s a whole bunch of added value right there.

Take it easy with the click-bait titles

If you’re like me, product review titles like “Widget X: Cheap, but what’s the catch?” or “Widget Y: Legit, or is it a scam?” make your skin crawl.  

Reviews with such titles are basically screaming they’re solely motivated by money and potential visitors to your website are catching on.

As someone who’s definitely been guilty in applying those kind of titles in the past, these days I’m a lot more straightforward:

Article in the Google SERPs.

If it’s good I say so in the title. If it’s bad I say so in the title. I do add the occasional question, but make sure it doesn’t feel click-baity in the slightest.

Don’t get inspired by the big websites

Long-established, authoritative websites get away with murder when it comes to SEO and converting visitors. As an (aspiring) affiliate marketer there isn’t that much you can learn from most of them. Especially when it comes to product reviews.

This is something I learned the hard way. Early on I modelled the style and tone of my reviews after those of massive websites that had often been around for a decade or more. But as I lacked the brand and authority, these reviews went nowhere.  

You can’t compare your little 3-month old blog with a powerhouse of Forbes, or powerful sites for their niche like QuickSprout or CrazyEgg. Instead of serving up your visitors with bland, generic reviews like they do, you’ve got to stand out. Develop your own style. Show real expertise. Hook your visitors through something that most big sites have a hard time with: authentic content.

Give product alternatives

It’s rarely the case that a product offers a one-size-fits all. That’s why it’s always smart to offer some product alternatives at the bottom of your review.

You can put them in a table, or use imagery, but I go most of the times for something simple like a bullet point list:

Alternative products in a product review.

Listing product alternatives is also a great way of showing that you’re impartial.

Work from a template

Templates save lives.

I used to work without them but save myself so much time now that I do. Whatever is the right template for you depends on the product category, but most product review templates should contain:

  • Summary boxes (with pros and cons) and an intro that get straights to the point
  • Product overview (listing some objective key facts about the product)
  • Key features explained indepth
  • Pricing explained (in case it’s complicated)
  • What do other people on the internet say about the product (for social proof)
  • Alternatives
  • Quick recap highlighting the good and the bad and for who the product is suitable

What will start to happen if you write *really* good product reviews?

Besides ranking higher and converting better, people will start to trust you and your brand. Now this is very powerful stuff but could in the short-term lead to some missed revenue opportunities.

Let me explain by giving a personal example.

At one point I was about to purchase the WordPress plugin Link Whisper after perusing some Facebook groups and Reddit. Before doing so however, I wanted to read at least one in-depth review. I stumbled upon the review from Gael Breton from Authority Hacker (it was their video review, but the point applies to written content as well).

From what I remember, the gist of the review was that Link Whisper is a solid tool but that it adds code bloat to your site and it is a bit rigid. Their review showed this in great detail. I ended up not buying Link Whisper which meant that Authority Hacker missed out on some affiliate income.

However, because the review was so good and honest, I added Authority Hacker to my mental shortlist (and indeed, this list is very very short…) of affiliate websites I trust. This led me later on to go with several of their product recommendations. So over the long haul they definitely ended up earning more from me than had they compromised their review for short-term gains.  

Bottom line, genuine, well-written product reviews can earn you authority, trust and more income over the long haul.

Should you use AI for your product reviews?

Not in the sense that you’d give an AI tool a prompt to write a fully-fledged review for you. With just a little sprucing up from your end.

AI tools have trained on the content out there. So if you ask it to write a review about Bluehost for instance, you’ll end up with an article which would make you believe it’s the greatest thing since sliced bread (thanks for that, all of you easily swayed affiliate marketers).

An AI generated product review which is not very good.

But what you can do is use AI to sharpen up your review. Or summarize it really well. Or help write you a compelling introduction if you feel stuck. I.e., you can use it as a personal assistant rather than something which does all the legwork for you.   

To sum things up

Writing good reviews requires time and effort. Slamming some product specs and a clickbaity title on your page doesn’t cut it anymore.

The good news is that not many websites on the internet are willing to put in the effort.

Stand out from the crowd by writing real product reviews and watch your rankings and earnings skyrocket.  

Go any questions or feedback about this article? Please drop me a comment below.  

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