Giving ReviewMe a Try

Dec 18th

After seeing and hearing some positive feedback about ReviewMe I recently decided that it would be worth it for me to dabble in getting a few reviews for my ebook, seo tools, and seo glossary. Rae recently reviewed ReviewMe, stating:

The site brought me a couple hundred visitors initially, which was a little below my expectations. But, it has continued sending visitors daily since the review launched (and yes, it has long been off the main page now, this site blogs several entries per day). Those visitors have also made the site money.

The site I had reviewed was given two links to the homepage with the site name as the anchor. The review was close to 300 words and they also added our logo to the review (which was also linked for a third link to the homepage from the review page). The blogger clearly stated that he was paid to review the site, but that all of the opinions about the site were his own and that only his time to review the site, not his thoughts *about* the site had been paid for.

I have not tracked sales from most of my ReviewMe reviews (because I do not generally track that granular), but John Chow put up affiliate links in his review of my ebook, and I can tell you that his review paid for itself the first day.

Know More Media offered book formatting tips:

Maybe along the left side of the page in the blank space, add something telling the reader what chapter they are in. Maybe add section numbering - 1.1a, 1.1b, etc.

Andy Beard highlighted a bunch of terms I need to add to my glossary.

Graywolf gave me some formatting tips for my glossary:

Ideally there would be a small bit of text, icon or graphic that would bring me back to the top of the document, at the end of every word might get a little distracting so adding one in between every letter would be OK. I also might think about adding a page only search box, pre-populated with terms from the page just to make navigating it a bit easier. Use a bit of fancy Javascript to use predictive filling.

Paul Stamatiou reviewed my glossary. In the review he both talked up SEO, and gave my glossary the thumbs up:

I had some SEO work done on this site in the summer and within a few weeks my traffic went from a daily average of 2,500 unique visitors to roughly 4,000 unique visitors per day. Those extra visitors are all from search engines. An optimized site can help your blog, portfolio or whatever your site hosts, rank higher on SERPs (Search Engine Result Pages), and beyond. ... The glossary is extremely useful and has already earned a bookmark in my browser, and I only bookmark things I use - the rest get sent to my del.icio.us. I would like to see an offline version of the glossary as well. Perhaps a nicely styled PDF that gets updated every month or so.

Imagine a trusted voice with thousands of subscribers highlighting your industry, highlighting your website, and offering useful constructive criticism that will help you further improve your offering. Is it possible for ads to have any greater value?

Because I have been involved with ReviewMe, many people have told me that they thought ReviewMe was just an SEO tool, but I realize that links / rankings / SEO in general / brand building / trust building / sales are all just a side effect of getting exposure and satisfying market needs. The benefit of reviews from a network like ReviewMe is that you get exposure in active channels that people trust and are paying attention to.

Feedback, direct sales, direct relevant link equity, secondary citations, new readers, branding and awareness... buying reviews from ReviewMe could pay for themselves many ways over, if you create things worthy of exposure.

Published: December 18, 2006

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Comments

January 7, 2007 - 3:50am

I think staying under the radar is one way of looking at marketing (especially if your site is of limited value and has no brand equity built up), but if your site has many legitimate signs of quality I doubt Google is going to do much to try to undermine your market position if you boost your exposure a bit using ReviewMe or other similar services.

December 18, 2006 - 12:45pm

Thanks for the comments, I read that review as well. It (reviewme) seems like a great idea and a great product. I don't understand what Matt Cutts' problem is with it is.

December 18, 2006 - 3:58pm

Google has clearly stated that "paid links" (which includes pay per post) can increase the chances of websites that display them a loss of the ability to pass reputation aka PageRank.

I am interested in what your views are on this subject, thanks.

December 18, 2006 - 4:25pm

How hypocritical would this sound:

Any link that is not bought or sold through Google is inheranlty bad, no matter how much editorial discression and relevancy is associated with the ad.

Any link that is bought or sold through Google is inherently good, even if there is no editorial discression and the ad is on autogenerated spam content. And if the quality score is not high enough it is reasonable for Google to just charge more for irrelevancy, even if the ad promotes shady stuff.

December 18, 2006 - 5:06pm

Is this not just a justification? I think reviewme is fine but I would not use it because Google has stated that I will lose the ability to pass page rank.

In this: http://www.seobook.com/archives/001504.shtml

You say:
"SEO Answer: I would not recommend ideas like pay to post."

Why the change of heart Aaron?

December 18, 2006 - 5:42pm

Isn't every action justified?

The pay to post quoted out of context there was blog comment spamming...no change of heart there Aaron, just a change of context.

Mr. Republican
December 18, 2006 - 5:50pm

Pratt,

do you work for Google? do you own stock there?

Or are you just a troll slash lackey?

December 18, 2006 - 6:28pm

I do believe ReviewMe is a good platform Aaron. The only problem I have is with the criteria to do reviews. My SEO blog (blog.madisonseo.com) is relatively new, therefore it doesn't have a high Alexa score. However, I have a BS in Computer Science, an MS in Computer Information Systems, and over 10 years experience as a lead programmer and DBA. So, while my resume would lead you to think I could provide some great analysis and insight, the Alexa rank of my Blog does not.

Now, I understand that one of the major selling points is that these reviews will end up on highly (Alexa) ranked blogs, therefore leading to more exposure, traffic, etc. That is a side affect I'm guessing - not the explicit intention of ReviewMe. Another side affect is probably the traffic the reviewer gets from the actual reading of the review (as you have done above). The rich get richer there.

So, might I post something on my blog such as "Please >> Review Me << (my blog) so I can join ReviewMe?" I would post to every Digg type site out there, my Alexa score would (probably) rise, and I could then pass the criteria allowing me to do reviews - and make some money on the side ;-)

Note I haven't tried to read any of your fine print - maybe I'm missing something. Your feedback is appreciated!

December 18, 2006 - 7:00pm

Hi Aaron...My site is a marketplace for trucking equipment, sort of off topic, do you think anyone would review me?

December 18, 2006 - 7:11pm

Hi Allen
We are looking into changing the review criteria over time.

Hi Jim
I can't do the searching for you right now, but people probably talk about your topic...look on Del.icio.us, Digg, link profiles, forums about your topic, and through related search results.

December 18, 2006 - 8:08pm

My only concern is the devaluation of sites in Google for the many levels of paid links. If anyone has anything new to add I am all ears.

Carry on. ;)

December 18, 2006 - 8:48pm

And the reality of it is, even if Google filtered your ability to pass outbound PageRank, it still wouldn't hurt your site directly, would it?

And is Google going to filter 10,000 popular blogs?

Eventually they have to count something. They can't filter everything. Every time they try to filter stuff they have a less comprehensive web graph.

And also keep in mind that Google doesn't add nofollow to links to themselves when they give you a search box for your site. And they don't request the use of nofollow when they buy ads or sponsor events.

Why do Google apologists feel the need to defend Google when the hypocrisy and self-serving advice is so blatant?

December 18, 2006 - 10:04pm

Oh, so now I am a Google apologist Aaron? :)

Please give me an example of a Google "search box" that passes PR. Do Google Widgets pass PR? I would be really interested in learning more about that.

I agree that if Google is going to make rules they must also play within the parameters they set.

December 18, 2006 - 10:10pm

They don't play within the parameters they set. And that is what makes it stupid to defend their ideals - when they don't even follow them themselves.

  • Just look at all the AdSense ads on spam sites (and the fact that Google kept publishing AdSense ads on sites that were used internally to Google's spam team at spam detection training).
  • And the default AdSense search box (ie: a paid link) had a direct link to Google.
  • When they sponsor SES conferences they don't ask for those links to have nofollow on them.
December 18, 2006 - 10:33pm

Google's only concern is the passing of authority so if you pay multiple people to review your "internet marketing glossary" and there is no link condom it boosts all the phrases within high in Google. Aaron Wall then becomes the owner of all phrases related to internet marketing via "pay per post".

That make sense?

December 18, 2006 - 10:44pm

If people think my stuff is crap they will do one of the following

  • not review it
  • review it without linking
  • review it using nofollow
  • review it and flame me (while likely not linking or using nofollow)

If they chose not to review it there is no transaction. If they don't link or use nofollow then it can't be considered a link buy. I probably wouldn't be interested in paying money to have people flame me.

So, given those options, clearly there is going to be some editorial filtering in even debating what I would ask to have reviewed, and then only some reviewers will accept.

If a person reviews my stuff and is willing to put their credibility on the review then the real risk is not SERPs or PageRank...the hardest thing to build online is build credibility / authority / attention. That is where the value is. Rankings are just a rough proxy or representation of that value.

That make sense?

December 19, 2006 - 12:07am

Do you also warn people that they will lose their authority to pass Google PageRank with possible other future non stated algorithmic devaluations?

December 19, 2006 - 12:23am

Do you also warn people that you are annoying and they will be dumber for reading your comments?

December 19, 2006 - 1:03am

Mr. Pratt - Take a look at this post from SEOmoz - representatives from the major search engines weighed in on this issue at a SES Q&A session just 10 days ago. The latest word seems to be that the SEs have no plans to penalize quality blogs that post occasional paid reviews.

December 19, 2006 - 1:20am

Kevin: Take a look at Building link-based popularity from Google Webmaster Central and see if you can find what I am talking about.

jack
December 19, 2006 - 1:23am

Are you affiliated with ReviewMe?

Jackie
December 19, 2006 - 1:49am

"Do you also warn people that you are annoying and they will be dumber for reading your comments?"

... typical. You still in 3rd grade Aaron W?

December 19, 2006 - 2:02am

Aaron (Pratt) - I've read the article you refer to (although your link was broken). It seems to be specifically referring to paid (or non-earned) links, and I believe ReviewMe doesn't quite fall into that category, although it's certainly a gray area. Since ReviewMe advertisers don't get to specify whether the reviews they pay for include links (nofollowed or not), they aren't technically buying links. A reviewer could choose to nofollow or not link at all if they have a negative opinion of the service they're writing on, so in a sense any links are still earned. Not entirely natural, perhaps, but not strictly "paid links" either.

Considering the article from SEOmoz that I referenced specifically addresses paid reviews, rather than the much broader category of paid links, I think it's more relevant to this particular discussion. For the moment, I don't believe the search engines are particularly concerned about paid reviews, and they've plainly indicated that they have no plans to penalize those who use them on occasion.

jack- I'm not sure who your question was addressed to, but for the record I have posted one paid review using the ReviewMe service, and I have no other connection with ReviewMe or Aaron Wall.

December 19, 2006 - 2:03am

Hi Jackie
I think I tolerate much more stupidity than most people do, and have been complimented on that many times thusfar, but a man can only go so far.

December 19, 2006 - 2:29am

Jackie - You are correct about the "gray area" thing, this is why Google needs to state it's rules and not rely on SEOs to do so for them.

December 19, 2006 - 2:56am

Kevin: In that post Matt Cutts from Google says the following (hrm, I missed that one):

"Just to chime in and expand on Adam's comment: Google wants to do a good job of detecting paid links. Paid links that affect search engines (whether paid text links or a paid review) can cause a site to lose trust in Google."

Nuff said!

Aneta Lopez
December 19, 2006 - 4:27am

Wow Aaron. You comment like a 13 year old boy. That's the end of the line for me on your blog. I'll stick with bloggers who don't avoid questions and who don't whine like babies.

December 19, 2006 - 5:09am

Ok.....I'll stick with you, been a long day for reviewme, looks like it's working pretty well!

Kirby
December 19, 2006 - 6:17am

"You are correct about the "gray area" thing, this is why Google needs to state it's rules"

Aaron (Pratt), You want absolutes that dont exist. Google can't state rules that it doesnt have. You do know that there is a difference between rules and guidlines, right?

December 19, 2006 - 8:34am

Hi Aneta
I would rather lose a few (or many) readers and honestly express myself than to be politically correct and fake and create a bunch of rubbish

December 19, 2006 - 11:38am

Wow Aaron, I was really honored that you choose me and my blog to review The Search Engine Glossary.

I would gladly do it for free but now... thanks for $30.

nuevojefe
December 19, 2006 - 12:18pm

"I think I tolerate much more stupidity than most people do, and have been complimented on that many times thusfar, but a man can only go so far."

I think you deserve credit for mustering more replies to A.P.'s comments (besides those who've done interviews on blahblahbuzzbox) in a single post than anyone in the seoblogosphere.

December 19, 2006 - 11:53pm

Correct me if I'm wrong, but does it cost from $100 per site?

December 20, 2006 - 4:29am

Wow, I think that Aaron and Aaron have succeeded in one of the most exciting blog conflicts that I can remember, and shout outs to the peanut gallery for their contributions.

You both have very valid points, even without the mine is bigger comments. PayPerPost should be considered, like any marketing with a price tag, as a form of buzz. I think that if a marketer is looking at generating a buzz and they want the readers/users of a particular blog to know about them, then they should buy a post. However, it is the blogger who risks his/her reputation (because that is what is for sale). Celebrities do it all the time.

My personal opinion:
Marketer - If this is the audience is who you want to speak to, buy it. If you get rank for it, great, if not, oh well.
Blogger - If this is how you make your pay, do it. If your image is tarnished, oh well, you got what you wanted.

January 5, 2007 - 6:15am

How interesting to come across this debate today. I just had an email debate with my business partner and co-author, Jennifer Grappone, on the same subject. She was somewhat taken aback at the idea of Reviewme (which I was considering for a client), while the possibility of it being an ethical or "hat color" problem really hadn't occurred to me (which, as an aside, is one reason it's great to have a business partner - you get another perspective!).

It seems to me that the biggest potential problem in Reviewme is that the quality of the blogs might be subpar - and get lower with paid reviews. A couple that I looked at were just horrendous. Others that I looked at were clearly high-quality blogs.

But what doesn't seem a concern (to me) is the idea of paying per post. Isn't that just what any company that pays an employee to maintain a blog is doing? Isn't that basically what any commercial enterprise that spends money creating a website is doing? Is there some law that all content on the internet must be non-commercial? And blogs - for better or worse - are really not the same type of "objective" entity that the mainstream media attempts to be. Blogs, it seems to me, are all about the credibility & expression of the author. if the author chooses to dilute his or her credibility with paid content, that's really his or her choice. I would certainly hope that he or she would disclose the fact of the sponsorship, but again, that's his or her choice. Am I crazy?

Cheers,
Gradiva

December 20, 2006 - 8:24pm

Re: Google - For the love of money is the root of all evil...

I see double standards from big corporations all the time. The funny think about Google's "Do No Evil" mantra is that they define what they think is evil.

I see other big companies getting breaks in Google all the time. Not to mention other things that don't sit well with me. (Maybe I'll be yanked from SERPs for writing this? ;)

Keep up the good work Aaron (Wall)...

-kpaul

December 21, 2006 - 4:17pm

Nice work, Aaron

January 7, 2007 - 3:44am

Whether you like it or not, Google will continue to develop ways of detecting rank manipulation scams. Thank Googlers their detection algorithms are still in the stone age and the process in some cases still requires a manual review.

It's a waste of time to debate whether or not Google's intensions are hypocritical. Google isn't going to back away from this just because a few gray hats are bitching.

Time is better spent fine-tuning ways of staying under Google's radar.

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