I'm currently averaging mid six figures a year publishing product reviews.
It's really the bread and butter of my online income.
Today I'm going to share my experience publishing affiliate review content that converts.
From a high level, my product reviews have the following 6 features:
- A scannable, listicle format
- A high-quality, 500-word introduction
- A comparison table
- Longform, authoritative content
- Clear calls to action
I'm going to breakdown these elements and how to execute on them, but first I wanted to highlight several websites that do product reviews really well.
Awesome Product Review Examples
First, let's make sure we're on the same page- below are some product review examples I think are exemplary.
If you're just starting out, one of the best ways you can 10x your online results is by carefully studying how the pros are doing it.
Check out these three sites below and analyze how they write and format their content. If you can accomplish 70% of what these sites do, you'll be in the 95th percentile of online marketers.
The WireCutter's Snow Shovel Review:
Your guide Doug Mahoney Expand all I grew up at the end of a 2-mile dirt road in Vermont and have spent 39 winters in New England. This is my fourth winter researching and testing snow shovels for Wirecutter.
RunnerClick's Walking Shoe Review:
By Ryan Sabin 174 Detailed and thorough analysis of the top 10 best walking shoes available in 2018. Must read if you are a serious Walker, Hiker or Active person! While many people love staying active, not all can run or enjoy running.
BestReviews' Family Tent Review:
Our team of experts has selected the best family tents out of hundreds of models. Don’t buy a family tent before reading these reviews.
Executing on the 6 elements I listed above will go a long way towards producing income-earning affiliate content.
In all honesty, you don't even need to do all of these things well to make money online.
For example, if you're good at producing long, authoritative content, but it's formatted poorly, you will make some money, but not as much as if you optimized it for quick, reader digestion.
Or, maybe you skimp on content length, but your content looks awesome- you'll get a trickle of traffic and middling earnings.
You can see how this works- executing on these different factors, in tandem, is the secret to producing high-traffic, affiliate content that converts.
Assorted Content Epiphanies
Content & Traffic Source
One thing I'd like to emphasize is that the traffic source you're targeting will (or at least should) determine what your content looks like.
Most make money online affiliates are trying to 'do SEO'. Which is to say, they're trying to rank in the Google SERPs (Search Engine Results Page).
If you want to rank in Google, generally speaking you'll want to produce long (1,500+ word), keyword-targeted content that Google views as relevant and authoritative for certain topical, keyword searches.
As you can see in the serpIQ research below, the average length of first position content is a little over 2,450 words.
I've found success producing content in the 1,500-2,500 word range- and generally advise to hit at least 1,500 words if you are targeting organic traffic.
If you're a social media superstar and can direct huge amounts of traffic from Twitter or Instagram, you don't need to produce 1,500+ word writeups. Because you're not depending on SEO traffic!
This might seem obvious- but it's a crucial understanding.
The days of creating 25 pages targeting every variation of a particular keyword are over.
It's much better to write one long, authoritative and topical post targeting a keyword like "tennis elbow" than a bunch of individual posts targeting every variation of the term.
One epiphany I've had since purchasing Ahrefs is that the content I create often achieves organic rankings for keywords I had no intention of ranking for.
For example, if I wrote 1,500 words trying to rank on the first page for "tennis elbow", it might be that I never actually get there. But, I get a boatload of cumulative traffic from assorted, long-tail, tennis-elbow keywords.
The takeaway is that if you spend time writing authoritative, longform content, you may never win on your primary keyword ("tennis elbow"), but you may clean up on hundreds of related terms.
This is actually a good thing. It's also why I'm skeptical of keyword difficulty scores, in general. It's short-sighted to focus on ranking for a single term.
Buying The Products You Review
Should you buy the products you review? This is a valid concern.
In my case, I haven't. I clearly state this on my site- if you click into my menu item "Our Reviews", I explain that we aggregate user feedback about products to produce our reviews. If you're specializing in a particular niche, I would recommend that you buy the products you intend on reviewing.
One of the benefits is that you can create really compelling image and video affiliate-review content if you commit to it. Plus it skyrockets user trust. For example, most affiliate sites are using stock images.
If your site has tons of product images you've photographed yourself- people will trust that your review content is informed, which naturally increases your conversion rate.
Check out this example from BestReviews' Tent Review:
This attractive graphic is highly shareable- plus it shows readers that they've actually used and vetted the product they're promoting.
It's also much easier to create compelling video content. A lot of affiliates produce crummy PowerPoint product reviews. If you can do an unboxing and product demonstration because you've actually purchased and used the product- you'll see a ton more traction on YouTube.
Check out this example from BestReviews' Bread Maker YouTube Review:
Granted, at the time of this writing, this video review doesn't have a lot of views. But that's mainly because BestReviews doesn't seem to be embedding the video reviews on their highly-trafficked site.
But, trust me, with some promotion, these videos can get a lot of traction.
Plus, you can link to Amazon Associates from your YouTube property- so it can be a valuable revenue source for you.
That said, I totally understand if buying products to review them is beyond your current means. I would emphasize that if you're just trying to 'rank and bank' for product terms, try to write useful content that helps internet searchers.
These are actual people, not just traffic stats in Google Analytics, who are depending on you to recommend a product that helps them in some way.
Good affiliate content serves the user and rewards the publisher with a commission.
1. The Review Format
The review format I prefer is the listicle format.
In practice, these posts typically follow this format: "The 5 Best [Products]".
It could be "the 5 best turmeric supplements" or the "10 best hand sanitizers".
The listicle format is powerful for a couple of reasons:
- Users love content that's easy to digest, which means it helps conversions
- It's an easy recipe for producing long content
On the first point- people love listicle content. It's easy to read and digest- it doesn't tax their cognitive faculties. Think about your own browsing habits. Think back to when you were searching for a product online- maybe you were looking to buy a new laptop.
You're much more likely to click to a site from the Google SERP if you see a Post Title like "The 10 Best Laptops For 2018" because it promises a thorough, timely and digestible breakdown of the laptop market.
The second reason listicles are great is that it's easy to produce the content. If you are trying to 'do SEO', and you suspect you need at least 5,000 words to have a chance to compete for the keyword query "best laptops", you can customize your listicle number to reach that word count.
So, for example, if you want to hit at least 5,000 words without writing a load of meandering blather, you can choose 10 laptops and write 500 word blurbs for each.
It's pretty easy to generate 500 words for each laptop- discussing their technical specifications and user feedback.
Pro Tip: there are tons of searches for individual product and brand terms- so each of the 10 laptop blurbs will rake in traffic from brand query searches for things like Dell, IBM, & MAC, as well as individual model numbers like Dell XPS, MacBook Air, & Microsoft Surface.
There you go- an easy content formula for 5,000 words!
2. High Quality Introduction
This one is really important.
The takeaway here is that most searchers will not read your entire 1,500 word post.
They'll land on your page, maybe read the first sentence, scroll down a bit to decide whether it looks worth reading, before re-focusing in on your introduction or comparison table to get the information they need.
That's why you want to pack as much valuable, concise information into the introduction as possible. It's also why comparison tables are so powerful- but I'll touch on that in the next section.
Since I mainly produce listicle content that compares 5 different products, my introductions commonly discuss how to use the product, general buying advice, discuss the differences between the 5 products, and choose a winner. It's a great place to naturally insert your affiliate links.
The Compassion Hack
One hack I've discovered for creating introductions that convert is to:
'write it for a loved one'.
What I mean is that imagine you're writing this product review for your mother. If you like your mother, you'd want her to make the best possible choice for her needs.
So you would write a clear, honest evaluation so that she could make an intelligent, cost-effective selection.
Write the content compassionately!
If a particular product hasn't received good feedback, say so! It increases reader trust and it WILL increase your conversions.
If a product is particularly complex, spend the time explaining its intricacies.
This 'write for a loved one' formula is part of the content guidelines I give my writers.
And it's smart way to write content that serves the user.
3. Comparison Tables
Comparison tables are the staple of every affiliate review site.
They'll likely be the most high-converting area of your affiliate reviews.
Check out RunnerClick's walking shoe comparison table:
They offer a concise tabulation of product differences- helping consumers evaluate the different options based on their comparative price, size, weight, and any other relevant metric.
I typically use TablePress for my tables. Some new options have emerged recently including AAWP and TableLabs. Both of which are designed with Amazon affiliates in mind.
One quick note- if you're using Amazon Associates, never publish prices unless you're using a tool that employs the Amazon API that grabs real-time product pricing. If you're not using AAWP or TableLabs, or a comparable tool to generate real-time prices, use dollar signs to configure pricing information. For example $ for cheap and $$$$ for expensive.
4. Longform Content
I've touched on this a bit already, but if you're trying to get organic traffic, your best bet is to write long content. Long content works because it makes your content appear more authoritative plus it naturally incorporates tons of long tail keywords.
So, if you're writing about laptops, and you're writing longform content, you're more likely to include a term like "asus gaming laptop", which has 45,000 monthly searches with an Ahrefs Keyword Difficulty Score of 2.
That really highlights the power of longform content- the more you write the more you naturally include high-volume/low-competition keywords in your content.
Now, you don't HAVE to writing longform content. But if you're trying to rank in the search engines, it's your best bet.
Some exceptions include if you're focusing on social media traffic- you could just direct link to an offer, or link to a simple comparison table on your site.
As well, some sites have huge Domain Authority- they have tons of backlinks and a golden reputation with Google and other search engines. They don't need to write 1,500+ words to rank on the first page for a particular query. Since their domains are so powerful they can get away with a 500 word writeup and rank in the top 10.
For the average internet marketer, you'll probably be producing longform content, especially if you're (rightly) captivated by the passive-income potential of recurring, organic search engine traffic.
5. Calls To Action
This is another HUGE one. I can't tell you how many times I've seen affiliate sites with good content and good rankings just completely whiffing on calls to action.
Your reader needs some direction. If you don't encourage them to click a link to your affiliate offer, you're losing out on affiliate conversions.
Check out the example below.
While the content is pretty good, this wall of text is difficult to read and the lack of calls to action dramatically depletes its conversion potential:
Compare the above with how The WireCutter formats their post on home security systems:
As you can see, The WireCutter makes it easy to understand the distinctions between the different products.
Conversion-focused formatting plays a huge role in converting browsers to buyers.
In my listicle affiliate reviews, besides contextually linking to affiliate products in the Introduction, linking to affiliate products in the Comparison Table, I include bright green buttons that say "VIEW ON AMAZON.COM" like this down the page:
If your reader is just scrolling down the page, these bright green buttons stand out with a clear call to action to visit the affiliate offer.
Now, you don't want to overdo it- and there are many sites I've seen that come across as untrustworthy because they're too explicit with their calls to action.
But if you're producing longform content, including visually striking call to action buttons throughout your content is a best practice.
Product images are another important component. Obviously you'll want to have some images of the products you're promoting. It breaks up walls of text, makes your content more visually appealing, and consequently improves your conversion rate.
One important note- if you're participating in the Amazon Associates program, you'll want to use their API to generate the images with a snippet of html code. It's against their TOS to copy images from Amazon and load them to your page.
Plus- if you use Amazon's or a third party tool's image creation feature, the resulting image will be an affiliate link. When your readers click an image, it'll affiliate-link to the appropriate product page.
On my listicle reviews, I generally include thumbnails of the products in the comparison table. And I include larger images down the page above the product review blurbs.
This makes the page 'flow' really well.
These are the elements of a good product review. Your focus should be compassionately creating well-formatted, image-packed, actionable content that converts.
While the Amazon Associates program is one of the top affiliate programs you can join- this formula works for any sort of affiliate review.