You may not think of online reviews as a content medium, but they can be if you know how to spin them. Think about it; readers find online reviews valuable, they consume them much like content, and they have the same peripheral benefits as traditional blog posts such as search engine optimization (SEO) and brand reputation.
They come in a variety of forms, potentially created by you or your users, so which of these forms are best to use in a content marketing campaign?
Why Reviews Are Valuable
First, you need to understand why reviews are so valuable in the first place.
Subject selection. First, it’s easy to find subjects for reviews—your products and services already exist, and if you’re looking for outside subjects to review, you probably won’t have to look far.
Natural optimization. Reviews naturally contain tons of references to their subjects—you’ll not only include the title or brand name multiple times, but you’ll also be describing the subject in detail. This naturally fills your content with appropriate keywords, which makes it better optimized for search.
Unbiased nature. Because reviews are (or at least should be) unbiased, they tend to carry more persuasive power with readers, which is valuable if you’re earning reviews for your own products and services.
Personal appeal. If you’re writing reviews for other services or products, you can speak personally, from your own experience, which lends a personal appeal and power to your work.
User submission. Finally, most inbound reviews are submitted by users, which means they’re creating content on your behalf. You spend less time working and earn more content through their efforts.
Types of Reviews to Use
These are just six of the types of reviews you can use in your own campaign:
Versus reviews. Your first option is to compare two similar products, like how Mattress Clarity reviews two competing types of mattresses. This allows you to write full-length, detailed posts that explore both products independently, and ultimately steer users toward one product over the other. If you use this to compare one of your products against a competitor’s product, be sure to remain fair in your evaluation. Otherwise, include as much information as possible, and quantify the criteria for your final decision.
Comparison charts. Next, you could use comparison charts to evaluate the differences between lots of competing products in a given field, like how Komando compares multiple brands of tablets. Generally, these have less “meat” to them, in the sense that they don’t have much written content, but they have more quantitative information to help users decide between products or solutions. This makes them capable of generating more links, shares, and overall visibility, which can make up for their initial lack of keyword optimization.
Single-product reviews. One of the most conventional methods is to simply allow your users to review your products—most major brands, like Amazon, do this to some extent (to mixed results). If you sell products on your site, this is crucial to have—seeing reviews from other users gives potential customers more trust in your brand, plus you can mark them up using Schema.org microformatting to increase their likelihood of popping up in Google searches.
Book reviews. If you’re interested in building up your own reputation in addition to earning basic content benefits, consider reviewing a book related to your industry. This will show that you know your stuff, and could even serve as a platform for you to get in touch with the author.
Buyer’s guides. You could go into more detail with a comprehensive buyer’s guide, which is as much of an instructional as it is a review. Edmunds frequently does these for car purchases. The idea is to help a prospective buyer through every stage of the process, from awareness and research through the final purchasing decision. This is especially effective if you’re selling what you’re recommending users to buy.
Interviews with a creator. Finally, you could use interviews as a way to soft-review the person behind a product, service, or book. For example, you could interview the inventor or the mastermind behind one of your latest products. Though not as traditionally “review-like” as the other items on this list, this method gives you a more personal touch and still enables you to highlight a product or other item.
However you choose to use reviews in your content marketing campaign, they’re likely to be a valuable addition to your strategy. Consider incorporating multiple types, and evaluate them against each other in terms of cost and effectiveness. Eventually, you’ll find the right combination to keep your brand moving forward in both visibility and reputation.