How to Successfully Migrate a Website Without Harming SEO [Checklist]

How to Successfully Migrate a Website Without Harming SEO [Checklist]

An outdated website won’t represent your brand well.

Web design experts recommend a site redesign every 2-3 years to keep up with web standards and design trends. This can often be accomplished with a simple facelift or re-skin. However, in some cases, you may be up against a site migration.

Access Now: 21 SEO Myths to Leave Behind in 2021

The end result of a site migration may include a cleaner interface, a new or improved user experience, an easier editing experience, and more. However, the choice to migrate your website should not be taken lightly. If executed poorly, you could end up with status code errors, negatively impacted SEO performance, and even irritated website visitors.

Why might you migrate a website?

Here are the circumstances in which you might need a site migration over a simple redesign:

  • You need to move your site’s location from one server to another.
  • You are changing the CMS platform your site operates on.
  • You are changing your domain name or URLs.
  • You need to make major changes to your site’s architecture (not just aesthetics).

Website migrations can be done on your own or professionally. (For example, HubSpot offers migration services to customers switching to HubSpot’s CMS.)

If you’re considering a website migration, keep in mind that you must leave yourself time to prepare and execute. Migration specialists usually take about three weeks, so plan accordingly. Now, let’s get into the details of migrating a website.

Pre-Migration

1. Crawl the existing site.

A website crawler retrieves the URLs and markup on your site, “seeing” this information similarly to how Google would.

Performing a crawl gives you a starting point for your URL mapping (more on that later) as well as a list to refer to in case something gets lost in translation. You can crawl your website yourself with a third-party tool such as Screaming Frog.

2. Record your benchmarks.

In some cases, analytics data can get erased during a site migration, and this historical benchmarks can be valuable, so it’s best to retain it.

You should also take the time to review your analytics and ensure you know how visitors currently navigate the site and which pages are your most valuable. This context can help inform your redesign and site architecture decisions.

3. Map your URLs.

If you’re making major changes to the URLs on your site, you’ll need redirections in place to guide Google and your website users from your old URLs to your new URLs. 

  • From a usability standpoint, if a page no longer exists, you don’t want your users to get a 404 status code error. Instead, they should be guided to the page that has taken the old page’s place. 
  • Improper redirects can mean a big hit against your SEO. They tell search engines and visitors of your website that a page has changed, whether it’s been removed, or no longer exists. They also tell search engines what new pages have replaced old ones.
  • From an SEO perspective, you don’t want to lose all of the history, backlinks, and (in essence) “authority” that the old page built up. A redirect tells Google where to attribute those signals instead. 

To get redirects implemented, you must first strategize by mapping your URLs. This involves building a spreadsheet with two columns: one for the old URL and one for the corresponding new URL. 

Don’t be concerned if there aren’t “perfect” replacements for every piece of content. Just do the best you can to direct your users based on their original intent.

If you have tons of pages, manual mapping probably isn’t in the cards for you, so to save time, look for patterns in your URLs that can be redirected in groups or sections.

Existing redirects should be migrated as well. Try to keep as many existing redirects as possible to lessen the workload, and make sure your URLs are mapped before you test redirects, to make sure you have backups if you lose them.

For more information on how to update URLs, check out this article.

4. Make sure you’re retaining titles, meta descriptions, and HTML markup.

Recall that website migrations help with website organization. As such, pages should be uniform and contain the same information as they did before. To illustrate, if the HubSpot Marketing Blog underwent a site migration, the content and descriptions for each blog post would be the same, just look different.

You can always update or rewrite titles, meta descriptions, and HTML markup, but you should still ensure that each page includes the proper information. 

5. Try out the new build on a test server (aka sandbox).

Seeing mockups or testing in a local environment will not give you a full picture of the new site’s functionality and implementation. For a seamless transition, take it online for a test drive before the official migration.

6. Choose the right date for the migration.

Hiccups will happen no matter what, but you can minimize them by avoiding peak hours.

Day of Migration

7. Prepare to update your site’s DNS settings.

If you’re moving your site to a new server, part of the process will include “pointing” to the site’s new location. Coordinate with your web/IT team and/or your hosting providers (new and old) to accomplish this.

8. Launch.

Set up your forwarding redirects, unpublish, and implement.

If DNS changes were involved, the site may be down momentarily.

If you’re not switching servers or platforms, the migration should be nearly instantaneous.

9. Crawl the new site.

Once the new site is live, you can do a crawl to see if it has been migrated how you expected it to. One thing you want to look for is proper indexability and crawlability.

10. Identify and resolve missing and duplicate content.

Using the crawl report, see if you find any anomalies, including duplicate content or 404 errors and broken links. In addition, you should click around the new site and look for issues.

11. Check for redirect chains.

Now that your site has been migrated, you have a lot of new redirects on your hands. If redirects already existed, chains may have been created.

Here’s what I mean:

If you were already redirecting A to B, your migration may have added a redirect from B to C.

This creates a chain of redirects: A to B to C.

Redirect chains can slow your site down and impact performance. You can avoid this by breaking the chains, redirecting A to C and B to C.

12. Ensure Google Analytics and Google Search Console are implemented.

To avoid any gaps in data and reporting, these should be up and running the same day.

13. Mark the date in Analytics.

Google Analytics allows you to make “Annotations” of important dates or events. This can help you contextualize the data and measure performance pre-and post-migration (unless you opted for a new Analytics setup).

14. Submit sitemaps.

Once everything is up and running, ensure your XML site map has no errors. Then, you can submit the sitemap in Google Search Console to invite Google to crawl the new implementation.

Post-Migration

15. Monitor performance.

While temporary dips in traffic are common after a migration, you should still be keeping a pulse on your analytics to ensure nothing big was missed that could be affecting performance.

16. Run site audits.

Sometimes, third-party tools can find issues you didn’t know about. SEMrush’s site auditor is excellent in situations like this.

17. Update your platforms.

If you have ads running or other platforms that may be using old URLs, be sure to add fresh links.

18. Have publishers update backlinks.

If your redirects have been implemented correctly, you’ll still get traffic and authority from your backlinks. However, it’s still best practice to use the freshest URLs possible. With that in mind, reach out to the publishers of your highest value links to notify them of the swap.

Website migration can be a lengthy process, but it’s not impossible. With preparation, you can have a migration that’s successful and friendly with your existing SEO efforts. 

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in December 2019 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

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How to Monetize Your Website Without Destroying Your User Experience

How to Monetize Your Website Without Destroying Your User Experience

If you have a website that publishes content, you know there’s one thing that’s super important… monetizing your traffic.

You’ve poured tons of time and effort into creating a great site, and there’s nothing better than turning all that hard work into cash.

But monetizing your site isn’t as easy as it might seem at first. To get the most out of it, you’ll need to utilize some solid strategies.

Strategies for Monetizing Traffic to Your Website

There are a lot of ways to monetize your website. I’ll explain a few of the most common ones below. But first, let’s talk about traffic:

The More Traffic You Have, the Easier It Will Be to Monetize Your Site.

Some of the common ways to monetize a website (like running ads) won’t necessarily be worth it until you have a certain amount of traffic.

There are still ways you can monetize a website that doesn’t get much traffic. For example, you could use the audience you already have to launch a business (like coaching or freelance writing) based around your site. You could also sell products to your existing audience.

However, with more site visitors, you’ll have more options.

How do you build traffic to your website? There are tons of strategies you can use. Write an ebook, hold a webinar, grow your email list, improve your SEO…  basically anything to help people find you and get them interested in your content.

Monetizing Your Site

Once you’ve built up an audience for your website, here are just a few of the techniques you can use to monetize your traffic.

Paid Memberships or Paywalls

The simplest way to monetize your website is asking people to pay for your content.

Because there’s so much free stuff on the internet, people are hesitant to pay for content. However, if your brand is strong enough, your audience might be willing to pay. Many major news publishers offer only a few free articles and keep the rest of their websites behind a paywall. Here’s what that looks like at the Harvard Business Review:

For bloggers and marketers, a more common approach is a tiered membership system, where most of the content on the website is free, but some is members-only.

Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing means using affiliate links to refer people to other websites. When people buy products from those sites, you’ll get a cut of the sale.

If you’re using affiliate links on your site, you should let people know that. Try to only recommend products you think your audience will like.

There are tons of companies out there with affiliate programs. Amazon has one of the most popular ones.

Sponsored Posts

A third way to monetize traffic is by doing sponsored posts for brands. Companies might contact you asking you to write a post promoting them, with a link to their site. This is sometimes called native advertising.

Here’s an example of a sponsored post from HR Magazine:

Display Ads

Finally, one of the most common ways to monetize your website is by using display ads.

Display ads are extremely popular and show up on almost every website in the header, sidebars, and other places. In fact, the Google Display Network reaches 90% of internet users around the world. By using display ads, you can “rent out” space on your site to advertisers.

Here’s an example of what display ads look like from Speedtest.net:

Display ads are an easy way to monetize traffic. But to get the most out of them, you have to optimize them.

To do this, you have to understand how display advertising works, and which types of ads work best. Ads can be annoying to users if you implement them wrong.

Read on to learn about how to earn more from display ads without destroying your user experience.

What Type of Ads Should I Use to Bring in Revenue?

First, let’s talk about the types of display ads that are out there. There are a lot of different formats for ads. The Interactive Advertising Bureau has guidelines for ad sizes and specifications.

Here are a few kinds of display ads you might see on publisher websites:

Static Ads vs. Animated Ads

Static ads are the simplest and most traditional kind of display ads. A static ad is a picture, and that’s it.

An animated display ad is usually made up of 2-3 static images, which display one after the other.

These types of ads are sometimes called banner ads, and they come in a variety of different formats. You may have heard terms like “leaderboard”, “skyscraper”, “square”, “full banner”, or “half-page”: these are all different sizes for display ads.

Google has a guide showing some of the most common ad sizes (in pixels) for both mobile and desktop.

Video Ads

Another type of display ad is a video ad.

You may think of a video ad as something that shows up on YouTube, but Google video ads also appear on publisher websites if they are Google video partners.

Video ads may be embedded within content or displayed on the side of the page.

Lightbox Ads

Lightbox ads respond when users engage with them. When people tap or hover over the ad, it expands or displays a video. Advertisers only pay when people engage with their ads.

Responsive Display Ads

Responsive display ads adjust their appearance to fit different ad spaces.

Advertisers can upload a bunch of assets (videos, images, logos, or headlines), and the ad network automatically chooses a combination of these to fit different ad slots.

Retargeted Ads

Ever looked at a website, and then seen ads for that same website a few hours later as you were browsing online?

You can thank retargeting (also known as remarketing) for that.

Retargeting lets advertisers show their ads to people who have already interacted with their website in some way, or who have signed up for their email list.

Native Ads

The term native ad means an ad that blends into the content surrounding it, making users more likely to click.

While you may think of a native ad as a sponsored post or advertorial, display ads may also be called native ads when they are optimized to match the surrounding content.

Here’s a screenshot (from The Independent) of what a native ad looks like. It looks like an article, but note the “sponsored” label at the bottom:

Which Type of Ads Should I Run?

As you can see, there are a lot of different types of ads to choose from. Which kinds should you run on your website?

As a publisher, it’s in your best interest to run ads in a way that will make them perform well. You want to get people clicking, so you can earn those advertising dollars.

But you also don’t want to ruin your user experience. Running too many invasive ads can have a bad impact on your site: it can slow down your page loading speed, potentially tank your SEO, and send your readers running for the hills.

So how can you know which ads will work best? Basically, you should be testing your ads, and you need to be using the right tools.

Read on for more tips on how to get the best possible ad experience for your website.

Tips for Optimizing Your Website’s Ad Experience

To effectively monetize traffic, you’ll want to improve the ad experience that users have on your website.

Here are a few different ways you can do that:

Optimize for Web and Mobile

Users are going to be accessing your site from different devices. The ad experience will be different on web and mobile.

Ideally, you’ll want to optimize the ad experience for visitors based on the device they’re using.

Optimize Ad Display

The way that ads are displayed on your site can affect profitability. This includes their size, their location on the page, the type of ad, and whether other ads are present.

Did you know that ads can actually dilute the effectiveness of other ads? If there are too many ads on a single page, each one may be less effective. Don’t assume that just adding more ads will lead to higher revenue.

Serve Users a Unique and Custom Ad Experience

Advertisers treat every visitor differently, serving them different ads depending on their preferences.

Yet most publishers treat every user the same.

Customizing your ad experience depending on the user could lead you to get better results. You can do this with the help of automated website monetization software (more on that below).

Importance of A/B Testing Your Ads for a Seamless User Experience

When optimizing your ad experience, A/B testing has its benefits, but it may actually decrease ad rates.

What is A/B Testing?

A/B testing is exactly what it sounds like: running a test where you compare two versions of something side by side (Version A against Version B), to see which one gets better results.

A/B testing will give you some hard evidence about which types of ads you should use. However, it’s not going to appease everyone. The limitations with A/B testing means that you’ll never be able to satisfy the B-side visitors

How Do I Run an A/B Test?

To run an A/B test, you should compare one variable that you can control as a publisher (for example, ad type or content position) with one that you can’t control (such as traffic source).

This will allow you to see which ad content performs better across traffic sources, devices, times of day, etc.

Which Ad Elements Should I Test?

As I mentioned above, there are a lot of variables you can test for when running your A/B tests. Some of these you can control, while others you can’t.

Ad Placement

One important variable to test for is ad placement. This has to do with where your ad is located on the page… is it at the top, at the bottom, in the sidebar, or within the content? Ad placement affects your ad’s visibility to users.

Image Size

Another variable is image size. Obviously, larger ads will be more visible on the page. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean they will perform better. Remember, it’s all about the user experience.

Traffic Source

Which source of traffic is generating the most ad clicks? Optimizing for the source can help you monetize your traffic better, by understanding which traffic is most valuable to you. Maybe it would be worth it to invest more in certain paid traffic sources, or maybe you need to go all-in on your SEO.

Ad Color

This one is pretty self-explanatory… what color are your ads? Should you be aiming to make them blend in, or stand out?

Color psychology can have an impact on conversion rate, so this is actually a more important factor than you might think.

Density

How densely packed are your ads on the page? We already discussed how ads can dilute each other, so ad density can be a key factor to look into.

Location Targeting

Are you making use of location targeting to show users ads that are relevant for their local region?

Ad Network

A final variable you can optimize for is ad network. Different ad networks may be paying you less or more for certain ads.

Tools for Testing Ads

There are a lot of different tools you can use for testing ads. I’ll quickly run through some of the most popular ones, and then I’ll let you know about my secret weapon that I use for monetizing traffic.

Google Optimize

If you want a simple tool for running A/B tests, you can use Google Optimize.

The upside is that Google Optimize is free. The downside is that you’ll have to do everything manually, which takes forever.

Basically, you can go into Google Optimize and connect it with your Google Analytics account. You’ll then need to enter the information for each experiment you want to run.

Optimizely

There are also some paid ad optimization platforms you can use. Optimizely is one example, which is fairly popular in the industry.

However, I’m not a big fan of Optimizely, because I don’t find it super intuitive or easy to use.  The free plugin Ad Inserter is an alternative to Optimizely that many marketers like using.

Ezoic

Finally, I want to tell you about my secret weapon: a tool called Ezoic. Ezoic uses multivariate testing to allow the machines to personalize the ad placements/density automatically.

Ezoic is awesome, because it actually allows you to customize your ad experience to what your user wants. This can help you more effectively monetize traffic.

You can use Ezoic to run automated ad tests.

The software uses AI and machine learning to help you optimize your ads, so it makes decisions based on billions of pieces of data. These decisions are more effective than what you could do on your own.

Automating your testing saves tons of time: you can test thousands of variables in minutes. If you tried to do it manually, it could take months.

Ezoic has helped some websites get a 93% increase in total monthly revenue, and an 87% increase in average revenue per session. To me, those are pretty amazing results.

But not only is Ezoic great for revenue, it also helps you optimize your user experience for every single visitor. If your display ads are taking away from user experience, Ezoic will take the ad off the page.

Because of the improved user experience that Ezoic offers, users are likely to spend more time on your site. Companies have actually seen great results with this already.

Simplypsychology.org saw an 84% increased time-on-site after starting with the Ezoic platform.

And Askdavetaylor.com had a 49% increase in pageviews.

You don’t have to just use Ezoic with Adsense. You can use it with any existing ad platforms and get access to thousands of demand partners, helping you make more money faster.

Conclusion

If you’re a publisher, running display ads on your website is a great way to monetize traffic.

But there are tons of different types of ads, and lots of different variables to think about when running them. If you actually want to make money from display ads, you’ll want to make sure they’re optimized for the best possible performance.

Make sure you’re running the right tests, so you can get the most out of your ads.

What did you think about my tips for monetizing your traffic? Have you tried any of the tools I mentioned? Let us know in the comments.

How To Write A Product Review That Sells Without Making Your Site Look Cheesy (Template & Examples You Can Follow)

How To Write A Product Review That Sells Without Making Your Site Look Cheesy (Template & Examples You Can Follow)

In this coming guide, I will show you how to write a product review that does not alienates your readers but can still generate good revenue for your website.

But first, let’s summarise how searching for feedback about a product you are about to buy usually goes…

Step 1: type “product” + review in Google.

Step 2: your eyes melt at the amount of star ratings and review websites appearing on your screen, half the titles read “is a scam? Don’t buy before you read this!”

Fat Loss Factor Review Google Search

Step 3: Tentatively click on a result that doesn’t seem to be an obvious click bait and where the domain name looks trustable (i.e not producthonestreivew.com).

Step 4: Land on a page filled with CTA 100% positive reviews and is obviously completely sold out to the product owner (and, if you’re lucky, some rehashed product descriptions).

Step 5: Close your browser in rage after landing on 3 or 4 such sites not knowing what to do about buying the product or not.

Does this sounds familiar?

It does to me, yet I actually have done that for a while and if you navigate Health Ambition a bit and look at some of our reviews from a few years ago you will see we were playing that exact game.

But the truth is, even when they rank, these kind of product reviews just don’t produce nearly as much revenue as they used to anymore.

The truth is, most people are now fairly well educated about sketchy affiliate sites selling this way and while you can STILL make sales this way, you won’t bank the way you used to.

But with every downturn there is an opportunity.

In that case, being the honest kid in the block and understanding how to write a product review where you are not afraid to be critical about the product and have the reader’s best interest in mind can have a massive payoff and set you apart from all the crappy online reviews.

We have been experimenting with that in the past 12 months with great success and generated thousands of dollars in affiliate earnings both on Authority Hacker AND Health Ambition.

We have cleared the board, forgotten everything we knew about writing reviews and looked around to try and learn from the best. We realised great customer reviews rely on 2 simple things:

  1. Trust with the author
  2. Bridging features and benefits through real life examples

While we don’t publish a ton of reviews (and we clearly should release more), we have had great success with them earning 3 – 5 figures with multiple reviews in the past 12 months.

Here are some of our earnings generated ONLY with reviews.

Thrive Themes Affiliate Program

Buzzstream Affiliate Program

In this post we will be sharing the format we use to write those reviews and earn great commissions on affiliate products.

How to Write a Product Review

  1. Create product review summary box
  2. Empathize with your readers
  3. Identify who the product is for
  4. Introduce the solution
  5. Explain the relationship between product features and benefits through case studies
  6. Offer social proof
  7. List product alternatives
  8. Use the right format for your review

Enjoy.

What you will learn

Part #1: The Summary Box

If you’ve read any of our reviews, you’ve probably noticed a short product summary at the very top of the page.

This summary box is one of the best converting sections on our page.

For example, the summary of our Buzzstream review accounts for nearly 30% of our sales. Same for some of the reviews on Health Ambition.

The summary box does two things:

  • Captures highly motivated buyers who are just looking for a quick opinion before making a final purchase decision.
  • Summarizes the review and gives readers who are scrolling back up the page another CTA to click on.

An ideal summary should at least have the following six elements:

review summary box
  1. A short sentence identifying the product and its intended use.
  2. Product ratings under different headers. “Value for Money”, “Support”, “Effectiveness”, etc. are some common. Make these visual by using icons.
  3. A summary of the product’s pros and cons. Important to throw in the cons otherwise your review will feel biased.
  4. A summary of the review. Keep this limited to 1-2 paragraphs.
  5. A CTA. Use actionable copy on the CTA text.
  6. The product price, since many of your readers will decide to buy or not based on this factor alone.

This specific box was built with the elements available out of the box with Thrive Content builder, you should be able to recreate it quite easily with it.

Part #2: Empathize With Your Readers

For those who are still reading and are here to actually read your content, it’s time to get personal to stand out from the competition.

Have you ever come across a review where the reviewer was more interested in rattling off the product’s features than actually solving your problems?

Such reviews are a dime a dozen online, and usually do a miserable job of helping readers.

Understand that buyers read reviews not to see the features, they can do that on the seller’s website.

What they want is to learn whether the product can actually solve their problems.

They don’t want to hear about all the cool things the product can do; they want to see how the product performs in real life for someone in the same situation as them.

Therefore, the first step in writing a good product review is to empathize with your readers.

As it turns out, empathy is directly linked with your likability. This, in turn, affects how much people trust and follow your advice.

Empathy And Likability

In the book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, author Robert Cialdini says that likability is one of the six pillars of influence.

The idea behind this is simple: you are more liable to follow someone you already like.

Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion

According to The Likeability Factor, how much you like someone is a function of three things:

  • Realness: Whether a person comes across as ‘real’ and ‘authentic’.
  • Friendliness: Whether a person has an open, friendly disposition.
  • Empathy: Whether the person can relate to you and your problems.

How To Use Empathy In Your Product Reviews

Follow these tactics for empathizing with your review readers and making yourself more likable:

  • Friendly voice: Use first-person voice with a casual, conversational style. You should come across as a friend gently guiding the reader through his/her problems.
  • Share your problem: Before you even mention the product, talk about your problems and how the product helped solve it. Try telling a story about how your life was before and after you used the product.
  • Pressure the pain: Ask rhetorical questions (such as “do you feel you’re wasting hours on social media?”) that pull the reader in and make him silently empathize with your situation.
  • Be a real person: People empathize more with a person than with a brand. Address the reader directly as “you” and use real pictures to draw the reader in.

Your objective in the first few paragraphs of any review should be to tell the reader that you’re just an ordinary person like them, and that the review is your personal experience of using that product.

For an example, take a look at this review of Earn1k course from Ramit Sethi:

review of Earn1k course Ramit Sethi

The reviewer clearly identifies that he’s just a “university student” stuck in a dead-end job. If you are in the market for Ramit’s course (which usually targets millennials), your eyes would instantly light up – this guy is just like me!

Another reviewer had the same approach – he identifies his profession, says he was bored and wanted to make something on the side.

Kerti

This is a situation many people in the market for Ramit’s course find themselves in as well. By stating this first thing in the post, the reviewer manages to empathize with the reader.

You are not a nobody in their eyes anymore and the narrative makes people want to know what happens in the end, keeping them on your page.

Part #3: Identify Who The Product Is For

This is something most reviewers miss – they write reviews for everyone, even if they aren’t the right fit for the product.

The result? Tons of tire kickers who waste your and their own time reading the review.

Therefore, the third step in writing the review should be to clearly identify the product’s target market.

This is quite straightforward – simply include a section in the review that explains who the product is for.

For example, our Buzzstream review states in no uncertain terms that this isn’t a product for you if you send only a 100 or so emails a month.

buzzstream target market

This does two things:

  • It qualifies prospects. If someone isn’t a good candidate for the product, he/she can simply leave at this point without wasting anybody’s time.
  • It builds credibility. We identify a few free alternatives or tell unqualified people they should not buy the product. This tells readers that we aren’t just after their money but want them to get the best possible product for their needs. You can earn a lot of trust with that.

Part #4: Introduce The Solution

By now, the reader knows he has a problem and is searching for an answer and trusts you.

This is where you step in and introduce the solution.

You can do this by giving your readers a brief overview of the product. Show them what the product includes, what its capabilities are, and what results users can expect from it.

I like to do it in a video because it makes me more relatable, puts my review on Youtube search which generates traffic on its own and gives a nice multimedia feel to the post.

Essentially, your job in this part is to pre-sell the product.

The Principle Of Pre-Selling

In sales, pre-selling is defined as the process of creating an environment that helps customers choose a product.

By demonstrating the product’s value and answering buyer questions, you can leave such a favorable impression that people buy your product without even being pitched to.

Pre-selling is the process of creating an environment that helps customers choose a product, i.e. sales without selling

Which is to say, pre-sales is sales without the selling.

Pre-sales tactics are very effective in product introductions. It lowers your readers’ guard and demonstrates the product’s usefulness without the added pressure of making a purchase decision. Here are two ways you can pre-sell the product:

  • Demonstrate value: Demonstrate how the product can solve problems by showing off your own results.
  • Educate: Answer questions and doubts readers might have about the product.

How To Introduce The Product

The best way to introduce the product is to show off your results through screenshots and videos, and clear away common doubts they might have about the product.

For example, in our Buzzstream review, we start off by talking about why we don’t have any link building product recommendations on our website (short answer: they’re mostly crap).

Then we talk about how Buzzstream is different – it’s a relationship building tool, not just a link building tool. Then we get people interested by posting a few relevant emails that resulted in a backlink:

Buzzstream outreach success

This way, we’ve managed to tell the readers what the product is all about, and how it can help solve their problems.

In our Thrive Leads review, we accomplish the same with a short product walkthrough video:

This demonstrates the product’s value, and hooks them in for the rest of the review.

Moreover it shows them I actually own the products which pushes trust a little further.

Part #5: Explain The Relationship Between Features And Benefits Through Case Studies

A big part of writing a review is explaining the product’s features and benefits. Most reviewers (and vendors) simply list them out one by one.

The results from this approach, as you might have guessed, are less than inspiring.

The right way to explain products and features is to actually show how they help solve problems. You can do this by creating a case study inside the review. This accomplishes two things:

  • It shows how the product works in a real world setting.
  • It gives value to the reader, builds trust and they feel compelled to do something in return (buy from your link)

The second part – doing something to get something back – is actually called the principle of reciprocity.

The Principle Of Reciprocity

Robert Cialdini

Author of Influence

“We are human because our ancestors learned to share their food and their skills in an honored network of obligation”

Which is to say: if you do something for someone, they feel obligated to give back. This is the principle of reciprocity in a nutshell.

We’ve seen this principle at play firsthand on Authority Hacker. We give away so much content that we often get comments from readers asking why we’re doing this in the first place.

Authority Hacker post comment

That’s not all – we’ve even received emails from readers asking us to share our affiliate links. People have read our reviews and got so much value from them that they feel like they owe us a sale.

Thrive Theme Template Affiliate Link
Thrive Theme Template Affiliate Link

This is a powerful concept. Use it in your reviews and your conversion rates will skyrocket.

How To Create High Value Product Case Studies

The purpose of a case study inside a review is twofold:

  • To demonstrate the product’s features
  • To help potential buyers picture themselves using the product and improving their lives doing so.

The best way to do this is to create a short tutorial that walks readers through a sample use case of the product.

For example, in our Buzzstream review, we show readers how we used the product to get backlinks for Health Ambition. Not only do we list out the steps we followed, we also show our results:

Buzzstream Link Partners

For your own reviews, follow these steps:

  • Identify core features: These are the features that readers care about the most. Whether they decide to buy the product or not will depend on how well these features actually work.
  • Show core features in action: Use a video or screenshot walkthrough to show how the product actually works. For inspiration, take a look at our Buzzstream video review.
  • Give value by explaining how to use the product: This is where you can give value and trigger the principle of reciprocity. Your aim should be to walk readers through a short tutorial explaining how to get real results from the product.

In our Buzzstream review, we offered readers a quick overview of the outreach process, then showed them how to use Buzzstream for successful outreach.

outreach process copy

We never tried to hard sell the product. Instead, we just focused on helping people with the outreach process. Selling Buzzstream was just an added benefit.

This does not just work with software tools though, you could do the same with blenders by showcasing some smoothies you have put together with it or showing a case study of how you applied the learnings of a course you are reviewing.

Part #6: Offer Social Proof

Social proof is the third pillar of persuasion, and it can really set you apart from the dumb review sites using spun user-generated content.

According to Robert Cialdini, quoting results from the Asch conformity experiments, he shows that people are more likely to follow something that is already popular.

People are more likely to follow something that is already popular.

As you’ll see below, you can use this fact to your advantage while writing reviews.

How to use social proof in your reviews

Follow these steps to add social proof of the product’s success to your reviews:

  • Add reviews and quotes from other users: To show how others perceive your product, simply add reviews and quotes from other users. You can easily find such reviews on sites like Amazon, Clickbank, or speciality sites like GSMArena, etc.
  • Add reviews from power users: “Power users” are bloggers, reviewers and other recognizable online personalities. If they’ve already reviewed the product, use their quotes in your review. This gives readers a nice balance between what lay users and experts think of the product (the same format used by MetaCritic and RottenTomatoes).
  • Incentivize comments: A large number of comments on a product shows that it is popular. You can get people to comment on the review by offering incentives through a contest. Check out our earlier post to see how to run a contest.
  • Get more social shares: Higher social shares = higher popularity. Buy some ads on Facebook or Twitter to pump up the share count on your reviews. This subtly shows readers that the review is already popular.
  • Use giveaways: Another tactic to get more social shares is to run a giveaway on the review page. This will pump up the social activity as your social media followers jump in to take the reward.

For example, in this review of the Earn1K course, Dave clearly mentions results from other reviewers:

Other Reviews

This was a great try but something that works even better is to actually quote the other reviews. This way you both earn more trust and avoid “review shopping” because all the important information of all the major reviews are on your page.

No need to go and read anything else until you make your decision about the product and click the link on that page (your affiliate link) if the answer to “should I buy this?” is yes.

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Part #7: List Alternatives

We included listing alternatives as one of our 17 most effective affiliate marketing tactics in 2015.

This holds particularly true for reviews where listing alternatives accomplishes two objectives:

  • Increase sales: If people are not interested in the reviewed product, they might still be interested in the alternatives. More importantly, it changes the question from should I buy it to which one should I buy. This is a powerful change in frame that can have a profound impact on sales.
  • Show impartiality: By offering readers multiple alternatives, you subtly tell them that you aren’t partial to any particular product.

Listing alternatives is a rather straightforward process. You can simply include a section titled “Alternatives” or “Competitors” and list out candidates.

We did something similar in our Activecampaign review where we offer Convertkit as a decent alternative.

Same thing happens With our Ahrefs Review and KWFinder review.

Shane from Activegrowth goes a step further and offers an entire ‘Do Not Buy’ list, along with alternatives for each product.

While most people try to shy away from doing that because they’re afraid of not making a sales, remember that alternatives may also have affiliate programs so if you are playing smart you will make more money doing this not less.

Part #8: Use The Right Format

By now, you have a powerful, persuasive review that gives tons of value to your readers. But before you can hit publish, you also need to format the review for maximum impact.

We have already established the power of formatting in our previous posts.

Follow these formatting guidelines in your review:

1. Use Plenty Of Pictures And Screenshots And User Generated Images

Pictures are crucial for creating great reviews, especially if you believe in the “show, don’t tell” philosophy.

Use them generously in your articles, but make sure that you only use real pictures, not stock images lifted from the product creator’s website.

Try to aim for a 3-4:1 ratio between pictures and images. That is, for every three-four paragraphs, include an image.

Image Use

This gives much needed visual flow to your review.

Sites like Trustedreviews.com use this tactic with great success and a study has shown that user generated images greatly improves conversions by a lot.

2. Divide Review Into Sub-Sections

Writing a great review isn’t enough; you also have to make sure that it is easy to navigate.

You can do this by breaking down the review into separate subsections. We do this for most of our long posts.

Authority Hacker Post Navigation Example

Try to use both headings and pictures to mark subsections.

I must admit I have skipped that one for Authority Hacker and have had complains about it, so I will take my own advice and implement those soon!

3. Use Symbols And Icons

When listing out features, benefits and ratings, use symbols and icons to add visual flair to the page.

It won’t make a bad review great, but it will definitely make your review easier on the eyes, and faster to scan through. Use a plugin such as Thrive Content Builder to make this process easier.

If you are using Thrive Content Builder like we do here is how you can add icons to your content and help increase it’s readability:

1 – Go In Your WordPress Dashboard And Click On Icon Manager.

WordPress Dashboard Icon Manager

2 – Go On Icomoon.Io And Click On Icomoon App

IcoMoon

3 – Select The Icons You Want To Import On Your Website

IcoMoon Icons

4 – Once You Have Done Your Selection, Click On “Generate Font” At The Bottom Right.

IcoMoon Font

5 – Then Click Download

IcoMoon Font donwload

6 – Take The Zip File You Just Downloaded And Import It Back In The Icon Manager On Your Website

IcoMoon Icon Upload

7 – Refresh The Page You Are Editing And Pick The Icon Element. This Time It Should Work!

Thrive Architect Icons

4. Offer Star Ratings

Star ratings or scores out of 5 or 10 are used in almost every review. Your audience implicitly understands what they mean.

They know that 4/5 stars means an almost great product, while a 1/5 is universally recognized as “don’t buy” product.

You can either use star ratings:

Authority Hacker rating stars

Or you can use a score

Authority Hacker review ratings

Both work equally well. You can also add your star rating to your search results with the all in one schema.org WordPress plugin.

5. Divide Comparisons Into Columns

If you’re offering comparisons (say, a pros-cons list, or a feature list across two products), it’s useful to place them into separate columns.

Contests Sweepstakes column

This is a simple, visual way to make a comparison.

Users can juxtapose two features/benefits side by side and better understand the product and have been used by magazines forever, it’s a classic visual code.

6. Use Multiple CTAs

Lastly, make sure to use multiple CTAs throughout the review. You should have at most 3 CTA – one each at the top, middle and bottom of the post.

Use simple, value-driven text on the CTA. Don’t write “buy now”. Instead, use something like “Try the [product name] free trial”, or “Learn more about [product name].

AH CTA

Don’t go beyond three and maybe a few links inside the content otherwise readers will think that you’re trying too hard to sell.

Make sure that the CTA stands out on the page. Use a bright, bold color that isn’t used heavily elsewhere, and give it a big enough size to attract attention.

I have also noticed that animating the call to action and the call to action alone increased the number of clicks on our affiliate links.

To Animate your CTA’s with Thrive Content Builder follow the steps described below:

1 – First Select Your Button And Click On “Event Manager”

Thrive Content Builder Event Manager

2 – In The New Window That Opened Click “Add Event”

Thrive Content Builder Add Event

3 – Then Select Trigger “Comes Into Viewport”, Action “Animation” And Pick Your Favourite Animation For It.

Thrive Content Builder Event Triggger

On our own reviews, we use Thrive Content Builder to create all the above visual formats.

From CTAs to star ratings, it has everything you need to make highly readable, visually striking reviews.

Conclusion

Writing reviews isn’t quite as easy as getting the specs and stringing together some thoughts. If you want your reviews to sell products (and rank well), you’ll have to do some legwork.

Don’t be like one of those spammers who write fake reviews and get banished from the SERPs every week.

Instead, offer real value to readers and they’ll thank you by buying from your link.

Master the art of influence to create reviews that not only deliver value, but also sell products.

And lastly, make sure to organize and format your review well – it’s the difference between a review no one will read, and one that gets hundreds of shares.