October 8th, 2011

How will your readers perceive your reviews?

You’re about to set up a new review blog.  You probably even have a favorite theme you like to use. That’s all well and good; and a professionally-designed blog theme is, in principle, a sensible thing…  but there’s more to your review blog site colors than what you think looks cute or cool.


Colors have character, and say a lot about who you are – and who your products appeal to.


For example, look at blogs that review Xbox games or tech subjects.  Colors you’ll often see are aqua and black, red and black, orange and black; black, black; black… and sometimes steel grey.


If your reviews involve presenting graphics – for example, screen shots of video games – you don’t want colors that clash with the graphics (no matter how much those colors “represent” you and your personality).  Your best bet for enhancing photographs are neutral colors – or the ubiquitous black.  Just remember black backgrounds are harder on the eyes – but they do make colors “pop” (which can be a good thing, with video game screenshots.)


If you’re reviewing “green” products, you might want to go with colors traditionally associated with nature – pale but bright spring greens, earth tones for accents, “natural” creams and linens – or sparkling white, with splashes of orange and lime.


If you’re reviewing mystic products like Tarot card sets, or self-help or yoga tapes, you might want to use colors associated with unique, spiritual people – lilacs, soft mauves, dark midnight blue, black.


If you’re reviewing publicity and promotion products, “people” colors like orange and hot magenta convey liveliness, connection and an outgoing nature.


You will often see blue on business blogs:  Blue is commonly said to represent “trust”.  But the truth is, the best person to decide on your review blog’s image should be you – and your color choice should never be based on any particular product but on two key components:

•    You and your personality
•    Your topic


So whether you want to conform to common associations, or walk a different path – it’s really up to you. But do put some thought into your blog’s color scheme. Don’t let it go to waste – make it “support” and subconsciously enhance the image, attitude – and topic genre – you want to portray.

October 1st, 2011

Review blogging and SEO

I can see you shaking your head already. And I agree. The idea of writing a review with search engine optimization in mind is frightening. You’ve seen these reviews before – unreadable reviews we both know never will make it to the search engine index.


You’ve learned that keeping your posts real and relevant is what reviews are all about. The mantra is: “You should never write for the search engines!”


And that’s quite true. The most important aspect of any review is to create an honest one that speaks directly, friend to friend, to your reader.


But that doesn’t mean you can’t use your review format intelligently, and boost your SEO a little in the process. After all, part of the whole principle of “being the best you can be” involves doing everything you can to achieve strong results.


So let’s start with a really overlooked component of your review – your introductory paragraph.


It’s an axiom in creative writing that one should always throw out the first paragraph, because writers tend to take too long “warming up”.


The same thing applies in writing affiliate marketing reviews. Get down to business straight away. Open with a punchy sentence that makes your reader blink – but then, straight away, tell him which product you’re going to be reviewing. Add a sentence or two about what, who, why and where. (Sounds like a press release, doesn’t it?)


This is one of the few times when creative writing and marketing reviews run parallel courses for a harmonious moment or two.


Generally, when a reader is buried in a fiction novel, she likes surprises.


When someone is earnestly seeking the solution to a problem, however, they like to know what they’ll be getting – so they can decide if reading your review is going to be worth their time.


A good introductory paragraph fulfils all these requirements – and sets your reader up for a useful and enjoyable use of her time. And if you make sure the introductory paragraph also includes your most important search term, your chances of being indexed and ranked by search engines will increase.