Consumers love product reviews, as do affiliate marketers, although for different reasons. While buyers enjoy in-depth research-based product reviews, too much of that content is regurgitated product summaries.
Google has effectively put an end to this situation with their Product Reviews Update. Although separate from their core updates, this change will have a significant impact on affiliate marketers. For some, it will be welcome news, although I suspect that for most, it won’t.
For some time now, we’ve stressed the importance of writing for information gain and going beyond the first page when creating comprehensive content. Now, Google has made it explicitly clear. “Thin content that simply summarizes a bunch of products” will not be rewarded.
So what do you do?
Take a hard look at your content optimization tool. If its topic model relies on the top 10, 20, or 30 entries, then that A+ they’re giving you is really a C- in the new world of Google.
As far as I know, MarketMuse is the only platform that analyzes thousands of pages in creating a topic model. Here’s more information on how we identify topics that make a page more comprehensive.
Use the Compete Heatmap to Differentiate Your Content
If you’re using MarketMuse, take advantage of the heat map to uncover opportunities to differentiate your content. Now, more than ever, this is absolutely critical.
The heat map allows you to quickly identify topics that aren’t covered by the competition in the top 20 search results. Just look for predominantly red rows.
Let’s say we wanted to review the Rode Podcaster microphone. We’d enter “Rode Podcaster review” in the Compete application and look for important topics that are rarely mentioned.
Notice in this case how only two pages mention that this is a robust microphone. When I see that, I don’t think, “OK, I have to mention robust microphone at least once or twice.”
Instead, I’m thinking:
- What are the features and characteristics of this microphone that make it robust?
- What’s the benefit of having a robust microphone?
- What are the use cases where you could really benefit from having a rugged microphone?
In fact, this may even make a good section by itself!
Use The Questions Application to Uncover Important Questions
MarketMuse traverses the web when creating its topic model. It does the same thing when uncovering questions that people ask about a subject. Let’s see what kinds of questions people ask about the Rode Podcaster.
Use these questions both literally and as inspiration. A few questions that you could directly answer include:
- How does the rode procaster sound?
- Does the rode procaster need a preamp?
- Do you need a shockmount with the procaster?
- How much gain does rode procaster need?
Others can be used as a starting point.
For example, “how much does the Rode Podmic weigh?” This refers to a different Rode model, but you could answer this question as it applies to the Procaster.
When did the rode podmic come out? Different model, but you could address this question as it relates to the Procaster. Is it older or newer than the PodMic? Maybe there’s a story behind why they released the Procaster. Some research might uncover how this product evolved.
What mic does tommyinnit use? I don’t know who tommyinnit is or whether he uses a Rode Procaster, but this has me thinking that you probably want to mention a few famous people who use the Procaster in your review.
Use Research Application for More Ideas
The Research Application is a great place to explore variants of your content creation subject. A variant is created by adding words to the beginning or end of the keyword phrase.
Here’s a partial list of variants for the topic “mic.” Looking at this list and seeing names like “blue yeti,” “shure,” “akg,” and “sennheiser” make me think of how to explain what makes this particular microphone unique. Who would this best be suited for?
In other variants, I see terms like “dynamic,” “condenser,” and “cardioid.” So, you would probably want to explain what the Rode Procaster is and again relate that to a benefit and use case.
In their update, Google suggests a few more ways to make your content richer.
- Take your own pictures and maybe even show the product in use. Using stock photos from the manufacturer does not provide additional value.
- Explain how a product performs in key decision-making areas of performance.
- Provide expert knowledge where appropriate or source expert knowledge with an original quote.
- And then some.
Wrap it All Up In Optimize
Use the Optimize application to ensure you hit your Target Content Score. Use the score as a guide to ensure proper topical coverage. Remember that it’s a guide and use your own editorial judgment.
Successful content optimization still requires a narrative that flows and a product review that’s informative.
Google wants to send searchers to “content that provides insightful analysis and original research, and is written by experts or enthusiasts who know the topic well.” You just can’t argue with that.
The only question is, how are you going to achieve this in a manner that makes financial sense. In this context, cheap tools aren’t the bargain they seem. In the short term, it may make you feel good, but you’re penny-wise and pound-foolish.