// Internet Duct Tape

Reviewme.com Reviewed – A Look at the Algorithm from a Bloggers Point of View

Posted in Technology, Web 2.0 Blogging by engtech on November 10, 2006

There’s a new blog advertising network: reviewme.com

engtech-reviewme3.png

Their goal is to bring advertisers and bloggers together and make it easier for companies who are trying to start Word-of-Mouth marketing campaigns to find bloggers who are willing to shillwrite about them. (See TechCrunch’s take on it.)

They are avoiding most of the controversy that has surrounded other “cash-for-blogging” networks by requiring three things:

  • Bloggers have to disclose that it’s a paid review.
  • Advertisers have to pay even if it’s a negative review.
  • Bloggers retain editorial control and can choose to decline.
  • (more info at the FAQ)

They’re also offering a 50/50 split of the advertiser dollar between reviewme.com and the blogger doing the review. That should be enough to ensure that they’re very profitable, while still giving bloggers a nice slice of the pie.

This company will do well if it can convince the advertisers to part with their cash. There is already enough interest in the blogosphere.

They’re confident enough of it’s success and they’re seeding the network and putting up $25,000 for people to write reviews of reviewme.com.

Read more for a comparison of the different payout levels, what bloggers have to consider, what ReviewMe.com could do to improve their site, the best of what other people have to say on the subject and what this means for //engtech in the long run.

But How Much Money Can You Make?

We can get some look into their algorithm by comparing the numbers bloggers are writing about (via Bloggers Blog).

Paul Stamatiou ($125), Texturbation ($20), Werty.net ($30), Make You Go Hmm ($125), Roy Kim ($30), Am I Famous Now ($30), dittes.info ($30), AdMoolah ($30) and InfoHatter ($20).

The $125/review payout is for a 4 star site, $50/review payout for a 3 star site and the $30/review payout is for a 2 star site.

You can see the deeper analysis of how they determine the star rating for your site at:

reviewme.com >> Advertisers Toolkit >> Purchase Reviews >> Search for your blog

Paul Stamatiou (who has a very excellent blog) was kind enough to post screenshots of his numbers. And so was Practical Blogging.
Here is a brief comparison:

Paul Pratical Blogging //engtech
Alexa 4 star (24,035) 3 star (94,371) 3 star (78,624)
Technorati 4 star (1,022) 4 star (28,722) 2 star (N/A, search shows 9,016)
Estimated RSS readers 4 star (undisclosed,
Feedburner shows 2,344,
Bloglines shows 495)
2 star (undisclosed,
Feedburner shows 123,
Bloglines shows 38)
0 star (undisclosed,
Feedburner shows 75,
Bloglines shows 13,
Bloglines shows 45 for the other feed.
Too bad I have have split feeds)

NOTE: reviewme.com seems to be from the same guys who do the Blog Juice Calculator – so that might be an easier way to see your ranking.

engtech-reviewme.png

pratical_blogging.gif

paul-stamatiou_reviewme2.jpg

What This Means for Bloggers

How much money you make (and whether or not you are accepted by reviewme.com) depends on how you rank.

  1. Check your metrics, and submit a bug if you’re showing incorrectly.
    • IE: I have a lower valuation than Practical Blogging when I should have higher stats because Technorati shows up as N/A.
  2. Have only one feed. WordPress.com doesn’t let me change the RSS autodetection feed, so my readers are split between Feedburner and the WordPress.com feed.
  3. We need a better traffic metric than Alexa. Alexa is showing 10 links to my blog versus Technorati’s 713 links and Google’s 19,000 links. I’m not the first to say this. John Chow explains it better in Why Alexa is Worthless and Loren Baker talked about how Alexa is easy to manipulate.
  4. Run your own domain from day one. Starting off on a free web host and then moving to your own domain will reduce your rankings. Technorati does not understand that one blog can have multiple URLs.
  5. Decide how much your time is worth. It’s nice to get money for a review you would have written anyways, and it’s very nice if companies send you products to review (thank you Nokia and O’Reilly). But pay attention to how much time you’d spend on a reviewme.com review that you wouldn’t have otherwise written. If you’re in the lower tier it could be very easy to make less than minimum wage doing this.
  6. Old sites rule. If your site is too new you won’t be accepted, regardless of your Technorati/Alexa rankings.
  7. Payments are sent on the first of the month. There is no mention of those “minimum payment requirements” that make Amazon Affiliates a waste of time.
  8. Think niche. Stand out from the crowd, be different and target your blog in a way that aligns with how an advertiser would search for it and focus on the areas in which you are unique.
  9. Use rel=”nofollow” when posting paid for links. Otherwise the search engines may start penalizing you. Read more about it here.

How ReviewMe.com Could Improve Their Site

  • A more prominent listing of the terms of service.
    • The 48 hour / 200 word minimum conditions are only listed once you have accepted to review the product (and in the FAQ as well). They should be presented while signing up for the account.
    • Posts can be dynamic. Is it a breach of TOS if the blogger removes the disclosure at a later date? What happens if the URL is changed or the post is removed? What about rel=”nofollow”?
  • A direct link for the blogger to see how their site appears from the advertiser panel from the “Manage Sites” control panel.
    • Instead of having to switch to the advertiser panel and search to find out the details of why how your blog is ranked.
  • Transparently reveal the ranking algorithm used to valuated blogs.
    • People will game the algorithm whether or not it’s public. If it’s public then more people can point out it’s flaws.
  • Use the auto-detection feed from the web address instead of asking bloggers to manually enter their feed.
    • NOTE: They may only use the manually entered feed for “what has this blogger been talking about” from the advertising page. I tried changing mine to lifehacker.com and I saw no change in ranking.
    • I wish I knew how they calculated the RSS Reader worth. Having multiple feeds may impact my rank.
  • Create some “Buy a review at reviewme.com” buttons for bloggers to put on their site with a URL to their site on reviewme.com
    • Bloggers might as well cut out the middle man and sell their own advertising, but enough of the lower tier bloggers will use these without thinking and generate incoming links to reviewme.com. Bloggers love putting crap in their sidebars and making a sidebar widget is always going to be the easiest way to get sidebar lovin’.
  • Include geographical information.
    • Sometimes advertisers are looking to target specific regions.
    • matchstick contacted me because I live in Ottawa, Canada.
  • Require proof that the the person setting up the account is the owner of the blog.
    • Fake claims wouldn’t get paid (because the review is manually verified), but there still is the potential to jam the site with fake blog claims.
  • Allow advertisers to easily see the reviewme.com reviews from a blogger.
    • Showing the recent entries from their RSS feed is nice, but it doesn’t doesn’t reflect the effort a blogger puts into reviews.
  • Allow advertisers to rank the reviewers.
    • This would have to be done carefully because you don’t want to create a system where advertisers can punish bloggers for writing negative reviews, but on the other hand the system works better for everyone if bloggers choose to decline products rather than write negative reviews.
  • Highlight best reviewers using advertiser ratings or some algorithm of your own devising.
  • Automatically fill in name and email address from my account information when submitting a bug report.

What does this mean for //engtech?

Reviewme.com paid posts may not be allowed at WordPress.com hosted blogs (PayPerPost is banned, but it is very different than ReviewMe). Ethically, I see ReviewMe in the same light as existing relationships I’ve had with Matchstick.ca and O’Reilly. A request for comment on a product that has monetary value associated, but not a paid advertisement.

The reason why PayPerPost is banned is because:

“the Content is not spam, and does not contain unethical or unwanted commercial content designed to drive traffic to third party sites or boost the search engine rankings of third party sites, or to further unlawful acts (such as phishing) or mislead recipients as to the source of the material (such as spoofing);”

I’m not sure that argument can be applied to ReviewMe (but other arguments could — it’s a way for companies to “buy” links [1]).

But I don’t think this is something I’ll have to make a decision on; this post is most likely the only time I’ll make money from ReviewMe.com. The technology blog market is glutted, and I imagine I won’t be beating the requests for reviews away at the door. I’ll be very pleasantly surprised if I am. Everyone has a price, and I think mine is around $200/month for having to deal with self-hosting if I got kicked off of wordpress.com.

$30[2] isn’t worth more than 20 minutes of my attention, and I have a $400 stack of yet-to-be-reviewed tech books collecting dust that says I’m not very likely to review something just for the money. If I wasn’t interested in this subject I would have written one of those “Here’s the press release of ReviewMe.com, where’s my money?” posts like these.

[1] I may be valuated at more than $30, I’m waiting for a response on a bug report.
[2] Giving away a free iPod may be a cheaper way to buy links.

Other People’s Take On It

Related Posts

Disclosure: reviewme paid everyone who tried out their product in this initial offering.

20 Responses

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  1. A.J. Valliant said, on November 10, 2006 at 10:45 pm

    Unless the nations of the world start paying me to slander their rivals, I don’t see alot of demand for my services.

  2. brem said, on November 11, 2006 at 12:15 am

    Nice suggestions for improvements. I agree.

  3. Allen said, on November 11, 2006 at 4:39 am

    Good writeup – I linked to you from my ReviewMe post (mine was not for money)

    http://www.centernetworks.com/reviewme-launches

    I think you did a good job of disclosure, tho I must admit here it works fine because everyone knows they are doing this initially, but if every post people write has that kind of disclaimer – it will certainly “cheapen” good web sites.

  4. A Geek Family said, on November 11, 2006 at 3:18 pm

    in my opinion, the most important factor is that ReviewMe do not allow advertisers to require a positive review.
    Keep you honest and worthy.

  5. Ron said, on November 11, 2006 at 4:23 pm

    A review beit bad or good, does not matter. What matters is the NAME of the company gets viewed thousands of times.

    Call it social advertesing … creating a BUZZ.

  6. Ron said, on November 11, 2006 at 4:24 pm

    You can earn a lot more if you contact companies yourself. Sales people do have ears for that.

  7. Jerry said, on November 11, 2006 at 11:39 pm

    Great review. Very detail and specific. Found your blog via Linkbuildingblog. Thanks for the great findings!

  8. engtech said, on November 12, 2006 at 6:23 am

    @allen: I think it’ll come down to how often a site does these reviews. Every second post? Yup, it’ll cheapen. But for most sites I imagine they won’t get that many a month.

    @a geek family: Yup, although it is likely that reviewers won’t accept money for a product they have nothing good to say about.

    @ron: Yeah, I think ReviewMe is a little too expensive for advertisers who are trying to do the “blanket attack” of generating lots and lots of buzz (although I really have no idea the kind of budgets they’re dealing with for word of mouth marketing).

    And agreed about cutting out the middle man.

    @Jerry: thanks for stopping by

  9. Review Me Review said, on November 13, 2006 at 6:31 am

    [...] More on Review Me There are lots of other people talking about Reviewme.com like stuntdubl, werty, engtech, Working Blogger, and John Andrews [...]

  10. Steven said, on November 13, 2006 at 11:53 am

    you came at it from the numbers point of view; and did a very good job, whereas I looked at it from the ethics (http://www.winextra.com/?p=116) but I didn’t take the money.

  11. Ajay said, on November 14, 2006 at 6:24 pm

    Fantastic review. Thanks for the comment on my site too. Do hope you read it often :)

  12. Colleen said, on November 15, 2006 at 10:47 pm

    Wow. You put a lot of effort into that and I love it.

    Have you signed up for any other services that pay you to blog, like Blogitive for example? (They’re at http://www.blogitive.com ) They’re really ramping up now and putting the call our for bloggers.

  13. engtech said, on November 16, 2006 at 1:36 am

    Being on wordpress.com, I won’t be signing up for blogitive at all. :)

    Plus at $5 per posting, I’d have to write around 10 post an hour to make it worth my time. At which point I’d just be spamming, and destroying the signal-to-noise ratio on my blog.

    I honestly wouldn’t want to read a blog that had that many posts about subjects the author wasn’t genuinely interested in.

  14. skepticlawyer said, on November 17, 2006 at 10:20 am

    We came up as a three star blog – and it was Alexa that let us down, much like you. We’ve also got a separate RSS feed for comments, which may not be the cleverest move. Still, I’ve shilled for my fifty bucks and it’s likely we’ll get some more work in the future. Blogitive isn’t worth the money – US$50 covers costs nicely, $5 is pointless.

  15. engtech said, on November 17, 2006 at 10:32 am

    My thoughts exactly skepticlawyer.

  16. Billy Blogging Poet said, on January 06, 2007 at 2:56 am

    I tried ReviewMe.com and didn’t get paid.

  17. engtech said, on January 06, 2007 at 2:58 am

    I actually never checked my account to see if the transaction happened.

    I’ve send 4-5 bug reports about the fact that they aren’t correctly parsing my stats but they’ve done nothing about it (not even a manual fix). They’re marking me as $60 when I should be $250.

  18. [...] Technorati assigns each blog a ranking based on the number of blogs that have linked to it in the past nine months. The ranking says how many blogs have more links than you. You need about 3,000 links to reach the “coveted” Top 100 list. This ranking number is used by news aggregators like TechMeme and for blog advertising networks like ReviewMe. [...]

  19. [...] bloggers try to do paid reviews via a more ethical / legal service like reviewme.com, they may still be penalized by search engines (more recent) [1]. Search engines like Google use [...]

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