Is There Value In Free Review Promotions?

by derek on April 6, 2007 · 11 comments

As I am sure many of you are well aware, it seems that more and more sites are pitching the “review my site for a free back link” promotion and many have been quite successful. Like many of you, I’ve participated in a few of these myself.
With each new site that I see running this promotion, I keep asking myself if there is there any real value to offering and/or writing these free reviews. Generally speaking, I think there is some value for both the reviewee and reviewer as it helps to build your community and get your name out to more people with back links. As we all know, back links are very important to your success as a blogger.
However, as more and more sites begin to use this promotion, it seems to dilute the value in my opinion. Some bloggers, such as MsDanielle, are trying to step it up by adding more value for the reviewers by adding additional links.
Unfortunately, I’ve found that a good number of these free reviews are quick posts in an effort to satisfy the minimum rules of the back link promotion. In my opinion, that doesn’t add nearly as much value for the blog running the promotion as the reviews are not very targeted and do not get very in-depth.
While I think that the free reviews have their place in the blogosphere, I feel that services such as ReviewMe! are providing more value in the long run. As the site being reviewed, I believe that you receive much more value than many of the free review posts provide because the reviewer spends more time investigating your site to provide a thorough analysis.
When I have been requested to provide a ReviewMe! review, I approach the task with the mindset that I want to over-deliver to the site paying for the review while also providing my readers with a quality opinion of the site. In my reviews, I like to really dig into the site to find the areas that I think will attract the most interest and provide an honest evaluation of things that can be improved to increase reader satisfaction.
As a reviewer, you lose some value in that there isn’t a promise to receive a back link from the site being reviewed. However, by taking the time to provide a quality review you are building your own value with quality content and increasing the chance that another site will recognize that value and order a review. In my experience, when you over-deliver on the review you also stand a good chance of the reviewee expressing their appreciation with a back link to your review.
On my personal finance blog, I’ve had the pleasure of being asked to review a few sites and as you can see, I am now offering ReviewMe! reviews on Derek Semmler dot com. As I strive for my goal of Blogging for Money, I thought that I would provide a sample of the quality reviews (some paid, some free) that I have completed:

While I strive to deliver quality reviews, I think the real value can be found in the feedback from the people that received the review. I’ve received positive feedback via email but I will ask Stephen Fung, Sagar Satapathy, John Chow, Leo Chiang and Tyler Cruz if they would be kind enough to stop by and share some feedback here on my reviews.
Now that you have seen a sample of my reviews, jump in and get reviewed for only $40 at ReviewMe!. Act fast before the prices increase!

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{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

msdanielle April 6, 2007 at 2:32 pm

hey derek! thanks for the link! 😀 looks like JC just stopped by your site too so bravo 😉 i’m also learning that the more you offer in quality, the more likely chance you’ll get quality links in return somehow without even asking. it’s link karma 😀
but link baiting here and there also helps! lol


derek April 6, 2007 at 5:05 pm

No problem Danielle. The fact that you are offering more in quality is why I called you out specifically, as I think that will likely result in more quality reviews for you.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts.


Natron April 6, 2007 at 3:17 pm

Looks like you have a cautious outlook on reviews. Don’t take to many and keep them quality and the quality of your blog will not decrease. Good luck.


derek April 6, 2007 at 5:09 pm

I don’t know that I will be too cautious but I want to try and avoid the quick hits just to get a back link. In some cases, the site offering the back link is just asking for a couple lines with specific anchor text but I like to provide more even when it isn’t asked for.
For instance, in that last review I linked to John’s site he was only asking for a short little blurb with specific anchor text but I wanted to provide more to my readers and made it a little more *meaty* review.
Regardless of whether I am being paid for a review or not, my goal is to provide a quality review and I hope that comes across. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.


Leo April 6, 2007 at 5:26 pm

Hey Derek!
I have been more than pleased with your reviews. Especially since all it cost me was a t-shirt 🙂
But really, your reviews were very positive and in-depth, giving the reader a good idea of what my sites were about before checking them out for themselves. You also created a nice bit of mystery with the “babes” pictured on my site, even women like to see other attractive women. I just hope I pull it off with a touch of class and don’t inadvertently degrade their images.
Thanks again and keep up the great work on your site!


derek April 6, 2007 at 5:36 pm

Leo, thank you very much for taking the time to stop by and share your thoughts on my review!


Nicholas Pruett April 7, 2007 at 11:21 am

I review all my sites for free whether it is a linkback or not, If you review someones site, and they do not get back to you through seeing the linkback in the “Whos linking” thing with at least a comment or email, they are not a community player.
The “ReviewME” phase, in a sense is useless, sure it helps PR, but Traffic is more important then PR, and quality is more important as well. Very few people will do more than the bare amount to get their link featured.
However, on the good side it does get your site out there more, however, whenever I see a “Reviewme” post, I just skip by and very rarely read how the other sites did.


Tyler Cruz April 7, 2007 at 4:25 pm

To be honest, I really don’t mind when somebody writes a poor quality or uber-short review of my blog. My main purpose is really just for a backlink. Obviously I enjoy a nice and long review as it does provide more incentive for readers to actually then visit my site, and on some reviews I actually picked up some good suggestions that were repeated through various people and implemented their suggestions.
But I feel that it really depends on the blog – popular blogs will usually write a nice review simply because they ARE popular, meaning that people enjoy their blog because of their content. Similarly, poor blogs will often write the minimum treshold becuase they put no effort or quality into their blogs.
One difference between ReviewMe and this method is that with ReviewMe, advertisers are hand-choosing which blogs will review them; the reciprocol link offer is open to anyone, and so it is not expected that all the reviews will be of quality.


derek April 7, 2007 at 10:08 pm

Nick and Tyler,
Thanks for stopping by to share your thoughts and feedback on the topic of reviews. Both of you make some very good points and offer things to consider, for both the paid reviews and free reviews.
As a blogger, I think the important thing to do is put the same quality into your content regardless of whether a review is free or paid.


Sagar Satapathy April 19, 2007 at 1:44 pm

Hey Derek,
Thanks for the link. I liked your site and they way you reviewed all the sites. A back link is always appreciated, not matter whether it is from a site with good PR or not. Our motto: “links, links and links”.
When you honestly review a particular site, it helps both of you. However, there is a vast difference between free review and paid review. I noticed that people who review for money, just list the positive aspects and often ignore the negative ones. That may not go well with the “Big Boss”. I would always request a fellow blogger to take a look on my site and review it in his/her own way. I will accept both the bouquets and brickbats. No problem with that.
Your reviews are very nice and create a sense of positiveness in reader’s mind. I must say that you have done a great job. Keep up the great work.


derek April 25, 2007 at 4:50 pm

Sagar, thanks for the feedback on the review that I did for your site. It’s much appreciated.


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