how to set up online reviews on wordpress

There are multiple ways to incorporate reviews into your WordPress site. Whether you’re looking to create a review-based website, or you run a site for your small business and you’d like to add reviews to your site, this post is for you.

Like most things WordPress there are a dozen ways for you to accomplish any kind of task. Adding reviews to your site is no different.

Below you’ll learn what WordPress review sites are and how you can build one and the best themes and plugins to use. Plus, we’ll show you how to incorporate reviews into your existing WordPress website.

First, we’ll cover how to create an affiliate review site. If you’re looking to add reviews to your small business site, you can click here to hop straight to that section.


What is a Review Website?

A review website is one that’s geared towards writing product reviews. You’ll find these kinds of sites scattered across almost every niche. One of the most well known of these sites is the WireCutter.

The main goal of these sites are to generate revenue via affiliate marketing. The process is simple: you find a niche that’s being underserved with low quality content, and then you create higher quality product reviews. As your site builds traffic, you’ll generate revenue whenever someone purchases a product through your link.

Essentially, it’s a content driven website that’s focused on providing visitors with accurate and helpful information related to products they’re thinking about purchasing.

This style of site can be pretty lucrative, but you need to do it the right way. This not only means that you need to create affiliate review content that’s better than what’s currently ranking, but you also need to lay a solid foundation for your site. We’ll get into that below.


How to Start a WordPress Review Website

If you’ve been wanting to start your own review-style website, then there are a few things that you’ll need. Review sites are mostly content-driven sites, but you’ll need a stable website base to work from before you write your first word of content.

Here’s how you do just that:


1. Choose Your Domain Name, and Host

The first things you’ll need when starting a new WordPress review website are a reliable host and domain name. There’s a nearly endless supply of hosting and domain name providers to choose from. But, if you’re looking for a high-quality and high-performing WordPress host, then look no further than HostGator.

You can even register a domain name through HostGator as well. This will not only save you time, but you’ll be working with a provider you can trust.


2. Choose a WordPress Review Theme

With your hosting and domain name squared away you’ll need to install WordPress. WordPress is a free CMS, so there’s no upfront cost. However, as your site grows, eventually you’ll want to invest in premium themes and plugins (which we’ll cover below).

Let’s start by choosing your WordPress theme. Here are some of the best paid and free WordPress review themes.


1. REHub


REHub is designed with review-style WordPress sites in mind. It allows you to create simple review-style blogs, all the way up to magazine style sites. With a variety of page templates and custom widget areas to choose from, this theme is incredibly flexible.


2. InReview


InReview was developed by the team at Elegant Themes. Beyond its beautiful layout, this WordPress review theme has built-in review features that not only let the author create a starred review, but also the readers as well. This can help build trust among your readers, as the content appears peer-validated.


3. Huber


Huber is a really cool WordPress review theme that takes style cues from the video game industry. However, just because the sample theme is geared towards gaming doesn’t mean it can’t be used across any niche. It’s very versatile and its unique review structure and layout can help you stand out in your niche.


3. Install the Best WordPress Review Plugins

Beyond choosing a review-oriented theme there are some additional plugins you might want to install as well. These WordPress review plugins will help to transform any site into an in-depth review monster.


1. WP Customer Reviews

wp customer reviews

If you want to have the ability to let your readers post reviews, then you’ll want the WP Customer Reviews plugin. You can either create a dedicated page for customers to add reviews, or you can add reviews to individual posts. Finally, this WordPress review plugin has anti-spam protection built-in, along with admin approval features, so you can ensure that all the reviews on your WordPress site are actually authentic.


2. WP Review

wp review

WP Review is a free plugin that’s easy to use and will help you create rock-solid review posts, just by following a few simple steps. You can customize the appearance of this WordPress review plugin via CSS, and you can use the included shortcodes to display reviews anywhere across your site.

You’ll also be able to create star, rating, and percentage reviews. Plus, it’s fully compatible with Google Rich Snippets. If you want to upgrade this plugin there’s a premium version available through MyThemeShop.


3. WP Product Review

wp product review

The WP Product Review plugin has both a lite and premium version. Overall, it allows you to easily add reviews to your WordPress site. When you’re writing a blog post, just select the product review option and you’ll get a menu of available settings for you to fill in.

There are also additional features like the ability to add user reviews, or add reviews to your sidebar. It’s also integrated with Schema rich snippets for better search engine display.


4. Start Publishing Great Review Content

Now that your site’s scaffolding is in place it’s time to start creating your review content. The content you create will make or break the success of your site, so make sure you’re creating in-depth reviews on WordPress that add real value for your readers.

If you want to take your review site to the next level, consider actually purchasing the products or software you’re reviewing. This will give you a huge leg up on a lot of other sites out there that haven’t actually spent serious time with the products being reviewed.


Best WordPress Plugins to Optimize Your Reviews

Beyond the basic plugins we’ve outlined above, there are a few more that will enhance the readability of your content. Remember, review-based content is all about conversions. So, the more informative and higher quality your content is, the better chances it has of converting readers into buyers—and earning you that affiliate check!

Here are three additional WordPress plugins that can help elevate your review content:


1. Pretty Link

pretty link

Pretty Link is a useful plugin that helps you manage your affiliate links, while cloaking them so they don’t look spammy. Plus, you can do cool things like setup URL redirects and track your links to see if people are actually clicking.


2. Easy Azon

easy azon

If you plan on promoting and reviewing products from Amazon, then Easy Azon is an invaluable WordPress plugin. It makes it very easy to select and create Amazon affiliate links. You can do it all from your WordPress dashboard. This is a huge timesaver if you’re creating a lot of content.


3. Thrive Architect

thrive architect

The Thrive Architect plugin might only be useful to more experienced website builders, but it’s worth mentioning. With this plugin you can create highly structured content with visual elements in place that encourage your readers to keep reading. Plus, it’s all drag and drop, so you can easily create professional looking content.


How to Add Reviews to Your Existing Website

If your goal isn’t to create a review-oriented website, but instead to add reviews to your existing site, then you’re going to have a bunch of options at your disposal.

Maybe you want to add product reviews to your e-commerce site? Or, you may want to embed customer testimonial reviews to build trust for your solopreneur business.

When they’re positive, user-generated reviews can be a wonderful addition to your site. However, even negative reviews, when handled in the right way, can be a valuable opportunity to show customers how you respond to customer service feedback.

Here’s how you can add reviews to your existing WordPress site.


1. Install Your Plugin Of Choice

The basic process for adding review capabilities to your site will be similar no matter what plugin you’re using. Below you’ll find a list of some of the most useful plugins. But for the sake of example we’ll assume you want to integrate existing Yelp reviews into your site.

To do this navigate to your WordPress dashboard and click on Plugins>Add New.

Then search for the plugin called ‘Yelp Widget Pro’ and click install. It should look like the plugin below:

yelp widget pro install

2. Configure the Plugin

With the plugin installed you’ll have a new menu option of the left-hand side called Yelp Reviews. To open this click on Settings>Yelp Reviews. Then, follow the directions on the page. You’ll need your Yelp API in order to link your account to WordPress.

yelp widget pro dashboard

3. Add the Widget

With the plugin setup navigate to Appearance>Widgets, and you’ll notice a widget called ‘Yelp Widget Pro’. Drag this to your desired section and your Yelp reviews will now display on your site.

yelp widget pro widget

What to Look for in a WordPress Review Plugin

When you’re looking for a good WordPress review plugin there are some key features that you’ll want to look out for. You don’t want to have to install a handful of plugins, when one could do the trick just fine on its own.


1. Built-in Spam Filter

The last thing you want is to have to go through every review yourself to guarantee if it’s real or not. But, you also don’t want your website to be filled with spam reviews.

The sweet spot in between these is finding a plugin that has a built-in spam filter.


2. Rating and Review System

Instead of just a blank comment box, you’ll want a review system that lets your users leave consistent reviews. Whether that’s a starred rating system, or a numbered rating system.

Having a consistent review system will allow people reading reviews to get a more accurate picture of how your products and services stack up.


3. Integrated Schema Markup

By adding schema markup to your site you’ll be able to improve your search engine rankings and appearance. Schema markup helps to better organize and present your website’s data so it can be more readily understood by the search engines.

When you install a WordPress review plugin make sure that it has integrated schema markup.


Best WordPress Review Plugins

There are tons of different WordPress review plugins that you can use to add reviews to your WordPress  site. Here are three of the most useful, especially if you’re trying to bolster social proof and improve conversions site wide.


1. Yelp Widget Pro

wp review

If you’re a local business owner, then you probably have a Yelp page that’s populated with reviews. The Yelp Widget Pro plugin will let you integrate your existing Yelp reviews and other useful information into your website’s sidebar. This will help to display any existing reviews on WordPress and give readers access to your Yelp page for further verification.


2. Google Places Reviews

google places reviews

If you have a Google Places page with reviews, then you can integrate these into your site as well with the Google Places Reviews plugin. You can display your customer reviews, business name, and Google+ page. There’s also a Pro version of this plugin, which will give you access to additional features.


3. Pixlee


Pixlee is a premium WordPress review plugin, but the investment can be well worth it. Pixlee will allow you to integrate visual reviews into your site. By displaying real customer photos on your product pages, or using them with your testimonials you’ll greatly help to improve conversions.


Closing Thoughts

As you can see there are tons of ways you can integrate reviews into your WordPress site. Whether you’re looking to build a brand new WordPress review site from scratch, or simply add reviews to your existing business website, WordPress makes it easy.

Now, you don’t have to use every plugin highlighted above. Instead, choose the one or two that suit your needs and budget the best. Overall, it’s better to use fewer plugins whenever possible, so if you find a single plugin that does everything you need it to do, then use that one.

Now that you’re ready to set up reviews on your WordPress site, it’s time to learn how you can put those reviews to work! Check out our blog post on how to repurpose online reviews for additional marketing content that converts your site visitors.

Kevin Wood writes about technology and human potential. You can find him at his virtual homes Wooden Writing and Counter Culturist.