7 Tips for Writing Good Online Reviews

Writing an accurate and effective review can be tough.
Writing an accurate and effective review can be tough.

Are you interested in writing reviews that people will actually read? Are you interested in helping people make better-informed purchasing decisions? As with any skill, understanding the fundamentals is key.  And as my elementary school principal use to say: “Perfect practice makes perfect.”

More and more people are turning to online reviews when researching products and services; and with thousands of new reviews posted every month, it’s an unfortunate truth that many of them are just plain unhelpful. BBB offers seven tips for writing good online reviews:

  1. Never write anything while upset. This may seem like obvious advice, but take some time—at least 24 hours—before sitting down to draft that sternly-worded review. A good review conveys objective facts about experiences; venting anger, frustration and sarcasm can make you feel better but will cloud reviews with emotions/opinions that probably won’t be very helpful to readers.
  2. Be realistic. It’s unlikely that the meal you just had was the “WORST THING EVER IN THE HISTORY OF THE UNIVERSE;” if your experience was less than perfect, explain why. Choose descriptions that actually describe and avoid subjective terms like “best/worst” and hyperbole.
  3. Talk about the entire experience. If the staff was unfriendly, include that in your review; but also add that the facilities were clean and the service was prompt. A lie of omission is still a lie. Again, readers of your review are seeking accurate descriptions of what to expect and this is where you can really shine.
  4. Leave out names. It’s tempting to blast the employee that was rude or the server that brought the wrong order, but that information does little to help readers. Focus on what happened rather than on who was involved.
  5. Highlight your credentials. Why should someone take your review more seriously than the one right after yours? Take a sentence or two to explain who you are and why you are an authority on this industry. On the other hand, stating that you are new to this type of transaction will help others avoid similar mistakes or misunderstandings.
  6. Address the other side of the story. Place yourself on the other side of the issue and consider the possible reasons for your experience—good or bad. Showing a little bit of understanding can go a long way in validating your review as honest and authentic.
  7. Check your spelling. It’s silly that this point makes the list, but a quick scan of any review site makes it obvious that many people to not take the time to edit properly. Obvious spelling and grammar mistakes distract readers from the review’s message. I personally skip to the next review at the first spelling mistake; I figure that if the person doesn’t care enough to make a professional effort, then the review probably isn’t that important.

A good review will tell a story about a personal experience; others may have significantly different stories. Remember, the most important part of writing a good review is being honest.

Do you feel empowered to write some effective and helpful reviews? You’re in luck! BBB now accepts customer reviews—positive and negative—on more than 360,000 local businesses. Get started at bbb.org.

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