3 Ways to Build a Review Site Using a WordPress Plugin or Theme

WordPress Review PluginReview sites are great for both shoppers and affiliate marketers. Affiliates do the research and compare and review the products then present their findings to buyers in a way that helps buyers make the right choices.

If this is what you want to do with your review site using WordPress, then you are in the right place.

There are three ways to make a WordPress review site: using a review plugin, using a review theme, or using a rating plugin. Let’s talk about the advantages and disadvantages of each one.

#1 using a review plugin a review plugin is a comprehensive suite of tools and solutions to turn an ordinary WordPress site into a review site. A review plugin can be installed on top of any WordPress theme. The plugin will bring the ability to rate posts, rate user comments, display comparison charts, output review snippet markup, and more. While a review plugin can work with any theme (see this tutorial utilizing a default WordPress theme), out of box integration doesn’t always yield the most professional looking review site. If you want your website to look truly professional, you’ll have to either use one of themes that come bundled with the review plugin or you’ll have to get your hands a bit dirty with tweaking and customization on your current theme. Read more about WordPress review plugins…

#2 using a review theme if you want a beautiful looking website without any CSS tweaks or theme customization, a review theme is much easier to start with than a review plugin. Review themes produce beautiful looking sites right out of the box. But themes don’t have as many features as review plugins. Another disadvantage of themes is that once you pick a theme and build your site on it, it’s gonna be very hard to change to another theme later. Nonetheless, there are some pretty good options out there. Read more about WordPress review themes…

#3 using a rating plugin a rating plugin is a little WordPress plugin that performs a specific task like providing star ratings and voting on posts and user comments. You can use one of these plugins with any WordPress theme. If you simply want to add reviews with star ratings to your existing WordPress site, this is what you need. All of these are free from WordPress.org. Read more about WordPress rating plugins…

A note about review rich snippets…

The rest of this page talks about the various review plugins and themes. I’ll be talking about whether these plugins and themes support review snippets in search engines. Review snippets are the stars and review data that is displayed with your site in the search engine results pages, like this:

Google review rich snippet

Some themes and plugins will give your site this added advantage, while others won’t. All is detailed below.

The Best WordPress Review Plugin

The best review plugin is by far MyReviewPlugin. Distant competitors include wpReviewEngine and WP Review Site.

Here’s a comparison of MyReviewPlugin with other top two review plugins:

Recommended
MyReviewPlugin wpReviewEngine WP Review Site
Download here Download here Download here
Install Straightforward. No workarounds required. Easy. But DRM may cause issues during installation Straightforward. No workarounds required.
Support & docs Complete user-manual & docs. Ticketing system. Email & IM support Complete user-manual & docs. Email & IM support Partial user-manual. Email & forum support
Fits in any theme Yes Yes Yes
Comparison charts Yes, horizontal and vertical. Yes, but only horizontal. Yes, but only horizontal.
User reviews Yes, with "Was this review helpful?" feature Yes Yes
CSV import Yes Yes No
Google Maps Yes Yes Yes
Review snippet Yes No Yes
Product sorting
  • chronological
  • by rating
  • by most rated
  • by category
  • and more
  • chronological
  • by rating
  • by most comments
  • chronological
  • by rating
  • by most comments
Bayesian weighting Yes Yes Yes
Included themes 8 2+ 2
Refund period 45 days 30 days No
Cost 1-site: $90
Unlimited sites: $130
1-site: $99.95
Unlimited sites: $169.95
1-site: $97*
Unlimited sites: $199*
Developer: $299*
Download here Download here Download here

The Best WordPress Review Theme

Each review theme is not only unique in its design, but also in its features and purpose. Some themes are intended to be used with any review site in general while other themes focus on specific niches such as video game reviews, or TV and movie reviews. When buying a review theme, you should choose a theme that fits your needs and taste, but also one that’s from a reputable vendor.

Here’s a list of all the review themes out there with a brief description of the features of each one:

DailyWP Review Engine Well-rounded review site theme

DailyWP Review EngineDailyWP Review Engine is a powerful review theme that’s packed with features. It’s not as pretty looking as some of the other themes, but that’s just my taste and the theme works very well. It supports review snippets, product sorting, editor and user reviews, Facebook login, and more. DailyWP Review Engine starts at $119. Download»»

ReviewIt Community-driven reviews

ReviewItReviewIt is the most popular theme dedicated to making review sites on the ThemeForest marketplace. It makes extensive use of the plugin GD Star Rating (more on this plugin below), so it inherently supports review snippets. It allows rating in user comments as well as the ability for other users vote other comments up and down. It has the ability to order posts by date, title, editor rating, and user rating. This theme makes a proper review site. I just wish it looked a little prettier. ReviewIt costs $45. Download»»

InReview Beautiful design

InReviewInReview is a beautiful looking review theme from Elegant Themes, one of the most popular theme design companies in the world. The theme has five unique color schemes and a user rating system in addition to customizable editor rating criteria. But it does not have review sorting or some of the advanced features that other themes have, and it doesn’t support review snippets. You can get InReview for as little as $39. Download»»

ProReview Amazon & ClickBank reviews

ProReviewProReview Theme is designed to work with Amazon or ClickBank affiliates. It only offers basic review site features, but it seems to be very cleanly built and designed. The layout and graphics are highly customizable. The theme doesn’t support review snippets. It can be downloaded for as little as $37. Download»»

(By the way, if you’re interested in creating Amazon-specific affiliate sites, check out the other section I have dedicated to this topic.)

Avenue Magazine style theme with review elements

AvenueAvenue is one of the most popular themes on the ThemeForest marketplace. It’s a not exactly a review theme. Rather, it’s a magazine style theme that can support a website which has a review section for movies, music, and general products. It does not support user submitted ratings or review snippets. It can be had for $35 only. Download»»

LeetPress Games review site

LeetPressLeetPress is made specifically for game review sites. It mimics sites like IGN.com in many ways. It doesn’t have 5 out of 5 star ratings like most themes. Instead, you can rate game play, graphics, and other game criteria with 10 being the highest score. The theme doesn’t have user rating, review snippets support, or the ability to sort games based on rating. Other than that, the theme looks very nice and can be bought for $35 only. Download»»

Imperial A dynamic theme with a reviews section

ImperialImperial, according to its author, doesn’t have a specific focus. It can be used for a personal blog, an online magazine, and it even has a reviews module built in. I personally don’t like the design that much, but you may have a different opinion. The reviews module is basic. It just allows you to provide star ratings to custom criteria. There are no user reviews or support for review snippets. The theme can be had for $35. Download»»

Other Review Themes

In my opinion, above are all the review themes that are worth looking into. However, there are other review themes out there, like The Reviewer, Review-Theme.com, and Jan Roos Review Theme, but these aren’t particularly great. You can safely ignore them.

Rating and Voting Plugins

GD Star Rating is rating system for posts, pages, and comments. The plugin has a sidebar widget for displaying top ratings and other statistics. You can specify multiple rating criteria as well as support thumbs up thumbs down rating style. The plugin is one of the earliest rating systems for WordPress and one of the first to support review snippets markup. It’s very popular and has about a million downloads.

Author hReview is more limited than GD Star Rating but it’s much easier to use. It allows you to make reviews that look like this. It marks up your review content in a way that makes your review full of extractable review snippet data. The plugin is fairly new but I like its focus and simplicity.

WP Comparison Charts is not really a rating or voting plugin, but I didn’t know where else to put it and it’s not a plugin to overlook. This plugin allows you to easily embed product comparison charts in your WordPress posts and pages.

WP Customer Reviews allows you to display a form on your WordPress pages where visitors can submit reviews of your service or reviews of the topic that your page happens to be about. The plugin supports review snippets.

Vote It Up is another plugin that allows your visitors to vote your posts up or down. It can be useful if your posts are product reviews because then your users can vote for the product and not the content of your review.

Star Rating for Reviews is an old but functional and simple plugin for displaying stars on your posts. You’d simply type something like [rating:3.5] in your post and the plugin would replace that with 3.5 stars. You can get more details from the author’s blog. There’s a similar plugin called Review Ratings, but it’s inferior to Star Rating for Reviews, in my opinion.

Easy Review Builder for WordPress allows you to display a box with several rating criteria. To best understand what this plugin does, checkout the examples on its homepage.

Rating Widget is not exactly a rating plugin for reviews, but a way for your visitors to rate your WordPress posts and rate comments on your blog. Since it’s not intended for reviews, it doesn’t support review snippets.

That’s all folks. I hope you found this stuff helpful. Please share any comments, questions or suggestions. Thanks!

58 comments. You can post one, too!

  1. jennifer

    Can I just use the gdstar rating with the avenue them to get the rich snippets ? Will that work ?

  2. jennifer

    Can I just purchase the avenue theme then install the gdstar rating plugin for reviews ? Will that work ?

  3. Michael

    This blog-post seems to be from April 2011. I’m looking for a Review Plugin to create a sophisticated Review-subsite. I’m wondering; are the named 3 plugins (MyReviewPlugin, wpReviewEngine & WPReviewSite) still the only three to consider? And are these three still in that order the best solutions?

    • DeOren Ra-Ki Robinson

      Hey Michael I am glad you asked. I have recently discovered more plugins and themes. I will be adding them to the site this month.

  4. Thanks M.K – appreciate your assistance. Have a endowed day!

  5. Reza Farshbaf

    I purchased MyReviewPlugin about 3 months ago. It didn’t work in newer version of WP and it is not being updated by the author, even their support ticket system is not working! I requested a refund but they didn’t hear from them. The project looks to be dead.

  6. Thanks for a detailed post :) I have tried about 50% of the rating plugins (GD Star, Star Rating for Reviews, etc.) but I decided to go with Rating Widget as my go-to. It was easy to set up and also allowed me to customize the CSS easily. I highly recommend it~

    Keep up the good work and thanks again :)

  7. Thanks a Lot!!!
    Nice Informative Post!!!
    It will really help me. :)

  8. M.S.

    Tried myReviewPlugin and I have to say it sucks. I was using a basic free but popular Mantra theme and the plugin did not come anywhere close to doing what they advertise. None of the posts could get populated with the review fields and none of the comments sections accepted the “embed” codes to add user review features to the comments area.

    I’m not a newbie, and I followed all of their instructions very carefully – THREE times. I tried to submit a support ticket but got and invalid link to their support ticket system, so I sent them an email. They replied with a support ticket number and an invalid link to their support ticket system.

    I requested a refund and silence – still waiting for a response to the support ticket and/or the request for a refund. The plugin is a waste of time and money – stay away!

    • Mike

      M.S. I echo your comments completely. I have raised a ticket for a refund and followed up several times but just get radio silence. Very frustrating!

  9. Narender Gaur

    Hi,

    I had purchased my review plugin and want a refund since it is under money back guarantee period but after one reply they are not replying my mail even after 5 reminders . The have not refunded my money . what is the reason . do you have any idea.

    Regards,

    • Try to open a support ticket at http://www.myreviewplugin.com/tickets/. They have a lag in response at times but I am sure that you will get your money back

      Alan ;)

  10. These are really fantastic ideas in regarding blogging.
    You have touched some good points here. Any way keep up wrinting.

  11. Marybeth

    Whatever happened to WF Review?

  12. Have searched everywhere, it seems like all the wordpress review themes and plugins are premium, anyone know of any free ones, or at least one that I can use to see if I can get traction with this kind of web site.

  13. joe

    If you’re planing to modify your theme a lot, i suggest stay away from ReviewEngine. The theme may looks good but inside is very bad coding. It will never ends. You will be working on it until the world ends. The theme was badly coded.

  14. M.K. , you really put great list and guide in here.

    Thanks for mentioning my Author hReview plugin, really interesting to read what you had to say about it, I appreciate it.

  15. Thumbs up for ReviewIt – see my live example @ http://comparemyrecruiter.com (still a work in progress)

  16. Mark

    Just wanted to let everyone know, MyReviewPlugin 6.0 is out. We were already the best: now we’re even better.

    If you’re interested, you can read about some of our improvements here: http://blog.myreviewplugin.com/16/myreviewplugin-6/

  17. Dendy Sutrisna

    I really like a WP Comparison Charts Plugin (for $19 0r $39)… it will be certainly useful for my blog. But, are there a free version for such kind of plugin? Hehe.

  18. A.Z.

    In Amazon, users can submit reviews, which in turn can be commented on by other users. Do any of the review systems tested here have that capability?
    Thanks!

    • You can use WordPress threaded comments feature to simulate this. For example, to reply to you, I pressed the “Reply” button. This button could have been labeled “Comment on A.Z.’s review”. And whatever I wrote could have been hidden until a link is clicked to load my comment (like Amazon). But the plugins reviewed here have nothing to do with this, except for allowing for the initial review comment with star rating.

    • A.Z.

      M.K., Thanks so much for your insight! What a great a solution! So I guess that would work for any of the above plugins, right?

    • So I guess that would work for any of the above plugins, right?

      Yeah, pretty much. But if you’re gonna choose one of the plugins anyway, I recommend MyReviewPlugin because it has “Was This Review Helpful?” feature, which maybe useful for what you’re trying to do.

  19. Daniel

    Hi,
    I was looking for rating and review system and thanks to this post I got the information I needed.
    But have some open questions:
    – I like the forum/topic structure of bbpress.org. Is any of these plug-in ready to use with it? So users will rate the topic instead of a post. If not I guess I could use the category to create a similar structure, right?
    – Are they compatible with plug-in that enable to comment with facebook or twitter login? or they need to create a user for this? Same question applies to bbpress.org users
    Thanks again for the info

    • Hi Daniel,

      None of the plugins here is made for bbPress topic ratings. You’ll have to find a plugin that’s specifically made for bbPress, like this one. I’m not sure about how you’d create a category to allow topic rating through these plugins.

      As for compatibility with Facebook and Twitter logins, it shouldn’t be a problem. The plugins on this page will work with that.

  20. Yabo

    Thanks for this review, I bought MyReviewPlugin after reading this. It took a few seconds to install, and a bit of time to configure. But in the end it works great and looks great. Basically posts are products, and comments are reviews. The included themes are great as well.

    • M.K.

      Thank you for your feedback Yabo and I’m glad you’re enjoying MyReviewPlugin. It’s a great solution!

  21. billbo

    Do any of these allow the users to create reviews of products not currently listed? I have an active user base that would like to review certain products. I do not need this to make money with, and I am not looking to pre-populate it with collections of reviews from elsewhere. Is it possible to allow users to add a new product to review with WP or would this be impossible?

    Thanks in advance.

    • M.K.

      Hi billbo, None of these solutions do exactly what you’re describing. You will probably need a custom solution for that. But do you really want to allow your users to create new posts/reviews on your site, with each post in a new URL? Inaccurate posts, duplicate posts, spam posts, etc may require heavy moderation. On the other hand, if you use MyReviewPlugin for example, you can create a post for every product that you want to allow your users to review, then your users can post reviews and star ratings as comments.

    • billbo

      Thanks for your reply.

      I understand what you are getting at but that is the problem, I have no idea what it is they want to review. I mean, I know the category.

      Let’s say its something along the lines of reviewing car dealerships that they have done business with. Even if they sent me a link for dealerships, with even a small readership that will get too unwieldy very quickly. I thought about creating something using a wiki installation, but I don’t have a clear cut road map for that in my head either.

      We don’t really have the money for custom right now either, unfortunately.

      Again, I appreciate your help.

    • M.K.

      It would be a little difficult to accomplish without any custom development. But if you’re willing to tweak and play with the code yourself, then it might be possible.

      For example, there are plugins that allow visitors to submit content to your blog. Combined with GD Star Rating, this could give you the final result you intend to have.

    • billbo

      Great, thanks for the helpful advice. I will give it a look.

    • billbo, let me know if you were able to figure out how to do what you were talking about. I’m also looking for the capability of allowing the users to post products and reviews.

  22. Mario

    Mate, at the end of your article you’re putting a comparison chart between:
    MyReviewPlugin, wpReviewEngine and WP Review Site. What plug-in are you using for this?

    • Mario

      Please.. Would appreciate your quick feedback :(

    • M.K.

      Hi Mario, This table is plain HTML. I made the design and CSS.

      MyReviewPlugin (and, I think, WP Comparison Charts both) can also make comparison tables that can be styled similar to this one. My sources tell me the upcoming version of MyReviewPlugin will have powerful comparison tables. I can’t wait to see it.

      What exactly do you like about the table that’s shown on this page?

      Thanks,
      MK

    • Mario

      I like the rounded-corners in the top.. Do any of the previously mentioned plug-ins include this feature?

    • M.K.

      Hmmm, for a review plugin to support that, it would have to place CSS classes in the first column and the last column of the table, so that the user can style the corners. Once the classes are placed, styling the columns with CSS is pretty easy.

      Unfortunately, currently none of the plugins provide those CSS classes, but this comments thread is monitored by some plugin developers, so we might see this feature in future versions of the plugins.

    • Mario

      It’d be just awesome!
      Thanks M.K.

    • Mark

      Consider it done. I’ll add it in to the new MyReviewPlugin charts functionality in 6.0, but if anyone needs it in 5.0’s comparison tables, let me know via email!

      Mark.

    • M.K.

      Thanks Mark!

  23. Hey, this is Mark, the lead developer of MyReviewPlugin.

    I just wanted to let you know that WP Review Engine does distribute (at least) 2 themes with their software, not only one. Just a little mistake in the table. :-)

    It might also be worth mentioning that WP Review Site charges $24 extra for the editor’s rating functionality (they call it “My Ratings”) included in MyReviewPlugin and WP Review Engine.

    Mark.

    • M.K.

      Hi Mark, I just edited the table. Thanks for the corrections and for replying to the other comments!

  24. final

    How can this be integrated into WordPress 2.7 comments ?
    As there is no “foreach” anymore.
    Thanks.

    • M.K.

      “this” being what, and which “foreach”?

      Anyway, 2.7 is really old at this point. I doubt you’ll find voluntary support for it.

    • Mark

      Hi final,

      At MyReviewPlugin, we do this automatically for users by making use of the comment_text and comment_form hooks.

      Similarly, if a user wants, they can make use of the hooks provided by WordPress themselves to do a manual integration or to do extensive comments modification they can use the callback provided by the wp_list_comments function, see here: http://codex.wordpress.org/Function_Reference/wp_list_comments

      The new way WordPress does comment output is a little bit frustrating, but with some understanding of hooks it is just as powerful as before.

      Mark Edwards.
      Lead Developer,
      MyReviewPlugin.com

  25. Carlos

    we are looking for a ratings/review system that would allow us to install on our client websites where their customers can rate/review them and then google would pick that up and help populate throughout its search engine.

    is this what these review engines do? we’re not looking for a side by side product or company comparison review but a rating/review system to install so the company can be reviewed/rated.

    Make sense? Can these you reviewed support just that?

    Thanks in advance and look forward to your reply.

    • M.K.

      It can be done with GD Star Rating plugin (mentioned above). For example, see how a page within GDStarRating.com has the aggregate number of ratings in the search results.

      Customers will rate the post, and then leave a review (as a comment). GD Star Rating will mark-up the rating results so that Google can pick it up and display it in the search results.

    • Carlos

      Thanks M.K – appreciate your support. Have a blessed day!

    • M.K.

      By the way, I contacted the developer of MyReviewPlugin and he confirmed that the plugin does have the feature that you’re looking for.

    • Mark

      I wanted to confirm for M.K. that MyReviewPlugin *does* support microformats (hReview, hProduct and RDFa:Review — though for most users just hReview is all they need/want) or as Google calls them “rich snippets.” :-)

      Mark,
      MyReviewPlugin.com

  26. I think GD rating is also good!

  27. dwhs

    Which one is best for a web hosting review site?

    • M.K.

      They all can do web hosting reviews.

      WPReviewSite has a demo which is a web hosting review site. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that WPReviewSite should be your final choice. MyReviewPlugin and wpReviewEngine both can do hosting review sites as well.

      So, read the full reviews of the plugins, see which one meets your needs best, and choose. Good luck!

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