Review 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:
Some themes and plugins will give your site this added advantage, while others won’t. All is detailed below.
The Best WordPress Review Plugin
Here’s a comparison of MyReviewPlugin with other top two review plugins:
|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|
|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|
|Refund period||45 days||30 days|
Unlimited sites: $130
Unlimited sites: $169.95
Unlimited sites: $199*
|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 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
ReviewIt 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
InReview 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
ProReview 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
Avenue 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
LeetPress 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
Imperial, 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»»
Media Store — Online store with user ratings
Media Store, as the name implies, is more of a digital media store than a review site theme. It allows you to post music and videos, rate them, allow commentors to rate them, and then charge for downloads. Nonetheless, the theme does have good review and rating features, just like the theme ReviewIt because it’s from the same author. Media Store can be downloaded 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.
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!