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

updated by MizagornMarch 3, 2015
by M. K. SafiFebruary 8, 2011

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!

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About The Author
Profile photo of M. K. Safi
M. K. Safi
63 Comments
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  • December 30, 2013 at 1:02 pm

    This site http://digital-goods.show4me.eu/ has great collection of free wordpress, joomla and drupal themes and plugins.

  • jennifer
    October 21, 2013 at 7:53 pm

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

  • jennifer
    October 21, 2013 at 7:48 pm

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

  • Michael
    August 15, 2013 at 6:40 pm

    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?

  • July 8, 2013 at 9:27 am

    Hi, I am writing a post on how to add reviews functionality in wordpress and this post taught me a lot. By the way you should have added more information and demonstartion on free plugins too..

  • June 4, 2013 at 1:04 pm

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

  • Reza Farshbaf
    May 30, 2013 at 7:34 pm

    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.

  • April 23, 2013 at 3:17 pm

    This was helpful! Thanks!

  • kimeshan
    April 19, 2013 at 1:06 am

    Quick question, which of these methods will avoid having to create a new page for every product? I want to design a generic product page in PHP that will pull information from my product database. The product ID (unique key in the database) will be passed in the URL so that when product 202, for example, is clicked it will go to www.mywebsite.com/product?id=202 and this will bring up the generic product page that will be populated with details from the database. So basically I need the comments, ratings etc. to be linked to my product ID. The comments and ratings will also be in a database which can be pulled to populate the product page when it is opened.

    Hope this makes sense.

  • April 19, 2013 at 1:02 am

    Quick question, which of these methods will avoid having to create a new page for every product? I want to design a generic product page in PHP that will pull information from my product database. The product ID (unique key in the database) will be passed in the URL so that when product 202, for example, is clicked it will go to www.mywebsite.com/product?id=202 and this will bring up the generic product page that will be populated with details from the database.

    So basically I need the comments, ratings etc. to be linked to my product ID. The comments and ratings will also be in a database which can be pulled to populate the product page when it is opened.

    Hope this makes sense.

  • April 10, 2013 at 3:14 am

    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 :)

  • February 16, 2013 at 12:19 pm

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

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