Practical Ecommerce

The PeC Review: PowerReviews

The term “Web 2.0” has come to describe web design and architecture that facilitates user interaction. And on ecommerce sites, that interaction often takes the form of customer-generated product or service reviews.

PowerReviews and PowerReviews Express offer online retailers—from multi-million dollar operations like REI to small family-run sellers—the opportunity to place a robust product review solution right on site.

Three and a half stars The PowerReviews’ solutions are a good way to add review functionality to shopping carts that don’t support it; the solutions include many features that other review systems are not likely to match. For these reasons, I am giving PowerReviews three and a half out of a possible five stars in this “The PeC Review.”

“The PeC Review” is my weekly column focused on introducing you to the products and services that I believe could help your ecommerce business grow. I never show you mediocre products; just those that I think do a good job. This week, let me tell you why I think PowerReviews and PowerReviews Express are worth your attention.

Video: PowerReviews

Reviews Are a Must

Customer reviews are becoming a must and too many shopping carts/ecommerce platforms do not support reviews right out of the proverbial box. PowerReviews overcomes this challenge by offering a third-party solution that should work and play well with nearly any shopping cart you can imagine.

PowerReviews is implemented using JavaScript and iFrames, depending on whether you are using the enterprise or Express versions and which function—showing reviews or submitting reviews—is in view.

Because it is flexible, PowerReviews allows merchants to continue using their current platform while still adding robust web 2.0 features.

The Good, The Bad, and The Useful

PowerReviews has a very nice way of categorizing customer reviews, dividing them in to “Pros,” “Cons,” and “Best Uses” in a fashion similar to how eBay rates buyers and sellers—”positive,” “negative,” and “neutral.”

The rating system quickly allows users to see what other customers have said. And I don’t believe that sellers who are really interested in serving customers should be too concerned about the “cons” since customers presumably understand that no product is perfect, and they are likely to be happier with the product if the proper expectation is set early on.

In-Line SEO

For enterprise customers, PowerReviews offers a new In-Line SEO product that makes customer reviews, as they appear on the merchant’s site, visible to search engines like Google, Bing, Yahoo!, and Ask.

Because PowerReviews solution is usually implemented with the aforementioned JavaScript and iFrame, it is generally not visible to search engine bots without purchasing In-Line SEO.

Minor Changes Would Improve the Tool

I want to make it very clear that I believe PowerReviews is a good solution that will serve many merchants very well. But I think the solution could be improved if it were not offered on a software-as-a-service (SaaS) basis.

I know that cloud computing and SaaS are all the rage now. But unless you purchase Power Review’s In-Line SEO product and settle for customer reviews that are only updated a couple of times a day via FTP, the product does not offer good SEO options because of the SaaS format.

If the solution were offered as licensed software that users installed on their servers, every version of PowerReviews would add valuable, SEO friendly content to users’ sites. I think PowerReviews would be much improved if they offered a licensed version as well as the SaaS options they have now.

Summing Up

PowerReviews and PowerReviews Express offer effective and relatively easy to implement customer review solutions that can provide merchants with an excellent, community-building Web 2.0 application. I wish the tool came as licensed software that I could download and put on my own server, but as is PowerReviews is still very good option for many ecommerce merchants, earning it three and a half out of a possible five stars in this, “The PeC Review.”

Armando Roggio

Armando Roggio

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  1. Adam Golomb September 3, 2009 Reply

    We use PowerReviews Express and I would give it 5 Stars. For the price we pay it is a home run.

    Adam Golomb
    http://www.smileycookie.com

  2. Kamran Lotfi September 3, 2009 Reply

    Thanks for thorough review of PowerReviews and PowerReviews Express. We appreciate the great coverage!

    In regards to the SEO friendliness of PowerReviews Express, we do offer what we call our SEO Mini-site. This feature provides SEO friendly product and category landing pages containing all the product reviews from your site.

    Kamran
    Director, PowerReviews Express

  3. cokekiller September 10, 2009 Reply

    Some pricing info would be appreciated.

    Also can you offer some alternative products that are licensed and can be on my server that don’t have SEO hurdles?

  4. keithbaumwald September 14, 2009 Reply

    How does the In-line SEO product help if everyone has the same reviews? Doesn’t it just cause duplicate content across all the sites using the same review?

  5. George Zlatin December 31, 2009 Reply

    From what I understand about PowerReviews mini sites product, they place the reviews on a subdomain of your site, which technically search engines can spider.

    This however is not a very good SEO solution since having all this content on a sub domain doesn’t really add much value to the root domain which has all of the products and is the domain we want to rank well in the search engines. Also, Google has started using product reviews in their search results which requires the site owner to have reviews on the product page and use microformats (which are essentially xhtml tags) to specify specific sections of the reviews. This cool new marketing opportunity can’t be utilized with power reviews javascript based reviews.