How To Tell When a Review is Biased

When people are looking for products and services to buy, they often turn to reviews to get some insight into what others have experienced. This can give comfort when making the decision to purchase. However, in many cases the reviews themselves are biased and were written specifically for the purpose of selling a product (or service). This article explores how to identify a review that may be biased towards selling.

What is the General Feel of the Review?

If you start reading a review and you feel like it is a fluff piece, this could be a huge indication that this review is heavily biased. In this case, it's best to find other reviews that can help add more perspective. This is not to say those other reviews won't have a bias either. They probably will. But you want to find reviews that give more balance in the assessment of the product being reviewed.​

Is There Advertising of the Product on the Review Website?

You will notice this when you go to a site. It has multiple ads all for the same exact product. The trouble is, not all of this is controlled by the website owner. Google has a program that allows webmasters (and owners) to display advertising from Google on websites. But in most cases Google controls what ads are displayed and is often based on the content of the page, and to a lesser degree, the theme of the website.

But if you see three or more ads with nothing but that product being displayed, this can be a serious indication of bias. If this is the case, you may still want to read the review as it can offer some insight but consider that bias while reading.​

How Critical is the Reviewer?​

I already mentioned about whether the review was a fluff piece for the product and a good reviewer will always point out flaws that exist for a product. No product is perfect. If you find a reviewer is pointing out what could be improved about the product that usually helps readers much more than an all positive review.

One point to note, a review can still be biased even when the reviewer points out the good and the bad. It's just that it will be a higher caliber review, all things being equal.​

Is the Reviewer an Actual Purchaser of the Product?​

It amazes me how many reviews I've read where the reviewer never even bothered to pick up the product being reviewed. There have been some major changes in laws requiring people to disclose what material relationship they have with manufacturers including whether they bought the product and how they used it with respect to the review.

People should not pass themselves off as having purchased a product unless they actually have. This is not fair to readers and is even an illegal practice that can get the reviewer into some hot water. It's a deceitful practice.​

To be fair, I am not against reviews that are a compilation of other reviews and research as long as that is disclosed. This type of review is actually more akin to market research rather than a full out review. This can be valuable as well. In fact, this can save the buyer a lot of time if the resources included are thorough and well thought out.​

A Surefire Sign of Bias

In many cases, you can tell when a review has bias in it. I've pointed out some key reasons to suspect bias. But there is one surefire way to tell. Click on through to the offer page that is displayed on the review page. It's usually located at the bottom (or end) of the review. Usually, this will take you to the vendor's website where you can purchase the product.

The next step is to look for what's known as an affiliate link or a partner link. It will usually be labeled "Affiliate Program", "Partner with Us", etc. Sometimes it may even show "Make Money With Us", etc. If you see this, then you know the person reviewing the product is likely to be making money from the review.

For many reviews, when you click on the button to go to a sales page, it brings you to a ClickBank product. All ClickBank products are required to disclose that you are purchasing from ClickBank. ClickBank is a digital products repository as well as a payment processor and manage a huge network of affiliates as well.​

Are Biased Reviews Not Useful?​

I review products and I do so for money. And yes, the reviews that I do for people are biased as I am making money from those reviews. But I do make sure that I give as honest a review as possible and disclose whether I ​have bought the product or whether the review is more of the market research type.

When you discover a review is not all full of fluff, it can still offer good insight that could help you make a decision to purchase. Most decent reviews will contain a balance of pros and cons and disclosures of material relationships. These reviewers (the good ones at least) will be real users of the product and they will tell you what they liked and disliked about the product.


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