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This is the exact topic I was going to post about. I've already started a reviews section on my site, and it does get a little traffic, but nobody seems to want to register and write a review. They just want to see what everyone else has said about the product.
I thought about making it so visitors have to log in to even see the reviews, but then search engines wouldn't be able to index the content. Also, my review section is independent, unlike a lot of new review sites that import feeds for reviews from larger well established review sites, so getting started is a bit of a pain.
I'm Leary about doing a contest to get people to review because I had just read something about search engines penalizing sites for doing this, and other related tactics. Even mentioning a certain phrase or abbreviation got one webmaster removed from the G's index. I know that sounds far fetched, but it was confirmed by Matt Cutts. I'd post a link, but I'm new here and not sure if I can do that. Try searching "bit** slapped by google".
One thing I know is people generally won't post anywhere for any reason unless there is something in it for them. So how to we make it of some value to the visitor to write a review?
[edited by: eelixduppy at 4:27 pm (utc) on Jan. 5, 2009]
[edit reason] added link [/edit]
One thing I know is people generally won't post anywhere for any reason unless there is something in it for them.
So besides a contest what else could you give away of value to get people to review? I am not sure what you sell or are reviewing, but maybe if you sell some type of information product you could give away a copy of it to anyone that does a certain number of reviews. Maybe there is something else of value you can come up with to give away if someone does one or more reviews. It is similar to a contest, but unlike a contest someone is not taking their chances, but rather performing a service so to speak for something of value. I use this strategy on some of my direct response web sites to get people to take the action I want. Most copywriters call it the "bait piece" strategy, i.e. bait someone into taking the action you want.
Just my opinion