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Wondering on thoughts for best practices for publishing product reviews to maximize SEO.
The latter option seems fine for most products, but for some, I have over 100 reviews and don't want the main page to be overloaded.
But for the first option, is there a duplicate content penalty possible?
An independent off-site reviewer is trustworthy because there is a separation. If you have on-site reviews, at least have a separate review section. That will be perceived as more trustworthy than a review in the product description. An embedded reviews is arguably an advertisement and not independent opinion.
Not to say you shouldn't put reviews on the product page as well, like londrum says. In your case, with a large quantity of reviews, both pages are valuable to searchers; whether searching for the product itself or for reviews of the product. Google certainly wouldn't want to penalise you for having both so, personally, I wouldn't let fear of duplicate content stop me from taking the maximum advantage from all those reviews.