Amazon is a market leader in almost every capacity. With more than 304 million active users worldwide, its revenue exceeded $107 billion in 2015. It is the global shopping destination of choice and retailers are under no illusion about the competition they face.

Retailers are asking themselves if they can replicate Amazon’s success. PowerReviews conducted a survey of more than 1,000 U.S. shoppers to understand the factors that contribute to Amazon’s dominance.

Join Theresa O’Neil, SVP of Marketing at PowerReviews, for this on-demand webinar that will explore: 

  • How the majority of consumers are using retailer sites as a shop window before being tempted over to Amazon to make a purchase
  • How Amazon establishes trust with shoppers throughout the entire shopping journey
  • How the majority of consumers are irritated by poor product descriptions when they’re researching online
  • Amazon’s ability to provide perks to the buyer to sweeten the sale

Featured Presenters


Theresa O’Neil | Senior Vice President, Marketing

Theresa is the SVP of Marketing for PowerReviews. She is responsible for building and leading the PowerReviews marketing team in the development and execution of programs that increase awareness of the PowerReviews brand and technology, generate leads and support direct and indirect channels to grow revenue and profitability.

Theresa brings more than 20 years of experience developing marketing, sales and business development strategy. Prior to PowerReviews, Theresa founded Artha Communications, a firm dedicated to marketing for software companies. Before founding Artha, Theresa led marketing and business development for companies including IBM, InRule Technology, Showcase, and Platinum Technology.

What’s the old adage – if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is? This also holds for consumer reviews on brands’ and retailers’ sites, according to a study of shoppers of consumer packaged goods. It’s hard to imagine a product that meets and exceeds the needs and wants of literally every buyer.

Expecting even the most excellent product – as well as its price and customer service – to merit a 5-star rating every time is unrealistic. Perfection is a wonderful goal to aim for, but achieving it in the real world is unlikely. Most shoppers feel this way too: purchase likelihood peaks when the average star rating of a product is between 4.2 and 4.5 stars. Once the star rating surpasses 4.5 stars, the likelihood of purchase surprisingly drops.

Of course, consumers still hope to see a generally higher star rating to be convinced to purchase – in this same study, a 3-star rating is clearly shown to be less impressive to serious buyers than a 4-star one. So how do you make a positive out of a negative?

The Power of Negativity

Let’s say, however, that a specific product is truly fantastic – worthy of a 5-star review in the opinion of most. That doesn’t mean that someone won’t have a legitimate reason to give a bad review of this product on occasion. Hey, they might even give a bad review because they were annoyed at something else that day and a minor issue became major to them.  

In one example, let’s say the buyer ordered something for a friend’s surprise birthday party. The item itself was exactly as described by the brand or retailer and would have achieved a 5-star review, except it arrived after the date promised (before the party). Because of the delay, the consumer believed the whole point of the item was ruined and the negative review appeared. This was an important part of that consumer’s reason for buying, and although mistakes do happen there should be accountability.

In another case, perhaps the product performed exactly as described, arrived on time, and otherwise would seem likely to earn a 4- or 5-star rating. But the buyer thought the item – a spiralizer – would make a special type of zucchini noodle (‘zoodle’) based on what they had in a restaurant once. Though the actual product description never purported to make that shape, it received a low rating due to the shopper’s disappointment, whether or not it seems fair.

Real Consumers Have Authentic Experiences, and Seek Them from Others

What do these examples have in common? They are real, and they’ve happened to most shoppers at one time or another. So when a consumer is on the brand’s or retailer’s site and looking at reviews, it’s not surprising to see a rare negative review for even the best product. All 5-star raves with zero room for flaw seem unauthentic – as if only the close friends and family of the sellers of the product wrote the reviews on the site. It’s ok if a product is fantastic for most, and just doesn’t fit the specific requirements for a few for such-and-such reason.

So the moral of this story is to put your retailer or brand in your consumers’ shoes and remember what they want:

  1. To see reviews on your site to help them decide to make the purchase in the first place
  2. A product that is rated highly, but where the ratings don’t appear biased or false
  3. Acknowledgement that every product, brand, retailer or even reviewer can have a bad day, and that an occasional negative review is realistic.

Is your brand or retailer ready to accept that the occasional negative review doesn’t have to be a negative in your conversion rate? See this post for reinforcement of this paradox. To learn more about the other powers of reviews, read here.

Why PowerReviews’ Newest Best Practice is to Allow Search Engines to Index JavaScript-Based Content

Search engines will always be a necessary part for consumers to reach brands and retailers. The only certainty about search engine optimization (SEO), however, is change. Learn how PowerReviews arrived at their latest best practice of allowing search engines to index JavaScript-rendered content, and why this is beneficial to your business and your SEO team.

Embracing Search Engines’ Ability to Index JavaScript-Rendered Content

In recent years Google has gained the ability to render pages the way browsers do, and thus is now able to perceive webpages and content more as a human would (see “Help Google Understand Your Pages” on Google’s Webmaster Guidelines page). Because Google doesn’t publish the specifics of how they accomplish this, a significant amount of independent research has been done, and the results are consistent: Google indexes JavaScript-rendered content.  

PowerReviews’ decision to update our standard recommendation regarding reviews and SEO was not made lightly. It was only after we evaluated thorough research with independent testing that we moved forward to better understand how to bring more value to our clients and their customers. To see for ourselves how pre-rendered HTML compares to JavaScript-rendered content, we conducted an independent study using real world data and controlled conditions. Just as the research we found discovered, we concluded that Google is indexing JavaScript-rendered content.  More importantly, it can positively impact your SEO.

A Little Website History — From Multi-Page Applications (MPAs) to Single Page Applications (SPAs)

From the inception of the web until circa 2008, there was a single design pattern for architecting websites — Multi-Page Application (MPA) architecture.  Using this type of architecture:

  1. The server generates a static page of content
  2. As the user interacts with the page, the server handles each interaction and gives the browser an entirely new page

By 2008, advancements in the web paved the way for a new website design pattern — Single Page Application architecture (SPA).  Using this type of architecture:

  1. A browser loads a page containing JavaScript code
  2. JavaScript code runs on the web browser, rendering HTML (content) on the page
  3. As the user interacts with the site, JavaScript handles these interactions and re-renders the content that’s displayed

Some advantages of architecting a website as an SPA over an MPA include:

  • A more fluid user experience
  • Better performance
  • Better scalability
  • Faster development

Historically, search engines would index content by making a request to a URL and reading the HTML the server returned. As servers don’t handle rendering HTML in SPAs (browsers do), content in SPAs was essentially invisible to search engine bots.

How Pre-Rendered HTML Helped Procure SEO During the SPA’s Infancy

Due to their inherent advantages, SPAs quickly became prevalent across the internet. This change came quickly — faster than search engines could adapt. To fill this gap, the solution for allowing search engines to index content from SPAs was to:

  1. Run SPAs in a browser
  2. Save the HTML that the JavaScript rendered
  3. Provide that markup to be served to search engines  

Pre-rendered HTML, while solving some problems, is not without fault.  Its use can bring about the following issues:

  • Because the process of pre-rendering HTML happens periodically (maybe once every 24-48 hours), the content and data in pre-rendered HTML can be stale – which will negatively impact SEO. Frequent updates and fresh content leads to higher search ranking and encourages search engines to index sites more frequently.  
  • Scalability is an issue — as the size of a site grows, the more HTML there is to pre-render. The longer this process takes, the less fresh the pre-rendered content is. For example, if a new piece of data or information was added globally across a site, a significant number of pages would have to be re-rendered.
  • A wide range of new variables would be added into the development process, requiring ongoing maintenance and further investment — and could slow down innovation.

A PowerReviews Independent Study

In addition to determining that Google does, in fact, render JavaScript content, we also found:

  1. When using both pre-rendered (HTML) content and JavaScript-rendered content on the same page, the JavaScript-rendered content was indexed by Google while the HTML content was ignored     
  2. Structured data (additional SEO data that can be provided to search engines to create more paths to connect consumers with your content, called Rich Snippets) was perceived and used by Google when rendered via JavaScript

Why develop pre-rendered HTML? It’s simply a way to have JavaScript-rendered content indexed by search engines that can’t render JavaScript – which, at the moment, is everyone but Google. But the fact that Google can crawl JavaScript-rendered content means that it has more content within its index than search engines that cannot crawl these types of sites.

Google, with a commanding share of the search engine market, has a significant competitive advantage. While #2 search engine Bing does not yet have this capability, this competitive disadvantage along with the increased prevalence of dynamic, Javascript-rendered content will force search engines to build this capability.

The Takeaway: Why Indexed JavaScript-Rendered Content is Preferred Over Pre-Rendered HTML

As the functional capabilities of pre-rendered HTML and JavaScript-based content are equal (where supported), here are the highlights of JavaScript-rendered content advantages:

Infographic on how to implement JavaScript for search engines.

Higher search ranking. More visibility in search engine results. Further reach to consumers. Clearly, SEO through indexing of JavaScript-based content is superior to using pre-rendered HTML. As such, this is the position and approach PowerReviews will have for our clients on content and SEO moving forward, until the
next change in SEO.  

If you would like to learn more about using leading edge SEO to improve your brand’s or retailer’s reach, request a demo or contact us with your questions and one of our experts will get back to you.

PowerReviews has already shown that online reviews and other User Generated Content (UGC) can increase sales conversion by up to 17%. Brands and retailers can see this overall effect when they start enabling reviews. But taking a closer look, do you notice that some quality products in your catalog have few or no reviews? Is this something that could be targeted and changed to get more UGC and raise the conversion rate of underselling items?

The short answer is – yes.  The long answer is – yes and here’s how.

Identify Your Products With Low or No Coverage

PowerReviews’ clients are already familiar with our reporting capabilities – here are some ways these can work for your less-covered products. We highlight coverage metrics in our reporting – identifying those items with high traffic but low review volume. Obviously there is interest in these products due to the traffic, so these are ripe for increasing UGC to raise conversion.

Our reporting platform generally can ‘slice and dice’ your data to find exactly what you need to target. If you found a high traffic / low reviewed item, for example, you may then want to add a post purchase email campaign to elicit more UGC or follow up with a second post purchase email to remind those consumers to come back to write a review.

PowerReviews Products That Help to Increase UGC

The first part of solving the low or no coverage dilemma is to identify your catalog products that need some help by using reporting. But now you’ve got to remedy the situation of low reviews.

Content collection rates have been shown to increase up to 400% with Review Your Purchases. This product addresses another issue related to catalog items with low to no UGC. In the apparel industry, for example, an average consumer may purchase four items in a single online transaction. Getting a review for just one of those items may be simple, but it’s historically difficult to encourage the consumer to go to several different review pages to review each of the purchased items. With Review Your Purchases, this problem is solved by use of a simple, one-step form that allows buyers to write multiple reviews without leaving the page.

Our Why Did You Buy offering, on the other hand, addresses the need to have more User Generated Content in general, not just by reviews, especially for different buying verticals. Seasonal items, like bathing suits or holiday decorations, have a small window for purchasing sometimes making standard reviews too late to be valuable for raising conversion during the current short season.

When using Why Did You Buy, the consumer purchases the online catalog item, and as a Thank You page appears post-sale, the buyer is simply asked “Why did you buy?” This allows an immediate and easy response about the product, such as “The pattern of this bikini is so flattering,” or “This Santa is perfect for our front door.” Others viewing the product on your site will see other buyers’ content, instilling more trust in the item, all because the UGC was increased.

Coverage –> Confidence –> Conversion!

PowerReviews believes that product coverage translates into confidence, which then translates to sales conversion. The more User Generated Content a consumer sees on a specific product, the more confidence they have in it in order to encourage them to complete the purchase.

To learn more about strategies to increase overall product coverage, check out our From Reviews to Revenue report.