A fair and balanced review (review guidelines 2/3)

In my last blog I talked about the different motives between a small independent retailer like me sending out products for reviews and the big brands doing the same. In this blog I’m going to look at how to ensure your review is balanced and fair and what mistakes to avoid.

Follow Links

The first point to bear in mind if you’re a reviewer is the issue of follow links which if you review regularly you’ve probably come across already. For those that haven’t, a follow link is when a company or business buys or pays for a link to their website from somebody else’s. The result of that is that when search engines crawl these other sites and find these links, they take them as a genuine indication of an independent recommendation of a site and so that site gets boosted a little further up the search engine results. So it’s always worth considering the impact before you agree to a follow link on your blog.

The contrary is also important, we send out toys from a brand, the brand benefits from the review more over all their retail channels then ourselves.  So if you use no follow links and a reader decides to purchase this toy, but instead of clicking through googles, is it then fair that amazon or larger retail chains pop-up higher as they have payed for links?

Would I dare to ask: do you recommend The Toadstool (to google or readers) as an online shop or not? Regardless of the toy in the review? In most cases we do send out toys that the bloggers had on their wish lists.


The second consideration to have in mind when reviewing a product, is who you are reviewing it for. As I said in my last blog for big brands the content of the review often isn’t that important. Review’s are unlikely to impact on their sales, the big brands are unlikely to modify their already produced products as a result of a review and any effects of a bad review may well be outweighed by the value of any follow links or just by an increase in overall publicity. And of course it’s a great exercise in PR to be seen to be engaging with customers at a grass roots level.

But for a small company like The Toadstool, every word you write has relevance, weight and effect both on the consumers who are reading it and on me here at The Toadstool. Long after the review is published I still guide our existing customers whom are not part of the parent blogging community to your blogs to read more useful information on a certain toy. Our customers attach enormous importance on what reviewers say and so do I.


Finally, when reviewing a product the most important things to bear in mind are objectivity and balance.  It may not matter to the big brands if a reviewer focuses entirely on one negative aspect of a toy and runs out of space to mention the 5 great qualities but it matters to me. There are many aspects to a toy but there is a tendency in human nature to put more emphasis on complaints than compliments.

And that’s important to bear in mind with writing or reading reviews because too much emphasis on one point can result in a review that is very unbalanced and may not be helpful to consumer or retailer.

So if you are reviewing a product, I’d ask you to try and give the same amount of attention to all the different aspects of a toy. If we send it for your 3 year old, please don’t review it from a 6 year olds’ perspective. If you think that it’s a toy that will last a long time, is really high quality, sustainably produced and will provide a lot of pleasure, take that into account when considering the price.

I know that I love the toys that I stock because I’ve spent many hours with most of them. But what I want to give other people, is a chance to get all the information about all aspects of a toy in a fair and unbiased way.  


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