Economist: Reading Online Reviews, and Why They're Important

Just saw a great article on the importance of online reviews for products. According to the author, there are a couple of interesting bits of info for those new to the process:

  • After about 20 comments, search engine rankings and click-throughs increase.

  • Retailers needn't be afraid of a few bad reviews if they are confident in their product: "...a handful of bad reviews, it seems, are worth having. 'No one trusts all positive reviews,' [Google's retail industry director John McAteer] says. So a small proportion of negative comments—'just enough to acknowledge that the product couldn’t be perfect'—can actually make an item more attractive to prospective buyers."

  • For products with a large volume of reviews, a ranking system for the helpfulness of reviews increases trust and allows for a blend of 'most recent' and 'most relevant' reviews to be aggregated into a glanceable area.

Read the full article in The Economist's 5 Mar 09 print edition "Fair Comment" column, or here.