The set of Author hReview plugins currently* comprises of three separate plugins which are available in one premium bundle. While they are different plugins, there are some areas of overlap and there is a common theme running through each of them.
Together, or individually, these plugins can be used to help present reviews of products and services on your WordPress site, as well as collect and display on your site reviews or testimonials of the services or products you offer from your customers or clients.
Each of the three plugins works with rich snippets. This feature is used to display additional information about your site in the search engine results pages. This has the benefit of helping to increase the number of visitors your site gets from the search engines, while also ensuring the content on your site stands out from the crowd.
The three plugins that make up the Author hReview bundle are:
- Author hReview: adds an attractive review summary box to your posts and pages with optional call to action button
- WordPress Reviews: allows you to build a complete reviews and ratings website or simply add well formatted and presented reviews to your existing WordPress site
- Customer Testimonials: attractively display testimonials on your site, and also add a form for customers to leave their reviews of your service
So now we are clear on what is included in the bundle, let’s take a closer look at each of the three plugins that make up this premium package.
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Author hReview is probably best suited to those who run sites which feature reviews from time to time, rather than those wishing to build a review site. If your site will mostly comprise of review then another plugin in the pack, WP Reviews, is a better choice. It is a good idea to decide which best meets your needs as only one of the two plugins can be active at the same time.
One of the main elements that this plugin adds to your posts is a review summary box which lets your readers quickly see your thoughts on the product or service being covered, without having to read your review in its entirety. The review summary box also clearly indicates that the post they are viewing is indeed a review, helping it stand out from the other types of content on your site. Depending on the settings you select, you can include an image and a call to action button in the review box, making it very easy for your readers to jump straight to the product in question.
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There are lots of settings available to customise what information is displayed in these boxes and how it is presented, including the placement of the box. To add the information that will be displayed in your summary you simply fill out the fields in the meta box that is displayed under the WordPress post editor:
The Author hReview plugin also includes some widgets which allow you to display links to your reviews to the sidebar of your WordPress site. This is a handy feature to have as your readers can quickly click through to the review post on your site as well as see the star ratings you have given them.
Review Rich Snippets
As well as all that, the Author hReview plugin makes it very easy to add the rich snippets which are displayed in the Google search engine results pages alongside the standard information about your site. In this case, that includes a star rating and the name of the author of the review.
The idea is that the richer the snippet, the greater the number of people who will click on the link to your page, thus increasing the number of visitors to your site. By giving the searchers a clearer idea of what your site will contain, you are more likely to encourage them to click through to your review.
As you can see, entering the information is very easy and the results can be pretty impressive. Which listing in Google would you be more likely to click on when looking for a product review?
WP Reviews is a more featured plugin that is ideal for anyone who wants to turn their WordPress installation into a fully-fledged reviews site. It’s a replacement for Author hReview and despite them only being available together in one pack, they cannot both be active on the same site. This means it’s up to you to decide which one is the right choice for your project.
While Author hReview allows you to create attractive review summary boxes on your posts, this plugin allows you to turn regular posts into well-presented reviews that fill the full width of the post area on your site. The review post can include many excellent components as you see fit including:
- A large product image
- The star rating you give it
- Author name
- Percentage ratings for your own set of criteria
- Review summary
- Call to action button with link to product
After all that has been displayed, the regular WordPress post content can also be displayed if you wish. Although the default placement can be overridden, and the review box can be inserted anywhere in the post that you see fit.
By displaying both the review box and the standard WordPress post content, you can combine the best features of the WP Review plugin with the standard functionality of WordPress, as well as the functionality of any plugins you might have installed such as a contact form, links to other relative reviews/posts, or anything else you can think of.
Integration of User Reviews
As well as being able to create your own reviews, the plugin can also integrate reviews from users, making it ideal for building a community around your site, in addition to encouraging user generated content, and giving your reviews more authority and credibility. Your readers can leave comments on your review posts, along with their star rating, and the feedback then gets aggregated and displayed alongside your rating.
Search Engine Rich Snippets
Like the Author hReview plugin, this plugin enables rich snippets for your reviews, for display in search engines. This includes the star rating, the name of the author and also the price of the product.
However, unlike the first plugin, WP Reviews can display the ratings from your readers, as well as the number of people who have voted on your post in the rich snippet. This is a powerful feature that, depending on the number of users who’ve left feedback, can be a strong social signal that your content is worth reading.
Review Display Options
As well as displaying the full reviews in posts, you can also use shortcodes to display links to your reviews in posts and pages. These shortcodes can be modified to display a list of reviews from a particular author, lists of related reviews using tags, or the most recent reviews.
I was really impressed with the WP Reviews plugin. While it is ideal for review sites, even sites that only feature occasional reviews would benefit from this plugin. This is mainly thanks to the ease with which it allows you to create attractive and professional reviews and the way it instantly brings consistency to your site. If you have multiple authors writing for your blog then a plugin such as this can ensure their reviews follow a similar format and end up being presented in the same way, rather than being a collection of reviews written by a disparate group of writers.
Customer Testimonials Plugin
The third plugin in this bundle is the Customer Testimonials plugin which makes it very easy to collect testimonials from your customers or clients, and display them on your WordPress site. There are a number of creative options for displaying the feedback you’ve received from your customers, such as regular post content, as mouse hover activated tooltips or in the sidebar using widgets.
The plugin also includes a form which can be displayed anywhere on your site using a shortcode. The form is used to easily accept testimonial submissions from your readers or customers. This is a really nice feature as it not only makes it easy for your clients to send you their review of your service, but it makes it easier to direct them in the type of feedback or testimonial you’d like to receive, as you can create your own fields for the form.
For the time being this plugin comes bundled with the other two as part of the package but there are plans to offer it on its own as a premium plugin. While it’s nice to have, it doesn’t seem to fit with the other two plugins, which are used for publishing reviews of products and services; while the Customer Testimonials plugin is used for collecting reviews about your service from your readers and clients, and then displaying them on your site. Perhaps it could be used for aggregating reviews from other websites of products you’ve also reviewed and displaying quotes or snippets on your site. With some creative thinking there are lots of ways to make use of the plugin, alongside one of the other review plugins in this pack.
Plans and Pricing
At the moment these three plugins are only available in one package and there are two price plans available. Both of the price plans include six months of priority support, six months of upgrades, and access to all plugins in the pack. The two plans offer the same features expect one is for use on one site while the other is a multisite license:
- Multi Sites License $139.00
- One Site License $69.00
As the two review plugins, Author hReview and WP Reviews, cannot both be active on the same site at the same time, buying the single site license is in effect, only going to give you access to one of the plugins. Selling the plugins separately might’ve been a better decision seeing as they cannot be used together and they have been designed for slightly different uses.
After the six months of support and upgrades are over, the plugins can still be used, but in order to renew the support a further payment will need to be made.
At the time of writing there is 30% off the price of both plans making this triple set of plugins even better value. For the latest pricing information visit the pricing page.
These plugins offer excellent functionality that will be of interest to anyone featuring review on their WordPress sites.
However, I found the packaging of the three plugins together quite confusing, especially considering two of them cannot be active at the same time. Also, before using the plugins I found the website slightly muddled as I couldn’t really tell exactly what each of the Author hReview and WordPress Reviews plugins was for, and in what ways they were different from each other. As the products are so good, the author could be missing out on potential customers due to the unclear way the products are presented on the website.
After using the plugins, I understand why the two plugins are separate entities; WP Reviews is for sites that are predominantly made up of reviews, while Author hReview is a lighter option, intended for sites that feature occasional reviews, but still want to make use of rich snippets and some key review information in posts.
However, I think the two plugins would be better off being combined into one, or at least made able to be activated at the same time. On some occasions it might be more appropriate to add an Author hReview summary box, while on other posts a more featured review post using the WP Reviews functionality might be more fitting.
An additional feature I’d like to see in the future would be for a way that the site editor or admin can add fields to the WP Reviews meta box that contributors writing reviews for the site would have to fill in. These could be headers such as intro, features, description, conclusion, etc. This would ensure that reviews written by a range of authors would follow a similar format adding consistency and uniformity to a site.
Overall though, I was really pleased with these plugins, particularly the WordPress Reviews plugin and highly recommend them for anyone who might ever feature a review on their WordPress site.
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*the third plugin, WP Customer Testimonials, is expected to be made available as a standalone product once the launch phase is over.