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Why Most Treadmill Review Sites are Bogus

I've worked in the fitness equipment industry for over 16 years, and for the last 7 years I have been reviewing fitness equipment online, particularly treadmills and elliptical trainers.  Until a couple of years ago there were only a handful of treadmill review sites, and for the most part, those sites did an above average job of evaluating the various treadmill models.

In the last couple of years there have been an overwhelming number of new treadmill review sites, and there is one reason why - affiliate marketing.  For those not familiar with affiliate marketing it is an arrangement between a website owner and retail businesses.  Typically how it works is an affiliate marketer places a link on their site to a merchant.  If a site visitor clicks on that link and buys a product at the merchant site, the affiliate marketer gets a commission.  So for example, with review sites the author reviews a products and has a link that goes to the product page on the merchant site.

Now what makes reviewing  treadmills attractive to affiliate marketers is the price points and the commission rates.  Because there are higher margins many treadmill merchants will offer between 6%-10% commissions.  Cheap treadmills start at around $200, but more expensive units can cost as much as $4,000.  Do the math, a 10% commission on a $4,000 treadmill is $400.  Affiliate marketing covers a spectrum of products. In fact there are affiliate programs for just about every consumer product sold online.  Amazon has the largest affiliate program on the Internet.  But you would have to sell a massive number of small items like books, videos or clothing in order to match the commission on one treadmill.

Consequently, affiliate marketers who have no background in the fitness equipment industry started coming out of the woodwork.  They would write very shallow content and often regurgitate the information found on the merchant sites.   Their reviews and their ratings were determined by the brands and the treadmill models that pay the highest commission and have the highest conversion.

Treadmills are very complex pieces of machinery.  They have to be in order to withstand the abuse that comes from the constant impact of the users.   So you have to have an in depth knowledge of how a treadmill works and the components that make it work in order to evaluate them.  In addition, you need to know about the durability of the machines and the reputation of the treadmill company's customer service.  Furthermore, a good treadmill review should match the machine to the user's fitness goals.  In other words, there is more to writing a treadmill review than plagiarizing a merchant’s website.  A true professional would be getting feedback from treadmill manufacturer representatives, fitness equipment salespeople, and treadmill customers, in addition to actually testing the products.  This gives you insight into the equipment beyond the specs.

In most cases these inexperienced affiliate marketers have not even been on the treadmills that they are reviewing.  But that doesn't matter since the majority of these affiliate marketers are more concerned about commission in comparison to assisting their readers in finding the best treadmill for their body and their budget.

So how can these affiliate marketers with not experience in the fitness equipment industry be successful?  Because rather than focusing on writing quality content and learning about the products, they concentrate on getting their web sites listed at the top of the ranking in search engines like Google.  This is called Search Engine Optimization (SEO).  For example, if you can rank on the first page for a term like "Treadmill Reviews", you are going to get a lot of traffic to your site from individuals who are interested in buying a treadmill.  And buying a treadmill can be very confusing and complicated.  Most people are completely naive as to what qualifies as a good treadmill value.  So they do a search for "Treadmill Reviews" and end up on these bogus treadmill affiliate marketing sites and assume that the author of the content is qualified to review treadmills.

Determining a Trusted Treadmill Review Site

You want to check out the "About Us" section of the site.  Not surprisingly, most treadmill review sites do not have an "About Us" page because there is nothing about the writer's background that suggests they are qualified to review treadmills.  Often you will find that the site has an "About Us" page, but there is still no suggestion that the author is qualified.  For example, I came across a treadmill review site were the author was a housewife who works out on treadmills at her local gym, and that was her degree of qualifications!

The Internet can be a valuable resource for researching treadmills, but do some research on the reviewer.  Do they have any experience that qualifies them to direct you to a potentially expensive purchase?  Are they connected within the industry and are in touch with various players?  Finally, are their reviews objective and do they focus on matching the treadmill buyer to the best machine that can accommodate their fitness goals.

About the Author

Fred Waters has worked in the fitness equipment industry for over 16 years, and was previously the V.P. of marketing for Smooth Fitness.  He has been reviewing fitness equipment for the last 7 years and is a recognized authority in the industry. You can check out his site at Treadmill  Ratings Reviews, where you will find objective treadmill reviews and best buy recommendations based on user profiles.

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