Unfortunately, the vast majority of mattress-review websites are likely biased. Such sites can include those that rank high in the search engines as well as those that claim to be unbiased.
Biased in this context means that a mattress (or mattresses) is rated high – not because the mattress is necessarily worthy of it – but because the site is being compensated to do so. Biased here can also mean that the site practices favoritism in regard to which mattresses are reviewed and which are not based on compensation.
How can you identify these sites and keep yourself from being duped? Keep an eye out for the following.
The offering of mattress discounts / coupons to site visitors and or the presence of referral links likely indicates that there is direct compensation to the site by mattress companies.
If a website reviews / promotes only mattresses of newer, online brands and does not review / promote mattresses widely available in stores from established and traditional brands, then this is probably a red flag. This is because newer, online mattress brands in general are more likely to offer compensation to the review site than are the established, traditional brands.
Almost every product, including mattresses, has pros and cons, good points and bad points. This fact will be obvious in an unbiased review. In a biased review, this fact will not be obvious as the review will be almost entirely positive.
If you see multiple websites rating the same mattress (or mattress brand) as top rated, then this is a red flag that compensation by a mattress company is taking place. This is because it is extremely unlikely that multiple independent and unbiased mattress review websites would agree on what is the top rated mattress. There are simply too many mattresses on the market and too many different ways to evaluate a mattress for this to occur.
A biased mattress-review website often won't provide anywhere on the site the full name of the person or people behind the site. In addition, a WHOIS search allows you to learn “who is” the owner of a particular website. A biased product-review website, however, may block this information. If they have blocked their identity, then you can't find a person's name anywhere on the results page. This often means that the registrant name says “private" and the registrant organization is the name of a company that offers domain privacy services, such as “Domains By Proxy, LLC.”
Creating and operating a quality product-review website is hard work. So while we at Sleep Like The Dead enjoy what we do, we would not do it for free. And given the time and money required to run the site, we could not do it for free even if we wanted to. So when a mattress-review site has no clear source of significant revenue (such as advertising) and does not disclose how it generates revenue, you have to wonder who is paying the bills.
Avoiding bias requires much more than merely not taking compensation to influence a review. A careful methodology is required. If a review website lacks such a methodology, then bias – whether intentional or not – will almost certainly be present.
IN THE NEWS: Sleep Like The Dead's research findings have appeared in such news publications as Barron's • Toronto Star • St. Louis Post-Dispatch • Edmonton Journal • Woman's World • The Consumerist • The Gazette • Ottawa Citizen
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