Researching potential ‘sole’ mates

Hello seniors! I woke up this morning to freezing rain in Ottawa, reminding me of the Montreal ice storm. Ahhh memories….And then I remembered I saw something that could be a game changer for all Canadians venturing out on slippery streets – winter boots with built-in metal studs (crampons) that can be pivoted and reversed to have a flat, traditional sole, saving the finish on hardwood floors. Why didn’t I think of this? Squeezing on those generic rubber sole attachments onto my winter boots is the last thing I want to do with cold hands.

Maybe they are too good to be true, or a great idea in theory, but off-the-mark. In any case, I want to research these for the seniors in my life, but I don’t want to drive in this weather to see them for myself. I turn to my trusted friend, Google for some product reviews. The boot manufacturer is Olang so my search query is ‘Olang boot reviews’.

As with a lot of search queries, Google returns some results that are paid ads (the first few results), but this is clearly marked next to the link with the icon ‘AD’. A lot of results display a star rating system, offering quick snippets. When researching products online, it’s important to remember that a lot of reviews are subtly solicited with incentives or created by employees to boost sales. Negative reviews can be maliciously written by the competition. I’m not saying that’s the case with any particular online retailer, but having worked in eCommerce copywriting, I know it’s common. Read with a grain of salt, I say. But read, since reviews can provide details and offer important points.

After using the standard Google search, my favourite way to check out products before buying is on YouTube. Their search is easy to use, and seeing product videos is effective. Check it out:

At the time of this post being published, the first result on YouTube was an ad, and well displayed.

After all is said and done and you join the ranks as an online customer, be sure to review the fine print wherever you shop. Online retailers should provide information about returns or exchanges in an up-to-date policy, similar to that of a traditional store. Read more in my Beginner’s guide to online shopping.

And if the product you buy is just incredible, or not at all, why not contribute to online reviews? Check back for posts about doing that safely and what to look for in the return policy.


About Jennifer Stern

Blogger, writer, mother, daughter, wife - I'm firmly planted in the sandwich generation. I've spent years writing about technology and how to use it in the business world. Now I'm turning my vocation into passion and writing for a greater audience, those who can most benefit from convenience but who may be tech-shy. Welcome to Digital Seniors!